Below is my Ante Post Preview and Tips for the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Since this site was launched in 2013, my daily tips package over the festival has had 5 winning years from 5, with a total profit of +320 points, for a remarkable ROI of +59.1%, so for my best bets everyday over the 2018 festival, make sure to sign up to my Cheltenham Tips 2018 email list.
Might Bite burst onto everyone’s radar when falling at the last in the Grade One novice chase run on King George day in 2016. He looked set for a wide margin win, and sectional and overall time analysis suggested he would likely have beaten Thistlecrack in the King George that day if he had been in that race, and stood up of course. He put up an even more remarkable performance when winning the RSA at last years festival, going a pace that meant anything that tried to go with him was beaten a long way out, but even then the patiently ridden horses couldn’t make any inroads into his lead, until he idled badly and almost ran out on the run in. After nearly coming to a standstill he somehow rallied to get back up, and shaped like by a mile the best horse in the race, and the runner up Whisper hasn’t done the form any harm since.
After a win on his comeback at Sandown, Might Bite was a workmanlike winner of the King George over Christmas, and to tell the truth I was a little disappointed with him. He settled better than last year, which is a plus, and it could be he was doing nothing in front the whole way up the straight, although it wasn’t as if he cantered into the lead in the first place, and he had been niggled upsides Bristol De Mai before he went on.
Maybe he’s just racing lazier this season, and the fact he didn’t mind taking a lead is a plus, as the extra trip at Cheltenham is a slight concern, as is the fact he also idled badly, and hung left in a novice hurdle at Cheltenham on the run in before. He did compete two other times at the track, and was fine, but crucially also wasn’t in front. It was the old course he ran over in last years RSA, and if the theory that he was looking for the chute back to the stables holds water, then at least this year he will be a good way further from that chute on the new course, and thus it’s far less likely a problem. It does still present a problem for his rider, as the minimize the chances of him ducking out, you surely have to try hold onto him until as late as you dare, and take a lead over the last, but given he normally bowls along at his pace, rather than one set by others, which could effect his momentum if he had to constantly rein him back, that is far from ideal too. He is still a fascinating horse, and while the bare form of his King George win wouldn’t be good enough, it’s hard to forget the impression he made last season, and he could still be a superstar in waiting.
Sizing John had a fantastic season last year, winning the three big spring staying chases at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown. His consistency is to be commended, but all three performances were of a similar level, and none of them were that of a real top nothcer. Minello Rocco chased him home, at a margin of less than three lengths in the Gold Cup, and that just isn’t that high a level. On the plus side you could argue he was only doing what he had too, and is still relatively unexposed at staying trips. You would be hard pushed to claim he had anything extra in hand when just beating Djakadam by a short head at Punchestown though. His reappearence win over two and a half miles at Punchestown back in early December suggested he was at least as good as ever, but he then flopped in the Grade 1 over Christmas. He was found to be clinical abnormal after the race, and while he does need to bounce back, the gap between that race and Cheltenham give him every chance of doing so, although he will be going to Cheltenham on the back of a very different preparation than he had last season.
When Native River won the Hennessy last season, he was off the bridle before a few others, but stayed on really strongly, and as such the extra trip of the Welsh National looked sure to suit, and he duly won that quite comfortably. He surprised me a bit by being quick enough to win the grade 2 at Newbury in February after, off what was a slow pace, but it was just a three runner affair, and he still looked to have plenty on his plate in a good ground Gold Cup, but ran a cracker to be third, staying on well, having again come off the bridle well before a few he ended up beating. He’s still a young horse, and although he hasn’t run since, that has seemingly been the plan, and he is an intended runner again at Newbury. A small field and probably steady enough pace won’t see him in the best of light, and while he could still have improvement in him, what would really make me interested in him would be if the going came up soft on Gold Cup day, as that would provide him with much more of a stamina test.
