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2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup tips - Ante-post preview and three tips for Cheltenham Festival feature

Richard Johnson (near) celebrates after Native River holds off Might Bite (right) in the Gold Cup.

Our expert takes a look through the early ante-post betting for the Gold Cup and highlights three horses for punters to back in the feature race of 2019 Cheltenham Festival

For four days in the middle of March, the eyes of the sporting world will be fixed on Prestbury Park as it plays host to the Cheltenham Festival. 25 fantastic races build up perfectly to the showpiece contest of the meeting, the Gold Cup – the most historic, most lucrative and most coveted prize in all of National Hunt racing.

All of the sports greatest chasers have enhanced their legends with victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The great Golden Miller won the Gold Cup for five consecutive seasons in the mid-1930s and he’s since been joined on the honours board at Prestbury Park by greats like of Kauto Star, Best Mate, L’Escargot and, arguably the best racehorse of all time, Arkle.

There may be 20 weeks until the 2019 renewal of the Gold Cup, but the betting for this season’s spectacular is starting to take shape. Our expert has taken a look through the current market and identified three horses who could be worthy of an ante-post wager.

2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips

🏆 The One To Beat 🏆

I truly believe that MIGHT BITE would have won the Gold Cup last year, had the Cheltenham turf been a little firmer underfoot. He and Native River pulled a long way clear of their rivals and, as Richard Johnson began to get to work on Colin Tizzard’s front-runner, Nico De Boinville sat motionless in Might Bite saddle. After landing the last neck-and-neck, De Boinville finally asked Might Bite for an effort, but the King George winner failed to find the extra gear we all know he possesses and was forced to settle for second.

It didn’t take Might Bite long to get over that disappointment, hacking up at Aintree the following month to beat Bristol De Mai and Clan Des Obeaux in the Bowl. Nicky Henderson has professed his charge has come back to full training looking fit and well and his season will be tailored towards a second crack at the Gold Cup.

One thing that worries me is the prospect of Might Bite starting off in the Betfair Chase. The ground there is usually pretty heavy and I fear an energy-sapping trip around Haydock may take it’s toll come the end of the season. Hopefully the Might Bite team will swerve a trip to Merseyside and, should we have more favourable weather in the build-up to the Festival, Might Bite should be hard to beat in the Gold Cup.

Might Bite powers to victory at Aintree at the end of last season.

⚠️ The Big Danger ⚠️

Although Native River bucked the trend when winning on his second attempt, the history of the Gold Cup tells punters to look towards second-season chasers and there is no doubting PRESENTING PERCY was the stand-out stayer in the novice ranks last season.

12 months on from his excellent triumph in the Pertemps Final, Pat Kelly’s charge put on a sparkling display in the RSA, pounding clear of Monalee and Al Boum Photo – both potential Gold Cup rivals – to scoop his second Festival crown. True, it wasn’t a blemish-free campaign for Presenting Percy - who was beaten on his second start and just before Festival, when Our Duke successful gave him seven pounds – but, like the previous year, Kelly’s charge saved his best for Cheltenham and his season will surely revolve around his inevitable return to Prestbury Park.

Unlike Might Bite, Presenting Percy is proven on all kinds of ground and there will be no issues regarding the extra couple of furlongs, with Kelly’s gelding having proven his stamina with a win over 29 furlongs at Fairyhouse. Davy Russell guided Lord Windemere to Gold Cup glory in 2014. He could be lifting that famous trophy again in 2019.

Davy Russell and Presenting Percy leap the last on their way to winning the RSA.

♞ The Dark Horse ♞

The curse that has plagued Gold Cup winners in the past five years took SIZING JOHN as it’s victim last year, as injury forced Jessica Harrington’s charge to relinquish his Gold Cup crown. A superb winner of the famous trophy in 2016, Sizing John picked up a pelvic injury during his prep-work for Cheltenham and hasn’t been seen since.

Winning the Gold Cup obviously takes a lot out of a horse, but Sizing John did manage to become the first horse since 2011 winner, Long Run, to win another race over fences following his Cheltenham Triumph. Robbie Power’s mount held off Djakadam to win the Punchestown Gold Cup just weeks after his Festival victory and kicked off last season with a brilliant triumph in the John Durkan at Punchestown.

A lacklustre display followed in the Lexus Chase, after-which Harrington found nothing amiss with her star chaser. Sizing John is likely to go down a similar path towards Cheltenham now that he has returned to full fitness and, given a few impressive performances between now and March, Sizing John could return to Cheltenham at much shorter odds than he currently holds. He remains the third-highest rated staying chaser on the planet and a fully-fit Sizing John would give anyone a run for their money.

Robbie Power salutes the crowd after winning the Gold Cup with Sizing John.

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2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup tips - Ante-post preview and three tips for Cheltenham Festival feature

Our expert takes a look through the early ante-post betting for the Gold Cup and highlights three horses for punters to back in the feature race of 2019 Cheltenham Festival on Friday 15th March.

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