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Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips - 3:05pm Cheltenham

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the ultimate highlight of the Festival and is run over an extended three-and-a-quarter miles. The race is open to horses aged five and older and it really puts the emphasis on a horses’ ability to jump fluently, to have excellent tactical speed and then calls upon the horse to have stamina in abundance in order to make their way up the incline in a race to the finish. Horses that make mistakes are found out very quickly in this feature event and even the brave warriors who have won in the past have found it difficult to recapture their best form afterwards. It is a gruelling contest often run at excessive speed so it can pay to side with those who have previous knowledge of the course and distance when making a selection.

If you like statistics, it usually pays to stick with horses aged between seven and nine years of age as they have won nine of the last ten renewals. Long Run is the only recent winner to have been aged as young as six and the last ten-year-old to win this Cool Dawn in 1998. It is quite a good race for well fancied runners. Four of the last ten favourites have obliged and four other winners have been within the first three in the betting market on the day. Paul Nicholls has won the race three times in the last twenty years and Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins have won two apiece in the same time-frame.

Al Boum Photo heads the market and is taking the exact same route to victory that he has done for the past two seasons. He takes in the Savills Chase at Tramore on New Year’s Day and is then wrapped in cotton wool to be unleashed here at Prestbury Park. He is trying to follow in the footsteps of Best Mate who won this race in three consecutive years and as the reigning champion he has command respect from all of his rivals here. His nineteen length win at Tramore showed exactly how much ability he retains. He has relatively few miles on the clock and it will take some horse to stop him.

A Plus Tard could well be that horse. He improved from his seasonal reappearance when runner-up to Castlegrace Paddy at Navan in a Grade Two race to rally gamely to thwart Kemboy in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown just after Christmas. The form of the race has been boosted as Kemboy has come out and won another Grade One race subsequently suggesting that there could be more to come from the Cheveley Park owned and Henry De Bromhead trained runner. Whilst he is unproven at this trip, he looks as though he will get it and he does have winning Cheltenham form having won the Close Brothers Handicap Chase here a couple of seasons ago. Rachael Blackmore is likely to ride the seven-year-old and the pair are certainly worthy of their place in the line-up.

Champ has not had an ideal preparation for this race but his trainer knows exactly what it takes to win the prize. He is having a prep for this by taking in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on 21st February just to get a run into him prior to Cheltenham. Dropping to two miles seems likes an act of desperation to increase his fitness levels. He has had some wind surgery over the winter months and but it would be a monumental training achievement if he were to get home given the situation he has found himself in.

Kemboy has run at four previous Cheltenham Festivals and it is clear to all that he does not like the track. He has been beaten fair and square on all occasions and even unshipped David Mullins in this race back in 2019. Willie Mullins also has him entered for the Ryanair Chase but his record here does not make pleasant viewing and he would prefer a flatter track such as Aintree or Leopardstown.

Royal Pagaille has certainly taken the eye on a few occasions this year, most notably as he is a Susanna Ricci owned gelding trained by Venetia Williams. He is well suited by bottomless conditions and has revelled in the mud. He scored his biggest success when winning the Grade Two Peter Marsh Handicap Chase at Haydock last time out. He looked like he had only joined in at half way and pulled some sixteen lengths clear of Potters Legend. It will take a career best effort to get involved but he is going the right way and has improved beyond all recognition this year.

Santini has been very disappointing this season and it may well be that this race just took the edge off him following his good run in second behind Al Boum Photo last season. He does nothing in a hurry so the track lends itself well to his racing style. He has always been in the first three places in any race he has run here but a place is maybe all he can hope for this time around given there seem to be younger and faster horses snapping at his heels.

Minella Indo endured a bone crunching fall at Leopardstown in the race won by A Plus Tard and has subsequently looked a shadow of his former self when limping home behind Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup last month. His confidence looks shattered at present so has it all to do to reverse recent form with both rivals.

Native River bids to become the oldest horse to win this since Cool Dawn did so in 1998. He is a brave and gutsy warrior who will undoubtedly try and make all in what has become a customary tactic of his throughout the years. He returned to winning ways in the Grade Two Cotswold Chase at Sandown earlier in the month and there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house if he could land this race for the Tizzard family following a traumatic couple of years that they have endured. He does remain vulnerable at this sort of trip though and would do well to hold off younger rivals. A place isn’t out of the question and he should run his race.

Frodon absolutely loves this place and has been in the form of his life this year. He won a decent handicap on his seasonal reappearance before outstaying proven Grade One performers in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day. He has been purposefully kept fresh for this race and meets the all-important statistic of having won a Grade One on his previous start. He knows every blade of grass on the track and he has to be a viable each way option given doubts over so many shorter priced rivals.

Melon usually runs a good race at this meeting but he was absolutely dire when last of five to Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup despite being the choice of Paul Townend. He runs in the same colours as the favourite in Al Boum Photo but he would need to bounce back in the most dramatic of fashion to trouble these.

Al Boum Photo is a deserved favourite having been here and done it all twice before. He has endured a perfect preparation for this race unlike a few of his rivals. There is a fellow Irish challenger though who commands another look though and that is A Plus Tard. His form has been well advertised by Kemboy coming out to win the Irish Gold Cup and he just gives the impression that he will relish a battle of this type. Rachael Blackmore could well be the very first woman to ride a Gold Cup winner to make history on what would be a momentous occasion.

Punters Lounge Tip: A Plus Tard E/W @ 7/1 at bet365 - Click Here To Bet
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