The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the feature race of the Cheltenham Festival. It is also one of the races that every jockey, trainer and owner in the sport
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the feature race of the Cheltenham Festival. It is also one of the races that every jockey, trainer and owner in the sport dreams of winning at some point in their career.
This year’s renewal will see the best horses in the division in the UK and Ireland clash for the top prize. Here is a look at the leading contenders.
A Plus Tard
Talented Irish chaser A Plus Tard fell just over a length short of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2021. He had to settle for second place behind his stablemate Minella Indo. Their trainer Henry de Bromhead capped off an incredible festival with the 1-2 in the big race.
A Plus Tard will be amongst many pundits’ horse racing tips for the meeting this year. He is the 7/2 favourite for the 3m2f race as he has improved since his runner-up finish on his first attempt at the contest.
The highlight of the season so far for A Plus Tard was his victory at Haydock in the Betfair Chase over 3m. On the basis on that performance, he could be the one to beat. He also is likely to have Rachael Blackmore in the saddle and after the festival she had in 2021, that is a big positive.
Stamina at Cheltenham is not going to be a problem for Galvin. He won the National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices’ Chase at the course last year. That race takes place over 3m6f. Since then, the horse has continued to showcase his Gold Cup credentials.
Gordon Elliott’s runner scored at Punchestown in a Grade Three event on his opening outing of the season. He then finished a close second behind Frodon in the Champion Chase at Down Royal.
An opening Grade One success arrived for Galvin at Leopardstown at the end of 2021. He won the Savills Chase, beating A Plus Tard by a short head, in what was a close finish at the Irish course.
Only two horses since 2000 have been able to win back-to-back Cheltenham Gold Cups, so that is a stat which Minella Indo is looking to defy when he lines up as the defending champion. Best Mate and Al Boum Photo were the two horses who were able to retain their crown.
The way the chaser powered up the hill at the end of the race last March will give his connections a lot of confidence that a repeat win could be achieved. His form this season has not been great yet, however, he has been trained to peak at the Cheltenham Festival.
A return to a left-handed track should also help last year’s winner. In his last appearance in the King George VI Chase at Kempton, he did not seem to enjoy jumping right-handed. He was eventually pulled up in that Boxing Day feature by Blackmore. Expect to see a much better performance in March.
The 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup takes place on the 18th March and it will be the 94th edition of the steeplechase.