Cheltenham Gold Cup betting begins to take off now that the entries are revealed.
There may be the lowest number of entries in the Cheltenham Gold Cup for more than a decade, but the emphasis is on quality, not quantity, after 31 horses in total accepted early closing entries.
The 2020 renewal of the Cheltenham Festival’s blue riband steeplechase could be unlucky for some on Friday, 13 March but punters now have a clearer idea of what the field may look like. Now is the time for spotting value bets on the Gold Cup.
No horse has won this race back-to-back since Best Mate hit a hat-trick in 2002, 2003 and 2004. However, that has not stopped bookmakers like 888 installing Al Boum Photo at the head of their Cheltenham betting 2020 on the Gold Cup at 9/2.
Willie Mullins wanted to train the winner of this race throughout his entire storied career and he finally landed the big one 12 months ago, with this eight-year-old Buck’s Boum gelding who is still lightly-raced over fences.
Al Boum Photo did nothing wrong in winning his prep run at Tramore on New Year’s Day.
That route to Cheltenham worked last year and culminated in Gold Cup glory, so he arguably still sets the standard. Mullins stable companion Kemboy was impressive in winning Grade 1s at Aintree and Punchestown last spring but got no further than the first fence at Prestbury Park.
His return to action in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas left a lot to be desired when not picking up after rounding the home turn. Odds of 7/1 for Kemboy may be worth taking on.
Debate rages as to who exactly the leading British contender for this renewal of the Gold Cup is. Lostintranslation was excellent for Colin Tizzard in winning Grade 1s at Aintree and Haydock over three miles either side of a summer break and reappearance run at Carlisle.
However, he did not look right in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Clan Des Obeaux retained his crown there, but Paul Nicholls’ charge has never won a race at Cheltenham – a fact reflected in his Gold Cup price of 8/1.
Lostintranslation will now go straight to the Festival and look to emulate stable companion Native River’s 2018 success. Team Tizzard has opted for wind surgery, and no prep run for the 7/1 chance, who remains unexposed as a stayer.
Nicky Henderson has minded Santini throughout his career with the long-term aim of winning the Gold Cup. He made hard work of landing a Listed intermediate event at Sandown, but he is another strapping sort and lightly-raced chaser who can be backed at 8/1.
Gordon Elliott promised punters Punchestown Festival scorer Delta Work would come on for his return to action at Down Royal, and he delivered Savills Chase success over Christmas as Kemboy flopped. He too is an 8/1 chance and represents Festival form as last season’s RSA Chase third – just behind Santini.
Double figure prices are available bar those six Gold Cup contenders. The lack of course form demonstrated by Clan Des Obeaux and Kemboy are negatives, while Delta Work doesn’t have a lot to find stepped up a quarter of a mile in trip.
It could be worth forgiving Lostintranslation his last run, but all hasn’t gone according to plan – much like with stablemate Thistlecrack in years past. In an open Gold Cup betting heat, Al Boum Photo, Delta Work and Santini look ones to consider.