Such is the nature of the Cheltenham Festival these days that the top trainers often plot a path for their horse’s that helps give them the best opportunity of winning their targeted race at Prestbury Park months in advance.
The whole jump racing season seems to now evolve around Cheltenham, and the Gold Cup is the main objective for every owner, trainer and jockey. Next year will be no different, and as the current campaign draws to a close, the blueprints for an attack on the Cheltenham highlight will already be getting drawn up.
That said, let’s take at three horses who have impressed this year. So much, in fact, that the Gold Cup could be their primary target next season. Read on to find out more!
Galopin Des Champs
That agonising fall at the final fence in the Turners Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham is one that will live long in Willie Mullins’ memory. In a race that should have taken the Irish trainer’s overall tally at Prestbury Park to 11 winners for the week, Galopin Des Champs’ hoof got caught in the reigns upon landing and that was enough to bring him and Paul Townend crashing down.
It would have been a bitter pill to swallow as the six-year-old was cruising to a third win in as many chases, but it was instead an out-of-sorts Bob Olinger who received the ‘Cheltenham Roar’ on his way back to the winners’ enclosure.
Nonetheless, Galopin has put things right since, winning the Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse, and he’s already the ante-post favourite in the Betdaq racing betting for next year’s Cheltenham showpiece.
Speaking of Bob Olinger, Henry de Bromhead has taken the Gold Cup back to his Knockeen stables for the last two years now — with Minella Indo and A Plus Tard winning back-to-back renewals of the highlight race for the Irish Trainer — and he could look to strengthen his hand ahead of his hat-trick attempt next year by stepping the seven-year-old up in trip.
Bob is three for three since being sent down the chasing route this season, even if his victory in the Turners wasn’t that convincing due to a muscle injury. But his next outing, the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown, is going to be another test of his mettle — with De Bromhead stepping him up to three miles and half a furlong for the first time in his career.
If he lands a victory in the lengthy Grade 1 at Ireland’s seasonal finale, proving he can stay the Gold Cup trip, then his ante-post odds will surely be slashed from 20/1 for the Cheltenham feature as he begins to gain traction in horse racing tips.
Venetia Williams has made it no secret that the Gold Cup has always been the plan for L’Homme Presse. And after an emphatic victory in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, despite the treacherous conditions at Prestbury Park on the second day of the meeting, many believed he was in with a chance of winning the jump spectacle.
However, a disappointing showing last time out — when the seven-year-old was over 18 lengths behind Ahoy Senor in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree — may have just sown a seed of doubt in the minds of many if L’Homme Presse really is a Gold Cup standard horse.
He did, of course, win five of his six races this season and id still the fourth favourite in the ante-post market at a general 12/1. But his odds certainly aren’t as convincing as they were after his Cheltenham triumph. The seven-year-old is a proven stayer though, it will be interesting to see how he starts next season.
Shirley Mist has been involved in fashion and design for many years. She has also written extensively for many online publications. She currently writes for The Tribune World and is a valued member of our team.