Thursday, March 14, 2024

The Intelligent Punter's Guide to the 2024 Cheltenham Gold Cup


Neil Clark

  It’s a hundred years since Red Splash won the first running of the Cheltenham Gold Cup (see my Daily Express feature this week on the centenary). But who’s going to cause a splash by winning the 2024 renewal? 

10 go to post for jump racing’s Blue Riband, due off at 3.30pm today ( Friday). There’s plenty in with chances in the level weights affair (all the runners carry 11st 10lbs), but keeping in mind certain key trends can help us when we go through the field and sort out the probables from the possibles. 


KEY STATS: 1. Grade 1 winning form. Every winner this century had won at least one Grade 1 race. Last year Grade 1 winners filled the first three positions. 

2. Age. No horse older than 9 has won the race this century. 7 and 8 year olds have won the last seven runnings and 10 of the last 11 Gold Cups. 

3. 8 of the last 10 winners were trained in Ireland. 



 1. BRAVEMANSGAME Age: 9; Odds 11-1 Runner-up behind Galopin Des Champs last year (beaten 7l) , that’s the position he’s filled on all three of his starts this season; no reason why he should reverse the form with last year’s winner but he’s battle-hardened and consistent and could make the frame again if all goes well. 

2. CORACH RAMBLER Age; 10; 12-1 Last year’s Grand National winner- aiming to be the first horse to win the Gold Cup after National success since Golden Miller in 1935. He has won at the last two Festivals, and while he needs to improve again to take this a big run not out of the question, though would be oldest winner since Cool Dawn in ‘98. 

 3.FASTORSLOW Age 8; 6-1. Beaten a neck by Corach Rambler in last year’s Ultima, but is now 4lbs better off; has beaten last year’s winner Galopin Des Champs twice in Ireland, and although that rival got the better of him quite decisively at Leopardstown last time, he could get closer today given a stiffer test. Has to be respected. 

 4. GALOPIN DES CHAMPS Age; 8 . Evs Stayed on well to land this last year, best horse in the race on ratings and trainer Mullins has had another great festival, back-to-back wins in this aren‘t easy but Mullins did achieve it with Al Boum Photo in 2019 and 2020; not quite a ’banker’ in such a competitive race but clearly the one they all have to beat. 

. GENTLEMANSGAME Age 8;22-1 Comes into this under the radar as hasn’t been seen since beating Bravemansgame ( gave 6lbs) in the Charlie Hall in early November, has to improve on that but does go very well fresh and could be each-way value for a trainer (Mouse Morris), who does well with the relatively small number of darts he throws at the Cheltenham Festival dart board. 

6. GERRI COLOMBE Age 8; 8-1 Beaten 23l by Galopin Des Champs over Christmas in Ireland, but kept fresh for this since, was a close second in the 2022 RSA, and not hard to see this dual Grade 1 novice chase winner getting placed over this longer trip. 

8. JUNGLE BOOGIE Age 10; 22-1 Represents the 2021 Henry De Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore winning combo but while it’s hard to rule out anything they put out at Cheltenham this one needs to improve on what he’s shown so far to play a part. 

9. L’HOMME PRESSE Age 9; 10-1. Won the RSA in the mud in 2022, testing going plays to his strengths and any more rain would be a plus, each-way possibilities but needs to step up again to win as this is the best race he’s been in. 

10. MONKFISH Age; 10; 25-1 A dual Festival winner- in 2020 and 2021, but only had four starts since then and while he’s obviously very classy, it would be a tremendous training feat even for the maestro Mullins to get a 10-year-old to win a race as competitive as this on his first chase start for nearly three years. 

11. NASSALAM Age: 7; 35-1. A visually very impressive runaway winner of the Welsh National steps back in trip and up in class for this; the more rain that falls before the off the better; needs to improve again but not entirely dismissed if going becomes really testing. 

 12. THE REAL WHACKER Age 8; 50-1. Won the RSA at the Festival last year, culminating a fine novice campaign; not quite so good this year and needs to improve to take a hand in this, would be a surprise winner but could be overpriced from an each-way perspective if a first time visor brings him back to something like last year’s form. 

VERDICT; Reigning champ GALOPIN DES CHAMPS looks the likeliest winner as he’s the best horse in the race on ratings and form, and is not too old at 8 for a follow up, but if he does slip up or have an off day the race looks very open with a number of runners who could capitalise. Next best is probably Fastorslow. The going at Cheltenham is currently soft, but if more than the forecast rain arrives it could become heavy in patches which would enhance the chances of the likes of L’Homme Presse, Gerri Colombe and Nassalam. Gentlemansgame is under the radar and could well improve after just three starts over fences. 

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