Cheltenham Festival Tips | Ante-Post Preview | Gold Cup | 18th March


IT'S the big one of Cheltenham week, but who is Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) tipping for Gold Cup glory.

Cheltenham Gold Cup | 18th March 2016 | Channel 4

What a race we have in store here! Unfortunately last year's winner Coneygree isn't lining up but it's one of the hottest Gold Cups in recent memory and a race I am very excited about. I don't have the time to preview all the runners but I'll try to touch on the main protagonists.

Vatour is the apple of Willie Mullins' eye and he has shown a real liking for Cheltenham over the years. The winner of the Supreme Novice Hurdle before destroying his rivals in the JLT Novice Chase last season, he is a seriously talented horse.

But the problem is he doesn't convince me as a dour stayer and if he does line up here I expect him to come unstuck. He comes up against established stayers and there will be no hiding place in this.

Ruby Walsh says he blames himself for his Kempton King George defeat, but even if he won that there is another two and a half furlongs to deal with on a much stiffer track so I'm against him in this.

Cue Card is another Colin Tizard inmate who has been a revelation this season winning the Charlie Hall, Betfair Chase and the King George. If he wins here connections receive a million pound bonus and it's possible he will.

He loves Cheltenham having won the Champion Bumper and the Ryanair previously, however my main concern is the distance. I don't see him or Vatour as stayers, so the fact he out battled Vatour at Kempton is irrelevant when he takes on proven Gold Cup horses.

Djakadam came second in this last season behind the brilliant Coneygree and it's more than likely that we are yet to see the best of this seven year old.

After that he went to Punchestown where he was beaten by Don Cossack but that was only six weeks after his gruelling Gold Cup and I'm not sure if that form should be taken literally.

On his seasonal reappearance he won the John Durkan in great style and to me he is the most likely winner. It depends who turns up what price he will be but with so many rivals I'm not sure he is worth backing ante-post.

Don Cossack who's the highest rated runner in the field is a real favourite of mine and he would have finished very close to Cue Card had he not fallen in the King George.

I actually think he would have won as he stays well but I can't back him here. He didn't seem to enjoy Cheltenham in the Ryanair last season and I don't know if the Gold Cup is the best route for him. He was sensational at Aintree and Punchestown last season and they represent better options for him in my eyes.

Don Poli who won the RSA is a real dour stayer who is also classy and in my opinion he will be involved in the finish here. He will relish every yard of this trip and with slight doubts about his rivals' stamina he could end up winning here. However at 6/1 he's another that could end up a bigger price on the day and I wouldn't back him ante-post either.

If you are looking for a big price horse I wouldn't put anyone off backing Holywell each way in this. He was fourth in this race last year and seems to save his best form for the spring.

He also loves the track and his form here reads 1-1-4 from his three visits. Though he was well beaten on both starts this term it's not a concern to me as he has never won between September and December in his career.

Jonjo O'Neill will have this as his target and I expect a completely different horse to turn up in March. At 33/1 he could run into a place in what is an incredibly competitive Gold Cup.

Best Bets

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2016 – Holywell each way (33/1 William Hill)

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About Author

I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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