In the latest of GG’s Cheltenham Festival previews, Andrew Mount (@trendhorses) gives us his strong views and his latest Cheltenham Gold Cup tips
The last ten winners were aged between six and nine.
The 20-year record of those aged ten or older is 0-78.
Key contenders: AL BOUM PHOTO
Last year’s winner heads the betting at a best-priced 4-1 and has had a Best Mate-style ‘cotton wool’ preparation, running just once previously this season - when comfortably accounting for Acapella Bourgeois at Tramore On New Year’s Day.
His chase record when completing the course stands at 1211121 (5-7), with both defeats in Grade 1 company. He’s still only an eight-year-old and the light preparation gives him every chance of repeating last year’s heroics.
Just lost out to Topofthegame in what looked a strong renewal of the RSA Chase last season, finishing almost two lengths in front of Delta Work.
He only scraped home from Now McGinty – subsequently disappointing in the Welsh National – on his reappearance at Sandown but was far more impressive in the Cotswold Chase last time, asserting on the run in to put Bristol De Mai in his place, with the pair pulling well clear of the remainder.
That was his first start following wind surgery and it took his career form figures to 1113113211 (7-10) if we include his point-to-point win. If we were going to pick holes in his record we could say that he’s been to the festival twice and been beaten twice (he was third when 11-4 favourite for the 2018 Albert Bartlett) but, baring accidents, it’s hard not to imagine him not being there or thereabouts once more.
Landed the Pertemps Final in 2018 and, while his RSA third was a cracking effort, he didn’t have the ideal preparation, missing an intended run at Leopardstown in February because of unsuitably quick ground.
In need of the outing at Down Royal on November’s comeback, he’s two from two since, accounting for Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup last time when the ground would have been plenty quick enough.
His chase record when returned to the track within eight weeks of a previous run now reads 11111 (5-5).
Found the 2m4f trip on the sharp side when runner-up to Defi Du Seuil in last season’s JLT (now the Marsh Chase) and he clearly relished the step up to 3m1f when slamming Topofthegame at Aintree.
He got the better of Bristol De Mai on that one’s home turf in the Betfair Chase before pulling up with breathing difficulties in the King George.
He’s had a wind op since that disappointment and his trainer, Colin Tizzard, has an 11 from 60 record with his runners returning from wind surgery (18.3% strike-rate, +£25.19 to a £1 level stake at SP). Don’t be surprised to see him bounce back here.
Dual King George winner could finish only an 11-length fifth when 5-1 for this race last season and has had a different preparation this time around, skipping the Denman Chase at Newbury to arrive at Cheltenham a fresh horse.
However, I suspect it was the Cheltenham track rather than the recent outing that beat him last year. His Cheltenham record stands at 26225 (0-5) and the lack of a run since Boxing Day might not be ideal for a horse whose last three seasonal debuts have resulted in defeat at odds of 5-4 (in a match), 11-1 and 7-4 favourite.
Was just 8-1 for this race 12 months ago but was tightened up at the first fence and unseated his rider. He set the record straight with wins at Aintree and Punchestown last spring and, like many from the Willie Mullins yard, he was in need of the run on his reappearance.
However, he jumped poorly when favourite to beat Delta Work in the Irish Gold Cup and his fencing could let him down in a big field.
Victorious in 2018, was only fourth last year and ten-year-olds are 0-50 in the past 20 years. He’s two from two since blinkered but is unlikely to get his own way in front and will probably find a few too good once again.
Sent off as the 100-30 favourite for this race last year when bidding for a festival hat-trick (he won the 2017 Pertemps Final and 2018 RSA) but could only finish eighth.
He’s hardly set the world alight since and was only third behind Delta Work in his final prep race. At the time of writing, trainer Pat Kelly had sent out just one winner (from 95 runners) since the beginning of 2019.
Is to Haydock what Cyrname is to Ascot but he did place in this race at 18-1 last year and lost nothing in defeat when runner-up to Santini in his prep race. Soft or heavy going could see him run third or fourth at a big price.
Given Colin Tizzard’s good record with his runners returning from wind surgery, ELEGANT ESCAPE wouldn’t be the worst each-way bet at around 50-1 if the ground was soft or heavy. He reportedly lost a shoe when a 20-1 sixth on unsuitably fast ground last year.
Clan Des Obeaux (track), Kemboy (jumping) and Native River (age) are the ones to oppose at the front end of the market.
Al Boum Photo and Santini are solid enough but a recent outing looks key to the prospects of DELTA WORK and he can reverse last year’s RSA form with Nicky Henderson’s runner. A back-to-form Lostintranslation would be a danger to all and Elegant Escape wouldn’t be the worst 50-1 shot of the week if the ground came in his favour.
Andrew Mount’s best bet
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