The Gold Cup is seen by many as the showpiece event of the Cheltenham Festival, a Grade 1 chase contested over a distance of just over three miles and two furlongs, it now famously takes place on the Friday of The Festival it’s one of the most prestigious, if not the most prestigious race within the National Calender. Winners in recent times include the likes of three time winner Best Mate, Kauto Star, Denman, Coneygree and Don Cossack. We look to have a stellar renewal of this year’s Gold Cup so as ever sit back and enjoy my preview as I take a look at this year’s runners and piece together my verdict.
(Class 1) (Grade 1) (3m 2 1/2f)
Friday 15th March 2019
The Gold Cup this year currently has three horses battling it out at the top of the market and these come in the form of last year’s winner Native River (4/1), Presenting Percy (4/1) and Clan Des Obeaux (4/1). The most money has come in the last few days for last year’s winner Native River which is unsurprising due to the recent rain that’s fell, as any form of softened ground is a massive plus for him. Presenting Percy has been many people’s idea of the winner since he won the RSA here last year, also winner of the Pertemps in 2017 Pat Kelly’s popular charge has yet to have a run over fences this term. He was last seen when winning the Galmoy Hurdle which was his only run of the season so far. Clan Des Obeaux has looked a transformed character this season for Paul Nicholls, he traveled very powerfully when getting the better of Thistlecrack in the King George and then followed up when dismantling Terrefort at Ascot. Is he another Denman? That’s remains to be seen, however he certainly comes here with a big chance of Ditcheat.
Willie Mullins has yet to win a Gold Cup however he fields one of his strongest teams to date in this renewal. He currently has four horses in the line up and these come in the form of Kemboy (10/1), Bellshill (12/1), Al Boum Photo (20/1), and Invitation Only (40/1). Kemboy has been in flying form this term and consequently finds himself sitting the most prominent in the betting of the Mullins four. He’s won both starts this season in the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase and latterly the Grade 1 Savills Chase where he got a fabulous ride from Danny Mullins. Bellshill is also in top form this term and he was last seen when winning the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival, he got the better of warm favourite Road To Respect close home under a trademark top drawer from Ruby Walsh. It will be interesting to see whether Ruby sides with him again here. Last year’s runner up Might Bite (14/1) has looked a shadow of his former self so far this term, however Nicky Henderson has been on record claiming that his recent work has been pleasing him. He’ll need a massive step up current form though. Thistlecrack (16/1) ran a blinder in the King George and has been looking more like his former self in recent outings, he’d certainly be a popular winner with punters. Colin Tizzard also sends Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape (20/1), Welsh National winners have a very solid record in the race.
It’s hard to see any of the top three in the betting not making a bold bid to get into the frame. If the ground does get sufficiently softer again Native River looks solid enough to retain his crown. Presenting Percy loves it around Cheltenham and knows how to win here, his prep for the race is far from ideal hower. Clan Des Obeaux has yet to prove himself around Prestbury Park but his form this season has been exceptional and he warrants massive respect. For me though i’m going against them all and taking a chance on Willie Mullins claiming his first Gold Cup with KEMBOY. Granted his jockey took advantage of a slow run race last time and gave him an outstanding ride however this horse is still very much unexposed compared to some of these and unlike some he could very much be still on the up. This is a massive step up for him and he’ll need to improve markedly however he could well have it in him.
1st: KEMBOY (10/1)
2nd: NATIVE RIVER (4/1)
3rd: PRESENTING PERCY (4/1)
EACH WAY: KEMBOY (10/1)