IT’S the headline act of the Festival, Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the Gold Cup for us.
Cheltenham 15:30 | Gold Cup | ITV1
The Champion Hurdle might be more heart in mouth, but the Gold Cup is the highlight of the week for me. The roll of honour is a legendary one and history will be carved at 3:30 on Friday afternoon.
Will we a star in the vein of Kauto Star, Denman or Best Mate? Not for me. Thistlecrack’s absence has killed that kind of hope and this looks an intriguing but a workmanlike Gold Cup.
A workmanlike Gold Cup
The betting has been shaken up in the last few days with Djakadam overtaking the Colin Tizzard pair of Cue Card and Native River on the boards and he may go off around the 2/1 mark. It’s far too short for me.
The Willie Mullins trained horse was in my thoughts for this but betting is all about getting a price that reflects the chances of your selection. 9/2-5/1 was appealing for Djakadam, but at 100/30 (sure to disappear soon) I’m not turned on.
This is Djakadam’s third crack at the Gold Cup and history tells us that if you’ve failed on the first two occasions you ain’t winning third time round.
The wonderful Cue Card also fits that category. As I explained in my trends piece earlier in the week, there’s no way I can have him here. He’s now 11 and a horse that old hasn’t won this huge test since 1969.
He has his ground and he looked great at Ascot last month but I still think this is too far for him and I don’t think he would have won last year if he’d stayed on his feet. This could be a Kauto Star 2012 type performance.
Guts in abundance
Native River has now been pushed out to 5/1 and it’s starting to look a decent price. There have been many Gold Cup winners who have lacked class but had stamina and guts in abundance (Synchronised, Lord Windermere, War Of Attrition, maybe even Bob’s Worth) and Native River fits that category.
This season he’s won the Hennessy off top weight, the Welsh National off top weight and cruised to victory in the Grade 1 Denman Chase. He simply hasn’t put a foot wrong and reminds me of a few Gold Cup winners of the past.
Others that catch the eye are Sizing John (rebranded as a three mile chaser since moving to Jessica Harrington), Champagne West (reinvigorated since moving to Henry De Bromhead) and at 33/1 Bristol De Mai.
Bristol De Mai is not a horse you can trust at all. One day amazing, one day appalling. At 33/1 though he is worth a small each way investment.
He was second at Cheltenham last season in the RSA and in January he put up a performance at Haydock that was as good as we’ve seen all season. If it clicks today, anything is possible. At 33/1 I’m willing to take that chance.