Cheltenham Pageant: Key Gold Cup contenders analysed by Sky Sports activities Racing skilled Mick Fitzgerald | Racing Information


Willie Mullins’ Galopin Des Champs heads the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting, however our very personal Gold Cup winner Mick Fitzgerald thinks he has discovered one to defeat the favorite.

Galopin Des Champs maintained his excellent kind with victory within the Irish Gold Cup, and will likely be seeking to bag a second Pageant success after falling when having the Turners’ Novices’ Chase at his mercy ultimately 12 months’s assembly.

Regardless of the pretty prohibitive odds (7/4f), there’s lots to take him on with, together with the 2021 winner Minella Indo, 2022 winner A Plus Tard, King George hero Bravemansgame and Grand Nationwide champion Noble Yeats.

Mick Fitzgerald has studied 4 of the most important runners heading for the Cheltenham Gold Cup…

Galopin Des Champs

Key details

  • Coach: Willie Mullins
  • Jockey: Paul Townend
  • Age: 7
  • Odds: 7/4
  • Massive-race wins: Martin Pipe (2021), Boylesports Gold Cup (2022), John Durkan Chase (2022), Irish Gold Cup (2023)

There’s simply no doubting him being tremendous proficient, even from as early again because the day he made his debut over fences. I do not suppose I’ve ever seen a horse make a debut over fences like that! He was class.

Each step of the way in which as a novice chaser, he simply regarded so good, even at Cheltenham final 12 months earlier than he fell on the final in The Turners’ when he had the race wrapped up. He simply has that ‘wow issue’ about him.

He is an thrilling horse when he is on it. That stated, the Gold Cup is not only about that wow issue and watching him at Leopardstown final time within the Irish Gold Cup, in the end, he was simply too good for them, however there have been instances within the race you were not certain, simply in how he was travelling at instances.

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Willie Mullins has two good darts to throw at this 12 months’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and likewise nominates his handicap darkish horse for the Pageant

There isn’t a doubt in my thoughts, that if you happen to rode this horse like a Vautour in a Ryanair, they would not see which approach he went since you might journey him and assault and I simply do not suppose there’s a horse who might reside with him if he is ridden like that.

He is much more relaxed this season, although, which can assist with the Gold Cup journey, however does he really look higher for that [being more relaxed]? I am undecided.

There is just one man who will know if Galopin Des Champs will change off for the extended interval of a Gold Cup, and that is Paul Townend.

Paul’s bought a tricky job on his fingers as a result of he is bought to journey him conservatively, however nonetheless make him soar. That might be extra of a nagging doubt for me within the Gold Cup than the rest, as a result of we all know he’s completely ok to win.

Once I go down by the potential Gold Cup runners, I do not see horses in there who will flip it right into a slog and I simply suppose Galopin Des Champs can be a neater journey off an end-to-end gallop, however on the identical time, that sort of situation will actually check his stamina.

It is a bit of a catch-22 in my thoughts. If the race does play out with a stop-start sort of gallop, I am simply undecided the horse is pretty much as good below these situations. I’d look a bit foolish now in saying this, however I feel it is a strong Gold Cup.

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Patrick Mullins is adamant the Gold Cup journey of three miles and two furlongs at Cheltenham ought to show to be no problem for favorite Galopin Des Champs

I went by all of the races the likes of A Plus Tard, Ahoy Senor, Bravemansgame, Conflated, Minella Indo, Noble Yeats and Stattler received, and between them, it is a severe staying chase resume, on paper.

Galopin Des Champs’s worth (6/4), on Gold Cup day, I feel we’ll have loads of individuals prepared to take him on. We should always point out that Willie (Mullins) is aware of this horse intimately and he has unwavering religion in him, each as a horse and likewise with regards staying the journey.

We should always take that on board as a result of Willie has received Gold Cups earlier than and had many good horses overwhelmed in it, together with Florida Pearl, however you get the impression Galopin Des Champs is true up there with all of them.

A Plus Tard

Key details

  • Coach: Henry de Bromhead
  • Jockey: Rachael Blackmore
  • Age: 9
  • Odds: 15/2
  • Massive-race wins: Savills Chase (2020), Betfair Chase (2021), Cheltenham Gold Cup (2022)

We in all probability will not know his true wellbeing till he runs; little doubt that’s the query mark with final 12 months’s hugely-impressive winner.

Going into this 12 months’s race, if you happen to’re are a supporter, it’s kind of of ‘in Henry (de Bromhead) we belief’. It is not been all plain crusing for this horse, even earlier than he was pulled up within the Betfair Chase this season.

Given his capability, he does not have a string of ones subsequent to his title, and has really by no means received two races in a row, however to be honest, he’s all the time fairly constant.

