The Cheltenham Gold Cup is not only the feature race of the Cheltenham Festival in March, it is the pinnacle of National Hunt racing. What makes it so fascinating each year is that it is where the youth in the division meet horses who have proven their class at this level.
This year, Presenting Percy is looking to prevail at the first time of asking and after he won the RSA Chase at the Festival in 2018, his supporters have been very excited about his prospects in the Blue Riband contest, which is run over 3m2f.
In the last eight runnings of the Gold Cup, only two winners have been over eight years old. Presenting Percy looks to have everything on his side to shine against the older horses to position himself as the leading player in this division.
Unfortunately, Patrick Kelly’s runner missed the 3m plus races earlier in the campaign but he did return last month at Gowran Park to prevail in the Galmoy Hurdle for the second consecutive year. His connections will be keen to run him at least one more time before the Festival with a return to Gowran Park likely in the Red Mills Chase.
Although he wasn’t quite 100% to appear earlier in the season, the inactivity may just play in his favour like we saw last year with Native River who missed the opening half of the campaign and looked much fresher than many of his rivals when triumphing in the Gold Cup.
Presenting Percy is 11/4 in the Gold Cup betting, but he may well end up much shorter on the day of the race, especially if he impresses on his next start over fences. The trial races for the Festival over the next few weeks are going to have a big impact on the ante-post markets so it is worth keeping an eye on the horse racing tips on Betting.Betfair ahead of the those races. Some horses will just start to peak at this time of the year with Cheltenham just around the corner.
Defending champion Native River is the clear and obvious leading threat against Presenting Percy in the Gold Cup. His performance in the race last year has to be admired in what was a fast run race which required a huge amount of stamina.
Native River is 11/2 in the betting to retain his crown and there will be plenty of supporters happy to take that price. The big negative against Colin Tizzard’s runner is the fact that no horse has been able defend their title in the race since 2004, so it shows how difficult it is to do.
The former Hennessy Gold and Welsh Grand National winner is still bidding for his first success of the 2018-19 campaign. He reappeared at Haydock in the Betfair Chase where he ran well to finish second, while on his last start, he had to settle for third place in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.
Native River is sure to be thereabouts at the finish but he may just get outpaced this time by the younger legs of Presenting Percy.