x5 Racing Post NAPs Champion Paul Jacobs previews the Cheltenham Gold Cup at Cheltenham Festival.
Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview
It’s amazing how we take greatness for granted in the world of horse racing. Kauto Star and Denman gave us some fantastic Gold Cup moments. Since then, the Grand National has eclipsed the Blue Riband of national hunt racing in stories and excitement levels due the formidable Tiger Roll.
Since those heady days we haven’t really had a champion that we could in anyway describe as a great, so what chance the 2020 winner will buck that recent trend?
We know for certain that Native River won’t become the second horse in Gold Cup history to regain the title. Native River is out with a tendon injury. This means Al Boum Photo could conceivably become the first back-to-back Gold Cup winner since Best Mate in 2003.
That is no surprise because the Cheltenham Gold Cup is essentially a stayers championship. In comparison, the King George at Kempton is the blend of speed and stamina which takes a lot out of a horse both physically and mentally.
The odds are in favour a stayer winning the Gold Cup following in the footsteps of the aforementioned Native River and greats such as Bobs Worth, Synchronised and Looks Like Trouble.
So in an open year, where plenty will take their chance with no one outstanding staying chaser, the Cheltenham Gold Cup Betting Odds make for fascinating reading.
Cheltenham Gold Cup Betting Odds
It is a shame that Frodon won’t be in the field. He would ensure a decent pace and his slick jumping would put a number of runners to the sword early.
Current champion Al Boum Photo is more of a presser than a front runner. This could lead to the likes of Jett, Monalee and Bristol de Mai to carry the work load.
Let’s start with the champion. Al Boum Photo is the epitome of the old fashioned stayer. A chaser with a devouring stride whose jumping improves with each race racing.
I was track side when he fell in a Grade Two novice chase at Limerick where he appeared to be guessing obstacles. Then two outings later he came to grief late on in the RSA Chase.
Even in the 2019 Savills Chase he made niggly errors and demonstrated a strong engine by routing Total Recall over a weaker distance.
Since then, apart from a slight mistake at the penultimate fence in the Punchestown Gold Cup, he’s been near perfect.
Reliable jumping alongside his classy engine makes Al Boum Photo just about a faultless chaser at this distance. In my book he has a very solid chance to retain his title.
Stable mate, Kemboy, is a much better chaser on a flatter track, but like his neighbour at Closutton he has a big engine. When I spoke to Ruby Walsh last year he told me it was hard to pick between Kemboy and Al Boum Photo. It would possibly come down to ground conditions. Al Boum Photo perfoms better soft surface, while Kemboy is a speedier animal, served well by drying ground.
Its fact that Al Boum Photo is a better jumper of a fence and a stronger stayer. This makes him a clear best from the yard, even on good-to-soft turf.
Cheltenham Gold Cup Betting Tips
It doesn’t take an oracle to tell you that Delta Work is a very smart chaser. His jumping is solid and he has a tidy turn of foot. To win both the Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup back-to-back takes some doing. However, taking a closer look at the results raises some eyebrows.
In the first of those contests, there was only four lengths between the first five home. A month later, four and a half lengths covered the first four and on both occasions Delta Work was hardly pulling clear at the finish.
Delta Work put in his place by Topofthegame and Santini in last year’s RSA Chase. Although he’s exceeded since then, I think Santini will improve by at least four lengths as he looks a stronger stayer.
Santini looked short of work in the paddock for his seasonal debut at Sandown. Nicky Henderson admitted he was disappointed but had left a load to work on. However, given a break, the son of Milan showed the benefit of that run when he galloped Bristol de Mai and co into the ground in the Cotswold Chase.
Man pundits agree his Cheltenham Gold Cup Betting Odds of 4/1 are too short. However, I expect another step forward from him and that could take him past the level set by the current champion.
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Cheltenham Gold Cup Runners
Monalee looks a doubtful stayer. He ran out of steam out close home at Leopardstown which he has done several times in the past. While Presenting Percy is held by several of his rivals on Irish form. In five runs since winning the 2018 RSA Chase, Presenting Percy slick jumping has faltered. His time has gone at championship level despite being lightly raced for a nine-year-old.
Paul Nicholls described Clans Des Obeaux as “bigger and stronger” after winning the King George. The trainer believes, therefore, his charge will have a better chance of getting up the hill. Talk about cliches!
The weather will impact his chances. On soft ground, expect a typical Gold Cup slug fest. I’m afraid Clans Des Obeaux lacks the stamina that some of his rivals do. On genuinely good ground I think he could have place claims.
Rachael Blackmore beautifully handled Chris’s Dream to land the Red Mills Chase over two and a half miles last time out. However, we know he possesses the stamina to see out this trip from his superb weight carrying performance in the Troytown Chase. On my figures, he needs to find upwards of 8lbs to land win, but one-to-watch.
We have already mentioned the Cotswold Chase and the strong staying performance of Santini with Bristol de Mai in second spot. Nigel Twiston-Davies is aggrieved his charge is eight times the price of the Henderson horse and he has a case. Yes, he would have been closer but for a stumble three out, but I don’t think it would have made any difference to the result.
Lostintranslation must bounce back from a pitiful display at Kempton. Previously, very effective on deep ground, but a wind operation could stunt his progress. His Cheltenham record is fair, finishing a staying on seventh in the 2018 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and then winning the
Interestingly, Losintranslation is strong in the market and Santini aside he could remain very progressive if the wind procedure worked.
Cheltenham Gold Cup Prediction
In conclusion – With many stout stayers in this line-up there will be nowhere to hide from a stamina point of view – even on good-to-soft going. If there’s a question mark over any horse in the final quarter, they will be found out.
My choices for the Cheltenham Gold Cup are unoriginal choices. However if the race develops as I think it will then this could chiefly concern Al Boum Photo and SANTINI. At the moment, I prefer the latter after his win here in January. Is another huge step forward likely? Of the bigger priced runners, Bristol De Mai is over-priced and he could hit the frame, a remark that also applies to the sure footed Chris’s Dream.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is on 13th March 2020 at 15:30
If you wish to place a bet on the Gold Cup you can do so by clicking on the odds of one of our specially chosen bookmaker partners in this very article. Or you can head over to our betting odds pages to see the odds for the Gold Cup and more.
Al Boum Photo won the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup with a SP of 12/1. Anibale Fly finished second with a SP of 22/1, while Bristol De Mai rounded up the top three with an SP of 18/1.
Golden Miller won the Gold Cup five times in the 1930s and is still the most successful horse in Cheltenham Gold Cup history. Golden Miller won in 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935 and 1936 and was owned by Dorothy Paget.
No jockey has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup than Pat Taaffe with four victories. Pat Taaffe won the Grade One race three times with Arkle in 1964, 1065 and 1966.
The prize purse for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019 was £625,000 with the winner, Al Boum Photo, taking away £351, 688.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is over 3 miles 2 furlongs and 70 yards.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is open to horses aged five-years-old and upwards. The required weight is 11st 8lbs for five-year-olds and 11st 10lbs for 6 year-olds. There is a 7lbs weight allowance for mares.
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