The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the showpiece event of the Festival meeting as the top chasers from Britain and Ireland clash over three and a quarter miles. Al Boum Photo is tipped to become the first horse to successfully defend his crown since Best Mate completed a hat-trick of wins from 2002 to 2004. Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work advertised his claims in the Irish Gold Cup and is rated the main danger. Presenting Percy could complete a clean-sweep for Ireland and is put forward as the best each-way bet in the race. Here is our in-depth analysis of the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup betting.
Al Boum Photo ended a 20-year wait for Trainer Willie Mullins to finally lay his hands on the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The French import was not the most fancied of his runners but ran on strongly to beat Anibale Fly and Bristol De Mai. The eight-year-old did so after one prep race at Tramore and Mullins has given the gelding an identical campaign.
His reappearance on New Year’s Day went to plan, beating Acapella Bourgeois with the minimum of fuss. He has won five of his ten starts over fences and could still be improving. Al Boum Photo is currently rated 2lbs higher than two-time King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeaux. That rival struggled up the Cheltenham hill 12 months’ ago and Al Boum Photo should confirm the form. Al Boum Photo is our main selection at 4-1 with 888Sport.
Kemboy will also represent Mullins, an early casualty last year when unseating his rider at the first fence. He made amends with an impressive victory at Aintree before beating Al Boum Photo in the Punchestown Gold Cup. Kemboy has twice finished behind Delta Work this season, most recently when runner-up in the Irish Gold Cup.
Nicky Henderson’s Santini emerged as a leading contender when winning the Cotswold Chase in January. It was a workmanlike performance, eventually grinding out a three and a half lengths victory over Bristol De Mai. Lostintranslation beat the same horse in the Betfair Chase at Haydock but was pulled up when fancied for the King George.
Gordon Elliott has made no secret of the high regard in which he holds Delta Work. Things did not go his way in the RSA Chase last season when finishing a close third to Topofthegame. He bounced back to win at Punchestown in April and the seven-year-old looks much more like the finished article this season.
He needed the run when only fourth at Down Royal in November and stripped a lot fitter for the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown. He was driven out by Jack Kennedy to beat Monalee by a head with favourite Kemboy back in fourth place.
Delta Work followed up in the Irish Gold Cup, confirming the form with Kemboy by beating that horse by a length and a half. The son of Network goes on any ground and is rated the main danger to Al Boum Photo. The Irish Gold Cup looked as good a trial as we have seen all season and Delta Work is attractively priced at 6-1 with William Hill.
Trainer Patrick Kelly came in for criticism last year for his unorthodox preparation for then Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy. The 2018 RSA Chase winner was given just one run over hurdles, winning a Grade 2 at Gowran Park at the end of January. He was never travelling in the Gold Cup and eventually finished lame.
It has been a different story this season with three progressive outings over fences. He hinted at a return to his best when only four lengths behind Delta Work at Leopardstown in December. Although beaten slightly further by the same horse in the Irish Gold Cup, he put in an eye-catching run. He is well known as a “hold up” horse but Davy Russell had him in front at the second last. A return to waiting tactics at Cheltenham could reward each-way support at a top-priced 11-1 with Unibet.