The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest National Hunt meeting of the season and the Gold Cup is its jewel in the crown. This year’s renewal is set to be a cracker, with twelve top-class stayers vying for the prize.
There are multiple storylines, including Al Boum Photo attempting to become the fifth horse to win the Gold Cup on three occasions. He has an excellent chance of doing so, but at 11-4, he’s not a price that excites me. This is a competitive renewal and I’m going to be taking on the favourite with two big-priced fancies.
Both these horses have the form to be heavily involved and I’m expecting big runs from both. Find out all the details below, as I look forward to the best race of the calendar year (in my opinion).
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He’s been below his best this season, but I firmly believe the Gold Cup can bring the best out of Santini. Nicky Henderson representative finished second in last year’s renewal, going down by just a neck by to Al Boum Photo.
His runs this term haven’t matched that standard, though there have been excuses. Aintree and Kempton didn’t provide him enough of a test, though his most recent run at Sandown is far more difficult to dismiss. There’s no escaping it, he ran poorly, but that was his second below-par run at Sandown.
Although he does need to take a significant step forward from those efforts, there can be plenty of hope he’ll do just that. He clearly loves Cheltenham, with a course record that reads 13212. Three of those runs have come at the Festival and he does tend to come good in the spring.
He’ll relish an end to end gallop and although this is probably the best ground he’d want, the surface is of little concern. He gains the services of the in-form Aidan Coleman and with the visor added, there’s plenty of reasons to be positive on this out and out stayer’s chances.
Many will have written off Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation after a difficult campaign, but at his current price, I can make a big case for him. He posted a career-best in last year’s Gold Cup, finishing a close third after brave and exuberant round of jumping.
Those comments cannot apply to any of his runs this term, where he’s been completely out of sorts. Well-held in the Betfair Chase on return, he bled from the nose after a burst blood vessel on Boxing Day in the King George. His most recent run, his first after wind surgery at Newbury, was perhaps better the bare result suggests, however. Joe Tizzard after the race was quick to say a lack of fitness took his toll and he’d taken plenty of positives out of the run.
He’ll love the drying ground conditions and his course record over fences reads 1213. He should be just right on his second start after wind surgery and at a huge price of 33-1, I’m happy to take a chance on Tizzard ending his license on a high note.
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