Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview
The first two days of Cheltenham have encapsulated perfectly the ups and downs of the Cheltenham festival. The bookies were taken to the cleaners by the favourites on day one, and Ruby Walsh was in terrific form. Fast forward 24 hours and Ruby Walsh looks to have suffered a devastating leg break yet again, and Douvan was an unfortunate faller on what could have been a triumphant return.
Fast forward two days and all the focus will be on the highlight of any Cheltenham Festival - the Gold Cup. Jessica Harrington’s Sizing John was the winner last year, despite Harrington being not particularly hopeful in the build up to the race. Sizing John is ruled out this year, so Harrington’s hopes are pinned on Irish National winner Our Duke who's chances are being played up by websites that post tons of daily tips. And it seems female influence continues to grow in horse racing, as Lizzie Kelly is set to become the first ever female rider in a Gold Cup.
Our Duke was being touted as a potential Gold Cup horse last year and despite an impressive Grade 1 novice chase victory in December of 2016, the owners chose to bide their time in the build up to the 2018 Gold Cup. That could prove to have been a wise decision here as he is currently second favourite at 5/1. Might Bite and Native River continued to trade blows, bouncing between 4/1 and 5/1 each. But can anyone challenge the favourites this year?
Might Bite is a justified favourite but even so might be too short to bet at that price, whilst Native River looks a more worthy market leader and has continued to shorten in recent days. He has the form on this course.
Minella Rocco runs again and has previous Gold Cup experience having finished second in last years race. Minella Rocco was an 18/1 shot on the day and is priced at 25/1 this time around. Whilst that price is understandable when you consider the lengthy break followed by poor form and windy surgery after that, those odds are understandable.
But there’s little to explain how Djakadam can go from a 3/1 shot to 36/1 in the space of a year. Djakadam’s decline has arguably not been enough to see him go off at such a price, so there could be value in an outside place bet there with one bookie paying five places.
When you assess the middle of the pack, Our Duke at 6/1 just stands out as a horse that could be too strong for the chasing pack. Our Duke gave a strong horse in Persisting Percy a mighty beating last time out, and fits the profile of a Gold Cup winning horse. Our Duke continues to drift this week and is well worth a look.
But for value seekers the argument for an outside shot winning the Gold Cup has to be spearheaded by Djakadam. It’s a mighty big price that has already drifted in from 45/1 and higher, and could well shorten still. Whilst the ground won’t be Djakadam’s favoured ground he’s shown he can handle the challenge well. After all, last years winner Sizing John only beat him by a nose when the two met again 10 months ago.