IT’S six years since there was a Cheltenham Gold Cup without the great Kauto Star lining up. We have become so accustomed to those familiar green and yellow silks stalking the leaders, jumping his rivals into the ground and powering up the hill. But this year’s race is all about the young pretenders. Ten horses are expected to go to post but three second-season chasers dominate the Gold Cup market. Here is a runner-by-runner guide to racing’s blue riband…
BOBS WORTH: The heir apparent and likely favourite. He loves Cheltenham and stays all day. The only doubt would be the fact he hasn’t run since the Hennessy in December. But he will be very hard to beat.
BOG WARRIOR: An unlikely runner as he is due to run in the World Hurdle.
CAPE TRIBULATION: A decent each-way bet at around 16/1. He won at the Festival last year but may just lack the class of the main players.
CAPTAIN CHRIS: If the race was run on a right-handed course then this fellow would have an outstanding chance. Second in the King George on ground he hated, his tendency to jump right could scupper his prospects. But he is certainly overpriced at around the 14/1 mark.
LONG RUN: The 2011 Gold Cup winner and, amazingly, still only eight years old. A gutsy King George winner in December, he should be in the shake-up again. Still a class act, but I can’t help feeling he peaked two years ago.
MONBEG DUDE: The Welsh National winner would have an each-way squeak on deep ground, but he may struggle to go the pace on the better surface. Connections will be hoping that the forecast rain arrives this evening and tomorrow.
SILVINIACO CONTI: A big player. Terrific jumper and possesses great stamina. The only doubt would be that he hasn’t won around Cheltenham but he has a huge chance and very much one to consider.
SIR DES CHAMPS: Now you’re talking. A winner at the Festival for the last two years, he seems to have been trained to the button by Willie Mullins. He will relish the trip and as long as his jumping stands up he is my idea of the winner.
SUNNYHILLBOY: Mugged on the line in last year’s Grand National, it would be a major surprise if he had the class to win this, despite AP McCoy being on board.
THE GIANT BOLSTER: A massive price considering he was second last year. Solid each-way value, especially when you consider that the ground has come right for him. He wouldn’t want too much overnight rain.
WAYWARD PRINCE: This might come back to bite me but although he has some useful he won’t be winning this.
SELECTION: Sir Des Champs (win)
The Giant Bolster (each way) 14/1 still available at time of writing
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