Cheltenham Gold Cup Ante-Post Tips, Odds & Analysis

In the first of his 2020 Cheltenham Festival Ante-Post series, Diarmuid Nolan takes a look at the biggest race of them all, the Gold Cup!

Cheltenham Gold Cup Ante-Post Tips, Odds & Analysis
Cheltenham Gold Cup Ante-Post Tips, Odds & Analysis


TipOddsBet with
Bristol De Mai50/1Paddy Power

Most people don’t like January, and who can really blame them?

I actually don’t mind it at all, as it’s around now I really start to dig into Cheltenham ante-post markets properly, and the festival excitement is starting to really hit home.

I’m thrilled to have this Cheltenham Festival column back again, albeit in my new home at This year’s ante-post betting is the hardest so far, but there is only one place to start, the Gold Cup!

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Al Boum To Win Again?

Followers of this column in 2019, or the #racehour podcast, will know I was very keen on last years winner, Al Boum Photo, and it’s easy to see why he’s the 5/1 favourite with William Hill this year.

However, I'm not one for loyalty when it comes to betting and I'm jumping ship this time around.

He was superb at Prestbury Park in March, and then showed he's fit and healthy with a sublime showing at Tramore on his reappearance. Nobody else has seriously stuck their head above the parapet as of yet in the division - but can Al Boum Photo do what so many others have failed to do and retain the Gold Cup?

A quick glance at previous winners will inform you how truly difficult it is to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup more than once. Best Mate and Kauto Star are the only two horses to have pulled this off since L’Escargot won the blue riband in 1970 and 1971, and Kauto Star’s two wins weren’t even back to back either!

I wouldn't be a big believer in history or trends most of the time though. Al Boum Photo won’t go into Gold Cup day conscious of the magnitude of what lies ahead of him and he will head into the festival fresh and well after the exact same light campaign that led to his brilliant victory last year.

However, there is a clear reason as to why previous winners fail to repeat the feat - it takes a hell of a lot out of a horse. History has proven that only truly great horses overcome this.

Gold Cup’s are physically and mentally draining, and you can see what it takes out of them just by how many never really came back after winning it. Coneygree, Imperial Commander, Long Run and Bob's Worth are just four recent winners who never really returned to their best after winning this great race and my favourite, Don Cossack, was one who never came back at all!

The questions you have to answer is simple really - is Al Boum Photo a "great"? Is there potentially horses lurking that are better than what ran last year?

I'm not sure about him being a "great" and I am fairly sure we've at least one better horse in the division this year than last time around.

I love Al Boum Photo, but I'm happy to take him on this year - but of course, I wish him well!

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The Challengers

Kemboy sits second in the betting at 6/1 with BetVictor and he is another bullet that Willie Mullins has to shoot in March.

He should now be emotionally stronger that he knows who his owners are after the confusion in the summer with the Supreme Racing Club and should strip a lot fitter for his reappearance in the Savills Chase when only just over three lengths behind Delta Work.

For a horse who missed the amount of time he has it was some performance at Christmas and he should kick on for that. He's a horse who has a lot going for him and won all the right races including the 2018 Savills Chase, the Aintree Bowl and the Punchestown Gold Cup, where he beat Al Boum Photo no less!

He is however completely unproven at Cheltenham and that has to worry anyone getting involved. He has run there three times, and has lost on every occasion. Kemboy unseated at the first fence in this race last year, he was a distant fourth in the JLT Chase in 2018, and he finished fifth in the Neptune in 2017. At the odds, I'm happy to take him on.

Lostintranslation is next at 7/1 with Grosvenor and is one who emerges from the King George with a few questions to answer.

Firstly, lets discuss the positives. Lostintranslation represents the best novice form from last season after his epic battles with Defi Du Seuil and his mesmerising performance at the Aintree Festival when slamming the RSA winner, Topofthegame.

I don't for one second believe that Topofthegame was 100% that day however and clearly his heroic RSA victory had left it's mark on him.

Lostintranslation was terrific this season on his first two starts, firstly at Carlisle, and then more importantly when slamming Bristol De Mai on his home turf at Haydock in the Betfair Chase.

Those performances were awesome, but that last performance at Kempton will leave a lot of people wondering about Colin Tizzard's charge heading into a Gold Cup.

I'm completely willing to forgive his no-show in the King George though, it happens and they found an issue with his breathing. I just can't back him for a Gold Cup as I've never been truly convinced about what he finds off the bridle, especially over an extreme trip like this.

The Gold Cup is all about toughness and I actually believe this horse has too much speed for a Gold Cup. He saw it out at Haydock, but that's completely different than the three miles and two furlongs at Cheltenham.

I respect his chances, but I'm happier to go with one who I feel will definitely stay.

Clan Des Obeaux is 8/1 with 888Sport and I simply can't have him at all. He doesn't act at Cheltenham and I think you'd need your head checked to back him here. To win a Gold Cup you need stamina, class and the ability to handle the unique test at Prestbury Park, and he has repeatedly failed on the latter.

Delta Work (8/1 with Bethard) is certainly good enough if putting it all together and I wouldn't put anyone off him. Punters were far too quick to dismiss last season's RSA form, considering how little it was actually tested and I feel he proved this in the Savills Chase. He was right behind Santini and Topofthegame in the RSA and is a previous Cheltenham Festival winner over hurdles.

On his day I believe he's as good as anything in the race, but he just has that mistake in him in every race and that's enough to put me off him. It wouldn't shock me whatsoever were he to win, but those blemishes in the jumping department are forcing me to look elsewhere.

People are flocking behind Presenting Percy (10/1 with Unibet) based on how quiet he has been handled this season, but I'm very happy to take him on. Not for one second do I believe he's the same horse he was as when brilliantly winning the RSA Chase. He's another who wouldn't shock me were he to win, but he hasn't produced his best in quite a while now and I'm happy to take him on in a Gold Cup.

Santini To Prove Himself A Contender

I've always loved him, and Santini is definitely my Gold Cup bet at this stage at 9/1 with Betway.

He is the one I feel who has the most improvement in him and his quiet campaign is far from a bad thing in respect to a Cheltenham Gold Cup. Al Boum Photo only had the one run before the Gold Cup in 2019 and Native River was the same in 2018. Santini should arrive into the race with two runs, and that will be plenty.

I'm completely willing to forgive his comeback effort as it wasn't as bad as people said and he was discovered to have a slight injury thereafter. Also, he's a big horse who is difficult to get fit and I'd expect him to be much better next time.

It's his performance in the RSA in 2019 which cemented my view that he's a Gold Cup winner in waiting with a terrific effort in second.

Santini came out of the race with tremendous credit as his preparation in the build-up to Cheltenham was far from ideal. He had to undergo treatment as little as a week before the race on a foot injury and it was remarkable he lined up on the day let alone how well he ran! It has to be marked up as a fantastic effort by Nicky Henderson’s charge.

I don't buy the notion either that he is as slow as some people make him out to be, he was fast enough to win over two miles and four furlongs over hurdles, beating Black Op at Cheltenham.

A true test like this will suit him, he will get more Cheltenham experience in the Prestbury Cup and I'd expect him to be much shorter after that race as well!

In an open year, Santini looks the bet at the odds.

The Others

Native River is too old, Monalee won't stay, either will Frodon and as likable as he is, Road to Respect has been proven as not good enough to take this race.

The two out of the "outsiders" who would interest me is Bristol De Mai (50/1 with Paddy Power) and Chris's Dream (40/1 with Betfair).

Chris's Dream was brilliant at Navan last time and were he to win the Irish Gold Cup, he'll shorten significantly, but I wonder if he is good enough. Bristol De Mai was good enough to finish 3rd last season and this campaign has been built around the Gold Cup. It would be no shock were he to be good enough to place again. 50/1 with Paddy Power just seems huge.

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