Gold Cup tips, preview, odds, runners and free bets

Paul Townend after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Owen Goulding takes a closer look at the feature race of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, the Gold Cup. The jewel in the crown of National Hunt racing, history can be equalled by the short-price favourite in this year’s renewal. 

Runner-by-runner guide

Al Boum Photo (odds 11/4)

Made it back to back Gold Cups in a thrilling finish twelve months ago and has enjoyed an identical preparation this term. Winning as he liked at Tramore on New Year’s Day, he looked to be in scintillating form and arriving fresh to Cheltenham is a big positive for him. He’s tactically versatile, will love the ground and is the one they all have to try and beat.

A Plus Tard (odds 9/2)

Won the 2019 Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap and almost made it back to back Festival wins when a close third behind Min in last year’s Ryanair. Relished stepping up to three miles over Christmas when storming home to win the Savills, producing an incredible late burst. Unexposed as a stayer and if they dawdle early, he’ll be a huge danger late with his potent turn of foot.

Aso (odds 100/1)

Yet to win from eight tries at Grade 1 level and both his second places this term have come in much weaker races. Brushed aside by Grand National favourite Cloth Cap at Kelso earlier this month and there’s no form to suggest he can play a hand up in distance.

Black Op (odds 150/1)

Grade 1 winning hurdler who showed plenty of promise as a novice, including a place at the aforementioned level. That being said, he’s been well beaten in all three of his starts this term, latterly in the King George. None of his form marks him out as a Gold Cup contender.

Champ (odds 9/2)

Won last year’s RSA in dramatic fashion after a very questionable round of jumping, seen just once this season with an unconventional prep in the two-mile Game Spirit at Newbury. Travelled with plenty of zest and jumped well that day, which bodes well given his prior jumping question marks. Will be much happier up in distance and this out and out stayer has a great chance if his jumping holds out.

Frodon (odds 12/1)

Popular Paul Nicholls’ inmate who is a five-time course winner, including over 3m 1f. Produced a career-best effort when bossing proceedings in the King George, jumping his rivals into the ground. Unlikely to be given a soft lead, but he’s a tough horse to pass and if he gets into a good rhythm he’s an each-way contender, even with small stamina reservations.

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Kemboy (odds 14/1)

Yet to score in four Cheltenham visits, latterly when well-beaten in last year’s Gold Cup after a sloppy round of jumping. In good form this term, including a deserved Grade 1 success at the Dublin Racing Festival. That form puts him into the argument, but his record here is a worry and his jumping could put him in trouble if they go at an honest gallop.

Lostintranslation (odds 33/1)

Has fallen from grace since going very close in last year’s renewal, well beaten in three starts this season. Given wind surgery prior to his latest start at Newbury but he once again dropped out tamely after tanking into proceedings. Has the class to be involved but impossible to fancy after such a disappointing campaign.

Minella Indo (odds 12/1)

Festival winner over hurdles who was pipped in last year’s RSA by a fast-finishing Champ. Won his first two chasing starts but has struggled since taking on Grade 1 competition, falling in the Savills prior to a disappointing run at Leopardstown behind Kemboy. Retains his potential but there are several question marks after this season’s exploits.

Native River (odds 14/1)

2018 hero who bounced right back to his best with a scintillating performance in the rescheduled Cotswold Chase at Sandown. That RPR of 177 throws his hat into the ring and although he’d prefer softer ground, he’s won on better surfaces in the past. Loves Cheltenham and will help create a searching gallop; would be a hugely popular winner.

Royale Pagaille (odds 8/1)

Bids to become the first novice since Coneygree to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Has been imperious in three runs this season and an RPR of 171 when winning the Peter Marsh gives him a form chance. That being said, his only run on an undulating track saw him looking uncomfortable and the ground has gone against him. On that basis, he’s opposable at a single-figure price.

Santini (odds 12/1)

Has placed on all three of his visits to the Festival, latterly when arriving a neck too late in last year’s Gold Cup. Has been below his best this campaign and seemingly had no excuses in the Cotswold Chase at Sandown last time. A better effort can be expected with a sterner test today, but it’s easy to have reservations.

Gold Cup tip

It’s very difficult to oppose Al Boum Photo, who bids to join the elite class of horses who have won three Gold Cups. He fended off Santini in grand style twelve months ago and Willie Mullins has kept things simple by replicating his one-stop preparation to the race. His usual exuberance was on display at Tramore and he’s simply the form horse in the race. He’ll arrive fresher than the majority of his rivals and a repeat of his prior two Gold Cup successes would surely be enough here.

Gold Cup free bets

Our hand-selected Cheltenham Festival special offers are the most selective free betting offers for the Cheltenham Festival. Get the latest betting offers from the leading bookmakers all in one place, here you will find free bet bonuses and enhanced odds offers as well as extra place races and money back specials. If you haven’t signed up to one of these bookmakers already, the Cheltenham Festival is the time to do so.

Check out the myracing experts’ Cheltenham Festival tips every day of the festival, and don’t forget to check out the latest Cheltenham free bets and offers to get a headstart on your festival punting. 

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