The Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching, leaving many to wonder if they will manage to set their eyes on the prize, the Gold Cup. Willie Mullins is yet again gunning forward for the third triumph within his career as a trainer with Arkle and Best Mate, in hopes of having his name recorded within the history books for such an accomplishment once again.
With Cheltenham betting 2021 just around the corner, punters can make their bets from now, before the Festival begins.
Every race will have an array of incredibly talented horses that will be doing their very best, to ensure they deny Al Boum Photos winning for that historic third time, even if the odds happen to not be in their favour anyway. Champ is the horse that many punters would like to see as the horse to break Al Boum Photos winning streak. The Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, saw trainer Nicky Henderson’s horse become the second favourite in the running for the Gold Cup. Therefore, there is no doubt that Willie Mullins will be feeling the heat right about now, with Champ being on the scene and threatening all that winning potential for example.
Champ has managed to show us the quality of his racing within the last year’s 2020 festival. Champ is a nine-year-old, that was named after the jock Sir AP McCoy, legendary as he was, also had a 4/1 to win the RSA Novices’ Chase, with Minella Indo and A Plus Tard right behind him. Despite Champ being over 8 lengths behind the favourites from the last, Barry Geraghty has put a huge monumental comeback for the win of the Grade 1 race, and is edging the market leads over the line by one length.
Henderson has not exactly met the plan for the build-up to the Prestbury Park meeting. However, Champs run into the Game Spirit chase, is definitely an incentive for Henderson to feel like the decisions made were right after all, leading up to the Cheltenham Festival.
Newbury’s Betfair card has actually been postponed for a week, due to the track being frozen and thus, Henderson decided to pull Altiors entry from the Game Spirit. Many were shocked by Hendersons decisions, and the rerouting of the two-time champion chase and Queen Mother, directly from Prestbury Park, whilst Champ has been pulled from Denman Chase to replace runner Altior in the race.
This decision was made due to how close Newbury and the Cheltenham Festival are. It is definitely understandable, especially as it could be Altior’s last chance to land a third Queen Mother. Altior has missed out on the two showpieces, due to injury and his age of course. It is not a surprise that Henderson did not want to promote further risks, so close to the Festivals commencement.
Champ’s Game Spirit did not actually go greatly in his favour; however, it can be seen as just him testing the waters before going for the win. It is actually Champ’s first outing since he won the RSA last year, which also showcased an exceptional ride from Nico De Boinville who was ultimately defeated by Sceau Royal- a favourite of the races. Henderson still had every right to be delighted by Champ’s run, and it is believed that it will still give Champ a head strong position prior to the commencement of the Cheltenham Festival.
It is very clear that Champ enjoyed himself immensely and did not demonstrate any slow racing. His jump was quoted as ‘deadly’ by Henderson, and he believes that a horse like Champ will go far better on a racecourse than being stuck at home. It is like flicking a switch on when Champ hits the racecourse, he goes from 0 to 10 and is like a live wire on the track. He is a very versatile horse that has previous races such as the RSA that support what kind of horse he really is, at the end of the day.
Punters now believe that Champ is going to be the horse with a fancy for winning the Gold Cup. Of course, Henderson will also be hoping that the nine-year-old horse can actually make his first victory in showpiece since 2013. Last year, Boinville was so close to push Al Boum Photo all the way to the finish line, yet he was beaten by the neck of it. Of course, both the trainer and jockey of Boum Photo will be smug after watching Champs recent run, but alas the Gold Cup is so very close now, and anything can really happen.