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2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup tips - Ante-post preview and three tips for Cheltenham Festival feature

Jonathan Vine in Tips 9 Jan 2019
Native River (right) beating Might Bite (left) in the Gold Cup in 2018.

Our expert takes a look through the early ante-post betting for the Gold Cup and highlights three horses for punters to back in the feature race of 2019 Cheltenham Festival

For four days in the middle of March, the eyes of the sporting world will be fixed on Prestbury Park as it plays host to the Cheltenham Festival. 25 fantastic races build up perfectly to the showpiece contest of the meeting, the Gold Cup – the most historic, most lucrative and most coveted prize in all of National Hunt racing.

All of the sports greatest chasers have enhanced their legends with victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The great Golden Miller won the Gold Cup for five consecutive seasons in the mid-1930s and he’s since been joined on the honours board at Prestbury Park by greats like of Kauto Star, Best Mate, L’Escargot and, arguably the best racehorse of all time, Arkle.

There may be 20 weeks until the 2019 renewal of the Gold Cup, but the betting for this season’s spectacular is starting to take shape. Our expert has taken a look through the current market for the showpiece event on day four of the Cheltenham Festival and identified three horses who could be worthy of an ante-post wager.

2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips

🏆 The One To Beat 🏆

Might Bite was my ante-post selection here, but Nicky Henderson's charge has slipped off the face of the earth during the first half of the season and I can't see how he can recover in time for the Festival. Bristol De Mai and Clan Des Obeaux have been the big winners over here in England, claiming victories in the Betfair Chase and the King George, but NATIVE RIVER was in there pitching on both occasions and Colin Tizzard's charge makes the strongest case for selection in this year's Gold Cup.

Bristol De Mai outjumped his rival at Haydock, but Richard Johnson's mount never gave up and crossed the line just four lengths behind the impressive winner. The King George never looked like being a race which would suit the reigning Gold Cup champ and Native River had to call upon all his guts and tenacity to tough it out and finish third.

A third tilt at the Denman Chase will likely to be next for Tizzard's star, before returning to the scene of his greatest triumph. If the ground comes up soft at Cheltenham, there's no stayer in the business more hardy and determined than Native River and he will take all the beating.

Might Bite (left) sticks in the mud as Native River (right) pulls clear after the last in the Gold Cup.

⚠️ The Big Danger ⚠️

Although Native River bucked the trend when winning on his second attempt, the history of the Gold Cup tells punters to look towards second-season chasers and there is no doubting PRESENTING PERCY was the stand-out stayer in the novice ranks last season.

12 months on from his excellent triumph in the Pertemps Final, Pat Kelly’s charge put on a sparkling display in the RSA, pounding clear of Monalee and Al Boum Photo – both potential Gold Cup rivals – to scoop his second Festival crown. True, it wasn’t a blemish-free campaign for Presenting Percy - who was beaten on his second start and just before Festival, when Our Duke successful gave him seven pounds – but, like the previous year, Kelly’s charge saved his best for Cheltenham and his season will surely revolve around his inevitable return to Prestbury Park.

Unlike Might Bite, Presenting Percy is proven on all kinds of ground and there will be no issues regarding the extra couple of furlongs, with Kelly’s gelding having proven his stamina with a win over 29 furlongs at Fairyhouse. Davy Russell guided Lord Windemere to Gold Cup glory in 2014. He could be lifting that famous trophy again in 2019.

Davy Russell salutes the stands after winning the RSA with Presenting Percy.

♞ The Dark Horse ♞

Sizing John was the original ante-post selection in this category, but after failing to make his return during the first half of the season, Jessica Harrington's former champion faces a race against time to be fit for the Festival. Thistlecrack has run a couple of blinders at Haydock and Kempton and has to be respected, as does Willie Mullins' Bellshill. Yet, for me, the value bet in this year's Gold Cup has to be ROAD TO RESPECT.

An imperious winner of the JNWine Champion Chase on his reappearance, Noel Meade's charge was backed into favouritism for the Savills Chase at Leopardstown. Sean Flanagan endured some rotten luck, slipping twice on the turns approaching the home straight and had to fight tooth and nail just to claim third behind runaway winner, Kemboy. The race was run to suit Kemboy that day, but there's no doubt in my mind that, had those slips not occurred, Road To Respect would have been fighting for the win in the closing stages.

Road To Respect managed to finish fourth on soft ground which was never going to suit in the Gold Cup last year. 12 months on and Road To Respect has undoubtedly improved. If we get good, spring ground, Road To Respect can win the Gold Cup.

Road To Respect cruising to victory at Down Royal.

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2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup tips - Ante-post preview and three tips for Cheltenham Festival feature

Our expert takes a look through the early ante-post betting for the Gold Cup and highlights three horses for punters to back in the feature race of 2019 Cheltenham Festival on Friday 15th March.

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