2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup tips – Tips for Festival showpiece

The entrants tackle one of Cheltenham’s fearsome fences in the 2019 Gold Cup.

2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips

We take a look through the entries for the Cheltenham Day 4 main event and provide 2020 Gold Cup tips in the latest of our Cheltenham Festival articles.

Day four of the Cheltenham Festival is headlined by the Gold Cup, the most sought-after prize in all of National Hunt Racing. Any horse strong enough to outstay a top quality field over three-and-a-quarter-miles will hand their trainers the famous trophy, their connections a mammoth prize pot and etch their own names into the annals of sporting history.

The 2020 Gold Cup promises to be as thrilling as ever, with a cast of superstars pencilled in to take part. I’ve taken a look through all of the most likely runners and picked out my best bet 2020 Gold Cup tips.

Gold Cup Tips – The Defending Champion

Al Boum Photo

Willie Mullins’ Gold Cup hoodoo came to an end in dramatic fashion 12 months ago, as Al Boum Photo (4/1 Unibet) – on the back of just one seasonal outing at Tramore – landed National Hunt racing’s most coveted prize. Paul Townend’s mount jumped beautifully throughout, making his way through the field before surging clear up the home straight to hand his trainer an overdue first Gold Cup.

Al Boum Photo couldn’t reproduce that run at Punchestown on his final outing of the season, losing out to stablemate Kemboy. Mullins then decided to follow the same path he took his champion down last year, giving Al Boum Photo just one run at Tramore before heading to Cheltenham. Willie’s eight-year-old looked as good as ever on New Years’ Day, cruising to an effortless six-length triumph. Make no bones about it, Al Boum Photo will be the one they all have to beat again in 2020.

Al Boum Photo winning the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Gold Cup Tips – The Home Challenge

Santini

Leading the British charge in this year’s Gold Cup is Nicky Henderson’s Santini (5/1 Paddy Power). In one of the most thrilling conclusions of the meeting, Santini looked to be getting up in last year’s RSA, only to be swatted away by Topofthegame on the run to the line. Santini may have failed to impress on his reappearance at Sandown, but Nicky Henderson’s charge showed guts and class to see off Bristol De Mai to win the Cotswold Chase on Trials Day. You can see why many shrewdies fancy Santini as one of their 2020 Gold Cup tips.

Lostintranslation

Lostintranslation (7/1 Ladbrokes) shot to the head of the ante-post Cheltenham betting after dethroning Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase. Colin Tizzard’s charge then produced an uncharacteristically erratic performance in the King George. Robbie Power’s mount was never really travelling, but seemed to be warming to his task before a terrible error four from home, after-which he was pulled up. A wind operation followed and Tizzard will be confident the real Lostintranslation will turn up as he makes his Gold Cup debut.

Clan Des Obeaux

On the back of victories in the King George and the Denman Chase, Clan Des Obeaux (9/1 William Hill) went into last year’s Gold Cup as a fancied 5/1 shot. Paul Nicholls’ charge was my selection last year too, but sadly, the Cheltenham hill put paid to his chances, and Harry Cobden’s mount trailed over the line fifth. With all eyes on stablemate Cyrname on his return to the King George, Clan Des Obeaux decided to remind everyone who was the real king of Kempton. Nicholls’ charge trounced his stablemate, securing an eleven-length triumph which earned him a fresh rating of 173. Clan Des Obeaux has the class to win a Gold Cup. That extra quarter-mile remains an issue, though and he won’t feature as one of my Gold Cup tips because of that.

Gold Cup Tips – The Raiding Party

Delta Work

I had all-but written Delta Work (6/1 William Hill) off as a Gold Cup challenger after watching his limp showing in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal. Yet, Gordon Elliott’s charge bounced back in the style of a true champion, staying on gamely down the home straight to pip Monalee to the post in the Savills Chase. Delta Work then secured his fifth Grade One over fences at the Dublin Racing Festival, seeing off Kemboy and Presenting Percy for the second race in succession. Elliott’s star chaser clearly has an excellent chance.

