Cheltenham tips: Gold Cup runners and riders – Your pinstickers’ guide to the Grade 1 contest today

I’M planning for the great Escape in the Magners Gold Cup.

ELEGANT ESCAPE might be the biggest in the betting of Colin Tizzard’s three runners but I’m convinced he’s got a fine chance of taking the prize.

Elegant Escape can grab Gold at Cheltenham
Elegant Escape can grab Gold at Cheltenham
Getty Images – Getty

He ran well when third behind Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase at last year’s Festival. Today’s extra quarter-mile and the slightly stiffer track is in his favour. Lugging a big weight to win the Welsh National should not be underestimated and he was clearly caught out by the drop in distance when runner-up to Frodon last time out. If there’s any more rain he would love it.

Al Boum Photo 2/5

Smile for the Photo. Pitching for the places when falling two from home behind Presenting Percy in last year’s RSA Chase. Won over 2m5f on his return to action on New Year’s Day. That is the longest distance he’s won over and stamina has to be a worry.

Anibale Fly 3/5

Fly high. Landed a hot Leopardstown handicap last season before finishing third in the Gold Cup and fourth in the National. Has been running over much shorter distances this term so should be spot on today. Chance of a place again.

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Bellshill 3/5

Bell could go like the clappers. Prolific winner but never shown his best form at Cheltenham. Beat Road To Respect in the four-runner Irish Gold Cup last month and he’s got plenty of form on much softer ground. He’ll need his A-game and I just don’t see it happening here.

Bristol De Mai 3/5

Mai might pay. Had Native River, Thistlecrack, Clan Des Obeaux and Might Bite behind when winning his second Betfair Chase. Crashed out with a circuit to run in the King George. Only run at the Festival on decent ground and he prefers today’s conditions. His class makes him dangerous.

Clan Des Obeaux was a brilliant winner of the King George
Getty Images – Getty

Clan Des Obeaux 4/5

Join this Clan. Came of age when causing a minor shock in the King George. Backed that up with an easy Ascot win. The young improver in the field and his trainer knows all about winning Gold Cups. Needs to prove his stamina but, if he does stay, he won’t be far away.

Definitly Red 2/5

Red alert. Well beaten when sixth in last year’s Gold Cup. Twice bossed small fields at the start of this season and turned over at long odds-on in a two-runner race at Kelso last month. That’s hardly what you want to see heading to Cheltenham.


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Double Shuffle 1/5

Double trouble. Long time since he last won but he’s run some cracking races since then. Runner-up behind Might Bite in last season’s King George and beaten a lot further this time. Kempton plays to his strengths so it was no surprise to see him run well there latest time. Today’s track could not be more different and that makes him an outsider.

Elegant Escape 5/5 – Templegate’s top tip (Click here to compare the best prices and place your bet)

Great Escape. Finished third behind Presenting Percy in last year’s RSA Chase. Fair case to say he’s better this year. Followed his Ladbrokes Trophy second with a fine weight carrying performance to win the Welsh National. If it continues to rain he’ll run a screamer.

Invitation Only 2/5

Only for the brave. Came up short in Grade 1 races before dipping into handicap company to win the Thyestes Chase at Gowran in January. That was a really decent effort and today’s conditions will suit him. Not sure he’s got the class, though.

Kemboy 4/5

Boy wonder. Fourth in last year’s JLT Chase at this meeting but not looked back since falling in the Irish National. Stormed clear to win the Grade 1 Savills Chase over Christmas with the likes of Monalee, Road To Respect and Bellshill behind. Has to be considered a real contender.

Might Bite 3/5

Might not. The Gold Cup can finish horses and his battle with Native River in last year’s contest seems to have left a serious mark on him. Bombed out in the Betfair Chase and King George. Hard to see him bouncing back to his best today.

Native River 4/5

Go Native. Burst through the rans with wins in the Ladbrokes Trophy and Welsh National in 2016. Third in the Gold Cup that season and had a kinder preparation when slogging it out with Might Bite when winning this race last year. Nothing wrong with his efforts this season but last year’s Gold Cup might have left its mark.

Presenting Percy 4/5

Percy Blakeney. They seek him here, they seek him there, those punters seek him everywhere. But despite storming home in last year’s RSA Chase he’s only been seen once since when winning over hurdles at Gowran in January. It’s a strange prep and it poses plenty of questions but there’s no doubting his class.

Thistlecrack 3/5

Not up for the Crack. Missed this race through injury two years ago after he’d won the King George. Again absent at the Festival 12 months ago but back to near his best this term when runner-up behind Clan Des Obeaux in the King George. Getting on a bit but has he has stacks of talent.

Yala Enki 1/5

Yal not in with any shout. Stays really well and loves the mud. Ran a screamer when third under a big weight in the Welsh National but disappointing on better ground since. Simply not good enough even at his best.

Shattered Love 2/5

Unrequited Love. Won the JLT Novices’ Chase at last year’s Festivals and kicked off this term with solid efforts. Bombed out behind Kemboy in the Savills Chase over Christmas but she’s clearly better than that. Most of her form is over much shorter and that’s a big worry.

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