Al Boum Photo chasing rare hat-trick as 41 entered for Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup
The two latest runnings of the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup have gone to Al Boum Photo (Willie Mullins). The now nine-year-old, owned by Joe and Marie Donnelly, returned to action with a smooth success in the G3 Savills New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore on 1 January – the same contest he won prior to his victories in 2019 and 2020. If successful again in 2021, Al Boum Photo would become only the fourth horse to win the contest three times following Best Mate, Arkle and Cottage Rake (Golden Miller is the most successful horse ever in the contest with five victories).
Al Boum Photo
There are 17 Irish-trained entries overall, including recent G1 Savills Chase victor A Plus Tard (Henry de Bromhead) and his stablemate Minella Indo, runner-up to Champ (Nicky Henderson) in the G1 Festival Novices’ Chase last season before beginning this season with impressive victories at Wexford and Navan. He fell on his latest appearance in the Savills Chase.
Britain’s 11-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls is the most successful current trainer in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup with four wins and needs just one more victory to equal the record of the late Tom Dreaper. Nicholls’ four entries this time round are headed by Frodon, who landed the G1 Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day under Bryony Frost. The eight-year-old boast a formidable record at the Home of Jump Racing with six victories, including the G1 Ryanair Chase at The Festival™ in 2019. Nicholls’ quartet also includes Cyrname, who impressed on his seasonal return when winning the G2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby before disappointing when pulling up behind Frodon at Kempton Park.
Runner-up in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase was Waiting Patiently (Ruth Jefferson), who was making his first racecourse appearance in over a year. He enjoyed his finest hour when taking the G1 Betfair Ascot Chase in 2018.
Jefferson, who is based in North Yorkshire, reported: “Waiting Patiently is very well at home and has come out of the King George absolutely bouncing. He has been doing handstands and was squealing yesterday morning because the lot was late going out!
“We have decided to enter him in all of the possible targets at the Cheltenham Festival just to keep our options open - at least for now. The Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup are all championship races and it just makes sense at this stage to keep him in all three.
“We still don’t know how far he will be dropped back down in trip so the Champion Chase comes into the equation and he has got an entry for that.
“The Ryanair Chase is obviously another race to consider, whilst the Gold Cup, given these uncertain times could be an interesting race.
“With so much going on, entering in all three races just keeps our options open and then we’re not tied down about having to go for one particular race.
“He will probably run again before Cheltenham, but where we go is something we are still discussing. The Ascot Chase was originally the race I had pencilled him in for, but I don’t know whether that will then be too close to Cheltenham and it therefore becomes difficult to run in both.
“With that in mind, I am not sure where we will go next at the moment, but I would like to get another run into him before Cheltenham. “Things are just very uncertain at the minute. We don’t know what the ground will be like come the spring so what race we go for at Cheltenham could be dictated by other factors.
“His run at Kempton was brilliant, but it didn’t surpass my expectations because I have always known that he is an exceptionally talented horse.
“The only time I got him wrong was when I ran him at Aintree in the Melling Chase. He was coming back from his second to Cyrname in the Ascot Chase and had mucus when we scoped him, but apart from that, he has always run his heart out and just been an absolute superstar for us and his King George run showed how talented he is.
“It was quite a fast King George, so with the Gold Cup in mind, will he stay the trip? He was finishing very strongly at the finish, so it is another thing to think about.
“His profile in Grade One races is so variable. He has run in Grade Ones over a variety of trips and has always run well. “Waiting Patiently has never been to Cheltenham. I guess for us in the past, it has not really been the be all and end all for him to run there, because he has had other options like Aintree.
“We have sometimes planned for Cheltenham and sometimes haven’t. We have always made the entries but for different reasons he has never ended up there.
“However, I have thrown caution to the wind this year with the entries and maybe this is the time where he does make it to the Cheltenham Festival.”
The neck runner-up to Al Boum Photo in 2020 was Santini, who is one of three entries for reigning champion trainer Nicky Henderson alongside Champ and Terrefort. Santini began the season when runner-up to Lake View Lad (Nick Alexander) in the G2 William Hill Many Clouds Chase at Aintree before going on to take fifth behind Frodon at Kempton Park. Others engaged include 2018 hero Native River (Colin Tizzard) and The Conditional (David Bridgwater). The Conditional won the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at The Festival™ in 2020 and has run well on both his starts so far this season, including when third in the G3 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November.
Bridgwater went close to Cheltenham Gold Cup success previously with The Giant Bolster, who was runner-up to Synchronised in 2012 and also fourth in 2013 and third in 2014.
The Gloucestershire-based trainer said:
“The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a potential long-term target for The Conditional.
“His owner [Peter Cave] is an older gentleman who would love to have a runner in the race, and we all have dreams don’t we so we’ve made the entry and who knows, he may end up in the race in March.
“I guess one of the factors which could come into the mix is whether the Irish are allowed to come over? I mean you would have to say in the Gold Cup picture, the best form is with the Irish horses so that is something which will be interesting to see.
“The Conditional has come out of his last run at Ascot in good form. I think if it was a left-handed track, he would have won that day, but we have been really pleased with him since.
“The target for him is going to be the Cotswold Chase [Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham on 30 January]. That will give us an idea of where we stand with him and if maybe the Gold Cup is something to think about."
There is a scratchings deadline for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup on 9 February with the six-day confirmation and supplementary entry stage following on 13 March.
Entries for the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and G1 Ryanair Chase will be revealed tomorrow, Thursday, 7 January.
