We’re now just two months away from the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and excitement is growing in the horse racing community. The highlight of the Festival is, as it always has been, the Magners Gold Cup – which takes place on the fourth and final day of the meeting.
Native River and Might Bite went to war in the 2018 renewal, with the former just about coming out on top after a superb round of jumping. Both horses will feature in 2019 but it may be worth looking elsewhere in the betting. Here are a few of the leading fancies.
Trained by Pat Kelly, Presenting Percy already has two Cheltenham Festival wins under his belt. The ante-post Gold Cup favourite emerged victorious on his seasonal reappearance at Gowran Park and many fans believe he is the horse to beat ahead of March’s meeting.
The manner of his RSA Chase success in 2018 was outstanding and plenty of punters will be expecting to see Presenting Percy in the winner’s enclosure on Gold Cup day. With trusted jockey Davy Russell onboard, Presenting Percy could be set to claim the biggest prize in National Hunt racing.
Like Presenting Percy, Thistlecrack has course and distance winning experience – write him off at your peril. He hasn’t quite lived up to the hype since making the switch to fences but Thistlecrack is still a dangerous contender. If he improves on his jumping, he will be right in the mix as they approach the final few fences.
You’d be hard pressed to find a horse with a bigger engine – his speed and stride between fences is something else. Colin Tizzard seemed happy enough with his efforts after finishing less than two lengths behind Clan Des Obeaux in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
If you’re looking purely at form, Kemboy is the horse to back. Trained by Willie Mullins, the 7-year-old made light work of his rivals at Leopardstown in December – beating fellow Gold Cup contender Road To Respect by close to eight lengths. On that performance, it is hard to look past Kemboy.
However, Mullins’ poor record in the Gold Cup may tempt punters to look elsewhere. He is yet to win the Festival showpiece, with his trained runners finishing second. Cheltenham betting odds have Kemboy at 6/1 but does he have what it takes to win at Prestbury Park?
Clan Des Obeaux
It would be fair to claim that Clan Des Obeaux’s Boxing Day win at Kempton Park sent shockwaves across the racing world. Harry Cobden gave him a superb ride to earn Paul Nicholls a 10th King George VI Chase success – connections were overjoyed after another solid showing in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park.
The big question is this: can Clan Des Obeaux do it on the biggest stage of all? Winning at the Cheltenham Festival is no easy feat and even the best horses can wobble at Prestbury Park. He’s in this one on merit and must have a lively chance on that Boxing Day effort.