The Festival is now just nine weeks away and the countdown begins in earnest today as entries for the Grade One Cheltenham Gold Cup are revealed.
A total of 36 entries have been received for the £550,000 championship contest, which takes place over an extended three and a quarter miles on the fourth and final day of The Festival, Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 14.
Heading the entries is last year’s victor Bobs Worth, the 2/1 favourite with Boylesports.com The nine-year-old disappointed on his seasonal return when a well-beaten sixth in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on November 23 but bounced right back to his best last time when getting the better of First Lieutenant and Rubi Ball in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28. Bobs Worth is unbeaten in three successive races at The Festival, having also won the 2011 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the 2012 RSA Chase. His trainer Nicky Henderson has also entered the 2011 winner Long Run (40/1) and Triolo d’Alene (33/1), last seen out when taking the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November.
Henderson, champion trainer last season for the third time, is battling hard with his old rival, seven-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls, for supremacy this season and the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, the richest race at The Festival, will play a significant part in determining the outcome.
Nicholls has won the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup four times, more than any other current trainer, and has five entries in 2014. These are headed by last month’s King George VI Chase victor Silviniaco Conti (7/2 second favourite). The eight-year-old, who was travelling well when falling three out in the Gold Cup last year, could be joined by King George VI Chase third Al Ferof (16/1) as well as Hennessy Gold Cup runner-upRocky Creek (33/1), last season’s Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup scorerUnioniste (40/1) and the veteran Tidal Bay (50/1), who stayed on strongly to be third under top-weight in the Coral Welsh National last time out. If successful on March 14, 13-year-old Tidal Bay would become the oldest winner of the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Cue Card (8/1 third favourite), owned by Jean Bishop, relished the step up to three miles when the impressivewinner of the Betfair Chase and ran well in defeat when second to Siliviniaco Conti in the King George VI Chase. He is bidding for a third victory at The Festival, having taken the 2010 Weatherbys Champion Bumper and the 2013 Ryanair Chase. His trainer Colin Tizzard has also entered Theatre Guide (100/1), third in the Hennessy Gold Cup this season.
Ireland’s 11 entries are headed by multiple Grade One winner First Lieutenant(12/1), who hails from the Gold Cup-winning stable of Mouse Morris. The nine-year-old boasts an excellent record at The Festival, annexing the 2011 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and finishing second in both the 2012 RSA Chase and last year’s Ryanair Chase. Gigginstown House Stud, owner of First Lieutenant, is also responsible for Last Instalment (50/1) who has been side-lined with tendon problems since landing the Grade One Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February, 2012. Philip Fenton’s charge is unbeaten in four starts over fences and beat First Lieutenant by six lengths in the Grade One Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown in December, 2011.
Fenton reported: “It’s a bit too early to talk about Cheltenham for Last Instalment, but he will have his first run back in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles (January 16).
“He has been pleasing in his work so far and everything has gone very satisfactorily with him, but I’m sure he will improve for his first run as we haven’t pushed him at home. He seems versatile in regards to trip and ground, so we will get his first couple of runs out of the way and see how he progresses. We have got him in the Ryanair as well just to keep all bases covered.”
Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins is responsible for Arvika Ligeonniere (50/1), a four-time Grade One scorer at shorter trips, top-class French recruit Rubi Ball (33/1) and Boston Bob (25/1), who fell at the final fence when leading in the 2013 RSA Chase won by the Jim Culloty-trained Lord Windermere (25/1). Other Irish entries include the Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Mount Benbulben (50/1) and Roi Du Mee (66/1), an impressive 13-length winner of the Champion Chase at Down Royal in November.
Cheltenham Gold Cup – Boylesports bet: Bobs Worth 2/1, Silviniaco Conti 7/2, First Lieutenant 8/1, Cue Card 8/1, Al Ferof 14/1, Boston Bob 20/1, Rubi Ball 25/1, Lord Windermere 25/1, Long Run 25/1, Dynaste 25, 1, Lyreen Legend 25/1, Tidal Bay 33/1, Rocky Creek 33/1, Harry Topper 33/1, The Giant Bolster 33/1, Unioniste 33/1, Triolo D’Alene 33/1, Katenko 50/1, Arvika Ligeonniere 50/1, Last Instalment 50/1, Mount Benbulben 50/1, Captain Chris 50/1, 66 Bog Warrior, Champion Court, Cloudy Too, Houblon Des Obeaux, Medermit, Monbeg Dude, Roi Du Mee, The Giant Bolster, Vino Griego, 100 Knockara Beau, Teaforthree, Theatre Guide, Time For Rupert, Wayward Prince. ¼ the odds 1-2-3.
