Outsiders to follow in 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup
This year’s renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup looks a wide open contest with many race principals having plenty of questions to answer.
The current favourite is this season’s Betfair Chase & King George VI winner Silviniaco Conti (3/1), a horse who looked destined to claim this prize at last year’s Festival after winging the last, but could only manage a fourth place finish after wandering on the run-in.
Considering that was his second successive failed attempt at victory in the race, plenty will be looking to take him on once again.
We then have a host of runners that are young, progressive chasers yet to reach the heights of Gold Cup glory. Many Clouds (8/1) is unbeaten this season, including on his last start at Prestbury Park, but has yet to win over fences on anything better than soft ground.
Similarly, whilst impressive on his latest start when winning the Thyestes Chase, Djakadam (10/1) has shown his best form on heavy ground.
Furthermore, Road To Riches (9/1) and Carlingford Lough (10/1) have moved on from handicap company to become Grade 1 winners over fences, yet both lack crucial experience at Cheltenham with the former un-raced at the track and the latter only managing a sixth place finish on his sole start in last year’s RSA Chase.
Moving on to those who appeal at bigger prices, 2014 RSA runner-up, Smad Place (16/1), boasts a consistent record at Prestbury park over three miles with two 2nd and two 3rd place finishes in four attempts over hurdles and fences. His accurate jumping and bottomless reserves of stamina are sure to serve him well, and he should be better suited by the quicker ground.
Another second-season chaser who ran well in the RSA last year was Sam Winner (25/1). This multiple course winner claimed a Grade 3 Handicap victory at the track on his seasonal reappearance in November before following-up with another victory at Aintree.
He then went on to contest the Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown where he finished a solid third despite the soft ground being less than ideal. On better ground, returning to a track he enjoys, he has strong place claims.
Finally, David Bridgwater’s The Giant Bolster (25/1) seems to save his best for Prestbury Park and, in particular, the Gold Cup itself. After finishing less than a length down in third last year, The Giant Bolster added to his tally of a second and fourth place finish in the event in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Connections are relishing a return to the Festival and, if the favourites under-perform once again, expect this 10-year-old to take advantage.