Cheltenham Gold Cup tips – Runner-by-runner guide to Friday’s feature
Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at Friday’s feature race at the Cheltenham Festival and gives his Cheltenham Gold Cup tips.
The biggest race of the Cheltenham Festival goes to post on Friday with the latest renewal of the world-famous Cheltenham Gold Cup and a classy field of twelve runners will head to post, each with an eye on the £350,000-plus first prize on offer to the winner.
Run over a gruelling 3m 2f trip of the Cheltenham racecourse, only the strongest and best survive a bruising encounter and the action will be shown live as part of the ITV Racing schedule on Friday.
Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the twelve-strong field for the Friday feature race and gives his Cheltenham Gold Cup tips to land the Blue Riband.
2020 CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP TIPS – BRIAN HEALY’S SELECTION
AL BOUM PHOTO
Top-class chaser who fell in the 2018 RSA Chase before bouncing back to win the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on his next start although controversially ran-out at Punchestown on his next outing.
Willie Mullins’ star won two of his three starts last term, beating Anibale Fly in this race twelve months ago before finishing runner-up to Kemboy at Punchestown last May. The Buck’s Boum gelding has had just one start this term, winning the same Tramore race he did twelve months ago before his success twelve months ago.
This looks a stronger renewal than the one he won last year and he’ll do well to follow up and become the first back-to-back Gold Cup champion since Best Mate.
BRISTOL DE MAI
Dual-Betfair Chase winner who finished third in this race twelve months ago having fallen in the King George VI Chase the time before. He might have found his next run at Aintree coming too soon when only fourth behind Kemboy.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has had two runs this term, thwarted in his bid for a Betfair Chase hat-trick by Lostintranslation and then coming off worst in a battle with Santini here in the Cotswold Chase.
The Saddler Maker gelding is a generally consistent sort who should remain competitive again and he can give a good account, having made the frame on four of five runs here although he tends to do his winning at Haydock.
Has proven progressive over fences, winning twice last term which included a Grade Two contest at Navan although he pulled up behind Delta Work on his final start of the campaign at Punchestown.
Henry de Bromhead’s charge is 2-2 this term, winning the Troytown Chase at Navan with an excellent performance on his return and he followed up with another solid run to claim the Grade Two Red Mills Chase latterly at Gowran Park.
That win came over a trip short of his best and he could progress again back up in trip where the Mahler gelding could run well at a big price. There’s a suspicion however that he might just be biting off too much at this level and others are likely to prove stronger.
CLAN DES OBEAUX
Won his second King George VI Chase at Kempton over Christmas, cruising clear of stablemate Cyrname to land an impressive success.
Paul Nicholls’ charge came into this race twelve months ago on the back of of wins at Kempton and Ascot, eventually finishing fifth having been outpaced when the leaders quickened up. The Kapgarde gelding then found only Kemboy too strong at Aintree on his final start of the season.
He’s run twice this campaign, finishing runner-up on his return in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase prior to his King George VI Chase success. He’s not been seen since and comes here fresh, but stamina is a slight worry over this longer trip and he didn’t appear to quite get home in the race twelve months ago.
Won his first three starts over fences last term before being sent off favourite for the RSA Chase where he finished a close third behind Topofthegame and Santini.
Gordon Elliott’s charge bounced back from that defeat to win at Punchestown in the Champion Novice Chase. He looked in need of the run on his return in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase behind Road To Respect at Down Royal, but he’s won both starts since at Leopardstown where he has claimed both the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup.
The Network gelding possibly had excuses for his defeat in the RSA Chase last year where he was only a six-year old – both the winner and runner-up were seven-year olds – and he was hampered after the last before keeping on well up the hill.
He has to prove he has the stamina for this far, but the way he has finished off his races the last twice suggest he should see out the trip and still improving he can take another forward step to collect this big prize.
Suited by the emphasis on stamina when beating Ramses De Teillee in the 2018 Welsh Grand National before finishing a close runner-up to Frodon here in the Cotswold Chase.
Colin Tizzard’s charge finished sixth on both subsequent outings which includes this race, but he’s struggled this term meeting with defeat in both the Charlie Hall Chase and the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase.
He pulled up latest in the Grand National Trial won by Smooth Stepper and likely needs the heavens to open if he’s to have any chance. The Dubai Destination gelding looks to have too much on his plate here and it would be a surprise to see him in the mix at the business end.
Won three of his six starts over fences as a novice and finished fourth in the 2018 JLT Novices’ Chase won by Shattered Love.
