There’s nothing like dusting off the National Hunt formbooks with a view to finding some ante-post value for next year’s Cheltenham Festival, and this week we’re having a Cheltenham Gold Cup Ante-Post preview:
Cheltenham’s Blue Riband event is run on the final day of the festival, and there’s no hiding place for any horse who doesn’t get the 3-mile 2-fulong trip. Only Trainer Paul Nicholls and Jockey Ruby Walsh have won the race more than once in the last decade, whilst winners in that time have been aged between 6 and 9, with four 8-year-olds and four 9-year-old being successful.
Here’s our assessment of the most likely winners.
National Hunt purists are rightly excited by Colin Tizzard’s strapping 8-year-old after his facile win on his chasing debut. It’s also unlikely, because of his age, that connections will run him in the RSA at the Festival but, a World Hurdle winner winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup is not something I’ve witnessed, so I have to overlook him at this stage at such punitive odds.
Willie Mullins must still be wondering if last year’s Ryan Air winner would have won him his first Gold Cup if he’d taken his chance, and he’s been at his best at the Cheltenham Festival in each of the last two seasons. Won’t be 8/1 if he turns-up, but his nagging stamina doubts are still enough to put me off.
Don Cossack 10/1
Only Best Mate has won consecutive Gold Cups since L’Escargot did it in 1970/71, and only time will if this one returns from injury as good as he was. I do love this horse, but I’m happy to wait until later in the year before thinking about getting involved.
Cue Card 11/1
Many thought he would have won last year’s Gold Cup if he hadn’t of fallen, however the last 11-year-old to win the Gold Cup was Mandarin way back in 1962.
The 2014 winner simply ran his rivals ragged, however it’s asking a lot of him to do a Kauto Star and regain his title two-years on. Connections think he’s better than ever, but would probably need soft ground.
Willie Mullins looks sure to aim him at the race again after being runner-up the last two years, and the 7-year-old could still find plenty of improvement. Hard to discount, though he currently looks vulnerable to a horse with star quality.
Killultagh Vic 25/1
The last horse to beat Thistlecrack over hurdles was backed like he was a certainty for one of the novice chases at last year’s festival, but injury curtailed his season. Looks the real dark horse in the field, but unlikely to be seen until after Christmas.
Valseur Lido 25/1
Looked sure to win the Irish Hennessey until capsizing at the last, and really caught the eye when running on to be second in the 2016 Ryan Air Chase. Looks to want three-miles, and could well be the value if Gigginstown allow him to take his chance in the big one this season.
Last season’s RSA winner is blessed with abundant stamina, but still needs to find around a stone to trouble the best of these. Could improve, but there’s a lot of top-quality chasers around at the moment.
More Of That 40/1
Looks a big price as he was sent off very short for last year’s RSA, but connections are worried that he doesn’t have the required stamina. Backed into favouritism for next month’s BetVictor Gold Cup though, and price will surely plummet if he wins that.
Cheltenham Gold Cup Ante-Post Tip
Each one of the horse mentioned above brings about a twinge of excitement, but I’m going to nail my ante-post colours to Valseur Lido – who I think will definitely win a big race this year.
Valseur Lido 1 Point Win @ 25/1 (General)
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