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Cheltenham Festival Race Previews: Gold Cup

Will Al Boum Photo make history in Friday’s Gold Cup?



A Plus Tard ridden by Darragh O'Keeffe on their way to winning the Savills Chase during the Leopardstown Christmas Festival at Leopardstown Racecourse, Dublin.

Golden Miller, Cottage Rake, Arkle and Best Mate. A quartet of triple Gold Cup winners that could well be a quintet by the close of play on Friday, should Al Boum Photo’s date with destiny end with victory.

The nine-year-old unexpectedly ended Willie Mullins’ barren run in this contest, winning the 2019 edition at odds of 12/1.

The Closutton trainer then saw two Gold Cups come at once, when his gelding claimed back-to-back successes at Prestbury Park a year later.

Willie Mullins
Willie Mullins hadn’t won a Gold Cup until Al Boum Photo landed back-to-back successes

However, it could be a big ask to claim a third straight success, with several talented runners hoping to dethrone the current victory at the Gloucestershire track.

Nicky Henderson’s Champ sent the racing world into a frenzy last month, with a classy performance in the Game Spirit Chase.

The contest is considered to be a prep race for the Champion Chase, but the nine-year-old showed his versatility and ran a cracker in second behind Sceau Royal.

Henderson’s runner has a strong Festival record as well, finishing runner-up in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in 2019 before making a near-miraculous late charge in the RSA Chase last year to win.

Stable companion Santini joins him, with the hope of going one better this time around after finishing behind Al Boum Photo by a neck last season.

Santini was beaten by a neck in the Gold Cup last year but has struggled in three outings this season

A Plus Tard carries interesting Cheltenham form into this contest as well, winning the now-defunct Listed Novices’ Handicap Chase before finishing a strong third in the Ryanair Chase last season.

Henry De Bromhead’s prospect showed his ability when landing a competitive Savills Chase at Christmas, and he could well be in the mix here.

Connection of the rapidly-improving Royale Pagaille have taken the gamble of heading to the Gold Cup, with Venetia Williams’s gelding aiming to be the second novice to win the race since 1974.

Connections of Royale Pagaille have bypassed a novice event and he will head to the Gold Cup

The seyen-year-old grabbed attention when he bolted up in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase, winning by an eye-catching 16 lengths when top weight.

He is joined by veteran stablemate Aso, who is making his sixth Festival appearance.

Last season’s RSA Chase runner-up Minella Indo will be aiming to bounce back from his two disappointing runs in the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup, while King George winner Frodon will be hoping to land an unprecedented double.

2018 winner Native River and dual Grade 1 winner Lostintranslation fly the banner for the Colin Tizzard yard, while Irish Gold Cup winner Kemboy is the second-string representative for Willie Mullins.

2018 Gold Cup winner looked as good as ever at Sandown last time out and will be hoping for a monsoon ahead of day four of the Cheltenham Festival

Tom George’s Black Op completes the field as the 100/1 outsider, with a sole chase victory under his belt.

A cracking renewal of the Gold Cup lies in wait on the closing day of the Festival.

watch: al boum photo edges out santini in the 2020 gold cup at the cheltenham festival [racing tv]

Read our interview with 2010 Gold Cup winning pilot, Paddy Brennan.

Reece Charlton is a Content Writer at Low6 that specializes in horse racing. He is an avid hunter of value in the racing world, picking out longshots six days a week across the National Hunt and Flat cards on offer across the UK and Ireland. He keeps punters and race fans in the know with his racing expertise with previews and value picks for all the big cards and meetings.