Gold Cup Day at this year’s Cheltenham Festival is set to be one for the ages. The first of the spectacular four days to sell out, tickets flew out of the box office in record time with all three enclosures filled by January for the first time on record. It’s clear that the boisterous racegoers are chomping at the bit to get back to the iconic Prestbury Park for the famous Festival.
It’s going to make for the quite the card, with the roof ready to come off by the time the ‘Cheltenham Roar’ spur the horses on up the gruelling hill on the thrilling run-in for the Gold Cup. There’s nothing the punters will love more than to give the bookies a good bashing as well, leaving their pockets empty as they pack up their stalls at the end of the Festival.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at all the favourites in the best horse racing tips for Gold Cup Day and see if there is a chance that the punters can leave the racecourse having had the last laugh. Read on to find out more!
Triumph Hurdle – Vauban
The opening Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle is looking extremely tough to call, with very little to separate the front runners in the ante-post market. However, it is the Willie Mullins-trained Vauban who has a slight edge over Gordon Elliott’s Pied Piper.
Having only arrived at the esteemed Closutton yard in December from Philippe Decouz’s stables in France, where he was trained on the flat, Vauban has already raced twice over hurdles — losing to Piper Piper on his debut before bouncing back with a victory in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle last month.
It is perhaps that Grade 1 success that gives the four-year-old the advantage ahead of the two-mile, one furlong race. But while Pied Piper doesn’t have that top-level victory yet, he is two for two for Elliott and did win the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in January. Good luck trying to decide between these two!
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – Minella Crooner
There is no real out-and-out favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle either. It is Minella Crooner who is ever so slightly ahead of Hillcrest, but there’s only half a point between them in the ante-post market for the testing three-mile hurdle.
Another from Elliott’s Co. Meath-based yard, Minella Crooner started his maiden season the flat — winning both of his races rather comfortably — but the same can’t be said since the six-year-old’s transition to hurdles. Second on his debut, he won a Maiden Hurdle next time out but was once again held last month — finishing second in a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Henry Daly’s Hillcrest could therefore be backed into the favourite by race day, racking up four wins from five attempts over hurdles already this season, including in the Grade 2 Prestige Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock last month. Unseating Richard Patrick after being hampered by a faller at Cheltenham in January aside, it’s an impressive CV from the seven-year-old!
Gold Cup – A Plus Tard
Having been beaten in the Gold Cup by his stablemate Minella Indo last year, after setting off as the favourite with the in-form Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, it will be hard to convince the punters that A Plus Tard is a worth market leader again ahead of this year’s renewal of the Cheltenham highlight.
The eight-year-old’s form probably hasn’t done him any favours either, having failed to build on that comfortable 22-length victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on his season reappearance next time out at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival — losing to Galvin by a shorthead in the top-grade Savills Chase.
But don’t let that narrow defeat put you off, A Plus Tard still ran well that day and he is a proven stayer over the race’s lengthy three-mile, two-and-a-half-furlong trip. He has the experience over Galvin for sure, but this is the Gold Cup and of the horses entered have the potential to make the headlines!