Cheltenham Gold Cup Form Guide
The Cheltenham Gold Cup form boils down to a few races with the top chasers going down a tried and tested route ahead of a tilt at the Gold Cup. We are likely to see Lord Windermere campaigned towards a repeat Gold Cup success in March so expect him to improve with every run. Other races to keep an eye on include the King George Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and the Lexus Chase over in Ireland which are both excellent trial races.
Gold Cup Trial Races 2015/16
Gold Cup Form Guide and Race Card 2016
Road To Riches started the Irish Gold Cup as a very hot favourite following his impressive first start of the campaign and his 3rd in the gold Cup last season but they went a very strong gallop at Leopardstown and was only a distant 2nd in the end. Carlingford Lough was the horse finish like a steam train as he went from last to first in the home straight to claim the win for a 2nd year on the bounce.
Carlingford Lough might go to the Gold Cup or even the Grand National but the other horse to take out of the race was Valsuer Lido who was cantering all over Road To Riches coming to the last. Having jumped the last ok he appeared to peck on landing which unseated Ruby Walsh and on this basis, he deserves to take his chance in the Gold Cup.
Don Cossack was a faller in the King George last month by connections were quick to run him again in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles over 2m4f. This was in ground that was perhaps more testing than he would like and over an inadequate trip, Don Cossack produced a slightly workmanlike victory on his final start before the Festival. He raced lazily throughout but did look strong as he ran through the line against a weak field and the potential addition of cheek pieces in March could sharpen him up.
The Betbright Trial Chase at Cheltenham always throws together a decent Gold Cup contender or two and that was the case again this season as Smad Place stormed clear to claim an easy win. The popular grey jumped straight to the front and appeared to love the trip and distance on offer to enter the each-way picture for March. The big disappointment of the race was Djakadam who fell early on and although he needs to be given another chance, it was far from the ideal prep for March.
The Betfred Lotto Chase at Aintree is perhaps not known as a Gold Cup trial but it was this season as RSA Chase winner Don Poli made his seasonal debut for Willie Mullins. Don Poli never makes things look easy but he beat Many Clouds a touch cosily in the end and given that it was his first start this winter, it was a very decent return for a horse who looks a genuine Gold Cup contender.
The John Durkan Chase was the big Grade 1 Chase down at 2m4f at Punchestown at the start of December and it was the scene for another Willie Mullins Gold Cup contender to make his seasonal debut. Djakadam ran a stormer to finish 2nd in the Gold Cup last season and he looked as good as ever to win his first Grade 1 race in the John Durkan. This was a very pleasing return for a horse who at six might still be on the upgrade.
The King George VI Chase is always a key trial for the Gold Cup and we saw a sensational renewal this season as Cue Card got up to beta Vautour in a thrilling finish at Kempton. Cue Card finished like a train to pip the brilliant Vautour and with the Betfair Chase already won, Cue Card and his owners will go the Gold Cup in search of the £1m bonus, Don Cossack was plugging on well when falling at the 2nd lastr and also should be given a second chance.
The big Gold Cup trial over in Ireland during the festive period was the Lexus Chase and it was Don Poli who got up to give Willie Mullins a first win in the race. It was a typically plodding display from the RSA Chase winner which wasn't impressive on the eye but as he always tends to, he did enough to claim the win.
The Noel Meade trained Road To Riches was 3rd in the 2015 Gold Cup and he looked in good form as he returned with a win in the Clonmel Oil Chase. This was a decent starting point for the horse down at 2m4f as he beat a field he should be beating in decent style and he remains a player in this division.
The first Sunday in November saw Carlisle host a decent meeting with the Paul Nicholls trained Saphir Du Rheu making a major impression on season debut. He was a Grade 1 winning Novice and he looked very classy here as he comfortably dispatched a decent horse in the The Young Master and it was a nice start on the road to a potential run in the Gold Cup come March.
The defending Champion Coneygree qualified for the Future Champions Chase at Sandown for his seasonal debut and he did not disappoint. The 8-year-old ran some very good horses like Southfield Theatre off of their feet and in the end Coneygree won by miles in the end and it could hardly have been any more impressive. He remains relatively lightly raced and there is a chance that Coneygree could still be getting better.
The Betfair Chase has been a top early season race at Haydock Park since 2005 and we saw a thrilling winner this year in the form of Cue Card. The Colin Tizzard trained horse travelled and jumped with style before cantering clear of Silviniaco Conti and on this form the 2013 Ryanair Chase winner has to be a Gold Cup contender.
The long awaited seasonal debut from Vautour came at Ascot and as a short priced favourite he managed to win the 1965 Chase. He did get the job done but this was a half fit Vautour who managed to beat Ptit Zig and although we still don't know if he will step up to 3m, this was a decent display first time out.
The Hennessy Gold Cup is always a cracking contest and we saw a terrific performance from Smad Place as he demolished the field with a stunning round of jumping. He was good enough to finish 8th in the Gold Cup last year but on the basis of this latest win, he looks better than ever which means he has to be an each-way contender for March. Saphir Du Rheu also ran well off of top weight before fading into 5th and his progress remains interesting with the Gold Cup in mind.
Don Cossack was the highest rated chaser in training last season and he is being aimed towards the Gold Cup in March according to connections. The Gigginstown horse looked in top form as he sauntered to victory in the JNwine Champion chase at Down Royal with Rocky Creek left trailing in his wake. It was against limited opposition but Don Cossack couldn't have done it any better.
Past Gold Cup Form Guides
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