|Minella Indo||10/1||Ante Post
Cheltenham Gold Cup
|A Plus Tard||6/1||Ante Post
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Date of Tips: 12/03/2020
Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (12:00 12/03/2020) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.
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It’s hard to believe it is not even November, and yet I believe we may have seen the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner out already. If not the winner, then a knocking each-way bet that is surely only going to shorten from the current odds anyhow.
Minella Indo at a general 10/1 each-way represents a great bet in my eyes, given the visual impression of what he did at Wexford on his seasonal debut. To my untrained eye, he looked a little on the tubby side down at the start, or at least a horse that carries a fair bit of condition. The manner in which he travelled and jumped suggested he was very much in love with the game, and potentially a stronger, more mature horse this season.
Henry De Bromhead mapped out a light but select campaign for Minella Indo last season, which was aimed around peaking for the RSA Chase at the Festival. Peak he did, and in bowling along at the front in a protracted battle with old rival Allaho, he left his chin vulnerable to a Barry Geraghty-inspired sucker punch on Champ – who came from, if not out of the clouds certainly on the edge of them, to run Minella Indo down in the last 50 yards.
It was a cruel blow, and if you watch carefully you can visually see Rachael Blackmore’s mount pick up again close home, as Champ scoots past. Clearly there was more in the locker for Minella Indo, he just didn’t have time to show it. The nature of a Cheltenham Gold Cup, with it’s unrelenting pace and test of jumping, could be exactly what Minella Indo needs. Remember, he ran away with an Albert Bartlett after just two hurdle starts as a maiden. If that doesn’t scream ability and relentless stamina, then I’m not sure what does.
So, to see him travel and jump like he did at Wexford to brush aside a race-fit 2020 Kim Muir winner, in the shape of Milan Native, was much more than you would have been expecting. Henry De Bromhead has stated that he will be busier this time around, presumably with the two Leopardstown Grade 1’s at Christmas and the Dublin Racing Festival in February on his agenda. Surely that experience will stand Minella Indo in good stead, as don’t forget he has still only had 9 races under rules.
Obviously dual winner Al Boum Photo commands plenty of respect, and there is some 6/1 around about him, which given his likely preparation of a New Year’s Day jaunt around Tramore again, and that he was sent off 100/30 on the back of that last season, there could be a bit of juice in that 6/1.
Further down, and one that stands out at the prices is Delta Work, who was uncharacteristically off his game jumping-wise when fifth in the 2020 renewal, but that he was only beaten just over 6 lengths confirms that he has a mighty engine. A Pertemps Final winner and a close third in an RSA, he will be reunited with Jack Kennedy at Down Royal this weekend. But he has generally needed his first run of the season, and could easily be well beaten before stepping forward massively at Leopardstown at Christmas.
25/1 is available about Delta Work, but given his profile you could get bigger after his run at Down Royal this weekend, so I’m going to steer clear from recommending him just yet. That honour firmly lands with the improving beast that is Minella Indo, who as stated, at the general 10/1 represents a great each-way bet after his Wexford re-appearance.
The following content was added at 12:00 on Friday 12th March 2021…
In a somewhat vain attempt at bringing this week-long series of daily extra ante-post selections to a dramatic conclusion, I have saved the best for last.
Not the best price, or the shrewdest selection by any means, but the best race, the one race that everyone associated to jumps racing would dearly love to win – the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
A week today will be Gold Cup day, and we will have feasted our eyes and ears on three days of scintillating action in the Cotswolds, and hopefully everything will have passed smoothly and some heart-warming and goodwill-inspiring stories will have played out on that hallowed turf.
One piece of ante-post business that was struck before the turn of the year was on Minella Indo for the Gold Cup, advised at 10/1. Perhaps not the best ever struck, as you can currently get 14/1 with William Hill about Henry De Bromhead’s charge. But the logical thinking behind it is still relevant, as I believe last year’s RSA Chase is a key piece of form.
Champ was the victor that day, and now sits at perch of 5/1 best price. So, given that Minella Indo went through that race like the best horse in it at the trip, and had to beat off Allaho (who could boost the form in the Ryanair Chase the day before), before having his pocket picked somewhat by Champ and Barry Geraghty – then the 14/1 about Minella Indo still seems tempting. I wouldn’t put anyone off.
There are two or three other relevant pieces of form, and perhaps chief among them are the last two renewals of the race. Thus, you can in no way discount dual-winner Al Boum Photo, and whatever way I play the race I will be having a saver on him to get my stake back on any other bets.
The Ryanair Chase last season and the recent Savills Chase are the other two pieces of strong form to factor in to calculations, and they feature the same horse – A Plus Tard. A previous Cheltenham Festival winner, courtesy of his novices’ handicap chase romp, he was half a stride out of his comfort zone the whole way round in last year’s Ryanair behind Min. Watch the final 100 yards or so of that race again, and you can visibly see A Plus Tard put his head down and go again, suggesting the notion that he had plenty left in the tank.
On his first try at 3m left-handed, he was a dramatic, last-gasp, strong-staying winner of the Savills Chase at Christmas, confirming that stamina is very much an attribute he possesses in abundance.
To chin Kemboy around Leopardstown in that manner takes some doing, and as Kemboy won the subsequent Irish Gold Cup easily, it boosted the merits of A Plus Tard’s performance previously.
At 6/1 each-way with Bet365, who are ‘Non-Runner, No Bet’, I can see him going off shorter, especially if Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore have a good week. Indeed, Rachael has chosen to ride A Plus Tard ahead of Minella Indo, so who am I to argue that she will be getting on the wrong one?
Put your faith in her, and put your faith in A Plus Tard to win the biggest race of them all, at 6/1 with Bet365.
Now might well be a good time to get involved in the Gold Cup market, as over the next two weekends there are two significant signposts on the road to ultimate Cheltenham glory.
The Cotswold Chase features the return of Santini, who was so lackadaisical in his seasonal reappearance at Sandown, that he all but erased the memory of his smashing RSA Chase second last year. That of course came on the back of a very interrupted preparation, and if there is a horse from last year’s novice chasers to rise to the top, then perhaps Nicky Henderson’s big brute of a horse is it. A good run will see his price surely clipped, but there are nagging doubts.
One place behind Santini in that RSA was Delta Work, who has since won the Grade One Savills Chase at Leopardstown – but it is the fourth home in that race that I think is the ante-post bet for the Gold Cup right now – and that is last year’s Aintree Bowl and Punchestown Gold Cup winner Kemboy.
At 13/2 now, should he go and win the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival next weekend, then he will be challenging stablemate and last year’s Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo for favouritism.
Unseated at the very first fence in the 2019 Gold Cup, Kemboy was sent off 8/1 that day – the shortest-priced of Willie Mullins runners and four points shorter than the winner Al Boum Photo. He then went to beat Al Boum Photo at Punchestown in ready fashion.
Some may see his reappearance fourth as slightly disappointing, but many of Mullins’ higher profile horses have been needing their first starts, as a change of tack seems to have been employed in an effort to keep them fresher for longer into the season.
Another potential doubt is that he is as yet unproven over the extra distance of the Gold Cup, compared with the bare 3m over which he has done his winning. However, in last year’s Savills Chase, Aintree Bowl and Punchestown Gold Cup he has been running away from the opposition – including Al Boum Photo.
While, as a six-year-old, he was pitched into one of the most attritional Irish Grand Nationals ever run over 3m 5f in heavy ground – I’d say his connections weren’t doubting of his stamina…