Previous winners Minella Indo and Al Boum Photo line up again in the Gold Cup, with the Gordon Elliott-trained Galvin a popular pick, alongside Rachael Blackmore’s A Plus Tard
Rachael Blackmore is around six minutes from making more Cheltenham history in the Gold Cup.
At the start, the record-breaking rider will be planning her race aboard A Plus Tard, last year’s runner-up. If the pair manage to overturn the form with stablemate Minella Indo a year on – and defeat nine other rivals – Blackmore will be the first female jockey to win it.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead has suggested his charge’s run against Galvin over Christmas could be key – and A Plus Tard has been freshened up since. He said: “A Plus Tard was really impressive in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and he ran well in the Savills. I was a little disappointed to get beaten, but still felt he ran really well.
“I’d say you could argue the Savills is the best form, when he was beaten by Galvin. I thought he was really impressive at Haydock and I thought he ran really well at Leopardstown.”
Richard Thompson, of owners Cheveley Park Stud, is hopeful A Plus Tard can go one place better.
“We’ve got a good jockey, a good trainer and a good horse,” he said. “He has a very good record at Cheltenham – he’s finished first, third and second, so he’s a proven Cheltenham performer.
“He’s got a hell of a CV and we think he’s got the stamina, the class and the acceleration. We just hope we get the run of the race and we’ll see what happens.”
Davy Russell, due to ride the favourite Galvin, was stood down by the doctor on Thursday – and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit to compete in the feature event.
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Gold Cup: Guide to the key runners and latest Betfred odds
Galvin 7-2 – Emerging as one of the best staying chasers in training and short-head defeat of A Plus Tard in Savills Chase over Christmas is easily the strongest piece of form on offer. Won last year’s National Hunt Chase so is a proven festival performer and Gordon Elliott has been pretty bullish about his recent work reports. Looks nailed on to run a big race.
A Plus Tard4-1 – Last year’s Gold Cup runner-up and big chance of going one place better in 2022. Hugely impressive winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock, winning by 22 lengths virtually on the bridle, but couldn’t justify an odds-on price when chinned by Galvin at Lopeardstown. That form is strong and there is clearly very little between the pair so has to rank highly despite his wins-to-runs ratio (5-13 over fences) not really being what you would expect from a horse of his quality.
Minella Indo5-1 – Stayed on too well for better-fancied stablemate A Plus Tard in this race last year, taking his Cheltenham Festival record to two wins and a second. Not at same level in either star this term but second behind Conflated in Irish Gold Cup was much more encouraging and likelihood is that he’ll be at his peak for the festival once again. Dangerous to rule out.
Al Boum Photo 10-1 – Two-time Gold Cup winner and another hugely creditable effort when third in 2021. Had no trouble winning the Savills Chase at Tramore on New Year’s Day for a third year running and appears primed for another bold bid but reports from home suggest he’s not exactly been flying in his preparation.
Protektorat 17-2 – Burst onto the Gold Cup scene when running away with the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in December, his first try over a trip of three miles or further. Grade 1 winner as a novice and stacks of potential over staying trips so no surprise if he upsets the Irish challengers in what looks an open year.
Tornado Flyer 14-1 – Surprise winner of the King George VI Chase at Kempton and unexposed as a staying chaser but might be flattered by that result given he was held up well off a strong pace. No match for Allaho in last year’s Ryanair Chase but was keeping on from off the pace so Gold Cup trip likely to suit and is a lively outsider for the Willie Mullins team.
Chantry House 16-1 Won nine of his 12 career starts; took advantage of Envoi Allen’s fall to win last year’s Marsh Novices’ Chase and bounced back from aborted King George effort by winning Cheltenham’s Cotswold Chase in January. However, made hard work of beating the ageing Santini by two and a half lengths and probably needs to improve his form by best part of 10lb to trouble the judge in the Gold Cup.
Odds for the rest of the field: 14-1 Royale Pagaille, 28-1 Asterion Forlonge, 33-1 Santini, 66-1 Aye Right
The strongest form going into this race is Leopardstown’s Savills Chase so GALVIN looks a worthy favourite and he could prove hard to beat. He appears to have the ideal blend of class and stamina and Gordon Elliott has been pretty glowing about his work in the build up. A Plus Tard should be right in the mix for Rachael Blackmore, while another big run from Al Boum Photo would not surprise.
1. Galvin 2. A Plus Tard 3. Al Boum Photo
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