Cheltenham Gold Cup tips – Runner-by-runner preview of Friday’s Festival feature
2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup tips – Runner-by-runner preview
The feature race of the fourth day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival and the biggest race of the week heads to post at 3.05pm and we’ve looked over the big-race field to pick out our Cheltenham Gold Cup tips and give our runner-by-runner thoughts.
We enter the final day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival where another top-class seven-race card awaits punters where the afternoon’s racing action is dominated by the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Reigning champion Al Boum Photo will be seeking a third successive win in the race and join a small and select band of triple-winners in the contest.
However he won’t have everything his own way in Friday’s showpiece and some top-class rivals will line up in opposition to Willie Mullins’ star each with designs on the £260,000+ first prize.
The action will unfold live on ITV Racing where twelve runners will face the starters’ tape for the 3m 2f contest and we’ve looked over the big-race field to pick out our Cheltenham Gold Cup tips as we give our runner-by-runner preview of the day’s main event.
CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP TIPS – RUNNER-BY-RUNNER GUIDE TO THE DAY FOUR FESTIVAL FEATURE
AL BOUM PHOTO
Has gone from strength to strength over fences since falling in the 2018 RSA Chase, winning six of eight subsequent starts including the last two renewals of this contest, latterly by a neck from the reopposing Santini.
The Buck’s Boum gelding won a Grade Three at Tramore on his reappearance on New Years’ Day – the same race he had won the previous two seasons enroute to the Festival – and he looks sure to give another good account of himself here as he bids for a hat-trick of wins in the race.
Tough and genuine and a good jumper he’s very much the one to beat in the race and he ought to go close again.
A PLUS TARD
Rachael Blackmore has been on fire at the Festival and Henry De Bromhead’s star should give her a good spin as she bids to add further success to her Festival haul.
The Kapgarde gelding won at the Festival two seasons ago but could only finish third in last season’s Ryanair Chase having beaten Chacun Pour Soi the time before. He also tasted defeat on his reappearance behind Castlegrace Paddy at Navan in November but possibly needed the run and he stepped up on that outing fitted with a tongue-tie to win the Savills Chase from Kemboy and others.
He’s not been seen since but he represents a trainer/jockey combination in top form and he looks sure to go well if at his best following his break. He will need to prove stamina for the extra quarter mile and stiff finish here, but he didn’t appear to be at the end of his tether at Leopardstown last time.
Twice placed in the Ryanair Chase in his career and has come back to something like his best in recent starts, finishing runner-up at Warwick and Kelso latterly although his last win came more than two years ago on 2019 New Years’ Day at this venue.
Venetia Williams’ charge was firmly put in his place by Cloth Cap at Kelso 13 days ago where he again gave the impression that three miles was just stretching him and it would be a big surprise to see him winning this with the extra quarter mile certainly demanding a good deal more back in a Grade One.
The Goldneyev gelding should run his usual race but he’s very hard to fancy as a likely winner and the veteran has plenty on his plate in this company.
Grade One winning hurdler but things haven’t gone to plan over fences and he’s winless over the larger obstacles despite a few solid runs including when beaten less than two lengths by Champ at Newbury.
Tom George’s charge hasn’t fired in three runs this term where he most recently finished sixth behind Frodon in the King George VI Chase and the Sandmason gelding isn’t sure to be suited by this extra quarter-mile.
Cheekpieces are now applied in the hope they spark improvement, but they’ll need to have a significant positive effect and he’s hard to fancy in this company.
Lost his unbeaten run over fences when falling two out in last season’s Dipper Novices’ Chase when the race was at his mercy, but he bounced back to land an unlikely win the RSA Chase twelve months ago where despite never really travelling and making a series of mistakes he stormed up the hill to overhaul Allaho and Minella Indo late on.
Nicky Henderson’s charge wasn’t seen on the track again until returning in the recent Game Spirit Chase over a trip well sort of his best; but he ran a blinder in that Newbury contest, only beaten by Sceau Royal with Greaneteen beaten ten lengths in third.
He’s sure to come on for that performance and likely to be much sharper now he could offer up some stiff resistance to Al Boum Photo’s hat-trick bid with this extra quarter mile sure to suit the King’s Theatre gelding.
Has a very good record at this venue and the tough and consistent front runner would be a hugely popular winner.
The 2019 Ryanair Chase winner is 2-3 this term having won a handicap here in October and bouncing back from a lesser run at Aintree where he wasn’t suited by the way the race developed to win the King George VI Chase when last seen.
Paul Nicholls’ charge is a six-time winner here but he’s yet to tackle a trip this far despite winning a Cotswold Chase and while he’s entitled to turn in another gallant performance from the front it may just prove too much of an ask to dominate this top-class field.
