Looking ahead to Cheltenham

September 25th, 2016 | Marten Julian's Guest Contributor News

It’s nearly that time of year again when the nights start to draw in and the weather begins to turn. That can only mean one thing!

Last year’s Festival was one to savour with Annie Power becoming the first mare since Flakey Dove to win the Champion Hurdle. Willie Mullins will once again no doubt have a stranglehold on the race with the 2015 Champion Faugheen hopefully back in action after missing the Festival due to an injury last season. Let’s not forget Apple’s Jade who won the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree by 41 lengths, defeating the JCB Triumph hurdle Ivan Gorbatov.

Last season’s Gold Cup had added interest as it saw the climax of Cue Card’s £1million Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown, having previously won the Betfair Chase and the King George. All was going to plan until a crunching fall at the third from home. With news that the bonus is renewed this year Colin Tizzard will be once again attempting to land the spoils and pre-season reports are that his stable star is looking “as good as ever”.

Last year’s World Hurdle winner Thistlecrack dominated the staying hurdle division and is currently at the top of the Gold Cup ante-post betting. Coneygree won the race as a novice in 2014 and is on the comeback trail from injury, whilst last year’s winner Don Cossack is reported to be only having one prep run before the big event this time around if he recovers from injury. Vautour, Djakadam and RSA winner Blaklion are all possible candidates to make the line-up in what could be one of the greatest Gold Cups since the Kauto Star/Denman days.

Written by Jodie Standing