Kemboy

Kemboy’s (9/1 William Hill) first attempt at Gold Cup glory ended after just the first fence, but Willie Mullins’ charge rallied in fantastic fashion. First, Ruby Walsh rode the Savills Chase winner to a fantastic win in the Aintree Bowl, before seeing off Al Boum Photo in the Punchestown Gold Cup. Following an ownership dispute, Kemboy was forced to enter the Savills Chase without a prep-run, and looked extremely rusty throughout, crossing the line a very tired fourth. Mullins charge then put in an improved performance in the Irish Gold Cup, but was still comfortably beaten by Delta Work. I can’t see how he would turn the tables on his rival, especially when Delta Work has course form in his favour at Cheltenham. Kemboy had looked like one of the best Gold Cup tips earlier in the season. But now, not so much.

Presenting Percy

Despite a solitary outing over hurdles during the regular season, Presenting Percy (14/1 Paddy Power) retained his position at the head of the Gold Cup betting right up until the off last season. Sadly, Pat Kelly’s charge struggled on the day, plugging on to finish a well-beaten eighth. In stark contrast to last season, Presenting Percy has been out three times already this term. An encouraging third in the John Durkan was followed by a decent fifth in the Savills Chase. Presenting Percy was then travelling best turning for home in the Irish Gold Cup, but didn’t find much when push came to shove and couldn’t challenge Delta Work and Kemboy.

Delta Work gets up to win the Irish Gold Cup.

Gold Cup Tips – Overlooked Outsiders

Native River

The 2018 Gold Cup hero, Native River (12/1 Paddy Power) hasn’t got the soft ground he craves since that Gold Cup triumph. Yet, Colin Tizzard’s ten-year-old still managed to place in all three Triple Crown races last term. Native River has secured two wins this season, bolting up in the Many Clouds Chase before a snug victory in the Denman Chase. If the ground comes up very soft on the final day of the Festival, Native River is still capable of mounting a winning challenge.

Monalee

Henry De Bromhead’s charge came within inches of holding off Road To Respect, Kemboy and Presenting Percy in the Savills Chase, only for Delta Work to sneak home down the stands’ side and pip him to the post. Monalee (25/1 Ladbrokes) is a dependable jumper who loves to be out at the front. His record over three-miles reads just one win from nine starts, though, and I can’t see him staying well enough to hang on in a Gold Cup. Ran in the Ryanair last year and could go there again. He won’t be one of my 2020 Gold Cup tips.

Chris’s Dream

Stablemate Chris’s Dream (33/1 Unibet), on the other hand, looks a relentless galloper and produced a performance of Grade Two quality to win the Troytown Handicap at Navan on his only start of the season. While the Gold Cup looks a step too far, either the British or Irish Grand National could be within reach for this classy stayer.

Bristol De Mai

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge may have come up short on his quest to seal a hat-trick of Betfair Chases’, but Bristol De Mai (33/1 Ladbrokes) lost nothing in defeat to Lostintranslation. Twiston-Davies’ charge gave Santini a good scare in the Cotswold Chase too, and could even have beaten his rival had he not jumped so erratically throughout. Bristol De Mai ran a blinder in last year’s Gold Cup, coming up just six-lengths short of Al Boum Photo back in third and, at 33/1, he’s an interesting each-way proposition.

Gold Cup Tips – Look At Those Odds

Elegant Escape

Despite looking beaten a long-way out in both races, Elegant Escape (50/1 Unibet) plugged on to place in both the Charlie Hall, and under top-weight in the Ladbrokes Trophy. Robbie Power’s mount then attempted to retain his Welsh National crown under another hefty-burden, but his challenge fizzled out on the run to the third last. Sixth on his first crack at the Gold Cup last season, I wouldn’t be against Elegant Escape matching, or even improving on that finish third time around. He looks more of a Grand National winner than a Gold Cup king, though, and won’t be one of my final Gold Cup tips.

Bellshill

A chaser of the highest-calibre on his day, Bellshill (66/1 Ladbrokes) has never produced his best at Cheltenham. Ruby Walsh decided to ride Bellshill over both Al Boum Photo and Kemboy in this race 12-months ago, but was pulled up just after half-way having clattered his way through several obstacles. I think he will run in the race again, but I can’t see Bellshill mounting any sort of challenge.

Top Ville Ben

After hitting the wall on the long run-in at Newcastle, I was delighted to see Top Ville Ben (66/1 Ladbrokes) prove his quality with a dominant victory in the Rowland Meyrick Handicap at Wetherby. He still has a long way to go to prove he’s a chaser of Graded quality, especially after a lengthy defeat in the Cotswold Chase, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Phil Kirby take his chance in a Gold Cup and he will give connections a real thrill out at the front of the field.