Liam Glynn, PR Executive at Boylesports said “Punters continue to get behind Gigginstown House Stud and First Lieutenant is proving very popular as an each-way alternative to Bobs Worth at 8/1 and therefore we have eased Cue Card out to 8/1 from 7/1.”
He added “We have kept Bobs Worth on our side as the reigning champion is still the one to beat and has continued to prove popular after he got back to winning ways when landing the Lexus Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.”
About The Festival
The Festival runs from Tuesday, March 11 to Friday, March 14 inclusive and is the embodiment of everything that is great about Cheltenham. It is four days of atmosphere, anticipation and action, played out on a beautiful sporting arena that has no equal. The Festival features the best and the bravest horses and jockeys, nervous and excited trainers and owners, and a wide cast of human characters who come together every year determined to have the time of their lives. For racing’s practitioners, Festival glory provides lifelong memories that will never fade and defines careers. Witness the sheer elation of winning connections as they return to the cheers of the crowd and you are seeing dreams fulfilled and years of planning and effort coming to fruition. The Festival is one of those rare events that engages everyone who comes into contact with it, never failing to produce award-winning drama, enjoyment, camaraderie and sporting excellence in a cocktail for which no hangover cure is required. It truly is a life affirming four days.
About Cheltenham Racecourse
Cheltenham Racecourse is situated in Prestbury on the outskirts of the historic spa town of Cheltenham. The Home of Jump Racing, Cheltenham Racecourse is the venue for the world’s pre-eminent Jump Racing meeting, The Festival, which takes place in March every year. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham Racecourse is a stunning natural amphitheatre and offers the highest-quality action throughout the Jump season. Cheltenham has been voted Britain’s Racecourse of the Year for the last 10 years by members of the Racegoers Club. Please find more details at www.cheltenham.co.uk and through Twitter (@CheltenhamRaces) and Facebookwww.facebook.com/
Cheltenham Racecourse is part of The Jockey Club, which has been at the heart of British racing for more than 260 years. Today the largest commercial group in the sport, The Jockey Club runs the largest racecourse group in the UK by turnover (2012: £142.1m), courses (15) including those at Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs and Newmarket, attendances (2012: 1.8m), total prize money (2012: £35.3m), contribution to prize money (2012: £16.5m) and quality racing (Group and Graded races); more than 3,000 acres of world-class training grounds in Newmarket and Lambourn; The National Stud breeding enterprise and education provider; and the charity for racing’s people in need, Racing Welfare. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny The Jockey Club makes it puts back into British racing. More information is available at www.thejockeyclub.co.uk
The Cheltenham Gold Cup
Class 1, Grade 1, £550,000 Total Prize Fund. Cheltenham, Friday, March 14, 2014. Three miles, two and a half furlongs. For 5yo+ which are allotted a rating of 130 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including March 7 – horses which are not qualified for a rating in GB, IRE or FR may also be entered & such horses may be eligible providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including March 7 would merit a minimum rating of 130 (the decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final). Weights: 5yo 11st 8lb, 6yo+ 11st 10lb. Allowances: mares 7lb. Entries closed January 7, entries revealed January 8 (36 entries), scratchings deadline February 11, £27,500 supplementary entry stage & six-day confirmation stage March 8. Final 48-hour declaration stage, 10.00am, March 12. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Monday, January 6.
Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
343/1-13 AL FEROF (FR) 9 John Hales Paul Nicholls
FP1-113 ARVIKA LIGEONNIERE (FR) 9 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
21/11-61 BOBS WORTH (IRE) 9 The Not Afraid Partnership Nicky Henderson
3/F1115- BOG WARRIOR (IRE) 10 Gigginstown House Stud Tony Martin IRE
2/11FF-1 BOSTON BOB (IRE) 9 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
12264-3 CAPTAIN CHRIS (IRE) 10 Diana Whateley Philip Hobbs
251-02U CHAMPION COURT (IRE) 9 Mark Boothright Martin Keighley
103-101 CLOUDY TOO (IRE) 8 Formulated Polymer Products Ltd Sue Smith
112-312 CUE CARD 8 Jean Bishop Colin Tizzard
12F-415 DEDIGOUT (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Tony Martin IRE
1121-25 DYNASTE (FR) 8 John White David Pipe
213-342 FIRST LIEUTENANT (IRE) 9 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
11UB-13 HARRY TOPPER 7 D J Keyte Kim Bailey
204-161 HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (FR) 7 Mrs Julian Blackwell Venetia Williams
0211-F4 KATENKO (FR) 8 Andrew Brooks Venetia Williams
UP-5125 KNOCKARA BEAU (IRE) 11 Alistair Charlton George Charlton
3P1111/- LAST INSTALMENT (IRE) 9 Gigginstown House Stud Philip Fenton IRE
132-54U LONG RUN (FR) 9 Robert Waley-Cohen Nicky Henderson
1231-00 LORD WINDERMERE (IRE) 8 Dr Ronan Lambe Jim Culloty IRE
2F423-5 LYREEN LEGEND (IRE) 7 Lyreen Syndicate Dessie Hughes IRE
132234/- MEDERMIT (FR) 10 The Dunkley & Reilly Partnership Alan King
13P-341 MONBEG DUDE (IRE) 9 Oydunow Michael Scudamore
4141-U4 MOUNT BENBULBEN (IRE) 9 Barry Connell Gordon Elliott IRE
21113-2 ROCKY CREEK (IRE) 8 The Johnson & Stewart Families Paul Nicholls
1-F21P2 ROI DU MEE (FR) 9 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
U222-23 RUBI BALL (FR) 9 SC Ecurie Madame Patrick Papot Willie Mullins IRE
11F3-31 SILVINIACO CONTI (FR) 8 Potensis Limited & Chris Giles Paul Nicholls
06203-0 TEAFORTHREE (IRE) 10 Conyers, O’Reilly, Roddis, Zeffman Rebecca Curtis
240-0U5 THE GIANT BOLSTER 9 Simon Hunt David Bridgwater
FP1-332 THEATRE GUIDE (IRE) 7 Jean Bishop Colin Tizzard
121-153 TIDAL BAY (IRE) 13 Andrea & Graham Wylie Paul Nicholls
5145/4-4 TIME FOR RUPERT (IRE) 10 Littlecote Racing Partnership Paul Webber
301-131 TRIOLO D’ALENE (FR) 7 Mr & Mrs Sandy Orr Nicky Henderson
114-310 UNIONISTE (FR) 6 John Hales Paul Nicholls
125-UF1 VINO GRIEGO (FR) 9 Chris Stedman Gary Moore
P06-52P WAYWARD PRINCE 10 John & Hilary Parrott Hilary Parrott
Breakdown of Entries by Trainer
Paul Nicholls – Al Ferof, Rocky Creek, Silviniaco Conti, Tidal Bay, Unioniste
Nicky Henderson – Bobs Worth, Long Run, Triolo d’Alene
Willie Mullins IRE – Arvika Ligeonniere, Boston Bob, Rubi Ball
Gordon Elliott IRE – Mount Benbulben, Roi du Mee
Colin Tizzard – Cue Card, Theatre Guide
Tony Martin IRE – Bog Warrior, Dedigout
Venetia Williams – Houblon Des Obeaux, Katenko
Kim Bailey – Harry Topper
David Bridgwater – The Giant Bolster
George Charlton – Knockara Beau
Jim Culloty IRE – Lord Windermere
Rebecca Curtis – Teaforthree
Philip Fenton IRE – Last Instalment
Philip Hobbs – Captain Chris
Dessie Hughes IRE – Lyreen Legend
Martin Keighley – Champion Court
Alan King – Medermit
Gary Moore – Vino Griego
Mouse Morris IRE – First Lieutenant
Hilary Parrott – Wayward Prince
David Pipe – Dynaste
Michael Scudamore – Monbeg Dude
Sue Smith – Cloudy Too
Paul Webber – Time For Rupert
Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup – Timeform’s top-rated (weight-adjusted)
191 CUE CARD
190 BOBS WORTH
187 SILVINIACO CONTI
181 FIRST LIEUTENANT
179 TIDAL BAY
178 AL FEROF
177 CAPTAIN CHRIS
176 ARVIKA LIGEONNIERE
176? THE GIANT BOLSTER