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Venetia Williams says BetVictor Gold Cup remains an option for Aso

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Thu 7 Nov 2019

Venetia Williams has not ruled out letting her stable star Aso take his chance under top-weight of 11st 12lb in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday week.

The nine-year-old, a general 20-1 chance for the £160,000 feature, has nine career victories on his CV – including a valuable handicap success at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day – and returned to Prestbury Park to beat all bar Frodon in the Ryanair Chase in March.

He began the new campaign by finishing third in last weekend’s Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, where the combination of the three-mile trip and heavy ground seemed to stretch his stamina.

Watch what our experts made of last season's Ryanair Chase

The last horse to carry more than 11st 11lb to victory in the BetVictor Gold Cup was Very Promising, who defied 11st 13lb back in 1986.

Aso will run off a mark of 168 if he lines up and would leave live contenders such as Guitar Pete and Eamon An Cnoic languishing out of the handicap.

However, if he does not run the weights will rise by at least 5lb, possibly much more as the next three in the weights – Black Corton, Janika and Saint Cavados – have yet to be committed to the race.

“It was a very pleasing performance at Wetherby – he has run a smashing race,” Williams said. “I can’t say where he is going to go just yet, but he has come out of the race fine.

“He has the entry in the BetVictor, and that might come too soon, but I’m not sure at the moment.”

Aso has excelled at trips close to the two and a half miles of the BetVictor, but indicated again at Wetherby that three miles is far from beyond him.

Williams added: “The thing is, when you get to that sort of level, you don’t have too much choice with the trip.

“You hope he can collect a big one – and we will head back to the Ryanair in March – but there is plenty of water to go under the bridge between now and then.

“He has an entry in the King George as well, and that could be another option.”

HOW THE BETVICTOR TOP-WEIGHTS HAVE FARED IN THE PAST DECADE

(All were allotted 11st 12lb)

2018

Frodon ran off a mark of 161 and had to concede 9lb and upwards to his 17 rivals. He beat all bar Baron Alco in a renewal in which only six completed.

2017

Kylemore Lough was sent off favourite to defy his mark of 154 but was pulled up after being prominent a long way.

2016

Ballynagour, with a rating of 157, headed the weights but never budged out of rear and was pulled up. However, the first three home all carried 11st 5lb or more with Taquin Du Seuil (11st 11lb) prevailing.

2015

Sound Investment had to concede at least 3lb or more and ran a fine race to be third at 20-1 off a mark of 159.

2014

Johns Spirit and Oscar Whisky were joint top-weights off 156 and finished second and fourth respectively in a thrilling renewal won by Caid Du Berlais.

2013

The 163-rated Finians Rainbow had to give 5lb and more to his 19 rivals. A mistake at the first did not help him and he was pulled up.

2012

For the third year running, Poquelin headed the weights with 7lb-claimer Harry Derham taking the nmount. The pair were pulled up. However, his stablemate, Al Ferof, carried 11st 8lb, more than any other horse in the field, and won.

2011

Poquelin again had the honour of top-weight, this time with David Prichard claiming 7lb to try and ease the burden. But he was held when unseating three out as the first five home all carried 10st 3lb or less.

2010

The 164-rated Poquelin had the help of 5lb claimer Ian Popham and finished a creditable fifth to Little Josh.

2009

Our Vic was rated 161 and was partnered by Danny Cook, a 3lb conditional at the time. The pair put up a bold show from the front before fading to be sixth.

2008

Mister McGoldrick, an 11-year-old rated 158, looked up against it and was pulled up before three out. Imperial Commander, the subsequent Gold Cup winner, won carrying only 10st 7lb.

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