Philip Hobbs’ horse the one for punters in Caspian Caviar Gold Cup

The first three home in the Paddy Power Gold Cup are set for a rematch at Cheltenham in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup on Saturday, but neither of that trio are the ones punters are latching on to.

Annacotty (9/1), Buywise (7/1) and Sound Investment (10/1) remain right at the top of the betting for the 2m4f contest, but it is Philip Hobbs’ Village Vic that is attracting the most interest.

The eight-year-old has been backed in from 16/1 to 10/1 after the latest forfeit stage, and would be an unpopular winner in Ladbrokes’ trading department.

Victory at Prestbury Park would be the crowning moment of a hat-trick of wins for the son of Old Vic who comes into this after successes at Wetherby and Musselburgh.

He’s yet to win in five visits to Cheltenham in his career, leaving his ability to cope with the famous hill open to question, though he did get to within three lengths of The New One in a novice hurdle at the track in 2012.

Village Vic was a game winner at Newbury in February

Village Vic was a game winner at Newbury in February

Despite reeling off three wins in his last five starts over fences, the Alan Peterson-owned gelding is still only two pounds above his highest handicap mark over hurdles, one he finished sixth off in the Betfair Hurdle.

He’s set to shoulder the featherweight of 10-00, and should Richard Johnson opt to shed the pounds to take the ride at the expense of stable match Champagne West, it could speak volumes.

Even if Johnson opts to take the mount of the dual-course winner, with nearly 60 per cent of Hobbs’ runners in 2015 Cheltenham chases outside of the Festival making the frame or winning, it could be that faith being shown is rewarded on Saturday 12 December.

If the money is right it could be that the Minehead handler is celebrating a first win in the December Gold Cup since Monkerhostin, ridden by Richard Johnson, took the contest back in 2004.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.