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the gold cup cheltenham festival day 4 15/03/2024 sport preview

The Gold Cup – Cheltenham Festival Day 4 15/03/24

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The Gold Cup 15/03/24:
  • Galopin Des Champs
  • Fastorslow
  • Shishkin
  • Gerri Colombe
  • LHomme Presse

The Gold Cup – Cheltenham Festival Day 4 – 15/03/24

Venue: Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham UK | Dates: 12-15 March 2024 | Official Site: Cheltenham Festival 2024

Winner: £351,687.5 Runners: 16 Going: Soft No. of hurdles: 22 Distance: 3m2f70y

The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, the pinnacle of jump racing, boasts a prestigious history with legendary winners.

This Grade 1 chase offers a hefty prize of £625,000, second only to the Grand National.

Spanning three miles and two and a half furlongs with 22 fences, it’s a gruelling challenge ending with a tough climb up Cheltenham’s famous hill. Notable victors include Golden MillerMill HouseArkleBest Mate, and Kauto Star.

10 Year Official Rating Trends

  • Highest Winning Official Rating:   175
  • Lowest Winning Official Rating:    152
  • Average Winning Official Rating:  167

 

Galopin Des Champs

The obvious place to start is with the strong favourite and last season’s victor Galopin Des Champs.  He arguably put up the performance of the Festival last season under a masterful ride from Paul Townend to pick off Bravemansgame going to the last fence and to stride up the hill to a 7 lengths victory.  He was then surprisingly beaten by Fastorslow in the Punchestown Gold Cup at the end of April with the credible suggestion being put forward that a long and fruitful campaign had caught up with him.  He reappeared this season in the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown at the end of November and he was again surprisingly beaten by Fastorslow into third place in a race where his jumping lacked any fluency.  The Savills Chase at Leopardstown in late December became something of an acid test for the horse and he passed the test with flying colours.  He destroyed a strong field by 23 lengths and more and he looked right back to his best.  This was substantiated at the DRF in February where he was again impressive when taking the Irish Gold Cup by 4½ lengths from Fastorslow and so in the process avenging those two defeats at the hands of the Martin Brassil trained gelding.  On the strength of these two most recent runs, Galopin Des Champs is a strong favourite to go back-to-back and emulate his former stablemate Al Boum Photo who won back-to-back Gold Cups in 2019 and 2020.  He is the most likely winner of the race however it is no penalty kick.

Fastorslow

Given that Fastorslow has beaten Galopin Des Champs twice within the past year, it is very easy to make the case for him to run a big race here.  Having been touched off in both a Coral Cup and an Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham at the past two Festivals, it can be seen that the son of Saint Des Saints won’t have any issues with the track.  He also tends to go on most surfaces though he may be even better suited to ground that rides on the better side and so any drying weather could we increase his chances.  He was firmly put in his place by Galopin Des Champs at the DRF and it is probably fair to suggest that the favourite looks a stronger stayer at this trip.  However, Fastorslow has earned his place at the top end of the market and he has certainly earned his place in the line-up.  He will come here with strong credentials.

Shishkin

The first thing to say about this particular horse is that it may a little unfair to suggest that he is the enigma that recent events suggest him to be.  His now infamous failure to start in the 1965 Chase at Ascot in November has led many people to believe that he may not be one to trust.  However given that he has won a Supreme Novices Hurdle, an Arkle Challenge Trophy, a Clarence House Chase, an Aintree Bowl and he looked likely to win or go very close in this season’s King George, he can point to a CV that not many horses have matched or will ever match.  This horse is out of the very top drawer and having won the Denman Chase over 2m7½f in heavy ground at Newbury on his most recent appearance in February, he comes here on the back of a confidence boosting victory that suggests he will stay the extended trip in the Gold Cup.  He is also perched on an official rating of 173 and this puts him within 7lb of Galopin Des Champs and officially rated the second best horse in the race.  If he does start fine and then he gets into a rhythm, he really could put it up to the whole field.  Given his racing history he looks as though he could have the best turn of foot in the field and this could be a huge asset if the ground dries out to any extent.  He is potentially a big player.

Gerri Colombe

 At the start of the season Gerri Colombe undoubtedly carried the persuasion that he could be the great pretender to the Gold Cup crown.  At this stage, his only defeat had come at the hands of The Real Whacker in the Brown Advisory Novices Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival and frankly he would have won that race in another stride or two, such was the effect with which he was finishing.  He signed off last season with a convincing victory in the Mildmay Novices Chase at Aintree where he looked to be an obvious Gold Cup contender.  He started back in the Champion Chase at Down Royal where he got up late to nail Envoi Allen in the shadows of the post having looked beaten most of the way up the straight.  He then went to Leopardstown for the Savills Chase in December where he finished a distant second beaten 23 lengths by Galopin Des Champs where he was beaten on the run to two out and he just managed to hang on to second place.  His trainer feels that this was a below par effort and that the horse didn’t run to his best on the day.  That looks to be a fair assessment and better is expected in the Gold Cup.  That said, there is a feeling that the horse is much better with plenty of give in the ground and connections will be hoping for soft ground conditions come the day.  However he has a lot to find with the favourite on his run in December plus he is also rated 13lb inferior on official ratings.  He cannot be totally ruled out however he will have to step up if he is to compete for the gold medal.

LHomme Presse

The 2022 Brown Advisory Chase winner LHomme Presse comes here with probably each-way chances at best.  Following a last fence fall in the 2022 King George Chase when looking booked for second place behind Bravemansgame, the Venetia Williams trained gelding was off the course for 391 days.  He returned at the Lingfield Millions Meeting in January of this year where he put up a fine performance to win the Fleur De Lys Chase over 2m6f from Protektorat.  He was strong all the way up the straight and through the line too as he came home 2¼ lengths to the good with 19 lengths back to the third horse.  He then went to Ascot for the Ascot Chase where he never landed a serious blow on the all the way winner Pic D’Orhy.  The tactics of all the beaten jockeys were called into question as the winner was given an easy time of things up front and he never faced a serious challenge throughout.  That line of thinking may have some merit however 2m5f on good to soft ground would not have been the ideal conditions for LHomme Presse and he stayed on well without ever looking like a threat.  He comes here with a good profile however there has to be a doubt about him as he has never won a Grade 1 in open company and he will need to produce a big career best if he was to win a Gold Cup.  Similar to Gerri Colombe, his best form does seem to come on ground with plenty of cut in it and connections will be hoping for a wet week in The Cotswolds.

The race does not revolve wholly around these five horses as the likes of Bravemansgame, Hewick and Gentlemansgame will all have pretentions to be competitive however it will take each of these horses to show a level of form that they have not shown so far to win this.  That said, all three are top class chasers and they have every right to be running and so their presence will make the race very tough to win, just as a Gold Cup should be.

The Gold Cup Summary:

The most likely winner is Galopin Des Champs simply because he has the form in the book and he has been there and done it.

  However, some factors could make life harder for him or even count against him.  Two such factors would be a relatively large field and genuinely drying ground.  If both of these factors do occur then it could become a much more open race and certainly more open than the current betting would suggest.  And so assuming the Gold Cup is run on a good-to-soft surface, Shishkin and Fastorslow would be the obvious suggestions to put it up to the champion.

  On genuinely good ground, a case could also be made for Hewick as this season’s King George winner will operate on this kind of surface far better than most and he has the class to make it tell.  It is a fascinating race and a difficult one to call with the suggestion to wait until the day and to factor in the prevailing ground conditions before placing your bets.

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