The Voix Du Nord gelding took a big step forward last term, winning four of his five starts with his only blip coming when unseating his rider at the first in this race. However he won both the Aintree Bowl and the Punchestown Gold Cup following that mishap, beating Clan Des Obeaux and Al Boum Photo respectively.
Willie Mullins’ charge has twice come up short this term behind Delta Work in starts at Leopardstown in the Savills chase and the Irish Gold Cup and he may just find that rival too strong again. There’s a slight suspicion that Cheltenham may not be his ideal track, but he’s entitled to be competitive on the pick of his form.
Goes well here and beat Defi Du Seuil in last season’s Dipper Novices’ Chase before finding the same rival too strong in successive runs at Sandown and here in the JLT Novices’ Chase. However, stepped up to three miles at Aintree he won a shade cosily over RSA Chase winner Topofthegame on his final start of the campaign.
Colin Tizzard’s charge stepped up on his bloodless Carlisle success to beat Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase; but he ran poorly when sent off favourite for the King George VI Chase where the Flemensfirth gelding was pulled up.
He reportedly had a wind problem in that race and he’s since had a corrective operation so could bounce back in a first-time tongue-tie. Still with the potential for better over fences, he ought to be suited by this test and he can get involved if back to his best following his wind surgery.
High-class performer but perhaps doesn’t win as often as one of his talent should. However Henry de Bromhead’s charge can’t be underestimated if seeing out this longer trip.
The Milan gelding was beaten by Presenting Percy in the 2018 RSA Chase, but he fell for the second time that campaign when exiting at Punchestown next time. Runner-up on his return behind Kemboy in the Savills Chase, he beat Anibale Fly at Gowran Park before finishing fourth behind Frodon in last season’s Ryanair Chase and he pulled up behind Kemboy back at Punchestown.
He’s been thwarted on both runs this term behind Douvan and Delta Work respectively and he’s not sure to see out this even longer trip; while his jumping can occasionally leave a little to be desired.
Went from strength to strength over fences having won the Pertemps Final over hurdles back in 2017, winning two of his first three starts over the larger obstacles. He progressed again to win the 2018 RSA Chase but was subsequently absent for more than ten months until returning with an impressive Galmoy Hurdle win.
Pat Kelly’s charge ran below his best in this race twelve months ago, and he’s been beaten on all three outings this campaign where he’s twice finished behind Delta Work in those starts.
There is a suspicion however that he could have more to offer still over fences but probability is he’ll need to find a bit more if he’s to gain revenge on Gordon Elliott’s charge here although the longer trip is unlikely to faze him.
High-class at his best, winning a second Grade Two prize when readily brushing aside Footpad at Thurles although he’d be resoundly beaten the time before behind Min at Punchestown.
The Loup Breton gelding failed to back up that run next time at Gowran Park in the Red Mills Chase, pulling up behind Chris’s Dream and a bounce back is called for here from Willie Mullins’ charge.
He hasn’t shaped like a stayer so debatable whether he’ll be effective over this longer trip and he’s plenty to find on form in any case so no surprise if he struggles to get competitive at this level.
Won three of his four starts over hurdles, finishing third in the 2018 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, but he showed he had a big future over fences when taking the Grade Two John Francome Chase on his first try over the larger obstacles.
Although Nicky Henderson’s charge met with defeat on both subsequent outings which includes in last season’s RSA Chase he has won both starts since at Sandown and here latterly in the Cotswold Chase where he beat Bristol De Mai.
He had to work hard for that win but the application of cheekpieces could help eke out further improvement, while he promises to be well-suited by the demands of this stamina test having looked a thorough stayer in his runs.
Drying ground would be a slight concern but he looks set for a big run and every chance he’ll be in the mix.
2020 CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP TIPS – BIG RACE VERDICT
Defending champion Al Boum Photo can go well again, but it could be worth focussing on last season’s RSA Chase form where DELTA WORK can gain revenge for his defeat in that race by coming out on top here.
Having travelled well in that race he was just outstayed up the hill and he suffered some slight late interference after the last before keeping on well up the hill without quite matching the front two. He was only a six-year old though – both the winner and runner-up were seven – and he’s strengthened up since so could prove a different proposition now.
Gordon Elliott’s Network gelding has gone from strength to strength this term following a lacklustre reappearance in the Ladbrokes Championm Chase behind Road To Respect. He might have needed that run however and he didn’t jump particularly well on that occasion.
He’s won both starts since however, landing both the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup where he stayed on strongly each time to record narrow victories over Monalee and Kemboy respectively. He could have more to offer and if the longer trip doesn’t catch him out then there’s every chance he can collect a third straight Grade One here.