Monday 13 December 2021

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2022

The 2022 renewal of Cheltenham Gold Cup is scheduled for Friday, March 18 so, at the time of writing, is still a little over three months away. The picture will, no doubt, become clearer after the two key trials over the festive period, the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park and the Savills Chase at Leopardstown, but the ante-post market for the Cheltenham Gold Cup is already well formed.

Last year's runner-up, A Plus Tard (3/1), trained by Henry de Bromhead, was promoted to favouritism after an impressive, 22-length victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on his reappearance in November. However, with three of the seven runners, including Bristol De Mai, failing to complete the course, he may have been flattered and it'll be interesting to see how he fares in defence of the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

Last year's winner, Minella Indo (5/1), a stable companion of A Plus Tard, reportedly caught out his trainer by how badly he needed his reappearance, when only third of five, beaten 5 lengths, behind Frodon in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal in October. De Bromhead said afterwards that he looked forward to taking the winner on again 'some day', which may well be Boxing Day at Kempton Park. Minella Indo has done precious little wrong at the Cheltenham Festival, winning either side of an agonising defeat in the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase in 2020, and must have every chance of defending his Gold Cup crown.

Beyond the market leaders, Al Boum Photo (20/1), trained by Willie Mullins, appears to have been all but written off by the bookmakers. The winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019 and 2020 and third last year when, according to his trainer, '...he didn't fire as well as he has', Al Boum will be a 10-year-old by the time the 'Blue Riband' rolls around. If he were to win, he would become the oldest winner since Cool Dawn in 1998 but, with Mullins plotting a 'different route' for him this season, stranger things gave happened.

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