As ever the last day of the Cheltenham Festival is headlined by the Gold Cup, the most lucrative prize in National Hunt racing and the race in which the winner will be remembered forever. This race has thrown up some brilliant champions but looks a more open renewal this time around.
Here is our full big race preview with a value selection.
15.30 Cheltenham: Gold Cup
It’s the big one of the week, the Cheltenham Gold Cup & there’s a top class field assembled for this test of jumping & stamina over a trip of 3 miles 2 furlongs. A field of 11 includes last year’s winner Minella Indo & the dual winner of 2019 & 2020, Al Boum Photo, & they are 2 of a 6-strong Irish contingent. The current champ, Minella Indo, hasn’t been at his best this season although he was better last time out in the Irish Gold Cup when 2nd to Conflated. That wasn’t the strongest renewal though & I think he’ll be finding it tough to win again. Galvin & A Plus Tard head the market and both look to have solid credentials. They both come here straight from the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over the festive period where the former got up on the bob to win by a short head. A Plus Tard was also an impressive winner of the Betfair Chase on reappearance & I’m excited to see them both do battle again here. At short odds though, neither are obvious betting propositions as it really is hard to separate to pair so a bigger priced each way selection is the approach.
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Tornado Flyer won the King George at Kempton & whilst he finished well, he may struggle to get home at this much stiffer track whilst Al Boum Photo cannot be easily dismissed with a race record of 1-1-3 but vibes from his yard haven’t been that positive & this 10 year old may be past his best. First time cheekpieces now go on. Protektorat is the leading British charge for the Skelton’s but he’s another who may be better over shorter although he stayed on well at Aintree last time over an extended 3 miles. He definitely needs to settle better if he’s to be involved & this might just fire him up so I just cannot see him involved. Royale Pagaille was easily brushed aside by A Plus Tard in the Betfair Chase & would have had more chance if the race was run on Wednesday when the heavy rain came. Any drying of the ground will go against him.
The selection is a tad speculative but given the form of trainer & jockey this week, I think Chantry House could run a massive race. He’s a winner of 6 of his 8 chase starts including the Marsh as a novice here 12 months ago. Since then, he destroyed Shan Blue in the Mildmay Novice Chase & then won a straight match at Sandown but disappointed when favourite at Kempton in the King George where he was pulled up. The flat track wasn’t ideal but of more concern was the ground which I think was too soft for him. Back here in the Cotswold Chase, he beat 2 of today’s rivals, Santini & Aye Right, & although he finished tired, he looked like he’d improve for that run. His trainer is a master at getting them ready & I think he’ll go well on this better ground; in fact, his career hurdles & chase record on good to soft or better reads 1-1-1-1-1-1 whereas on soft, his form reads 3-1-3-1-P (he was odds on for 3 of those). At the prices, he looks to be the best value.
Back Chantry House (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)