Discorama

Paul Nolan’s stable star came within a nose of winning the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last year, going down narrowly to Jamie Codd onboard Le Breuil. Defeat to Champagne Classic followed on his first start of the new season, before Discorama (100/1 William Hill) was heavily beaten in the Troytown and in a hurdles race at Limerick over Christmas. The Irish Grand National looks the long-term objective.

Jett

Jessica Harrington’s charge produced an excellent staying performance to head Alpha Des Obeaux in the Irish Daily Mirror back in November. Since then, he’s been well-beaten by Douvan and finished a 12-length sixth in the Savills Chase. Jett (100/1 Paddy Power) could make an appearance in the Gold Cup, but challenging is certainly out of the question. There are much better each-way Gold Cup tips available.

Mister Whitaker

Mick Channon had hoped Mister Whitaker (125/1 Unibet) would prove himself worthy of a Gold Cup outing last season. Defeats in two classy handicaps meant the former Close Brothers’ winner was only deemed good enough for the Ultima, where he was pulled up well before the end. Mister Whitaker caught the eye when staying on for fifth here on New Years’ Day, but it certainly wasn’t the performance of a possible Gold Cup winner. He’s more likely to run in the Ryanair.

Robbie Power gives Lostintranslation a pat after winning the Mildmay at Aintree last season.

Gold Cup Tips – Verdict

In the last 20-years, only Al Boum Photo and surprise 2014 champion Lord Windermere have carried double-figure odds into the Gold Cup winners’ enclosure. This tells you that class often comes to the fore in Cheltenham’s showpiece and, at the end of the day, that’s what we want to see, as reflected in the Cheltenham betting offers. The likes of Native River and Bristol De Mai may look overpriced, but we’d be disappointed if either were to win the Gold Cup. There’s a time and a place for tipping horses at crazy prices. The Gold Cup isn’t it.

Delta Work has had the beating of Kemboy and Presenting Percy in recent starts and could relish the extra quarter-mile in the Gold Cup. However, horses didn’t come out of the Dublin Racing Festival well last year and I don’t think there’s much more improvement to come from this hardy chaser. He won’t be one of my 2020 Gold Cup tips either.

Clan Des Obeaux produced a career-best to retain his King George crown and could mount a challenge. However, that Kempton victory looked so emphatic because he beat two rivals who simply didn’t see out three miles. Like Kemboy, Clan Des Obeaux is winless in five outings here at Cheltenham and he faded significantly in the final stages of last year’s race.

Santini is a horse I’ve never really taken to. In the Cotswold Chase, he took a length out of Bristol De Mai at every obstacle, and at least four as his rival faltered at the third-last, and still struggled to get the win. Nicky Henderson’s contender will see out the trip no problem, but I don’t think he’s a genuine finisher and he holds no appeal at such a short price.

Given everything I’ve listed above, Al Boum Photo looks a worthy favourite and I wouldn’t be shocked if Willie Mullins’ charge retained his title. Yet, both my head and heart are telling me LOSTINTRANSLATION is going to have a huge say in the matter and he’s going to be my solitary selection.

Colin Tizzard’s charge looked a star in the making when winning the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree last spring, and jumped beautifully during his reappearance at Carlisle. At no point did Robbie Power look worried as he sat out the back in the Betfair Chase. Despite hitting the front a little earlier than planned, Lostintranslation comfortably held off Haydock specialist, Bristol De Mai on the long run to the line.

Compare that to Lostintranslation’s run at Kempton, where Power was throwing out distress signals as early as the first fence on the second circuit. Something was clearly amiss with Tizzard’s star that day, as it was a terrible performance from a horse who had been so consistent until that point. I’m sure Tizzard and his team will have gotten to the root of the problem, so I’m fully prepared to put a line through that outing.

Lostintranslation won the Dipper on the New Course and ran Defi Du Seuil very close at the Festival 12 months ago. I can’t see the extra two-and-a-half-furlongs being a problem for a horse who’s shaped like a strong stayer on a number of occasions, and Lostintranslation boasts strong form on all kinds of ground. We haven’t seen the best of the this talented eight-year-old yet. I’m confident Lostintranslation’s crowing moment will come in the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup.