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Monday 14th March 2022
Fascinating Gold Cup to Headline Cheltenham Festival 2022

Cheltenham racecourse
"Cheltenham racecourse" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

The 2022 Cheltenham Festival is here and while there are 28 huge races across the four days of action, it is the big grade one Championship races that always draw most of the attention. The action is so good that it is unfair to pick out one race to centre things, but if that had to be done, the Cheltenham Gold Cup would certainly be the pick of many people.

This year, perhaps more so than we have seen for the past few years, the Gold Cup looks wide open. It is going to be a huge betting heat, and no doubt we will see some of the best Cheltenham offers focused around this race as bookmakers look to take advantage of the interest in this major sporting event. Leading the market we have previous winners, previous placed horses and new horses looking to jump in and show they are ready to take over the crown of being the best staying chaser in training.

Ireland Hold a Strong Gold Cup Hand

One of the fascinating elements of the 2022 Gold Cup is the fact that the majority of contenders are from Ireland, and certainly the biggest challengers are from there. The 2021 Gold Cup winner Minella Indo is coming back looking to defend his crown from 12 months ago, and the two horses that finished behind him are back to try and do better.

A Plus Tard was second last year, and comes back as a stronger horse, with a chance of going one better under Rachel Blackmore. Third last year, Al Boum Photo won the Gold Cup in both 2019 and 2020 but could only place last season. Despite his advancing years, could he make it three titles in four years for the Willie Mullins team?

New to the Gold Cup picture is Galvin, a novice last season, who won the National Hunt Chase at the 2021 meeting, and since then has gone from strength to strength. One big positive for him is the stamina test of a Gold Cup, the race he won last year was over 3m6f, so he will certainly get home, and the hill may be able to help him reel in those ahead.

Tornado Flyer rounds off the main Irish challengers for the race and comes to the race on the back of winning the King George at Kempton, a race traditionally seen as a strong trial for the Gold Cup. He certainly cannot be underestimated, even if many saw his win that day as being in part due to the underperformance of many of his rivals.

British hopes are pinned on Protektorat mainly, who comes from the Dan Skelton yard, but he does have to prove he has the stamina for a Gold Cup. Elsewhere, Chantry House and Royale Pagaille should be considered as lively outsiders who may be able to get involved if the big guns fail to perform for whatever reason.

Having said that though, the Irish certainly do appear to have a strong grip on the Cheltenham Gold Cup this season.