|Tuesday 14th January 2020|
Gold Cup Entries Present a Puzzle for Punters
Even by the standards of the Gold Cup, there is bound to be a bit of head-scratching when punters analyse the current ante-post markets. After the latest round of declarations, the field has been whittled down to 31 (for now), and it should be said that we are seeing a bit of consolidation among a half dozen or so at the top of the market. However, as for standout candidates, there are none. That’s not a criticism, as such; instead, it’s a sense that there isn’t much momentum behind the top tier candidates yet.
Perhaps a lot of it is down to the disappointing showing from those who did have momentum last year – Clan Des Obeaux and Presenting Percy. The pair come in at 8/1 and 11/1 respectively for the 2020 Gold Cup according to the latest Cheltenham betting with 888sport, and, especially in the case of double King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeaux, that could only be described as tentative.
Favourites took a hit in last year’s Gold Cup
The point is that the favourites got burned in 2019, with none of the top five horses in the SPs – Presenting Percy, Native River, Kemboy, Clan Des Obeaux – finishing in the places. Look, it’s early days and not since Don Cossack in 2016 has there been a late flood of money to form a majority consensus on a winner on Gold Cup Day. Nevertheless, one can’t help but view this current market as indecipherable.
Here’s a rundown of the top of the ante-post market (odds supplied by 888sport, Jan 2020):
Al Boum Photo – 9/2
Kemboy – 7/1
Lostintranslation – 7/1
Clan Des Obeaux – 8/1
Santini – 8/1
Delta Work – 8/1
Another theory is that many of the top-tier Gold Cup candidates haven’t seen much in the way of serious competition so far this season. Take, for instance, the 2019 King George VI Chase. Clan Des Obeaux won again, of course, but it was a markedly different type of field than in 2018. In his latest victory, Paul Nicholls’ 8yo defeated a reduced field of five runners, with Lostintranslation, who pulled up, the only other horse likely to feature in the Gold Cup. In 2018, Clan Des Obeaux beat a much larger field, which included the likes of Native River, Might Bite, Thistlecrack and Bristol De Mai.
Few clues so far this season
In a sense, we have learned very little about those at the top of the market so far this season. That’s not always necessarily a bad thing, and it means the more discerning punter can find a little value in the market. Bristol De Mai, for example, is widely available at 33/1 or above in the ante-post betting. His team are adamant that he can trouble the top dogs in the Gold Cup, although they are realistic about his chances of bettering last year’s third-place finish. He smacks of each-way value right now, and one could see his odds tighten with a decent showing at Cheltenham Trials next week.
In the end, we will likely see a couple of barnstorming performances between now and 13th March, enough to warrant momentum towards a couple of candidates. But at the moment this seems to be as open a field as one can recall in the Gold Cup. It’s as if the market is backing those who have done the least wrong over the last few months, rather than the money following those who are hurtling towards success. It makes it all the more intriguing in the run-up to the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.