Jumps racing is back with a bang in the British Isles with the Flat season winding out and winter on its way.
All roads lead to Cheltenham, its four-day Festival and prestigious Gold Cup in March 2020. Many of last year’s leading novice chasers will hope to make up into contenders for the blue riband event of National Hunt horse racing.
The Gold Cup has thrown up some special races in the last couple of years. Indeed, it has become the perfect race for the new trend in horse racing live betting, thanks to the twists and turns of the long-distance chase.
Paul Nicholls trained RSA Chase victor Topofthegame has been ruled out for the season, however, so these are the Cheltenham Gold Cup horses to follow instead.
Al Boum Photo
While retaining this prize is much easier said than done, the obvious place to start is with last season’s winner. Al Boum Photo had a somewhat under the radar and unusual prep for his Gold Cup success as crack Irish trainer Willie Mullins took him to Prestbury Park off the back of just one run.
That came around the tight track of Tramore in a Listed race where he beat old Hennessy Gold Cup winner Total Recall. Al Boum Photo has seldom had a straightforward career as for every victory, something would then go wrong next time up.
For evidence of that, see the 2018 RSA Chase where he fell while looking held two out and when jockey Paul Townend took him round the final fence at Punchestown as he thought the jump was being omitted. Although he has subsequent form with Mullins stable companion Kemboy to reverse, Al Boum Photo still has scope to improve as a staying chaser after just nine starts in this sphere.
Irish jockey Robbie Power steered Sizing John to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory in 2017 and his link with Dorset dairy farmer turned trainer Colin Tizzard could continue to be fruitful with Lostintranslation. The yard produced Native River to land this major prize in 2018 and have repeatedly aimed their best chasers at the Festival showpiece.
Lostintranslation comes into the new National Hunt season completely unexposed as a stayer after winning his first start under rules over 3m at the Aintree Grand National meeting. He easily accounted for Topofthegame on Merseyside and has also won a novice chase around Cheltenham.
There’s clearly more to come from him in his second season over fences. According to the latest odds from 888sport, Lostintranslation is 10/1 and solid each-way value for the Gold Cup granted further improvement.
With Topofthegame out, the next best from the RSA is the highly-regarded Nicky Henderson trained Santini. He’s had just three chase starts and won on his debut over fences at Newbury Winter Carnival.
Santini is still very unexposed in this sphere and Henderson is sure to get more experience into his charge en route to Cheltenham. Although twice in-behind Topofthegame and that strict form line suggests he has something to find with Lostintranslation, some bookmakers have him shorter in the Gold Cup betting than Tizzard’s horse.
Henderson is also experimenting with Altior this season after sweeping all-comers aside in the two-mile chasing division. Don’t be surprised if Santini is the Seven Barrows yard’s first-string for this, however, as his mighty stable companion has stamina to prove.
County Meath trainer Gordon Elliott and powerful owners Gigginstown House Stud are a potent combination in Irish jumps racing. Delta Work won three Grade 1 novice chases in the Emerald Isle last season and also has a Cheltenham Festival hurdles victory on his CV.
That makes him of obvious interest in relation to the Gold Cup. While Delta Work was third and behind Santini in the RSA Chase, he was very impressive when resuming winning ways at the Punchestown Festival.
This horse gets on very well with jockey Davy Russell, whose partnership with Tiger Roll in the Grand National has been very fruitful for the same connections. Delta Work is another Cheltenham Gold Cup contender to keep tabs on.