|Friday 25th February 2022|
The Top Contenders for the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the jewels in the crown of the four-day Cheltenham Festival. It’s the culmination of a week of hugely competitive jump racing, which attracts the best stayers from the UK, Ireland and beyond. As the content hots up from the leading horse racing tipsters and analysts keen to pinpoint the Festival favourites, we’ve taken some time to assess the entries most likely to prevail in Cheltenham’s showpiece race.
Last year, the Gold Cup was claimed by the Henry de Bromhead-trained Minella Indo, with Jack Kennedy aboard. It was something of a surprise result, given that de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard was a much shorter price in the betting ring pre-race. Which of de Bromhead’s charges will be pushing to make it back-to-back Gold Cup wins for the stable? Below are five prime candidates for the 2022 Gold Cup.
A Plus Tard
A Plus Tard has to be one of the main picks for the 2022 Gold Cup. Finishing a mere length behind Minella Indo in 2021, there is every suggestion that he could go one better this time around. A Plus Tard is at the perfect age to prevail in the Gold Cup. Aged eight, six of the last nine Gold Cup champions have been aged eight. Question marks remain over his jumping ability and another of his 2022 Gold Cup rivals had him beat in the Savills Chase back in December 2021.
Al Boum Photo
Al Boum Photo is a two-time Gold Cup winner for trainer Willie Mullins. There is still a chance that he could make it a hat-trick of Gold Cup wins in 2022. In fact, Al Boum Photo has failed to finish outside of the top three in any race he’s competed in during the last five seasons. With some suggesting that the field is unlikely to be strengthened too much by new kids on the block, it could still be a field that old-timers such as Al Boum Photo can dominate.
A quick look at Galvin’s form since the start of the 2021 season shows an almost unblemished record. Seven wins in nine races is not to be sniffed at. He is also a proven performer at Cheltenham having demonstrated his stamina to win the 2021 National Hunt Chase. Although he is viewed by many to be a genuine Grand National candidate in the short-to-medium term, the Gold Cup could yet be an avenue for him after overcoming A Plus Tard in the Savills Chase.
Protektorat is another credible option for those seeking a 2022 Gold Cup winner. He has won twice at Cheltenham before. His stamina is one of his finest attributes, demonstrating this to win the gruelling Many Clouds Chase back in December 2021. Age-wise, Protektorat is still on the right side of things given that he’ll be seven going into this year’s Gold Cup. This means he still has plenty of room for progress. The one black mark against his name is that British-trained entries have struggled to win the Gold Cup of late, with just one of the last six going to a British trainer.
Of course, there’s always a chance that Minella Indo returns and makes it back-to-back Gold Cup victories. It’s a horse that seemingly finds its best form at Cheltenham, winning the Albert Bartlett back in 2019 before coming a close second in the RSA in 2020. He’s failed to follow up his 2021 Gold Cup win with any notable form, with poor showings at Down Royal and in the King George. A runner-up finish at the Irish Gold Cup may suggest he’s warming up just in time though.
Spare a thought for the winner of the Irish Gold Cup. The Michael O’Leary-owned Conflated shocked everyone to win with ease at Leopardstown. Although he was quickly installed as a contender for Cheltenham’s Gold Cup, connections have since decided he will be better suited to the Ryanair Chase.