A look ahead at the Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the world’s most prestigious National Hunt race and the highlight of March’s four-day Cheltenham Festival.
Irish trainers have taken home the trophy in five of the last six seasons and Henry de Bromhead saddled his first Cheltenham Gold Cup winner with Minella Indo in 2021.
De Bromhead is responsible for the first three in the market as he looks to add his name to the list of multiple Gold Cup-winning trainers.
Here we take a look at the contenders for the Festival’s blue riband event in our Cheltenham Gold Cup preview.
The defending champion heads the betting at 4/1 and looks to follow in the footsteps of Al Boum Photo and record back-to-back victories in the Cheltenham showpiece.
That was his second victory in three appearances at the Cheltenham Festival, with his only defeat at Prestbury Park coming when a length second to Champ in the 2019 rendition of the RSA Chase.
Spring ground brings out the best in this eight-year-old, who went down on his shield at Down Royal on his reappearance.
He is sure to strip much fitter in his next assignment, which could be at Kempton at Christmas when he attempts to add the King George to his trophy collection.
A two-time Cheltenham Festival winner, the seven-year-old looked to have the world at his feet when winning his first 11 races under National Hunt rules.
That all changed when he was an early faller in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at last season’s Festival and things went from bad to worse when pulling up with injury at the Punchestown Festival.
He was back to his imperious best on his return at Down Royal last month but the 7/1 second favourite is not a certain runner at this stage, with connections potentially keeping the son of Muhtathir to intermediate trips for now.
A Plus Tard
Sent off the 100/30 second favourite for the most recent renewal of the Gold Cup, De Bromhead’s charge only had his stablemate ahead of him as he came up a length-and-a-quarter short.
Having proven his stamina over the Gold Cup trip of 3m2f, he looks sure to be a player if staying sound this season and offers plenty of value at this stage at 8/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He looks likely to kick off his season at Haydock before returning to Leopardstown to defend his Savills Chase crown over the Christmas period.
— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) December 28, 2020
Having taken advantage of the fall of Envoi Allen to score at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, Nicky Henderson’s improving chaser made it back-to-back Grade 1 victories when stepped up to three miles for the first time in the Mildmay Novices Chase at Aintree.
His future looks to lie over staying distances and he made light work of The Big Breakaway on his seasonal return at Sandown.
That saw him moved into 8/1 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting but the real gauge of his ability could come when tackling the King George at Kempton next month.
Al Boum Photo
The Gold Cup winner in both 2019 and 2020, Willie Mullins’ star stayer could only finish third when sent off favourite to land the hat-trick in 2021.
He lost little in defeat as he rounded off an Irish one-two-three, with drying conditions arguably favouring his De Bromhead-trained rivals on the day.
Still only nine, he remains lightly raced for his age and at 14/1 could still have a say in proceedings if there is cut in the ground come March.
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