Cheltenham Festival ante post tips: A Plus Tard a worthy Gold Cup favourite

Last year's second A Plus Tard can go one spot better in the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup.Last year's second A Plus Tard can go one spot better in the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup Ante-Post Preview

Several leading bookmakers are already offering “non-runner – no bet” on the feature races at the Cheltenham Festival including the Gold Cup. The other featured races are the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase and Stayers Hurdle. The odds are inevitably shorter with this concession but there could still be some good value without the risk of losing your stake if the selection does not run. Here is our early preview of the ante-post betting on the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Thursday 18th March.

A Plus Tard remains favourite despite Savills Chase defeat

When A Plus Tard failed to reel in stable companion Minella Indo in the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup, the only surprise was that Rachael Blackmore was not on the winner. Minella Indo had been disappointing in the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival so she elected to partner A Plus Tard. It was one of the few mistakes she made during a golden spell which resulted in being top jockey at Cheltenham and riding the Grand National winner at Aintree.

A Plus Tard had looked a specialist two and a half miler until winning the Savills Chase in dramatic fashion last season. He certainly did not fail through lack of stamina at Cheltenham, keeping on gamely but failing by a length and a quarter. He reappeared in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November where he and Blackmore sauntered to a 22 lengths victory.

On the strength of that performance, he started odds-on for a repeat win in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown. He looked the likely winner for most of the journey but took a long time to wear down Kemboy. That may have taken its toll and allowed the progressive Galvin to catch him in the final stride and win by a short-head. Connections were not too concerned by the defeat and immediately announced that he would go straight to Cheltenham.

Galvin emerges as serious Gold Cup contender

Galvin won the gruelling National Hunt Chase over three and three-quarter miles at the Cheltenham Festival last year. That had been his objective for the entire winter and he has continued his improvement this term. He kicked off with a routine win in a Grade 3 at Punchestown before finishing second to Frodon at Down Royal in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase. He had Minella Indo over four lengths back in third.

Davy Russell rode a masterful race on Galvin in the Savills Chase. The horse seems to act on any surface and will keep plugging on up the hill. It would be an emotional victory for Trainer Gordon Elliott if he could land the Cheltenham showpiece, a year on from the ignominy of his suspension.

Minella Indo’s prospects of back-to-back victories hinge on his liking for Prestbury Park. He seems to perform better here than anywhere else but he will need to put a bitterly disappointing King George effort behind him. He was pulled up there along with Nicky Henderson’s Chantry Bridge as Tornado Flyer sprang a 28-1 surprise for Willie Mullins.

Tornado Flyer has been virtually friendless in the market at 14-1 since with punters perhaps taking the view that his win was a flash in the pan. We will know more about his prospects, and those of Minella Indo, if both horses run in the Irish Gold Cup on 5th February. Mullins also has dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo on course for Cheltenham after taking his customary route via the New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore. The bookmakers may have been guilty of an over-reaction by halving his odds to 10-1 in the wake of that 4-runner event.

Likewise, Protektorat has tumbled in the betting while standing in his box. Dan Skelton’s seven-year-old bolted up at Aintree in early December and was initially quoted at 20-1. He is now a top-priced 10-1. If there is any each-way value left it could be the enigmatic Asterion Forlonge. He may well have beaten Allaho at Punchestown but for unseating his rider three out and looked booked for second in the King George when falling at the last. The grey clearly has his quirks but he makes some appeal at 14-1 with a run with Bet365.