Struggled last term but had previously proven himself a top-class chaser and Willie Mullins’ charge has had a resurgence this term, twice finishing runner-up before running out a ready winner of the Irish Gold Cup under an aggressive ride.
He’s disappointed however in the last two renewals of this contest, unseating his rider at the first fence in 2019 and finishing a well-held seventh twelve months ago. This track might not play to his strengths and he’ll face plenty of competition for the lead should Danny Mullins try to employ the same tactics as last time.
His form certainly entitles him to have a decent chance of Gold Cup glory but doubts remain over his ability to handle the track and he can make mistakes so his jumping will be put under plenty of pressure in this field.
Hugely progressive over fences as a novice and won his first two starts in open company with ease, including beating Bristol De Mai in the 2019 Betfair Chase.
Colin Tizzard’s charge bounced back from a lacklustre run in the King George VI Chase to finish a close third in this contest twelve months ago but outings this term have been underwhelming. He could only finish third in defence of his Betfair Chase crown and turned in another poor run at Kempton in the King George VI Chase before again failing to fire in the Denman Chase latest.
The Flemensfirth gelding appears to have lost his way and looks a shadow of the horse that demolished Bristol De Mai twelve months ago. While he did show a semblance of his best in the race twelve months ago he needs to stage a big revival although the better ground will help.
Won the 2019 Albert Bartlett Hurdle on this card and proved progressive over fences last term in a light campaign, winning at Navan before being gunned down late twelve months ago in the RSA Chase.
Henry de Bromhead’s charge won his first two starts this term, scoring at Wexford and Navan but fell relatively early in the Savills Chase and that may have dented his confidence as he was a shade disappointing in the Irish Gold Cup when last seen.
The Beat Hollow gelding could have better to come and this longer trip should be within range, while the drying ground won’t be any issue and he’s no forlorn hope although Rachael Blackmore prefers A Plus Tard.
Veteran chaser who looked as good as ever when romping to a ten lengths’ victory over Bristol De Mai in the rearranged Cotswold Chase at Sandown last month.
Colin Tizzard’s charge knows what it takes to win this, taking the Blue Riband in 2018 with a gutsy defeat of Might Bite and he finished a gallant fourth twelve months later during a light but winless campaign.
Likely to help force the pace his jumping is an asset and he’s won on good ground before although the softer the better for him so he may just find others having too much pace for him now. Nevertheless he’s entitled to deliver another big run and he’s dangerous to discount if in the same form.
Useful sort in France who was beaten on both starts last term following his move to Venetia Williams; however he’s improved hand over fist this term where he is 3-3 and there’s likely better still to come from the Brue Bresil gelding.
Impressive wins at Haydock and Kempton have been followed up by a bloodless Grade Two victory in the Peter Marsh Chase and there’s surely more to come from this very exciting novice who should have no issue with the longer trip.
If there’s a chink in his armour it might come from being untested on the drying ground with his best performances coming in testing conditions although he did win once on better ground over hurdles in France.
Bare form needs improving on but he may well do so and he’s worthy of plenty of respect stepping into the top-tier.
Has made the frame on all three visits to the Festival, latterly beaten only a neck behind Al Boum Photo twelve months ago.
Nicky Henderson’s charge hasn’t been in the same form this term although he wasn’t suited by the way the race panned out at Aintree on his return to action and he might have found Kempton too sharp next time in the King George VI Chase.
The Milan gelding was readily brushed aside by Native River latest at Sandown however and cheekpieces are replaced by a visor now. That change of headgear will have to have a positive effect but on this ground he might lack the pace of a few of these and he’s looked one-paced in the past so faces quite a stiff task here.
2021 CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP TIPS – BIG RACE VERDICT
Al Boum Photo is chasing a third straight Gold Cup success and will be a tough nut to crack, while Royale Pagaille could continue his rapid ascent having won his last three including a bloodless success in the Peter Marsh Chase last time.
RSA Chase winners generally have a decent recent record in this contest and 2020 race-winner CHAMP could be worth chancing to improve on an eye-catching runner-up effort latest on his reappearance in the Game Spirit Chase.
Nicky Henderson is no stranger to winning this race and the King’s Theatre gelding did well to win at the Festival twelve months ago where despite never travelling or jumping well he stormed up the hill late to collar Minella Indo and Allaho to land an unlikely win.
He’d been impressive previous to that win, denied a hat-trick when falling two out in the Dipper Novices’ Chase with the race at his mercy; but he was more assured at Newbury when last seen and despite the race being over a trip short of his best he’ll surely be sharper with that under his belt.
Drying ground will be no issue as he’s a multiple good ground winner over hurdles and a wind surgery could deliver another chunk of improvement. If his jumping comes up to snuff then it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him turn in a big effort and he could go close here.