Gold Cup day marks the biggest event in the jump racing calendar
The final day of the festival marks the most highly anticipated day in the National Hunt racing calendar with the Magners Gold Cup taking center stage.
While the Grand National may be seen as the race of the people, the most prestigious and coveted contest in the world of jumps racing is undoubtedly the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Its roll of honour features the names of such chasers as Arkle, Best Mate and Kauto Star. The Gold Cup is the most valuable non-handicap chase in Britain, and in 2019 it offered a total prize fund of £625,000.
Around 100,000 are expected to flock to Prestbury Park today but a reduced attendance on last years figure is expected to see if Al Boum Photo can win back to back Gold Cups.
Here is our ultimate race by race guide to Gold Cup day with a few tips on where we think the money is to be won.
1.30 – JCB Triumph hurdle (Grade 1) 2m1f
This is a hot affair, but it is hard to find fault with Goshen, who has yet to be seriously challenged in three wins where he recorded total winning distances of 68 lengths. Horses he has left in his wake have later won handicaps off marks indicating that Goshen achieved something notable when beating them. Allmankind is another with few negatives and is also unbeaten in three starts. Both like to set their own fractions and it may be the one that settles best that comes out on top. Burning Victory might turn out to be the best of these in the long term. She overcame her inexperience when winning a slowly-run Grade 3 event at Fairyhouse on her sole start and when she learns to jump better and race in a more economical fashion she will surely progress significantly. Solo made an impressive start for Paul Nichols, destroying a decent field at Kempton and looks smart.
Our Tip: Solo will clearly need to take another step forward at the Cheltenham Festival, but his running style of being able to settle in behind the leaders will be perfect considering the previously discussed front-runners. The fact that Solo was forced to take up the running four from home at Kempton suggests he will be suited to a stronger gallop, and he looks like a potential superstar in the making.
14:10 – County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – 2m1f
A typically-competitive handicap that is perennially tough to solve. Zanza seems to be heading in the right direction and was not beaten far in the season’s top handicap hurdle, the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, when just getting chopped for room and tactical speed. If he enjoys better fortune he can go well at a decent price. Elusive Belle, Beat The Judge and Scaramanga were all on the bookmakers short-lis. Mohaayed is the best-handicapped horse. He won this in 2018 and was seventh last year but has struggled this season and the wind operation he has had since last running will need to spark a major revival of form.
Our tip: We’ve had our eyes on Aramon for this two-mile Handicap since the entries came out, especially as he ran well when eight-and-a-half lengths 5th in the Grade 1 Irish Champion Hurdle last month. The form looks even stronger when you consider Aramon beat stablemate and subsequent Champion Hurdle second Sharjah by two-and-a-quarter lengths at Leopardstown. At 7/1 an each way bet seems a smart move here.
14:50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) – 3m
Harry Senior, who has shown he likes an uphill finish and give in the ground, is unproven at the trip but has shaped as though he will enjoy the test of stamina. Even more has to be taken on trust regarding Janidil getting home. He has raced exclusively at two miles, but has shown a good attitude and some class. There is a strong word for Latest Exhibition, who has already won at this level, while Champion Jockey Richard Johnson has said that Thyme Hill is his best chance at the meeting.
Our Tip: Gordon Elliot’s Fury Road won his Maiden Hurdle at Down Royal in November by eighteen-lengths, and he followed up in a Grade 3 at Navan on his next start with another easy success. Fury Road was stepped up into Grade 2 company for his next start at Limerick over Christmas, contesting a 3m Novice Hurdle for the first time. The ground was desperate over the Christmas period at Limerick, but Fury Road traveled through the race supremely well. As this race is paying out 6 places, an each way bet at 7/2 seems a smart bet.
15:30 – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1)
The biggest race of the festival and the jump race season sees the Gold Cup take center stage with a very open field. There are doubts and question marks surrounding almost every runner and it is hard to make a confident selection going into this race. The response to Al Boum Photo’s victory last year has perhaps been underwhelming. He has done little wrong since, although it has to be said that back-to-back wins are rare. Delta Work is a battler and knows how to win. Success for the progressive Santini would certainly cap Nicky Henderson’s already hugely-successful week. If this turns into a war then he will surely be staying on strongly up the hill and fighting out the finish.
Our Tip: Lostintranslation is one of our absolute favourite Horses in training, and he was extremely impressive when beating Bristol De Mai in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Ascot in November. Although disappointing in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, Lostintranslation has been given ample time to recover, and has been laid out for the Gold Cup. The drying ground will suit this Colin Tizzard Horse, who I’d love to see bounce back to form. In e day where each way betting might be sensible, perhaps that is sensible given he is running at 8/1.
16:10 – Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase (Class 2) – 3m2½f
The fortunes of Minella Roco been restored since he switched to hunter chases and the 2017 Gold Cup second beat last year’s winner of this race, Hazel Hill, fair and square at Wetherby recently. Don Poli is another to have been placed in a Gold Cup – he was third in 2018 – and he has rediscovered winning form in point-to-points. Shantou Flyer, who finished second last year, should give his enthusiastic, and capable, rider another fine ride around these fences.
Our Tip: Caid Du Berlais ran awfully at Cheltenham last season, but he’s had a much better preparation this time around with 54 days between runs. Despite pulling up 12 months ago, Caid Du Berlais still turned up at Punchestown to bolt-up by 28 lengths. If he’s in similar form tomorrow, he can make 14/1 look like a massive price.
16:50 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) – 2m½f
It seems neck and neck between Ballywood and Lisp going into this race with little to tell between them. Greaneteen could easily be ahead of his mark and can make the frame. Last year’s winner Croco Bay and the recently rejuvenated Gino Trail are two more horses that could run well in this one.
Our Tip: Eclair De Beaufeu won well at the Dublin Racing Festival last month under top conditional Sean O’Keffee, and this 5lbs claimer can help to repeat the trick here.
17:30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle (Class 2)
There has been a persistent tip for Front View for this race but at present odds he represents no value and stablemate ASSEMBLE, who was just a neck behind Front View in a decent race at Thurles last time, is around four times the price and has the assistance from the saddle of one of Ireland’s most promising talents. Gordon Elliott has two that race from decent marks in Escaria Ten and Column of Fire. Indefatigable chased home Coral Cup winner Dame de Compagnie here in December and is hard to dismiss, even with top weight.
Our Tip: My first selection for the Martin Pipe unsurprisingly hails from the Gordon Elliot yard, who has a formidable record in the past three runnings; 1st and 3rd in 2017, 1st and 4th in 2018, 2nd and 3rd in 2019. Both Champagne Classic (2017) and Blow By Blow (2018) wore the famous Maroon jacket of Gigginstown House Stud, and connections can make amends for hitting the crossbar twelve months ago with Column Of Fire.
The Races have been confirmed as going ahead amid the Coronavirus outbreak and a great day of racing in promised from Prestbury Park.
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