A Plus Tard
A Plus Tard received the Gold Cup in 2022

When A Plus Tard is nice, he is superb and it has been that approach from early in his profession. I feel again to that Cheltenham Pageant handicap success within the Shut Brothers Novices’ Handicap off 144, the place he bolted up by 16 lengths.

It was a handicap, however that was an unimaginable efficiency, one in all a Graded horse. The next two Cheltenham Festivals, I used to be dissatisfied with him, as a result of I believed he’d win the 2020 Ryanair (third to Min) and I believed he’d win the 2021 Gold Cup (second to Minella Indo), however final season we noticed A Plus Tard at his sensible finest within the Betfair Chase at Haydock and at last, within the Gold Cup, the place he was even higher once more.

A return to that kind in final 12 months’s Gold Cup places him bang in the midst of every little thing, at an enormous worth, and in fact, in all probability the horse to beat; and so, he can be my choice within the race.

He is had one dangerous run the place they came upon he was sick when he got here again from Haydock and he is received a Gold Cup off a break by 15 lengths, we should not neglect that.

Rachael Blackmore after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on A Plus Tard
Rachael Blackmore after successful the Cheltenham Gold Cup on A Plus Tard

It is not simple to do, however if you happen to take away this season’s Betfair Chase run, out of the blue you take a look at this horse’s kind in a special mild. Final 12 months he beat a earlier Gold Cup winner (Minella Indo) by a avenue, with Protektorat again in third, who has given the shape a lift, and two runs earlier to that, he received the Betfair Chase by 22 lengths.

In between, Galvin did beat A Plus Tard within the Savills, however the Haydock victory was so spectacular, it possibly left a mark. Individuals ask would I’ve bought a run into A Plus Tard on the again of that disappointing final begin, however Henry (de Bromhead) has performed a reasonably good job with this horse so I’m inclined to comply with his lead and belief him.

Henry clearly feels it is too huge of a threat to run him and doubtless simply did not need the horse doing an excessive amount of earlier than his huge day, given he received so effectively recent final season.

I feel it is arduous to check horses by the ages, and I do not like doing it, however it’s attention-grabbing to notice the BHA handicappers have nonetheless bought A Plus Tard (180) 5lb away from Galopin Des Champs, and given how extremely many charge Willie’s horse, that provides you some context for what A Plus Tard can do when he’s proper.

Rachael Blackmore celebrates winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on A Plus Tard
Blackmore celebrates successful the Cheltenham Gold Cup on A Plus Tard

You have to hope and belief the horse is coming again, but when he’s again, A Plus Tard is vying for favouritism for my cash.

We’re at nighttime, little doubt, however it is going to be value listening to Henry speak about him on the lead-up to the race together with watching the betting.

Some optimistic ripples out there can be nice to see. Like we noticed with Shishkin, these class horses deserve an opportunity once they underperform, and who is aware of, possibly we’d get an identical outcome. A string of dangerous runs can be a priority, however A Plus Tard has solely had a kind of.


Key details

  • Coach: Paul Nicholls
  • Jockey: Harry Cobden
  • Age: 8
  • Odds: 8/1
  • Massive-race wins: Challow Hurdle (2020), Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (2021), Charlie Corridor Chase (2022), King George VI Chase (2022)

As a superb King George winner, we have got to incorporate Bravemansgame as I believed he was very spectacular at Kempton. He actually was a superb winner, however on the identical time, there is no such thing as a doubt he wants to come back ahead once more to win a Gold Cup.

We should bear in mind although, the person who trains him (Paul Nicholls) has confirmed himself time and time once more with these good staying chasers, constantly working his magic with them. Paul will should be at his finest once more although, as a result of after I take a look at Bravemansgame’s kind, he appears to be like a a lot better horse within the first half of the season.

Each season, time after time, the horse has regarded actually good as much as the flip of the 12 months, however effectively under that stage come the spring festivals.

A part of the explanation might be the horse was missing bodily. I bear in mind being down initially a number of instances when Bravemansgame has run and it is wonderful watching him.

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Jockey Harry Cobden could possibly be in for a giant week on the Cheltenham Pageant however is feeling calm forward of his rides on Paul Nicholls’ stars Hermes Allen and Bravemansgame

The 12 months he received the Challow Hurdle at Newbury, he walked previous me, and I believed ‘Wow! That may be a racehorse!’; he was sturdy, a tank, a correct horse, however then after I noticed him at Cheltenham when Bob Olinger beat him, it was like I used to be taking a look at a special horse.

I simply thought this horse, mentally and bodily, could not stand as much as coaching for an entire season. Earlier than that Ballymore, he regarded nervous, he was shaking and two minutes earlier than the race, the horse was melting earlier than my eyes.

