The 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup is still over six months away but the excitement ahead of the famous race is already beginning to build.
The ‘Blue Riband’ of jump racing remains the most eagerly anticipated contest on the National Hunt calendar and it’ll be no different this season. After Kauto Star was pulled up in the 2012 Gold Cup and Denman was retired from racing, there was room on the top table of the chasing division and a new generation of top class horses will be aimed at the Grade One highlight.
Leading the betting and the way to Prestbury Park is Willie Mullins’ ultra-talented Sir Des Champs who will be looking to build on a sensational season over fences in 2011/12. The six-year-old was unbeaten in a campaign that saw him win three Grade Twos (including the Jewson at Cheltenham) and the Grade One Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown and it’s no surprise to see him at the head of the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup betting.
He is one of a number of second season chasers that will be aimed at the race and Nicky Henderson’s Bobs Worth, Peter Casey’s Flemenstar, David Pipe’s Grand Crus and Philip Fenton’s Last Instalment are all understandably well fancied in the ante post betting for the Festival feature.
There will be plenty of eyes on Long Run when the superstar returns to the track this season and connections of the horse will be hoping he bounces back to form after he was a beaten favourite in the 2012 Gold Cup. Henderson will be confident he can get the French import back to his very best, but there are clearly chinks in his armour and he’ll have to be on the top of his game if he is going to regain his crown at Cheltenham.
Whoever lines up at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, racing fans can be sure that another fascinating Gold Cup will be in store on the final day of the world’s greatest meeting.