2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview & Tips - 3.30pm Cheltenham


Leading Contenders

This years blue riband event at Cheltenham, the Gold Cup promises to be one of the most renewals for sometime with at least ten horses capable of landing the big prize.

Lets start with last years winner Sizing John who lets remember had only ever ran over three miles once in his career before storming up the hill to finish in front of Minella Rocco and Native River. The horse went on to beat Djakadam at Punchestown to end the season in fine style.

This season it has to be said has not entirely gone to plan, yes he came out and won the John Durkan Chase in December but since then has ran way below par in the Lexus at Leopardstown. He was beaten 32 lengths that day and basically it was just too bad to be true, nothing major has come to light and trainer Jessica Harrington reported that he will go straight to the Festival without a prep run.

If he comes back to form then he’s the one to beat without doubt and we shouldn’t be writing him off due to one bad run. He’s proven over the track and the trip and must go on the shortlist.

Ante-post favourite Might Bite also has his doubters despite winning his last five starts including three Grade 1 contests, the RSA Chase here last year, the Mildmay at Aintree in April and more recently the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day.

He has shown a couple of times that he’s not straight forward and in fact nearly threw the RSA away last March by veering badly right up the run-in, jockey Nico De Boinville managed to correct him just in time to secure the prize. Since then he has behaved himself and more to the point the rider is aware of his antics.

He has yet to prove his stamina over this trip and being by Presenting he will want decent ground to be able to get it, if he does he should be bang there turning for home and could give Nicky Henderson his third Gold Cup after Bobs Worth and Long Run.

In the lead up to last year trainer Colin Tizzard was dreaming of a 1,2,3 in this race with Thistlecrack, Native River and Cue Card. As we all know these things are rarely straight forward and in the end the Native River did the best finishing in third, of the others Cue Card fell and Thistlecrack went lame and missed the race.

Native River will be flying the flag for the Tizzard’s once again and this time they are taking it very easily and giving him every chance by being nice and fresh. Last year he ran in the Hennessy and the Welsh National and maybe that just cost him the Gold Cup. He made his seasonal debut at Newbury in the Denman Chase and despite only beating two rivals he looked as good as ever and jockey Richard Johnson was left in no doubt that this horse can go very close this year.

Definitly Red was well backed for the Grand National last season but failed to spark, that was his long term aim but since winning the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham he looks set to give the Gold Cup a crack first, he stays all day there are worse outsiders in the line up.

The Irish have won three out of the last four renewals and they look to have a strong hand once again. Apart from Sizing John they have a trio of interesting contenders, Our Duke, Road To Respect and Coney Island all can be given some sort of chance.

The Lexus winner Road To Respect is just a 7yo trained by Noel Meade. He won a handicap at the Festival off a mark of 145 last year and has improved with every run since. He goes on decent ground and looks to have plenty of stamina. His mark is now 167 which is just 2lbs below the favourite Might Bite.

Our Duke lacks experience compared to all of his rivals but is progressing at a great rate of knots. He won a Grade 1 chase on only his second start over fences and then won the Irish Grand National on his fourth start. He won by 14 lengths that day and went into many notebooks for the future.

On his first run this season he ran a lifeless race at Down Royal in November, it looks as though he suffered a similar problem to his stable mate Sizing John. Next time out he showed that running was all wrong when beating Presenting Percy in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park. Trainer Jessica Harrington thinks the world of this horse and wont be far away on the day.

Owner J.P.McManus won this race with Synchronised back in 2012 and has a chance this time round with Coney Island who is another lightly raced sort. Just a 7yo and with only 4 chase starts under his belt, you would think he would be aiming at little lower but with the Gold Cup being wide open he may just give it a go.

He came back from injury in December and won a Graduation Chase by 9 lengths, that was a very encouraging performance and all systems are now go for Cheltenham. The owner also has last year’s runner up Minella Rocco, he was 4th in the Lexus and shouldn’t be written off despite only one win on twelve starts over fences.

Willie Mullins has yet to win the Gold Cup and has finished second twice with Djakadam recently, the 9yo will be trying again but you would have to think his chance has gone now. Smart handicapper Total Recall is a possibility, he has improved out of all recognition since joining the yard and could be still be on the way up. He has been touted as a strong Grand National candidate but the leap to Grade 1 company from handicaps has been done before.



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Cheltenham Gold Cup Previous Winners

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer SP
2017 Sizing John 7 Robbie Power Jessica Harrington 7/1
2016 Don Cossack 9 B Cooper G Elliott 9/4
2015 Coneygree 8 N de Boinville M Bradstock 7/1
2014 Lord Windermere 8 D Russell J Culloty 20/1
2013 Bobs Worth 8 B Geraghty N Henderson 11/4
2012 Synchronised 8 A McCoy J O'Neill 8/1
2011 Long Run 6 S Waley-Cohen N Henderson 7/2
2010 Imperial Commander 9 P Brennan N Twiston-Davies 7/1
2009 Kauto Star 9 R Walsh P Nicholls 7/4
2008 Denman 8 S Thomas P Nicholls 9/4

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