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The Inside Track on the Cheltenham Gold Cup

To back Bob’s Worth or not to back Bob’s Worth, that is the question. At face value everything points to him being a very likely winner of the race.

He always wins at the Cheltenham Festival, having won the Neptune, RSA Chase and the Gold Cup itself over the last three years. He’s in good form having beaten a decent field in the Lexus Chase at Christmas, and he is reportedly in very good health coming into the race. What’s not to like?

Well perhaps the fact that he doesn’t even appear to be the most fancied of the two horses from the yard is one concern! All the money in recent days has been for Triolo D’Alene, and all the rumours on the grapevine supporting that gamble indicate that the stable second-string has been working brilliantly and Nicky Henderson is getting more excited by the hour about his chance.

Factor in the rapidly drying ground and the balmy sprint weather and suddenly Bob’s Worth doesn’t look quite such a seductive betting proposition. He may well retain his crown, but at the cramped odds there seems enough reason to have a crack at getting him beat.

I don’t like Triolo D’Alene though. Horses can improve and often surprise but he has yet to run a good race around the unique Cheltenham undulations and I can’t back him until he does. Last Instalment may not run and even if he does the good ground may scupper his chance. I can see the likes of The Giant Bolster and First Lieutenant running honest races on the ground but neither win enough to tempt me here.

So by a process of elimination I have come down on the side of SILVINIACO CONTI to win the Gold Cup, with Captain Chris the surprise package to run into the places.

Silviniaco Conti is still pretty unexposed. He was running a big race last year when falling. Who knows what might have happened had he stood up, but we do know that he won a King George VI Chase last time out in tremendous style.

The horse he beat that day, Cue Card, is one of the very best around and they were well clear of the rest of the field. He’s in the hands of the trainer with the best recent record in the race and I think he’ll win.

I have always been a fan of Captain Chris and feel strongly that this could be the year he reminds us how and why he won an Arkle on this very track three years ago (doesn’t it feel like longer?).

It is interesting that he has only markedly jumped out to the right when the ground has ridden soft at Cheltenham whereas he’s jumped well at the course when the ground has been good. It’s going to be very good on Friday. So good that I think it could suit Captain Chris more than any horse.

Selection:  Silviniaco Conti

Alternative: Captain Chris