It’s been a thrilling Cheltenham Festival so far, and Friday sees the big one – the Cheltenham Gold Cup. All eyes will be on Cheltenham at 3.30pm as 11 runners go to post to battle it out for the biggest prize in jumps racing. And we’ve taken a closer look at every runner in our 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview.
Al Boum Photo
Trained by Willie Mullins, Al Boum Photo won the Gold in 2019 and 2020 and was a creditable 3rd last year behind Minella Indo and A Plus Tard.
He’s taken the usual route of just one run this season, winning at Tramore on New Year’s Day and will sport the cheekpieces for the first time on Friday – he’s certainly not out of it in this field.
A Plus Tard
A Plus Tard ran a cracker last season to chase home stablemate Minella Indo, and he’s been in excellent form this season – strolling home in the Betfair Chase before being nailed on the line by Galvin in the Savills Chase.
He looks to have improved this year, and with the Henry de Bromhead yard in solid form this week, he has an excellent chance of winning the big one.
Jumping is the name of the game, and sadly for Asterion Forlonge he doesn’t always get it right – falling behind Tornado Flyer in the King George when looking set for 2nd place then putting in some wayward jumps in the Irish Gold Cup.
If he could put in a clean round at Cheltenham, he has the class to go close, but it’s a big if on this season’s form so far.
Aye Right won the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle in November, and connections have earmarked a crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup since that victory.
However, he was only 3rd behind Chantry House in the Cotswold Chase and looks up against it in a field of this quality.
Chantry House flopped at Kempton in the King George on Boxing Day when sent off favourite – being pulled up under jockey Nico de Boinville.
He bounced back with victory in the Cotswold Chase with Santini and Aye Right in behind, but he’s likely to need a couple to falter in this field for him to have any chance.
Galvin, the new kid on the block, capped an unbeaten novice season last year with victory in the National Hunt Chase at the Festival.
This campaign, he’s won two of his three races, including the Grade 1 Savills Chase, where he flew home under a power-packed Davy Russell ride to nail A Plus Tard right on the line – a repeat of that performance will see him go very close.
Minella Indo is back to defend his crown, but he’s failed to spark this season fully and arrives at the Festival with questions to answer.
He was pulled up in the King George before running a solid 2nd in the Irish Gold Cup, and a return to Cheltenham, where he’s won twice, could reignite him, and he can’t be ruled out for trainer Henry de Bromhead.
Protektorat is the leading hope for the UK and comes into this having placed 2nd in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at this track and with an easy success at Aintree in December.
Very much the unknown quantity, connections are bullish of a big run, and he could offer some excellent each-way value.
Trained by Venetia Williams, Royale Pagaille does have some solid pieces of form in the book, including when carrying a big weight to success in the Peter Marsh at Haydock in January.
However, he was well beaten in this last year when placing 6th and was well held by A Plus Tard in the Betfair Chase – it would be a shock if he was to land the big one with the quality of this field.
Santini ran 2nd behind Al Boum Photo in the 2020 renewal but lost his way last season, including when he was pulled up in this race last year.
He’s moved yards now and ran a solid 2nd behind Chantry House in the Cotswold Chase, but it would be a big shock if he was to land this for the first time at 10.
Trained by Willie Mullins, Tornado Flyer ran the race of his career when winning the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day.
He’s not been out since as connections aim to keep him fresh for this but will have to run another personal best if he’s to lift the bog one at a track where he has a poor record.