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Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup
Grade 1, Cheltenham 15:30
£625,000 added,
5yo plus,
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. 

Native River
© Racehorse Photos
Native River
Two of the last four winners of chasing's Blue Riband feature among the entries in 2019 - last year's hero Native River (Colin Tizzard) and Coneygree (Mark Bradstock), who became the first novice to win the contest in 41 years when successful in 2015.
Native River gamely defeated Might Bite (Nicky Henderson) by four and a half lengths in 2018 after finishing third to the Irish-trained Sizing John the year before. 

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.

Two months ago Clan Des Obeaux was around 40/1 for the Gold Cup. After victories in the King George VI Chase and the Denman Chase on February 16, he’s now just 9/2 with Ladbrokes .

Trainers Quotes

Native River and Thistlecrack, along with last month's G3 Coral Welsh Grand National hero Elegant Escapeare Colin Tizzard's three entries. Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father who trains on the Dorset/Somerset border, reported: "Thistlecrack will go straight to the Gold Cup. He hasn't got there yet in his career, but he deserves to get there.
"With Native River, we haven't definitely decided, but quite possibly he will turn up in the Denman Chase (Newbury, February 9) and then on to the Gold Cup to defend his crown. 
"We will see how he is in the next few weeks and make a decision off the back of that. It is usually a small field at Newbury but, more importantly, the timing is right as it is a month before Cheltenham. We were very pleased with him at Kempton as he stayed on really strongly. It was a good run given it was going right-handed and the track was against him.

"We were really pleased with both Native River and Thistlecrack at Kempton and they have both just been ticking along since.

Elegant Escape
© Racehorse Photos
Elegant Escape
"Elegant Escape also has an entry for the Gold Cup and that is almost certainly the way we will be looking, and hoping there will be a bit of cut in the ground. He will also have a Grand National entry. 

"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."

Bristol De Mai
© Racehorse Photos
Bristol De Mai
The grey Bristol De Mai, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, fell at the ninth fence in the 32Red King George VI Chase.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, who landed the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2010 with Imperial Commander, reported: "Bristol De Mai is in good form at home. 
"After his fall at Kempton, he was a bit bruised but not too bad and has been cantering away since.
"There is a possibility he could go to Haydock and run over hurdles in the Rendlesham Hurdle (3m, G2, February 16) to give him a confidence booster and then on to the Gold Cup. Cheltenham Trials Day (January 26) will probably come a bit too quickly and I am not sure about running in the Denman Chase either."

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

Presenting Percy
© Caroline Norris
Presenting Percy

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).

Road To Respect
© Caroline Norris
Road To Respect

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

© Racehorse Photos

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.

Champion British Jump trainer Nicky Henderson has also put in Terrefort, runner-up in the 2018 JLT Novices' Chase before winning an Aintree G1. 

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.

Form Horse Age Weight Trainer
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


Timeform Ratings (Weight-Adjusted) 
Native River  183 
Clan Des Obeaux 181 
Presenting Percy 180p 
Thistlecrack  180
Might Bite  179? 
Kemboy  178p, 
Bristol De Mai  178 
Frodon    178 
Bellshill  177 
Road To Respect 177

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