So, this season, you’ll be able to see why that they had the pink hood on him going to the beginning earlier than the Charlie Corridor and the King George. Paul Nicholls is an ever-evolving character, and the all-time nice trainers do evolve over time, they do not stand nonetheless and he is making an attempt various things with this horse to get the most effective out of him.

Like this season, going into the spring, Paul is bringing Bravemansgame recent to Cheltenham so I can not wait to see if that works, and I can not wait to see this horse earlier than the race, simply to see how he appears to be like.

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Nicholls says steady star Bravemansgame is trying ‘unbelievable’ forward of his run within the Gold Cup

I used to be down in Ditcheat just lately doing a little filming for Sky Sports activities Racing and, I’ve bought to say, Bravemansgame regarded unimaginable, holding his situation very well and simply usually trying in nice kind so I am beginning to suppose mentally and bodily he’s turning into the total package deal now as an eight-year-old.

Paul can be satisfied, satisfied, this is not the identical horse as final 12 months in that he’s a lot better. We noticed Bravemansgame’s expertise within the King George, noticed it in abundance actually, as a result of a whole lot of issues went mistaken for him in that race and he nonetheless received effectively.

L’Homme Presse made life very robust for him leaping into him which additionally meant he had a large journey; you have to improve the efficiency after these two issues.

I do know Harry (Cobden) stated he wants a little bit of house, which can be at a premium if we get a giant discipline, however Bravemansgame’s leaping will likely be an enormous assist. If the identical horse that received the King George turns up on Gold Cup day, he’s a participant, however I do suppose he wants to enhance once more to win.

Noble Yeats

Key details

  • Coach: Noble Yeats
  • Jockey: Sean Bowen
  • Age: 8
  • Odds: 10/1
  • Massive-race wins: Grand Nationwide (2022)

As a Grand Nationwide winner, we all know Noble Yeats will keep, however in some methods, will he keep too effectively? I went again and watched him within the Ultima Handicap Chase ultimately 12 months’s Pageant, the race he ran in earlier than the Grand Nationwide, and it is wonderful if you watch races again, the reminiscence is refreshed.

They dropped him in and crept round, however when Sam Waley-Cohen wanted to make up floor, he wasn’t capable of. I simply fear when he needs to enhance his place within the Gold Cup, he will not have the opportunity, though the Noble Yeats of now’s clearly a greater horse than the one which ran within the Ultima.

I do not know for certain, however I feel they are going to put the cheekpieces again on him that he wore within the Grand Nationwide; they had been on for the primary time that day and have not been on since, which is sort of attention-grabbing and suggests they’re aiming for the massive day with him.

I feel they will additionally need to journey him handier, make extra use of him, as a result of in the event that they journey him within the pack they usually go a stop-start gallop, I can see him being tapped for toe on the mistaken time earlier than operating on strongly.

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Jockey Sean Bowen says he has thrilling rides to sit up for on the Cheltenham Pageant, headlined by Grand Nationwide hero and Gold Cup contender Noble Yeats

Bear in mind the 12 months Santini completed second to Al Boum Picture in first-time cheekpieces within the Gold Cup? I can see an identical sort of run from Noble Yeats if we get spring floor.

I suppose the fear is an absence of tactical tempo and we’d have a decent-size discipline, which simply places extra of a premium on luck in operating and house.

A lot of individuals say, ‘oh, it is the New Course, it is huge and galloping and you have a lot of time’, however imagine me, if you happen to journey a horse who lacks a gear, it may be a nightmare and also you get performed all over the place.

That then places extra strain on leaping when gaps are closing, and it is why Cheltenham is the final word check, each a part of a horse’s sport is scrutinised.

Noble Yeats on his way to victory in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree
Noble Yeats on his option to victory within the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree

On paper, I do not suppose it is a dangerous Gold Cup, however the purpose Noble Yeats is second favorite, I feel, is as a result of there are query marks about a whole lot of horses round him within the betting and he is seen as a strong each-way contender, however he would not be my second favorite; I feel each A Plus Tard and Stattler needs to be forward of him within the betting.

Noble Yeats followers ought to take positives from Hedgehunter, who ran second in a Gold Cup behind Battle Of Attrition on good floor, the 12 months after successful the Grand Nationwide.

Not solely that, however Hedgehunter was 10 when he positioned within the Gold Cup, whereas Noble Yeats continues to be solely an eight-year-old.

He is entitled to nonetheless be bettering, and to be honest, we’ve seen that this season. Like Stattler, he might do with rain earlier than the Gold Cup, not as a result of he wants heavy floor or something, however it simply slows the others down and brings his stamina into play.


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