Young Improvers or Seasoned Chasers?
An Intriguing Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019
Horse racing is one of those sports with an infinite capacity to surprise its fans. One of the
trickiest puzzles for punters following the National Hunt game is figuring out who will win
the blue riband event of steeplechases, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Younger, improving horses have emerged throughout the jumps season and look set to
challenge the established staying chase elite in the Cheltenham Festival’s centrepiece race on
Friday, 15 March.
That makes for an intriguing betting heat and there have already been ante-post gambles
aplenty on the race. Here, we look at what promises to be a fascinating renewal.
Presenting Percy heads the Cheltenham Gold Cup market on merit despite the fact he’s
only run over hurdles since recording a classy success in the RSA Chase at last year’s Festival. Pat
Kelly’s stable star has had the form advertised nicely by Elegant Escape – a horse that
finished 13 lengths behind him – in a number of big staying chases this term.
That makes him look the one to beat, but 2018 winner Native River commands huge respect
if the ground turns up soft come March. The way he went from the front and jumps his rivals
silly at Cheltenham 12 months ago would seemingly take some repeating on recent form.
It’s easy to dismiss Native River, but Haydock and Kempton – where the other Grade 1
staying chases are run – don’t necessarily play to his strengths. Finishing second in the Betfair
Chase and third in King George are actually to his credit, especially since the latter is a
While last season’s Gold Cup second Might Bite has flopped for Nicky Henderson, Native
River’s stablemate Thistlecrack looks to make it third time lucky in a bid just to get to the
Festival and run in the race. Colin Tizzards great hope was ante-post favourite in each of the
last two seasons for Cheltenham’s big prize, but injury put paid to him taking his chance.
If age is now not on Thistlecrack’s size, it certainly is for the improving Clan Des Obeaux,
who beat him in the King George. The Gold Cup predictions from Betting.Betfair include
Paul Nicholl’s seven-year-old, who still unexposed as a stayer after just three starts at three
miles and over.
Clan Des Obeaux has one negative, and that’s his course record. He is zero from four at
Cheltenham, but finished runner-up on three occasions including in a valuable handicap at the
November Meeting where he was giving the winner nearly two stone in weight.
Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins has never lifted the Gold Cup, but he has contenders to
end that hoodoo again this year. Kemboy, who won Leopardstown’s big Christmas feature the
Savills Chase advertised his claims yet he too hasn’t shown any form in previous
appearances at Cheltenham.
Al Boum Photo was a faller in the RSA when staying on in third behind Presenting Percy and
is unexposed over the trip. Yet another Mullins mount in Bellshill stays further, which is an
obvious plus, and has won the Punchestown and Irish Gold Cups within the last 12 months.
Frodon, the mount of popular female jockey Bryony Frost, is a course specialist who could
also line up for Nicholls. Both he and Road To Respect, fourth in the Gold Cup last year,
complete the market principals with other horses all 25/1 and bigger.