What to Expect from the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup

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The Grand National is still the biggest horse race in the UK sports calendar, certainly in terms of national attention. But if you ask a national hunt jockey which race they’d prefer to win, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most likely answer. The Gold Cup has arguably grown in prestige in the last decade or two, helped by stars like Kauto Star whose exploits in the late 2000s caused renewed interest in the event. Now, as the race approaches its 100th anniversary, it’s become the focal point of Cheltenham.

But what should we expect in the 2020 version? To be fair, it’s something of a puzzle. Often in the lead up to the Gold Cup (13th March, 3:30 pm), there are clear favourites or at least a pair of horses that are driving the narrative of the race. This year, the betting markets show us several candidates who fit the bill as worthy winners, and that makes it a tricky issue for punters.

Al Boum Photo Favourite Again

For instance, if you bet on Cheltenham 2020 with 888 Sports, you will find odds of 4/1 for last year’s winner Al Boum Photo. That’s an attractive price for a horse that really hasn’t put a foot wrong. However, it is the strength of the field of candidates behind him that should give you food for thought. Santini (9/2), Delta Work (5/1), Lostintranslation (6/1), Clan Des Obeaux (7/1) and Kemboy (8/1) are all class acts, the type of horses who feel like worthy Gold Cup winners.

So, who do you back? Well, few would disagree with backing Al Boum Photo again. The Gold Cup is a famously gruelling race, and the Irish star showed he could handle it last year. Moreover, he is said to be in peak condition this year, as well as being well-rested.

However, one could say that the opposite is also true; namely, we haven’t seen enough of Al Boum Photo this season, whereas the likes of Clan Des Obeaux (King George VI Chase) and Delta Work (Irish Gold Cup) have been displaying their credentials in big races over the last couple of months.

Bristol De Mai Getting Another Crack

One should also remember that Gold Cup races can also have winners at long odds. Al Boum Photo won at 12/1 last year, but Anibale Fly (22/1) and Bristol De Mai (18/1) came second and third respectively. The latter will be back in the race this year, and there is a sense coming from his team that the racing media have badly undervalued Bristol De Mai. 33/1 is quoted by 888sport at the moment, and that looks like a smart bet in the ante-post markets. Other each-way bets could include Chris’s Dream, priced at 25/1 right now.

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Whomever it is that comes out on top will go straight into the history books, but it’s worth noting that Al Boum Photo and Native River (2018 winner) will line up as previous winners. Only the great Kauto Star and Bobs Worth have achieved multiple wins in the modern era (since l’Escargot 1971), so you can appreciate how tricky it is to scale the mountain a second time. Still, Al Boum Photo, in particular, looks like he has a sense of inevitability around his chances. History beckons.

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