Friday at the Cheltenham Festival revolved around the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the most prestigious prize in all of National Hunt racing.
2024 Cheltenham Gold Cup Odds
|Galopin Des Champs
👑 The Defending Champion 👑
Following easy victories in the John Durkan and the Irish Gold Cup, punters pilled into Galopin Des Champs ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Paul Townend settled his mount down nicely, tanked into contention coming down the hill and the favourite saw off Bravemansgame on the uphill run to the line.
Willie Mullins' star suffered a disappointing defeat on his final start of the season, as both Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame were beaten by 20/1 outsider Fastorslow. Funny things can happen at the Punchestown Festival, though, and Galopin Des Champs remains the horse to beat in the Gold Cup division this season.
⚠️ The Main Danger ⚠️
It usually pays to back second-season novices in the Cheltenham Festival's
showpiece event, so it's no surprise to see a two-time Grade One-winning novice, Gerri Colombe
sitting second in the market.
Personally, I don't think last year's crop of staying novice chasers was particularly strong. The Real Whacker beat Gerri Colombe in the Brown Advisory, and I wouldn't fancy Patrick Neville's star to see out the Gold Cup trip. Gerri Colombe looks the type to relish the testing nature of this great race, but I would only back Gordon Elliott's star if the ground was unseasonably soft.
Feronily won the three-mile novices chase at Punchestown, despite only having one previous outing over fences to his name. We then move onto the likes of Stage Star, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Impervious and Appreciate It, who surely aren't up to Gold Cup standard.
♞ The Dark Horses ♞
I backed Bravemansgame in the Gold Cup and, although I thought Paul Nicholls' star ran a blinder, he had no answer to Galopin Des Champs in the closing stages and I don't see how he can reverse that form around Cheltenham. Shishkin might have a little too much speed for a Gold Cup and I wouldn't be keen to back either Corach Rambler or Fastorslow at this stage of the season.
Ahoy Senor is still getting the hang of things over fences and was travelling well when he fell six from home in the Gold Cup. Given his erratic nature, Ahoy Senor would be a risky proposition. As would Noble Yeats, who could potentially improve on his fourth-place finish in the race in March, but often gets too far behind the bridle and has a propensity to throw in a stinker.
The only one who really appeals at this stage is L'Homme Presse
, who ran out an impressive winner of the Brown Advisory
in 2022. Venetia Williams' star missed the second-half of last season after a fall in the King George, where he was booked for at least second place. If L'Homme Presse returns to action in the same form that we saw before that tumble in the King George, then he can certainly contend in what looks to be a fairly shallow Gold Cup.