Daryl Carter is back for another Cheltenham Festival Preview and tackles the blue ribbon event, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup is a wide-open renewal with many intertwining form lines, but the Irish dominate the betting on the Betfair Sportsbook with six of the top seven in the betting.
In the last 12 years…
This race usually goes to the younger horse. Eleven of the last 12 Cheltenham Gold Cup winners were aged between seven and nine years old.
A negative stat for 2019 and 2020 winner Alboum Photo as well as Santini and Lostintranslation.
Nine of the last 12 winners had won on their previous start.
Galvin, Protektorat, Conflated, Tornado Flyer, Chanty House, Ahoy Senor, Royal Pagaille, Allaho, Mount Ida and Mister Fisher all fit this and the age stat.
All 12 previous winners had at least one previous run at Cheltenham.
Galvin, Protektorat, Tornado Flyer, Chantry House, Royal Pagaille, Allaho, Mount Ida and Mister Fisher – strike-off Conflated and Ahoy Senor on this stat.
Six of the last 12 winners had won at Cheltenham.
Galvin, Chantry House, Protektorat, Mount Ida, Mister Fisher and Allaho.
Eleven of the last 12 were rated 164 or higher.
Galvin (167), Protektorat (164), Allaho (174).
Twelve of the last 12 had won a Grade 1 race.
Galvin and Protektorat.
Galvin has all the credentials to score a Gold Cup victory
Galvin 5.59/2 is tough to knock in any capacity, having fit all the above stats and will arrive at this contest on the back of a career-best victory in the Savills Chase when beating A Plus Tard despite things not going his way.
He arguably should be a favourite for this race and has an excellent course record, scoring at Cheltenham in two of his four visits, including the National Hunt Chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
He showed his versatility at Leopardstown in the Savills Chase, proving that he has the speed to mix it at the top level, but the harder they go in this contest, the more it will suit him, given his ability to stay further than this Gold Cup trip.
He is a likeable sort and should be given very serious consideration for this race.
2021 winner Minella Indo on course for a stern defence
Minella Indo 5.04/1 has been given unjust criticism this season after a below-par reappearance run at Down Royal before flopping in the King George when tried in first-time cheek-pieces.
I’ve said multiple times that those two efforts could be forgiven. He typically needs the first run of the season, and his right-handed record is poor, so Kempton was never going to suit, and the first-time cheek-pieces was bizarre.
He duly bounced back with a much-improved effort under new rider Robbie Power in the Irish Gold Cup and conceded first run to the winner. He is likely to prove a different proposition back at Cheltenham in the spring, where his record is superb (2-3).
Conflated 9.08/1 threw his hat into the picture when scoring in good style in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival. He can be a bit in and out but is now an 8/1 chance from 100/1 after his surprise victory, and according to reports from connections, he has multiple options, including the Grand National at Aintree. Nobody knows where he goes, but it would be a surprise should he not turn up here.
He lacks the all-important ingredient of Cheltenham course form, though, and for that reason, it’s a no from me.
Can A Plus Tard go one better than in 2021?
A Plus Tard 4.57/2 fits all of the trends other than failing to score last time out, and him being beat a short-head by Galvin at Leopardstown should not be a reason to pour cold water on his chances.
He was an excellent second to Minella Indo in last years race and has done very little wrong since, including recording an excellent RPR of 180 – the highest in the field – in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
He is a special talent on his day and will be feared by any punter taking him on at Cheltenham. It’s hard to envisage him out of the first three, but he may falter to a stronger stayer for the second year running.
Skelton’s Protektorat the dark horse in the race
Protektorat 11.010/1 has all the right credentials to play a big hand in the Gold Cup this year and leads the line for the British contingent.
He fits all of the stats and trends along with Galvin and is entirely unexposed over staying distances. He will arrive on the back of an excellent Aintree demolition job, one in which the form has been well advertised since.
He needs to improve on the figures, but that’s entirely possible, and he has a proven record at Cheltenham and should not be passed over lightly.
Don’t ignore those that disappointed in King George
In 2019, Lostintranslation disappointed in the King George having pulled up but ran a cracker in the 2020 Gold Cup to finish third. In 2018 Bristol De Mai fell in the King George and then finished third in the 2019 Gold Cup. Don Cossack fell in the King George in 2015 and then won the Gold Cup the same season.
Chantry House 21.020/1, Mister Fisher 101.0100/1 and Minella Indo 5.04/1 all pulled up in the King George but should not be written off on that basis. Mister Fisher for example, is a 100/1 chance at the time of writing, and he could spring a surprise and get in the frame.
Big race verdict
Galvin fits all the stats and trends and has the strongest piece of form on offer, and it’s not often you can say that about a 5.59/2 chance. It’s difficult to find ways to get him beaten. He has proven he has the speed for a steadily run race and has seen out the National Hunt Chase trip of 3m6f. He is on the upgrade and looks a good bet at the prices.
I expect Minella Indo to run a cracker and again be in the frame while Protektorat can play a part also. Of those at wild prices, Mister Fisher 100/1 is worth a couple of quid each way after bouncing back to form at Kempton last time, and he is a talented horse to be such a price. Of course, he needs to improve, but his rating of 160 suggests he has every right for a crack at this contest.
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