Cheltenham Festival runner profiles: Cheltenham Gold Cup

Sky Sports Racing presenter Matt Chapman assesses the leading candidates for a highly-competitive Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.

As punctuation irritation goes, questions marks are annoying. They suggest an answer is needed and answers are not always easy to come by. That’s certainly the case with the 2022 Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.

There are well-being question marks, stamina question marks, ground question marks and age question marks over all the leading contenders.

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So, it’s lucky I’m here to sort it out for you! Yeeehaaa with bells on.

Here’s a look at the horses who I believe are most likely to be involved in the finish of the Gold Cup.

A Plus Tard

Trainer: Henry De Bromhead

Last year’s Gold Cup runner-up and no one can doubt he’s ultra-consistent for Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead.

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Since that effort last March, when just over a length behind Minella Indo, A Plus Tard has bolted up in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and chased home Galvin in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

Image:
Jack Kennedy wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Minella Indo

Stamina remains his issue. I’m not at all convinced he stays the Gold Cup trip strongly, and he won’t want to be in a battle up the hill. He probably is the class of the race – but will that be enough?

The Gold Cup is usually more about stamina than class.

Al Boum Photo

Willie Mullins

Two-time Gold Cup hero who was third behind Minella Indo and A Plus Tard in 2021.

Was meant to race more this term but has only been seen once at Tramore – his usual starting point – in January when scoring at 1/6.

Image:
Santini (near side) is just beaten by Al Boum Photo in the 2020 Gold Cup

Obviously suited to course and distance and at the age of ten is still young enough to make a splash once again.

Reports from yard have not been great but if anywhere near right has to have each-way claims.

Galvin

Gordon Elliott

A relatively new kid on the block, but a Cheltenham Festival winner already as the hero of the 2021 National Hunt Chase.

That suggested he was going to be a Grand National type one day but he’s since proven to have plenty of quality. Indeed, comes into this having not been out the first two in his last ten starts and beat A Plus Tard in the Savills.

Image:
Galvin and Davy Russell in action at Leopardstown during the Savills Chase

His stamina is going to be a huge weapon and might still have more to offer.

Has plenty of Cheltenham form having run really well against Imperial Aura here in 2020 and sixth in a Ballymore the year before.

Minella Indo

Henry De Bromhead

Defending champion with the Cheltenham factor.

Stayed on powerfully to deny A Plus Tard last year having gone into the big race with iffy form shown by a fall at Leopardstown and a fourth at the same track behind Kemboy.

Image:
Jack Kennedy wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Minella Indo

However, Minella Indo has so far been a horse who has come to life at the home of jumps racing – second to Champ in the RSA and an Albert Bartlett hero – so perhaps it’s just best to ignore his form away from Cheltenham.

Showed a bit more when second to Conflated last time under Robbie Power.

Protektorat

Dan Skelton

Would never have thought he would be a Gold Cup horse at the start of the season but has emerged as a right talent.

Started off the campaign with a terrific second to the late Midnight Shadow in the Paddy Power Gold Cup where a mistake at the fifth fence might have made the difference between winning and losing.

Image:
Protektorat ridden by Bridget Andrews winning at Aintree

Then went to Aintree and pulverised the now retired Native River in the Many Clouds Chase.

Won by 25 lengths seemingly showing enough stamina but hard to know what that form is really worth.

Matt Chapman’s Verdict

So, as I said at the top, lots of question marks. A Plus Tard might simply be too classy, but I’ll take the chance Galvin can take his form to the next level. Al Boum Photo is perhaps the each-way bet.

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