Coney Island was outstayed by Our Duke over three miles at Leopardstown in December 2016, and his only run since was when eventually running out a wide margin winner of a graduation chase at Ascot just before last Christmas. It was only a three runner race, and the second went too quick, with Coney Island picking up the pieces in the straight. His stamina for the Gold Cup would be a big doubt for me, and also whether he’s anywhere near good enough, and his current odds of 8 to 10/1 look a joke.
Road To Respect won a handicap over two and a half miles at last years festival, and has improved again this season, coming second in the grade one at Down Royal, before winning the big staying chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. I thought he got outstayed by Outlander at Down Royal, having come there looking sure to win, and while he proved his stamina for three miles at Leopardstown, he didn’t look like a horse that wanted much further, and a length and a quarter defeat of Balko Des Flos is hardly Gold Cup winning form either.
Killultagh Vic was very progressive over hurdles and then fences in 2015/16, before injury kept him off the track until a hurdles win at Punchestown on New Years Eve. He progressed plenty for that, and looked set to win the Irish Gold Cup when falling at the last the other day. He still has plenty of scope to do better, but the concerns would be if his jumping will hold up, and if that fall will leave a mark, as he stayed down for a good while afterwards. He will also need to prove his stamina for the Gold Cup trip, and good ground would be a concern, as the last twice he raced on ground that Timeform called good or better, was in 2014, when he ran below par at both Cheltenham and Punchestown. Timeform have called the ground good for the Gold Cup for three of the last four years.
Our Duke is all about stamina, he battled back really well after a slow jump at the second last to beat Coney Island at Leopardstown in December 2016, before finding two miles and five too short at the same track next time, but still ran well. He looked certain to appreciate the extra trip in the Irish Grand National, and he duly outclassed his rivals. He was suffering from an injury when running poorly at Down Royal on his comeback, but his fourth place finish in the Irish Gold Cup a few days ago, was much more promising. He is not a quick jumper, and doesn’t need much excuse to slow into a fence, so needs an aggressive ride in that sense, I’m sure if given another go, his jockey would have asked him for one at the second last when still travelling well, but instead he slowed into it, and ended up making a mistake that ended his chance, as he landed very awkwardly, and staying on his feet would have had a big energy cost, as well as the seven lengths or so it cost him straight away. He did well to stay on into fourth after, and given how well he stays, he would almost certainly have gone very close had he jumped that fence well. The form of the race wouldn’t be Gold Cup winning form, but even if say he had only dead heated with the winner, you would then expect much more from him over the extra trip at Cheltenham. He will need a positive ride though and good ground would be a concern, as while there is no indication he won’t act on it, it would make it more of a speed test, and he’s all about stamina.
Definitly Red seemed to show improved form last time, but he will need more again to win a Gold Cup, and while Minello Rocco might again show his best form on this day, it would be a poor Gold Cup that he wins. I’d have big stamina doubts about Disko, and while Total Recall has improved a bundle for the switch to the Willie Mullins yard, he would need to improve a good bit more to have a chance.
Nothing else at big prices jumps out at me at this stage. I may be interested in Might Bite or Native River on the day, depending on pace scenarios and ground conditions, and although good ground would be a concern for Our Duke also, I was pretty impressed with Our Duke the other day, and he’s just the type of horse that could have plenty more to give when he gets a real stamina test in a top class race, he may not get that in the Gold Cup if it came up good, as it would put much more pressure on his jumping, but at 16/1 non runner no bet, he still looks a good bet at this stage, as if it came up soft I’d really fancy him on the day, and good to soft would give him a rock solid chance too.
Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018 – Ante Post Tips
1 PT Win Our Duke at 16/1 NRNB with Betfairsportsbook
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Stakes are on a scale of 0-8 points. A 20/1 shot will generally be a 1 point bet, were as at the opposite end, a 6/4 shot will generally be an 8 point bet. The aim is to return around 20 points on the win part of each bet. I will aim for higher than 20 points with stronger selections, and lower for ones that I’m not as strong on. For more on staking read my Staking Plans.
NRNB means Non Runner No Bet.
BOG means best odds guaranteed.
EW means Each Way, which is a win and a place bet.