Cheltenham 2019: Native River Is the One They All Have to Beat in the Gold Cup
The Gold Cup is the race most National Hunt fans look forward to the more than any other at the Cheltenham Festival and the betting odds suggests this year’s contest could be wide open as it has a very competitive betting market.
Last year we were treated to a fantastic renewal of the race as Native River and Might Bite were involved in a tussle from start to finish. It made for fascinating viewing, as they set an almighty gallop many of their rivals could not live with.
Native River – back with a bang! pic.twitter.com/r2B2gcB6qH
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) February 10, 2018
Given that many of the novices from last season have failed to set down a marker this season to suggest they can be good enough to win the Blue Riband contest of the week, it is Native River who should be backed to regain his crown in the 3m2f race, for which https://www.paddypower.com/horse-racing/cheltenham-festival had placed him at 9/2 at the time of writing.
The good news for those placing a Cheltenham 2019 bet on the race now is that Paddy Power operate a non-runner, no bet system (NRNB) – if your horse does not line up, you’ll get your money back in full as cash.
Could Native River become the first horse to retain the Gold Cup since 2004?
As you can see from the roll of honour list at https://www.timeform.com/cheltenham-festival/past-winners/cheltenham-gold-cup, the stats suggest it will be difficult for Colin Tizzard’s runner to defend his title.
No horse in the last 14 years has been able to win back-to-back Gold Cups and considering that the likes of Kauto Star, Denman and Long Run all failed shows what a feat that really is. Native River is a tough horse, though: not only has he been successful in the biggest race of the Festival, he has prevailed in the Hennessy Gold Cup, Welsh Grand National and Mildmay Novices’ Chase.
The majority of the races in the 3m chase division are run at fast courses where stamina doesn’t play such a damning role. At Cheltenham, though, if you are not an out-and-out stayer, you struggle to see out the 3m 2f at the course, especially with the draining hill the horses need to tackle in order to reach the winning line. Native River is sure to be there at the finish as his jumping his very reliable, while he has proved on more than one occasion that he has the legs at end of a contest.
Tizzard’s superstar has had two runs so far this season and, although he has yet to taste victory, connections will have been pleased with both of his efforts. He lined up at Haydock in the opening leg of the Chase Triple Crown which, as you can read at https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/nov/24/bristol-de-mai-betfair-chase-native-river-haydock-might-bite, was won once again by Bristol De Mai. It was clear that Native River was a little rusty but the pleasing thing about that run in Lancashire was how he stayed on strongly in the closing stages.
Winner of the @32Red King George VI! And… What a brilliant young horse.
— Kempton Park (@kemptonparkrace) December 26, 2018
On Boxing Day in the King George VI Chase, Native River placed once again, coming third in the Grade One, which was taken by Clan Des Obeaux. Kempton was never going to be a track that played into the nine-year old’s hands, but we can expect the champion to reverse his form with those who have finished ahead of him this season when they face each other again in the Gold Cup in March.
Image credit – Carine06