The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the signature race of the Cheltenham Festival and the jewel in the crown of the National Hunt season in the United Kingdom and Ireland. All the leading owners, trainers, and jockeys are desperate to win the race to etch their names in the history of the sport.
All bettors want to know which horse will emerge victorious. It can be the trickiest of all races at the festival to predict given the quality of competitors in the contest. So, here are three horses that could be primed for success in the Gold Cup.
A Plus Tard
If you have tracked the horse racing results this season you will know that A Plus Tard is certainly one to watch. A Plus Tard crossed the line well ahead of the rest of the field at the Lancashire Chase at Haydock Park and stunned his rivals with a sensational performance to kickstart his 2021/22 campaign. The French thoroughbred competed in the Gold Cup last season and finished second behind his stable-mate Minella Indo.
With Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, Henry de Bromhead’s charge has the potential to go one better in the race this term to capture the crown, and spectators will be eagerly monitoring the fast results to see how this jockey fares. A Plus Tard was beaten in his last outing at the Savills Chase at Leopardstown, which could give cause for concern. Should he operate at the peak of his powers, then bettors backing the French thoroughbred will have little to worry about. He is a special horse and certainly has the caliber of a Gold Cup winner.
Galvin could be the reason to doubt A Plus Tard simply because the Irish thoroughbred beat his rival in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown. Gordon Elliott’s charge put forward an outstanding display to win the event, finishing a short head in front of A Plus Tard. Galvin has had potential throughout his career, but finally might be unleashing the peak of his powers.
His performance initially underwhelmed at Cheltenham Festival in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle by finishing sixth in 2019 and then as a chaser in 2020 in the Novices’ Handicap Chase, finishing second behind Imperial Aura. He registered his first win at the Festival last season in the National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices’ Chase, and could be ready for a charge in the Gold Cup. Don Cossack was Elliott’s last winner in 2016, Galvin could end his wait for a second champion.
The returning champion will aim to match the feat of Al Boum Photo to win back-to-back Gold Cups. Jack Kennedy brought out a fine performance in his charge last season, timing his surge to perfection to beat out his stable-mate by one-and-a-quarter lengths. The Irish thoroughbred jumped well when it mattered the most, finding a rhythm a decisive moment to take the crown.
A second win in a row in the Gold Cup does look unlikely given his form over the course of the season. Minella Indo was off the pace behind Frodon and Galvin in the Champions Chase at Down Royal in October, placing down in third in the event.
He looked to be competing well against a talented field in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park in December, but the pace got to him in the end and Blackmore in the saddle was forced to pull him up three fences before the end of the contest. Stranger things have happened in the Gold Cup, but backing Minella Indo on his current form might be a stretch even if you can find optimum value.