The biggest horse race of the season in the United Kingdom and Ireland is getting closer with every passing day. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the race that all jockeys, trainers and owners look to win every year, as it brings together the best horses in training.
This year’s event promises to be one of the most unpredictable in recent years, with a number of credible contenders looking to end the dominance that Al Boum Photo has enjoyed in the race.
Still, will any of the horses in question have a realistic chance of ending the Willie Mullins-trained horse in his quest for a historic third success in a row?
Al Boum Photo Looks Solid
Only one horse in the last 50 years has won the Gold Cup in three consecutive years, as Best Mate defied logic to win the Blue Riband race on three occasions between 2002 and 2004.
That is the target for Al Boum Photo this year, as he looks to achieve the same feat that was achieved by the great horse. In truth, there are very few holes that you can pick in Al Boum Photo’s form, as Willie Mullins has found a winning formula and has stuck to it.
His success in 2019 was the longest-priced winner since Lord Windermere in 2014, but he was set off as the heavy favourite 12 months later. Still, some looked to opposed the then-eight-year-old, with picks such as Santini and Lostintranslation both shortening throughout the day.
However, there was evidence in both successes that he can win different types of Gold Cups. The first success was a quick-paced renewal of the race, was his last victory, as he beat Santini by a neck was a fine example that he can win a tactical renewal too.
There are very few arguments against Al Boum Photo winning a third straight success, expect for the fact that history shows just how extremely difficult it is to achieve.
Champ & A Plus Tard Given Huge Chance
The final declarations haven’t yet been made for the Gold Cup, but by examining the runners that look set to run in the race this year, you can safely predict that the pace will be a quick one.
Frodon, Kemboy and Native River will set an almighty sprint, and that could open the door for a number of the other front-runners should they get a strong position in the race.
Champ has been strong in the market since it was made clear that he would be attempting to win the Gold Cup for trainer Nicky Henderson.
The nine-year-old was excellent at the Festival last year when he beat Minella Indo by a length in the RSA Chase. His prep run for the Gold Cup came at Newbury over two miles, which is a mile less than the Gold Cup will be run at. But still, his performance was worth taking note.
A Plus Tard is another leading contender for the Irish and is a proven stayer over three miles. His last performance was excellent at Leopardstown as he beat Kemboy by half a length, and is rightly considered among the leading chances.
Horses Being Overlooked
There are no bad horses in the Gold Cup this year, which means that gamblers could look further down the market for value. Many experts are already writing off the chances of Frodon, but his King George win on Boxing Day shouldn’t be overlooked as he beat Santini.
Frodon would certainly be an emotional pick, as Bryony Frost will be looking to become the first female to ride the winner in the Gold Cup, and you wouldn’t write off that happening with a horse that she has already achieved so much with.
Santini is another that is a proven stayer, and despite disappointing recent form, he did finish a close second behind Al Boum Photo last year. Native River is also a past winner of the Gold Cup, and produced an excellent display on his last run at Sandown.
If you like horse racing, make sure to also check out the TwinSpires.com odds for May’s Kentucky Derby: https://twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/odds