Bobs Worth and co intimidating Cheltenham Gold Cup rivals for second-season chasers
2013 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup was the year of the second season chasers, with Bobs Worth, Sir Des Champs and Silviniaco Conti at the head of the betting.
The trio remain in the prime of their racing lives and represent a formidable bunch of crack performers for the chasers beginning their first campaign outside novice company to live with.
Paul Nicholls’ Al Ferof, David Pipe’s Dynaste and the Irish challenge of Boston Bob and RSA Chase-winner Lord Windermere are among the vanguard of the rookies deemed worthy of a place in the Gold Cup according to early Cheltenham 2014 odds.
Nicholls will know as well as anyone the difficulty of cracking a cartel of high quality geldings in chasing’s blue-riband race when they hit the top level at a relatively youthful juncture.
His Kauto Star and Denman duopolised the Gold Cup for his Ditcheat yard between 2007 and 2009, finishing first and second in the third of those renewals having previously won one each.
In First Lieutenant and Long Run the younger horses face two more seasoned foes that show no signs of being past it at the top level, so the difficulty of reaching the places may be worth considering before handing out Al Ferof and his ilk as each way Cheltenham 2014 tips.
Nonetheless there is more than a modicum of hope to be had for the second season brigade given half of the last six Cheltenham Gold Cup winners have been won by horses fresh out of their novice campaign.
Of those three young upstarts Denman and Bobs Worth had both landed the odds in the RSA Chase at the previous year’s Festival, an omen which bodes nicely for last year’s victor Lord Windermere.
The son of Oscar’s trainer Jim Culloty should certainly have an idea about whether his charge is a potential winner of the most sought-after pot in steeplechasing having won three consecutive editions of the Gold Cup as jockey to the beloved Best Mate.