Guest post written by www.betfredcheltenhamgoldcup.com
Now that 2013 is upon us, the Cheltenham Festival suddenly seems a lot closer. With the field of potential Gold Cup runners now officially confirmed, it is an opportune moment to assess how the favourites have shaped up in recent months.
Bobs Worth – 3/1fav
Nicky Henderson is so confident in Bobs Worth, he has indicated he may not need to give him another run out before the big day. Whether he does or not will depend on the state of the ground, but punters could yet catch a glimpse of him on January 26th in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham.
His credentials were there for all to see in taking the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last month, seeing off fellow Cheltenham Gold Cup race contenders Tidal Bay and First Lieutenant in the process. This partly explains why Henderson has so much confidence in Bobs Worth, who already has festival pedigree having taken the RSA Chase in 2012.
Sir Des Champs – 5/1
The second favourite has been somewhat trumped by his Gold Cup rivals in recent weeks, first losing out to Flemenstar in the John Durkan Memorial Chase before clinging on for fourth in the Lexus Chase behind Tidal Bay, First Lieutenant and Flemenstar once more.
Willie Mullins had labelled Sir Des Champs his “big hope” back in November, and this remains the case despite his last two showings. The seven-year-old had won all his races under Mullins prior to that rocky December, so the capability is certainly there. He will need a strong showing at Leopardstown in February to maintain the confidence of Gold Cup punters.
Silviniaco Conti – 7/1
Paul Nicholls has had some rotten luck recently. World Hurdle dominator Big Buck’s and potential Gold Cup runner Al Ferof were both ruled out for this season with injury, while the retired Kauto Star was controversially shipped off for a career in dressage.
He will be hoping that 7/1 shot Silviniaco Conti can provide a welcome boost at the Cheltenham showpiece, and an impressive win in November’s Betfair Chase at Haydock, where he saw off Long Run by 2½ lengths, means he is certainly regarded in many quarters as a potential winner.
Of course, Nicholls can also call on the trump card of Ruby Walsh, top jockey at six of the past nine Cheltenham Festivals and two time Gold Cup winner on Kauto Star.
Long Run – 7/1
The 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner has propelled himself back into the reckoning after victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton. Having finished third last year, Nicky Henderson has his sights set on the possibility of Long Run becoming only the second horse in history to retain the cup after losing it. Kauto Star was of course the first to achieve this, winning in 2007 and 2009.
Before that race, he had come in behind Silviniaco Conti in the Betfair Chase, so the signs are there that he could be there or thereabouts in March. He certainly knows the course, and his experience means the occasion is unlikely to affect him.
Other possible contenders
Peter Casey-trained Flemenstar has been in fine form of late, particularly in seeing off Sir Des Champs at the John Durkan Memorial Chase. However, doubts about his ability to last the course on the longer Cheltenham circuit mean he is a best-priced 12/1, with his lack of experience outside Ireland also perhaps counting against him.
First Lieutenant is also a 12/1 chance, having come second in the RSA at last year’s festival. While he perhaps hasn’t kicked on in the same way as the winner of that race, Bobs Worth, he has only finished outside the top three twice in his career, so a place bet could be a good option.
Odds correct on 11/01/13.