The Cheltenham Gold Cup: Runners and Their Chances of Winning
After three days of thrilling action at Prestbury Park the festival closes today with the greatest race of them all – the iconic Cheltenham Gold Cup.
A field of 13 rivals will go to post at 3.30pm with a chance for horse and rider to write their names into the annuals of history and turn themselves into legends.
The Favourite: Galopin Des Champs
The clear favourite and fancy of the Irish is a banker for many. Winner of the Irish Gold Cup, his only blip in two years was falling at the last when miles clear in a Grade One Novices’ Chase at the festival last year. The one to beat and stamina concerns overblown.
Last Year’s Winner: Al Boum Photo
Last year’s Gold Cup winner will be looking for a repeat triumph and with Rachael Blackmore on board will be sure to have plenty of backers. But a troubled preparation, with his only run since last year’s victory coming when he was pulled up in the Betfair Chase in November, means others are fancied more.
The Best Hope of the British: Bravemansgame
Paul Nicholls’ eight-year-old looks the best hope of the British and the Ditcheat yard will be boosted by the success of Stage Star in yesterday’s opener. A winner of this season’s King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Charlie Hall, Harry Cobden’s mount is one of the leading form picks of the race.
The Grand National Winner: Minella Rocco
Robert Waley-Cohen’s Grand National winner will be on a lot of shortlists. The eight-year-old may lack the pace in a fastly-run race, but will be hoping the rain keeps coming and if this turns into a stamina-sapping slog then he could make the frame.
The Irish Contender: Kemboy
Willie Mullins’ eight-year-old was a winner of the 3m6f chase at last year’s festival so stamina not in question. Hasn’t won in two starts this season but was second behind Galopin Des Champs in the Irish Gold Cup. Hard to see how he would reverse the form with the favourite but could follow him home.
The Local Hero: Aye Right
Lucinda Russell’s stable star shot into contention with a win here in the Cotswolds Chase on festival trials day beating the likes of Noble Yeats and Protektorat. Second in a Grade One Novice Chase at last year’s festival, he clearly likes the track and is not without an each way chance.
The Recent Winner: Delta Work
An impressive winner at Leopardstown last time out, his only venture to Cheltenham was in last year’s Ryanair Chase where he fell three out. The nine-year-old for Gordon Elliott is coming into the race in decent form but doubts remain over the extended trip here.
The Defending Runner-Up: Santini
Winner of the 2021 Gold Cup and runner-up last year, Henry De Bromhead’s has been lightly raced this year with just the one run at Tranmore in January. Proven performer and a bigger price might attract each way support, but is now ten and could be vulnerable to younger rivals.
The Disappointing Contender: Bristol De Mai
Third in this race last year, Dan Skelton’s eight-year-old disappointed in the Cotswold Chase on trial’s day after winning the Betfair Chase earlier in the season. Was well beaten by rivals who reoppose here last time out and will need to reverse those placings.
The Unproven Racer: Mister Fisher
Finished second in the Cotswold Chase last time out, the eight-year-old for Ruth Jefferson has won four of his nine chase starts but is yet to score at Grade One level and looks to have his work cut out here.
The King George Runner-Up: Royale Pagaille
Second in the King George this season at Kempton was a stand-out run and will love more rain. But Venetia Williams’ nine-year-old will do well to improve on last year’s fifth in the Gold Cup.
The Wildcard: Wait For Me
The eight-year-old for John Hanlon won a Grade One at Far Hills last time out after spending much of his career competing in handicap company. Has proven stamina but a huge step up in class for him today.
The Long Shot: Native River
The outsider at 125/1 for Joe Tizzard, has shown good form in the book but hasn’t won since taking the Grade Two Denman Chase in February 2022. Was disappointing in that same race last time out and looks like his best days are behind him.
Our Pick: Bravemansgame
While Galopin Des Champs looks a solid favourite, the price is now too short so we are siding with the British challenge BRAVEMANSGAME to follow up his King George victory and secure another Cheltenham Gold Cup for trainer Paul Nicholls.