2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup Betting Preview
Climbing twenty-two fences and travelling over three miles, two and-a-half furlongs, this Grade One contest is the ultimate test for the finest National Hunt staying chasers.
Unfortunately for the 2017 renewal, we are without three main protagonists. Last seasons’ winner, Don Cossack has been retired due to injury, while the 2015 champion, Coneygree and leading novice prospect, Thistlecrack have both been side-lined with significant season ending injuries to scupper either hopes of success. Nevertheless, the Blue Riband event offers hope and opportunity for plenty and still promises to be a fine spectacle for fans of the jumping scene.
In this article, we will look at several of the main protagonists in the hope of pointing our readers in the right direction of the winner.
Many Cheltenham Tipsters have leading trainer Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card as their market leader for the Gold Cup.
At 11 years of age, it could be deemed that the Jean Bishop owned gelding maybe on the decline, but with the absence of Thistlecrack – who comfortably put Cue Card in his place in the King George – Cue Card still looks to be a viable prospect for Gold Cup honours.
Crashing out three fences from home in last year’s race when travelling at least as well as any of his rivals, the mount of Paddy Brennan will be hoping to finally claim glory in the Cheltenham showpiece this time around.
The statistics don’t read well for Cue Card fans however, as 33 runners aged 11 or over have lined up for the Gold Cup since 1997, with no winners and just four runners managing to finish within the first three places.
After finishing second at the Festival four-miler last season, Tizzard’s Native River has done nothing but improve ever since.
A Grade One win at Aintree just three weeks after Cheltenham gave the now seven year-old a mark of 155 – however, that hasn’t stopped Native River in claiming the Hennessy Gold Cup along with an impressive weight carrying performance to win the Welsh National at Chepstow over Christmas.
Native River was also successful in his most recent outing, but it was muddling three runner affair at Newbury, with Bristol De Mai far from his best on that day. It must be said that Native River will likely have to improve again to land the Gold Cup this year, but Richard Johnson’s mount has carried all before him this season, so it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see him win.
Irish super trainer Willie Mullins’ best chance of Gold Cup glory looks to be once again with the Rich Ricci owned, Djakadam.
Still only an eight year-old, Djakadam has had a trouble free preparation according to his handler for the race – and arguably has the best form with two runners-up efforts in 2015 and 2016, to hold claim as a potential market favourite by the time the race comes around.
Likely to be steered by legendary Festival jockey Ruby Walsh, Djakadam looks certain to be in the reckoning for honours once again as Mullins looks for his maiden Gold Cup win.
Best of the rest
On the evidence of this season’s leading Irish form, the Gordon Elliot trained, Outlander must come into consideration when looking at a potential winner.
The Gigginstown horse has some close form with Djakadam since his departure from Mullins’ yard at the beginning of the season. Elliot looks to have garnered significant improvement from Outlander – who can be had at the current odds of around 10/1 in comparison to Djakadam at circa 4/1.
Jonjo O’Neill has often spoke in the highest regard for his charge, More Of That and despite the earlier season entry in a cross-country chase, the JP McManus owned nine year-old looks set to take his chance in the Gold Cup.
A former Stayers Hurdle winner, who lowered the colours of current Champion Hurdler, Annie Power, More Of That has yet to reach that level of form over fences, but with recent significant market support behind the gelding, a bold bid can be expected.