Willie Mullins’ charge has landed the Gold Cup under Paul Townend in each of the past two seasons, with those two races run in contrasting fashion – a point which only bolsters his claims at the head of the market this time around.
Mullins has unsurprisingly stuck to the now tried-and-tested route of heading to Cheltenham off the back of a single low-key prep run, the nine-year-old winning a third successive Savills New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore earlier this year.
Several of his closest rivals last season have endured disappointing campaigns – last year’s second, Santini, is yet to replicate that form this season, though is seen as particularly well-suited to the specialist challenge posed by the Gold Cup, while the third, Lostintranslation, looks a shadow of his former self.
However, Al Boum Photo does face at least two new prominent contenders in Champ and A Plus Tard.
The latter, trainer by Henry De Bromhead, has spent the majority of his chasing career thus far excelling over shorter trips, but stepped up to three miles to win the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas in a style that suggested stamina is of no object.
The same can be said of Champ, who stayed on remarkably well to win last year’s RSA Novices’ Chase in the finish of the meeting. Nicky Henderson’s horse had been conspicuous by his absence for most of this season, but re-emerged at Newbury in February, running well to finish second over two miles in the Game Spirit.
A couple of old favourites could have big hands to play, too, with 2019 Ryanair winner Frodon having stepped up to the highest level to win the King George at Christmas, while the last horse to win the Gold Cup before Al Boum Photo, Native River, produced a terrific display to win the rearranged Cotswolds Chase at Sandown.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup will be run at 3:05pm on Friday, March 19, 2021, the final day of this year’s Festival.
Cheltenham Gold Cup odds
(Odds provided by Betfair NRNB market and are subject to change, correct as of 23/02/21)
- Al Boum Photo 5/2
- A Plus Tard 6/1
- Champ 6/1
- Royale Pagaille 8/1
- Kemboy 10/1
- Santini 14/1
- Native River 14/1
- Frodon 14/1
- Minella Indo 16/1
- 20/1 bar
How to watch the Gold Cup
TV channel: The Gold Cup will be shown live on ITV1 and Racing TV.
Live stream: TV licence payers can stream the race for free via the ITV Hub website and app. Subscribers can also stream the action via the Racing TV website.
Terms: Min £20 in Exch bets on Saturday races, excludes ante-post. Max £10 free bet per qualifying day, awarded 15/03. Betfair Rewards ‘Basic’ customers excluded. T&Cs apply