The Gold Cup is the race that everyone looks forward to most when the Cheltenham Festival rolls around each year. Sitting as the showpiece race of the entire Festival, punters eagerly examine the Cheltenham Festival odds long in advance of the meeting, to gauge the market before choosing which horse to have a little flutter on.
As the 2021 Cheltenham Festival gets ever closer, racing fans are beginning to ponder which horse will take the top prize in the Gold Cup. One of the best indications of which way the Gold Cup will go this year is to analyse last year’s race and see which horses made a mark. The 2020 Gold Cup was a thrilling affair, with Willie Mullins’ Al Boum Photo winning it for the second year running. It was a moment of glory for Mullins and jockey Paul Townend, who both enjoyed a sensational day four at last year’s Festival.
Let’s have a detailed look back at last year’s race and see what we can gleam ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival showpiece.
Al Boum Photo makes it two
Of course, all the headlines from last year’s Gold Cup surrounded Al Boum Photo. The tussle with Santini for top spot came right down to the wire, but both the horse and jockey Townend showed their class to get over the line first by a neck. It was a true champion’s display, and even as the two frontrunners battled it out up the home straight, it always felt like Al Boum Photo’s supreme quality would lead him to victory.
It’s no surprise that Al Boum Photo leads the betting market for potential Gold Cup winners this year. Having won two in a row, the aim for Mullins and co. is to emulate the achievements of past champions such as Arkle and Best Mate by winning the Cheltenham showpiece three years in a row. The race to Cheltenham on Betfair Exchange certainly favour’s Mullins’ horse.
Santini comes oh-so close
For every winner there must be a loser, and although Santini acquitted himself brilliantly over the race’s three miles and two and a half furlongs, it was disappointment in the end for trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Nico de Boinville. Henderson hasn’t won the Gold Cup since Bobs Worth romped home in 2013, and so you can understand the agony at seeing Santini come so close to clinching the top prize.
Three successive defeats have followed for Santini in the year since, with three different jockeys in the saddle, and so it’s no shock that his odds have lengthened to around 14/1. Henderson may feel his best shot at the Gold Cup this year will be Champ, who won a dramatic Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham last year.
Lostintranslation enjoys solid run
Coming in at third last year was Lostintranslation, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Robbie Power. It was a good performance from the 10/1 shot, as he overcame more fancied opponents such as Delta Work, Kemboy and Clan Des Obeaux, to earn a placing.
Not much has been said about Lostintranslation ahead of this year’s Gold Cup, but that might well be what Tizzard wants. The return of Native River to the Gold Cup line-up this year is the main headline coming from Tizzard’s yard, but that may be a good smokescreen for Lostintranslation to deliver a stellar performance himself.