Racing News: 22 February 2017


Thistle Absence Cracks Open Gold Cup Market

Vautour, Many Clouds, Sprinter Sacre, Don Cossack, Coneygree, Faugheen, Annie Power, Min….just a few of the stellar names who won’t be strutting their stuff at the Cheltenham Festival this year.

That’s quite a list of talent, and one to which we can now add the name of the highest rated chaser in training and long-time favourite for the Gold Cup, Thistlecrack. Colin Tizzard’s superstar King George winner has unfortunately suffered a tendon injury which has curtailed his season at an early stage. Hopefully we will see him back before too long, but with the absence of the previous two winners of the race, as well as this year’s ante post favourite, where does that leave this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup betting?

Latest Gold Cup Betting Post-Thistlecrack

Whilst Thistlecrack won’t be claiming chasing’s ultimate prize, his absence may not be enough to prevent his handler Tizzard lifting the trophy aloft in the March. Such is the strength of the trainer’s Dorset operation, that he is still responsible for the first two in the betting.

It has fallen to Native River to assume the mantle of favouritism for Day Four’s headline event, making him their 3/1 market leader.

The winner of last year’s Hennessy Gold Cup and Welsh National has stamina in spades and is a resolute galloping type in the mould of previous Welsh National and Gold Cup hero, Synchronized. The turn of foot he displayed last time out at Newbury suggests he has more in his locker than simply galloping though and he looks a big threat.

The absence of Thistlecrack also increases the prospect of what would undoubtedly be the dream Gold Cup result for most racing fans. A victory for the ever popular 11 year old, Cue Card. Also counting the Tizzard base as his home, it was at Cheltenham back in 2010 that Cue Card first burst onto the scene in the Champion Bumper.

Having amassed a further eight Grade 1 wins in the intervening years, his class and heart have earned him a place close to the hearts of the racing fraternity. No match for Thistlecrack in the King George, he bounced back in some style in the Betfair Ascot Chase and of course won’t have his King George conqueror to worry about coming up the Cheltenham Hill. Currently a 7/2 shot (bet £10, get £60 free), it would be no surprise to see him start favourite on the day.

Chief threat from across the Irish Sea comes in the form of the Willie Mullins trained eight year old Djakadam. This one is certainly following the mantra of, “if at first you don’t succeed…”, having finished runner up to Coneygree in 2015 and Don Cossack last time around, he has a confirmed ability to handle both the track and trip and the absence of Thistlecrack can only enhance his claims. The Rich Ricci gelding is in at 11/2 .

Djakadam is far from the only Irish threat however, with the likes of Lexus winner, Outlander, Irish Gold Cup hero, Sizing John, last year’s third Don Poli, rising star Empire of Dirt and a potentially rejuvenated More Of That all shortening appreciably in the market following the withdrawal of the home teams main hope.

Note if you want to have an ante post Gold Cup bet, lots of betting sites are now NRNB for Cheltenham.