The Fabulous Five | 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup 25 years ago. I… | Flickr
Michael Dickinson after training the first five home in the Gold Cup: Flickr

The final day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival and it’s Gold Cup day. The blue riband event of the four days and what a renewal is in store. In defence of his title is Al Boum Photo, running in Joe Donnelly’s black and gold checks that may well have graced the winners’ enclosure earlier in the week with Shiskin.

Trying for a third Gold Cup to follow in the hoofprints of such illustrious names as Golden Miller (who won five), Cottage Rake, Arkle and Best Mate, Al Boum Photo will have to be at the very top of his game in this year’s race.

These days it’s a fiercely competitive contest, possibly unlike 1983 when Michael Dickinson trained the first five home. Interestingly, trainer Willie Mullins does not see it as such a deep race this year which augurs well for Al Boum Photo who will meet some old rivals here once again.

Last year, Santini came within a neck of denying Al Boum Photo the glory but this term does not seem to be as much of a threat, so it is his stablemate from Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows yard, Champ, that looks the main danger. Dropped in trip as a prep for this in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury, Champ impressed with his jumping until the last and seems as ready as he can be for this highest prize.

However, it’s not just the Henderson pair that will make Al Boum Photo work in his hat-trick bid. Henry de Bromhead has Irish raider A Plus Tard to fly the colours of the Cheveley Park Stud, another set of familiar silks in the winners’ enclosure no doubt during the week. With winning form around the Prestbury Park track, having taken the Close Brothers Handicap Chase two years ago, A Plus Tard will be trying to live up to his name and wave see you later to Al Boum Photo up the Cheltenham hill.

Native River, winner of the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup | Flickr
Native River & Richard Johnson winning the 2018 Gold Cup: Flickr

Paul Nicholls has Cheltenham specialist Frodon thrown into the mix and if jockey Bryony Frost can get him into a ryhthm at the front of the pack they can surely figure. A six time winner at Cheltenham, there’s a special relationship when Bryony’s on Frodon’s reins around here and they have to be super each way value in the current markets.

For those each way value seekers a second look at Colin Tizzard’s Native River may well be worthwhile. A previous winner of this race, in 2018, Native River looked back to his best when taking the Cotswold Chase, moved from it’s regular venue here to Sandown. With the Venn Farm team of Colin and son Joe Tizzard finally coming into form he does appear to be mispriced in the ante post markets.

A fascinating renewal and if Willie Mullins thinks it’s not as deep a race as last year then he must have a lot of confidence in Al Boum Photo being ready to defend his title and make it the hat-trick in the blue riband of National Hunt racing. With the master of Closutton surely a habitual visitor to the winners’ enclosure in the first three days of the week, it is hard to bet against him, entering festival week with one of the strongest teams seen for many a year.

Despite all the things missing this year at Cheltenham, the quality of the racing is going to be better than ever in the greatest National Hunt Festival of them all.

This preview has been brought to you by our regular correspondent, Hector Steiff

Load More Related Articles