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3.05 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Friday 18 March | Age: 5yo+ | Prize: £625,000
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the highlight of the Cheltenham Festival and the most prestigious race of the entire Jumps season. It takes place each year on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival in March.
It's the biggest race of the week and looks like it has a field to match with all the big names turning up.
Dual winner Al Boum Photo returns in an attempt to win a remarkable three in a row which really would be something. Like most of the racing public I haven't warmed to the horse for some reason, probably because I've never backed him!
I'm going to overlook him again in the hope that there is something better this year although I have to say that the 11/4 available as I type this is actually a fair price in my book.
In my Gold Cup ante post preview at the end of January I recommended an each way bet on CHAMP at 10-1 so we have that value in the bag and he is now a general 9-2. I was on him for the RSA and couldn't believe my eyes when he stormed up the hill from out the back of the telly to win on the line. I've never seen anything like it.
He is clearly a horse with incredible talent who is somewhat quirky at times but good or good to soft ground should suit nicely, his jumping was better last time over 2 miles when he was thrown at his fences and the engine that he has under the bonnet to do what he has done on the track just can't be ignored. I would say that 9-2 is probably just a fair price, no better than that so I'm not going to go in again at that price but he is my idea of the winner.
As alternatives I don't really fancy A Plus Tard and think he is flattered a bit by his Irish form. I could make a case for Santini on softer ground but he is too slow to go with them on this sort of ground surely? I love Royale Pagaille but again I think they will go too fast for him and I'm not a Minella Indo fan. Kemboy is a dodgy jumper and hasn't done it at Cheltenham in the past and it's not soft enough for Native River I wouldn't think.
That leaves me thinking, quite remarkably, that FRODON could actually have a chance here.
I have never been convinced that he really wants 3 miles at the top top level (never mind 3 m 2f here) but he showed me in style at Kempton in the King George that he can do it.
He has performed well round Cheltenham in the past and he is such a good jumper at pace that he could get a few of these working hard to stay with him.
I still think he would be vulnerable to something like Champ or Al Boum Photo outstaying him up the hill but I've seen worse 14-1 shots. I think it is worth a small each way just in case.
This bet is completely dependent on good or good to soft ground though. If there is rain on Thursday by the time you are reading this then he isn't a bet and my main selection for the race remains Champ.
Voice of Value's Gold Cup Tips
- Frodon 1pt ew at 14-1 with Ladbrokes and Coral (both paying 4 places and BOG)
- Already advised: Champ ew at 10-1
There’s little doubt that Al Boum Photo is capable of delivering the revered hat-trick, and arrives fit and healthy after another light campaign. This time, however, he may have to give second-best to a talented young pretender in A PLUS TARD.
Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore have enjoyed a stellar festival and this could be the icing on the cake. A Plus Tard’s raw speed saw him take the measure of Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown and he produced an exceptional performance here last March when annihilating his rivals in the novices’ handicap chase. A Plus Tard has since gone on to land the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown and although that was a gruelling examination, he has been kept fresh for this blue riband contest.
Champ produced an eye-catching performance on comeback in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury but this represents a very different test. He produced one of the finishes of the season to catch Minella Indo (fluffed final fence) in last year’s RSA Chase, overcoming a few indifferent leaps. He jumped much better at Newbury but any flaws in that department will be exposed ruthlessly at this level. That said, he has an engine all right and rates a threat.
Having backed Santini last year, I’d be gutted if he did the business. That seems unlikely on the evidence of some tepid efforts this season, although Nicky Henderson hopes a visor will buck up his ideas. The ground has gone against Native River and it could also find out better-fancied Royale Pigaille.
Thommo's Gold Cup Tips
- A Plus Tard 7/2 (Casumo)
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