Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips – Can Champ Really win the Cheltenham Festival Feature Race?

Cheltenham Gold Cup tips

As far as recent trends are concerned, Champ ticks many of the boxes required for a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner but can he really win the Friday feature race and biggest race of the Cheltenham Festival?

He has run three times at Cheltenham, including twice at the Festival and, although falling at the second last on his sole start on the New Course – in the Dipper Novices’ Chase on New Year’s Day last year – he has, at least, proved his ability to act on the undulations of Prestbury Park.


Grade One Winner Over Fences

In fact, Champ is already a Grade One winner over fences at the Festival, having produced an extraordinary performance in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase last year when making up 8½ lengths on the run-in to overhaul Minella Indo close home and win by a length.

That was his first, and so far only, attempt at three miles but, in the words of Willie Mullins, ‘proved that he stayed all day’, so an extra quarter-of-a-mile or so should be well within his compass.


The Perfect Age

Champ is a 9-year-old, which puts him in the right age bracket for recent Gold Cup winners, so the main concern about him must be that he has made just five starts over fences. Of course, it’s not unheard of for a horse with such limited experience over fences to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

In 2015, Coneygree did so, as a novice, after just four starts over the larger obstacles, although it’s also worth noting that, before that, the last novice to win the Gold Cup was Captain Christy in 1974.


Champ’s Strange Prep

Following a wind operation in September, which delayed his return to action until February, Champ made his seasonal reappearance in the Game Spirit Chase, over 2 miles ½ furlong, at Newbury. Beforehand, trainer Nicky Henderson had reasoned that, on his first run for nearly a year, Champ, who is quite a keen-going sort, would be less likely to have an unnecessarily hard race over two miles than three.

What Henderson later described as a ‘ridiculous’ idea proved successful because, although ultimately proving no match for Sceau Royal, who was receiving 3lb, Champ travelled easily for most of the way and jumped better than ever.


Champ’s Gold Cup Odds

Indeed, bookmakers reacted by shortening Champ to 5/1 second favourite, from 12/1, for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and, with his ability to jump fluently, at pace, less of a worry than was once the case, it is easy to see why.

He was still not foot-perfect at Newbury, but he has clearly benefited from regular schooling sessions with Henrietta Knight over the winter and his jumping could, arguably, be better again off a slower pace in the Gold Cup.

Champ is blessed with the potent combination of tactical speed and stamina characteristic of a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner so, granted luck in running, there is little doubt that he can, really, win the ‘Blue Riband’ event


Cheltenham Gold Cup Odds

  • Al Boum Photo – 11/4
  • Champ – 5/1
  • A Plus Tard – 6/1
  • Royale Pagaille – 8/1
  • Kemboy – 10/1
  • Santini – 14/1
  • Minella Indo – 14/1
  • Frodon – 14/1
  • Native River – 14/1
  • 33/1 Bar


Cheltenham Gold Cup NRNB

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