|Tuesday 21st January 2020|
Cheltenham Festival 2020 - Race News and Updates
Irish champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins had to wait until last season to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Al Boum Photo, having saddled the runner-up on six previous occasions.
Al Boum Photo made his seasonal reappearance at Tramore on January 1, where he was sent off the 7/4-on favourite and duly got the job done with the minimum of fuss, performing with sufficient enthusiasm and precision to suggest he is somewhere near his best. He will now likely head straight to Cheltenham to defend his crown.
Stablemate Kemboy finished fourth to Delta Work in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown on December 28, and was reported by Mullins’ son and assistant Patrick to have benefited greatly for his belated first run of the season.
"Al Boum came out of the race great and Kemboy came out of the race well. All of the major ones came out of their races well, so fingers crossed it stays that way for a while," said Mullins.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup betting market is currently headed by the these two Mullins inmates. Things are likely to change before March 13 and I would advise waiting to get the most updated betting offers for Cheltenham 2020. Coral currently have Al Boum Photo as their 9/2 favourite, while Kemboy can be backed at 6/1. Kemboy will most likely be in action at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.
The Champion Hurdle is the main race of day one at the Festival, and the current antepost favourite is Nicky Henderson’s Epatante.
He was an impressive Christmas Hurdle winner at Kempton on Boxing Day, but his position at the top of the betting is less to do with that performance and more to do with the inconsistency of his supposed main rivals.
Last season's Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills was second in Haydock's Champion Hurdle Trial on January 18, and performed well below pre-race expectations.
Conditions were certainly not ideal, with very soft ground and a small field contributing to an unsettled run.
A big field and a strong pace is what he will encounter at the Festival, and that will surely suit him better.