|Thursday 15th December 2022
Who are the Contenders for the 2023 Cheltenham Gold Cup?
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is on the horizon and the leading figures in the National Hunt are preparing their charges for the stretch run towards the signature prize in jumps racing. A Plus Tard put forward a brilliant performance in the event in 2022 to win the race for a second year on the bounce for Henry de Bromhead.
The Irish trainer will be targeting a third triumph in a row as he aims to join the company of Paul Nicholls and Henrietta Knight with three successive victories in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup. However, there are a plethora of talented charges that are preparing to challenge A Plus Tard, and we’ll now look at who could secure a win and enter the prestigious company of horses to triumph in the event.
A Plus Tard
A Plus Tard excelled for De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore in the 2022 Gold Cup to win the event by 15 lengths ahead of his stable-mate Minella Indo. There was pressure on De Bromhead and company to pull off the victory, but A Plus Tard delivered on expectations with a brilliant performance to blow away the rest of the field. He was expected to dominate again on his return to the track for the start of the 2022/23 season at Haydock Park in the Lancashire Chase.
However, he failed to make an impact in the contest as the French thoroughbred was well off the pace before Blackmore made the decision to pull up her charge three fences from the end of the contest. His odds for the Gold Cup have been affected as A Plus Tard is now backed at 8/1 with Betway Sports to win the event. De Bromhead and his team face a challenge to get one of his leading lights back to form before March.
Galopin Des Champs
Galopin Des Champs is on the trajectory to challenge A Plus Tard and regain Willie Mullins’ hold on the Gold Cup that has been disrupted by the rise of De Bromhead’s yard. With Al Boum Photo, Mullins won the crown in back-to-back years in 2019 and 2020. Galopin Des Champs has the quality to return Mullins to the winners’ circle, but he must overcome his own Cheltenham demons after suffering a bad fall at the Turners Novices' Chase.
He was poised to hammer the rest of the field, including Bob Olinger, with a sensational run, only to fall at the final hurdle. He bounced back with a win at Fairyhouse to end the campaign, but he has a lot to prove between now and the Gold Cup that he can justify the talk about his potential to win the race.
Venetia Williams has a great chance to win her first Gold Cup with L'Homme Presse after a stellar performance at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival. Williams’ charge competed in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase and duly met expectations as the race favourite to take the crown ahead of Ahoy Senor with a fine display. Ahoy Senor responded at Aintree in the Betway Mildmay Novices' Chase as L'Homme Presse finished down in third place, giving Williams and her team food for thought over the summer.
It was clear that the break had done L'Homme Presse the world of good on his return to action at Newcastle. With Charlie Deutsch in the saddle, Williams charge recorded a comfortable victory to push himself into the reckoning for the Gold Cup, although his record against the true elite is questionable.
Protektorat placed third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season, finishing narrowly off the pace of A Plus Tard. He competed again for his final race of the 2021/22 campaign in the Betway Bowl Chase, but failed to match the speed of Clan Des Obeaux. There were doubts whether Protektorat had the game for the big occasion to defeat the elite of the field.
He dispelled that notion by winning his first race of the new season in style at Haydock Park in the Lancashire Chase. Harry Skelton’s charge defeated A Plus Tard, Frodon and Eldorado Allen with a brilliant run. He now has to sustain that level of form for the Gold Cup, where there will be a larger field to contend with and plenty of variables on the day. Protektorat only has one victory to his name at Cheltenham, so he will have to defy history to win the event.