Monday, 12 March 2018

Native River and Definitly Red to Fight Out Cheltenham Gold Cup

"Cheltenham Racecourse" by Stephen Bowden (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The Cheltenham Festival is nearly upon us and the biggest race of the week, without a doubt, is the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Run on Friday, the final day of the meeting, this race brings together the best staying chasers and they take each other on in what is always a huge test of jumping, stamina and courage. This year, with the going expected to be softer than normal it will take even more courage and character from the brave horses involved if they are to lift one of racing’s biggest prizes.
The soft ground, assuming it comes, will suit some horses better than others, and two of the horses that will love it are Native River and Definitly Red. Although not favourite at the moment, it would be no surprise to see Native River sent off favourite on Friday, as money goes on the soft ground specialists. We have only seen him once this season, a completely different preparation to the one he had last season. He impressed on his return to the track in February, and trainer Colin Tizzard will be hoping he has done the right thing and got him spot on for the big day.
Current favourite Might Bite has a doubt about staying the Gold Cup distance, and soft ground will question that even further. The likely drift of Might Bite and the money for Native River is highly likely to force a change in favourite.

Definitly Red is an outsider for the race at the moment, but would be of real interest on rain softened ground. The further they go, the better he will be - so the more emphasis on stamina the better for him. He won in great style at Cheltenham last time out when the going was soft, and he is also going to attract a lot of betting support as we draw closer to the big event. The latest Cheltenham odds 2018 have Definitly Red at 12/1, something that is highly unlikely to be available on the day, given the ground we are likely to encounter.
The Brian Ellison yard have targeted this race instead of another tilt at the Grand National, a race in which he was pulled up last year after the saddle slipped. He was desperately unlucky that day, and will be looking for redemption in another big race this Friday, when he takes to the track at Cheltenham.
Punters will be able to see how bad the ground is on the first three days of the festival before deciding where to put their money. However, if it is as soft as people are expecting it to be, then expect to see a lot of that money going towards Native River and Definitly Red. The money is likely to send Native River off as the favourite, while Definitly Red is also likely to shorten and those two can battle out the finish on Friday, with a huge audience watching both at the track and at home on TV.

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