The biggest race of not only the festival, but of the whole racing calendar. I read last year that there are more bets placed on Gold Cup day than any other in the calendar, including Grand National day. It's the one race that all owners strive to win and as a result it's been fiercely competitive over the years. But the reward for winning this race is a place in history, so many winners of this race are household names and earn almost legendary status. Denman, Kauto Star; Best Mate, L'escargot, Dawn Run; Arkle and Golden Miller both even have races at the festival in honour of them. You could go on forever! In my opinion two time winner Al Boum Photo has never quite got the credit he deserves, a back to back winner of the Gold Cup isn't something you see every day. Third in the race last year when bidding for a hattrick, he comes here again looking to regain his crown with a live chance.
This years' race looks particularly strong and as a result, there is 6 horses all 10/1 or shorter for the race. Last years' winner, Minella Indo, and second, A Plus Tard, are again right to the fore of the market. A Plus Tard definitely having had a better season en route to the race than Minella Indo, we have him as the 10/3 favourite, with Minella Indo third favourite at 11/2. Splitting them in the betting is last years' National Hunt Chase winner, Galvin, who has surprised many, including myself, as being up to this sort of level. I thought he was a very good horse, but more one for the Cross Country or Grand National. All closely matched in the market, the form also ties in between them. A Plus Tard doesn't usually have the best record on reappearance, so for him to beat subsequent Peter Marsh winner, Royale Pagaille, by 22 lengths whilst never coming off the bridle was striking. He shortened all the way in from 9/1 into 3/1 based on that. Galvin won on his reappearance too, in a grade three beating a decent but not spectacular field. He did however win that easily and just three weeks later turned out in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase, where an enterprising ride on Frodon by Bryony Frost saw him take it from the front. Galvin showed excellent staying power as you'd expect, finishing well to end up less than a length back in second. There was a further four lengths back to Minella Indo, who admittedly wasn't fit at all, but still a very encouraging run for his first time in open grade one company. That was Minella Indo's first run and connections were expecting him to come on massively for it, the three all reappeared over the Christmas racing period, Minella running no race at all in the King George, he was pulled up. Maybe that was a combination of cheekpieces and trying to take on Frodon, but it would be fair to write that off. He ran again at the Dublin Racing Festival, in the Irish Gold Cup staying on well to take second without ever looking like getting to the shock winner, Conflated. I think going back to Cheltenham where he always runs well and the extra two furlongs could really make the difference for him. Just two days later, we had both Galvin and A Plus Tard running in the Savills Chase. A Plus Tard two fences out looked comfortably the winner, Rachael had ridden him cold and wide before cruising into the race to take it up, Galvin contrastingly looked outpaced and beaten before picking up brilliantly to chin A Plus Tard on the line. On the face of it Galvin should be shorter in the market as we know he stays well and the extra two furlongs will do him no harm at confirming that form with A Plus Tard. Just behind the two in third was Kemboy, who was well beaten behind Minella Indo in that Irish Gold Cup, so the three really are closely matched on what they’ve done this season.
The next few contenders in the market are Protektorat at 9/1, I personally would have him at double that price, he won a poor Many Clouds Chase in awful conditions with only three finishers. He won impressively but beat a subsequently retired Native River who hadn't been the force of old. I wouldn't touch him with a barge poll for a Gold Cup. Last years' third Al Boum Photo sits at 10/1 and won his usual prep run around Tramore beating just three other rivals, all Mullins trained. He did at least show he's in good order and comes with an each way shout, though I can't see any reason he would reverse last years' form with Minella Indo and A Plus Tard. Particularly as Mullins had said he wanted to run him a few more times this year and hasn't been able to because of the ground. Not that Mullins can't ready one to win fresh, just it was!'t his original plan. After those two we have Conflated, the shock winner of the Irish Gold Cup. His previous best form had been at two and a half miles and I wouldn't be certain of him staying this extra two furlongs. Connections didn't rule out the Ryanair or this race, I'd give him an each way chance in either. King George winner Tornado Flyer was a bit of a shock result and possibly the benefactor of a ridiculous place and a clever ride by the brilliant Danny Mullins. Another who may be better suited to a Ryanair, his only previous run over 3 miles he was a well beaten fifth in the previous years' Savills Chase. The 3 miles at Kempton couldn't be further from the 3 mile 2 furlongs at Cheltenham in terms of staying chases and whether he would stay on this stiffer track is up for debate. You are getting a more than fair 14/1 for a King George winner though.
The final horse who I think it's worth discussing is Chantry House for Nicky Henderson. The winner of last years Marsh, he was also previously third in the Supreme won by Shishkin. He's a very underrated horse as he isn't flashy and people always find a way to crab his wins. Envoi Allen falling to hand him the Marsh, same with Espoir De Romay in the Mildmay at Aintree. For a horse that's only been out of the top three once in his rules career and a two time grade one winner, I think he gets a lot of unfair stick. Even going back to his point to point, he looked set to win before falling 3 out. The horse who benefitted from that fall and ended up winning was none other than Monkfish. His first run this year was his first outside of novice company, we didn't learn much as there was only one rival that day, The Big Breakaway. He won very easily by 37 lengths and shortened massively for this race. His next start he went off favourite for the King George but made mistakes and was eventually pulled up, that was quite the baptism of fire into grade one company and with Minella Indo also pulled up you could argue a case for writing that off. His next start he bounced back with a win in the Cotswold Chase, beating Santini by two and a half lengths, people were underwhelmed as always with him, but he got the job done whilst giving weight away to a horse that had previously placed second in a Gold Cup. He would obviously need to improve on that to figure here, but connections said after that race he wasn't 100% fit and should come on for the run.
The rest of the runners you can put a line through straight away- Denman Chase winner Eldorado Allen is going for the Ryanair; Ahoy Senor will go for a novice chase or to Aintree; Royale Pagaille is a good heavy ground handicapper, but not a Gold Cup horse; Allaho will run in the Ryanair; Asterion Forlonge doesn't seem to stay this far; Fiddlerontheroof is a handicapper; Mount Ida is going for the Mares' Chase; Fakir Doudaries, Ryanair; Lostintranslation doesn't stay well enough and should also go for the Ryanair; Santini would need to start yesterday; Melon doesn't want this far. The rest are 100/1 and you too can ignore them, Aye Right and Chatham Street lad aren't up to this level; Delta Work has been regressive; Imperial Aura won't run again this season; Mister Fisher and Saint Calvados are both intermediate trip horses that wouldn't stay this far and Run Wild Fred is a novice and as much as I love him, also not good enough for a Gold Cup. So really outside of the main 8 or so in the market, the race is actually pretty weak.
I only added one selection for this race on my Ante Post blog, a real long shot that unfortunately isn't going to run. Next Destination - Gold Cup 80/1 0.5pts each way (26/07/2021)
It’s always the risk backing fragile horses like him and Ferny Hollow, but unfortunately he’s had another set back and won’t be running. It’s a shame because he’s a talented horse and I still think 80/1 was a crazy price.
I'll play two bets here in order to have a couple to cheer on, firstly on Galvin, a 1pt win bet at 9/2. I think this race will suit him more than the Savills did and he will be staying on. The other selection will be 0.5ts each way on Chantry House at 25/1 who will be fitter and hopefully can run a big race here.