The last three winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup are among 31 early entries for the 2020 event (10–13 March). There are ten previous Cheltenham Festival victors in total, and 14 horses with winning form at Cheltenham, the home of jump racing.
Defending Gold Cup champion Al Boum Photo is one of 16 Irish entries this year. Trainer Willie Mullins has four horses engaged and is matched by rival Irish handler Gordon Elliott. Henry De Bromhead, meanwhile, has three entered, including former Festival winner, Balko Des Flos.
None of Willie Mullins’ other potential runners have won around Prestbury Park, but half of Gordon Elliott’s entries – Delta Work and Shattered Love – have.
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Presenting Percy is a dual Festival winner, but was found to be lame after a disappointing finish in last year’s Gold Cup, so trainer Pat Kelly and owner Philip Reynolds could be out for compensation.
Al Boum Photo’s predecessors Native River and Sizing John are possible entrants in the hunt to regain the Gold Cup – a feat only achieved in modern times by the mighty Kauto Star. That equine legend was the last Paul Nicholls trained winner of the Cheltenham Festival showpiece.
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His Ditcheat stables could be represented by dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon in the 2020 Gold Cup. Besides Native River, meanwhile, Colin Tizzard also has Lostintranslation and Elegant Escape entered.
Other top British jump trainer Nicky Henderson relies solely on Santini, who is among Cheltenham odds and tips at 8/1 with 888, for Gold Cup glory. This is because the Seven Barrows handler has kept him lightly raced throughout his career with a crack at this in mind.
Mister Whittaker and Road To Respect complete the previous Festival victors who could line-up in the Gold Cup. Course handicap winners The Conditional and Saint Calvados would have to make a significant step up in class and trip respectively, so are among the outsiders in the betting.
The former subsequently chased home De Rasher Counter in the big Newbury handicap formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup, but Emma Lavelle’s runner has plenty to prove off level weights if taking his chance at Cheltenham.
Al Boum Photo heads the betting at 9/2, despite it being 16 years since a racehorse won consecutive Gold Cups. For those looking to have a bet, fellow market principals Clan Des Obeaux and Kemboy have no career wins at Cheltenham, so offer good odds.
Last year’s Gold Cup third Bristol De Mai, who’s trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, and Monalee, a consistent enough Grade 1 performer from the De Bromhead somehow never quite manage to get a head in front at the highest level.