Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup
|Grade 1, Cheltenham 15:30
3m 2f 110y, Class 1
|Friday 15th March 2019|
With a prize fund of £625,000, the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup is the richest non-handicap chase staged in Britain and sponsored by Magners for the first time in 2019.
In two outings so far this season, Native River finished second in the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November, going down by four lengths to Bristol De Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies), and then came third behind Clan Des Obeaux (Paul Nicholls) and stablemate Thistlecrack in the G1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
"We were really pleased with both Native River and Thistlecrack at Kempton and they have both just been ticking along since.
"It is difficult to know what to do with Elegant Escape next. He is rated 159 now and needs to find a bit more to be competitive in a Gold Cup, but if we are going to have a big spring campaign with him and run in all the big Festivals, then it doesn't do them any harm to just freshen him up for a month after running in a Ladbrokes Trophy and a Welsh National."
Currently heading the ante-post market is Presenting Percy (Patrick Kelly), one of the record number of Irish-trained entries. Presenting Percy is seeking a three-timer at The Festival™ presented by Magners, having taken the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle in 2017 and the G1 RSA Novices' Chase in 2018. He made a successful return to action in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park on January 24
Despite having been off the track since securing his second Cheltenham Festival success in March, Pat Kelly’s stable star heads the market for the blue riband at Prestbury Park – and did nothing to dent his claims on his belated reappearance.
The Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the few the races to have eluded Willie Mullins - he has saddled six seconds - but Ireland's champion Jump trainer has the most entries of any handler in 2019 with nine engaged. Among the Mullins-trained entries is G1 Savills Chase winner Kemboy, lightly-raced recent Listed scorer Al Boum Photo, Irish Gold Cup winner Bellshill, last season's G2 National Hunt Chase scorer Rathvinden and Invitation Only, who provided Mullins with a seventh victory in the Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park on January 24.
Mullins' main rival in Ireland, Gordon Elliott, won the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2016 with Don Cossack and his seven entries this year include last season's G1 JLT Novices' Chase winner Shattered Love. Other Irish-trained contenders include last year's third and fourth, Anibale Fly (Tony Martin) and Road To Respect (Noel Meade).
No current trainer has a better record in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup than Paul Nicholls, who has taken chasing's championship four times, thanks to See More Business (1999), Kauto Star (2007 & 2009) and Denman (2008). His four 2019 entries are headed by 32Red King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeaux and also include Cheltenham specialist Frodon and prolific winner Black Corton.
Paul Nicholls feels Frodon will give Bryony Frost a great chance of being placed in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Frost has struck up a fantastic partnership with the seven-year-old, who continued his rapid progression this season when winning over just short of the Gold Cup trip in the Cotswold Chase on Saturday.
Bookmakers feel Frodon would have a better chance in the shorter Ryanair Chase and he is joint second-favourite for that with the firms who offer non-runner no-bet – but Nicholls has confirmed that unless the ground is testing he will be going for gold.
Hailing Frost’s talents in the saddle, Nicholls said: “She clicks on certain horses, particularly Frodon and Black Corton, the smaller types.
“She sits in behind them, not unlike Ruby (Walsh) used to do, and they jump and race enthusiastically for her, she forges a good partnership with those.
“It’s good for racing, it’s good for her, it’s good for everybody really and Bryony and Frodon will be great for the Festival whatever happens.
Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
£625,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m 2f 70y, Class 1
36 remaining entries
£31,250 supplementary entry stage & six-day confirmation stage Saturday, March 9. Final 48-hour declaration stage, 10.00am, Wednesday, March 13. Maximum number of runners - 24.
|F2F1R-1||Al Boum Photo (FR) 73||7||11-10||W P Mullins|
|11/P29-P||American (FR) 104||9||11-10||H Fry|
|91F34-6||Anibale Fly (FR) 96||9||11-10||A J Martin|
|214-439||Balko Des Flos (FR) 77||8||11-10||H De Bromhead|
|3/151-41||Bellshill (IRE) 40||9||11-10||W P Mullins|
|154-2P2||Black Corton (FR) 62||8||11-10||P F Nicholls|
|12BP-08||Blaklion 62||10||11-10||N A Twiston-Davies|
|1632-1F||Bristol De Mai (FR) 79||8||11-10||N A Twiston-Davies|
|2123-41||Clan Des Obeaux (FR) 79||7||11-10||P F Nicholls|
|23/PP-3U||Coneygree 79||12||11-10||M Bradstock|
|116U-11||Definitly Red (IRE) 97||10||11-10||B Ellison|
|3P23/PP||Don Poli (IRE) 50||10||11-10||G Elliott|
|274-F25||Double Shuffle (IRE) 79||9||11-10||T R George|
|33-1212||Elegant Escape (IRE) 48||7||11-10||C L Tizzard|
|50-1211||Frodon (FR) 48||7||11-10||P F Nicholls|
|3P3U-31||Invitation Only (IRE) 50||8||11-10||W P Mullins|
|4F11-11||Kemboy (FR) 77||7||11-10||W P Mullins|
|FP5-P53||Killultagh Vic (IRE) 50||10||11-10||W P Mullins|
|21P12-8||Mala Beach (IRE) 50||11||11-10||G Elliott|
|1121-57||Might Bite (IRE) 79||10||11-10||N J Henderson|
|2/4P4F-5||Minella Rocco (IRE) 48||9||11-10||Jonjo O'Neill|
|211-144||Mister Whitaker (IRE) 55||7||11-10||M R Channon|
|F12F-32||Monalee (IRE) 77||8||11-10||H De Bromhead|
|1182-00||Monbeg Notorious (IRE) 33||8||11-10||G Elliott|
|13/11-23||Native River (IRE) 79||9||11-10||C L Tizzard|
|54136/9||Noble Endeavor (IRE) 97||10||11-10||G Elliott|
|P8-2354||Outlander (IRE) 40||11||11-10||G Elliott|
|31121-1||Presenting Percy 50||8||11-10||P G Kelly|
|12BU14-||Rathvinden (IRE) 325||11||11-10||W P Mullins|
|143-132||Road To Respect (IRE) 40||8||11-10||N Meade|
|125-220||Shattered Love (IRE) 77||8||11-3||G Elliott|
|1121-43||Terrefort (FR) 48||6||11-10||N J Henderson|
|51-5463||The Storyteller (IRE) 40||8||11-10||G Elliott|
|12/54-32||Thistlecrack 79||11||11-10||C L Tizzard|
|58-7111||Tout Est Permis (FR) 54||6||11-10||N Meade|
|F166-13||Yala Enki (FR) 78||9||11-10||Miss V Williams|