THE MAGNERS CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP (Grade 1)
Acapella Bourgeois (FR) 11 Slaneyville Syndicate W. P. Mullins IRE
Al Boum Photo (FR) 9 Mrs J. Donnelly W. P. Mullins IRE
Allaho (FR) 7 Cheveley Park Stud W. P. Mullins IRE
A Plus Tard (FR) 7 Cheveley Park Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE
Aso (FR) 11 The Bellamy Partnership Venetia Williams
Battleoverdoyen (IRE) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
Black Op (IRE) 10 Mr R. S. Brookhouse Tom George
Bristol de Mai (FR) 10 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Nigel Twiston-Davies
Burrows Saint (FR) 8 Mrs S. Ricci W. P. Mullins IRE
Castlebawn West (IRE) 8 Mrs Boyd,Mrs Armstrong,Exors JB Anderson W. P. Mullins IRE
Champ (IRE) 9 Mr John P. McManus Nicky Henderson
Cyrname (FR) 9 Mrs Johnny de la Hey Paul Nicholls
Delta Work (FR) 8 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
Frodon (FR) 9 Mr P. J. Vogt Paul Nicholls
Imperial Aura (IRE) 8 Imperial Racing Partnership 2016 Kim Bailey
Itchy Feet (FR) 7 Kate & Andrew Brooks Olly Murphy
Kemboy (FR) 9 Kemboy/Brett Graham/Ken Sharp Syndicate W. P. Mullins IRE
Lake View Lad (IRE) 11 Mr Trevor Hemmings N. W. Alexander
Lord du Mesnil (FR) 8 Mr Paul Porter & Mike & Mandy Smith Richard Hobson
Lostintranslation (IRE) 9 Taylor & O'Dwyer Colin Tizzard
Magic of Light (IRE) 10 Ann & Alan Potts Limited Mrs J. Harrington IRE
Master Tommytucker (GB) 10 Mr A. G. Fear Paul Nicholls
Melon (GB) 9 Mrs J. Donnelly W. P. Mullins IRE
Minella Indo (IRE) 8 Mr Barry Maloney Henry de Bromhead IRE
Mister Malarky (GB) 8 Wendy & Malcolm Hezel Colin Tizzard
Monalee (IRE) 10 Mr Barry Maloney Henry de Bromhead IRE
Native River (IRE) 11 Brocade Racing Colin Tizzard
Presenting Percy (GB) 10 Philip J. Reynolds Gordon Elliott IRE
Real Steel (FR) 8 Mrs Kathy Stuart&Sullivan Bloodstock Ltd Paul Nicholls
Royale Pagaille (FR) 7 Mrs S. Ricci Venetia Williams
Saint Calvados (FR) 8 Kate & Andrew Brooks Harry Whittington
Samcro (IRE) 9 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
Santini (GB) 9 Mr & Mrs R. Kelvin-Hughes Nicky Henderson
Shattered Love (IRE) 10 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
Simply The Betts (IRE) 8 Kate & Andrew Brooks Harry Whittington
Spyglass Hill (IRE) 8 Mr Niall O'Leary Henry de Bromhead IRE
Terrefort (FR) 8 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson
The Conditional (IRE) 9 Mr P. J. Cave David Bridgwater
Vinndication (IRE) 8 Moremoneythan Kim Bailey
Waiting Patiently (IRE) 10 Mr Richard Collins Ruth Jefferson
Yorkhill (IRE) 11 D & D Armstrong Ltd & Mr L Westwood Sandy Thomson
41 entries 17 Irish-trained
Revised order of running in 2021
Following the addition of a new race to The Festival™ in 2021, there is a slight change to the order of running.
The new G2 Mrs Paddy Power Mares Steeple Chase will take place as the penultimate race on day four, Friday, 19 March.
The race which previously occupied this position, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase, now becomes the sixth race on day two, Wednesday, 17 March.
The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle now moves to day one, Tuesday, 16 March due to the novices’ handicap chase no longer being run.
A full order of running can be found below.
The Festival™ presented by Magners 2021
Day One – Tuesday 16th March (Old Course)
13:30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1) 2m ½f
14:10 Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase (Grade1) 2m
14:50 Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f
15:30 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) 2m ½f
16:10 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1) 2m 4f
16:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3) 2m ½f
17:30 National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase) (Grade 2) 3m 6f
Day Two – Wednesday 17th March (Old Course & Cross Country)
13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1) 2m 5f
14:10 Festival Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1) 3m ½f
14:50 Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Grade 3) 2m 5f
15:30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (Grade 1) 2m
16:10 Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase 3m 6f
16:50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Grade 3) 2m
17:30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race) (Grade 1) 2m ½f
Day Three – Thursday 18th March (New Course)
13:30 Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f
14:10 Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Listed) 3m
14:50 Ryanair Steeple Chase (Grade 1) 2m 5f
15:30 Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle Race (Grade 1) 3m
16:10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase) (Grade 3) 2m 5f
16:50 Daylesford Mares Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 1f
17:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase (0-145) 3m 2f
Day Four – Friday 19th March (New Course)
13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f
14:10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3) 2m 1f
14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1) 3m
15:30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase (Grade 1) 3m 2½f
16:10 St. James’s Place Challenge Cup Hunter Steeple Chase 3m 2½f
16:50 Mrs Paddy Power Mares Steeple Chase (Grade 2) 2m 4f
17:30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle Race (0-145) 2m 4½f
Cheltenham Racecourseituated in Prestbury on the northern outskirts of the historic spa town of Cheltenham. The Home of Jump Racing, Cheltenham Racecourse is the venue for the world's pre-eminent Jump meeting. The Festival™, which happens in March over four days every year, next takes place from Tuesday, 16 March, to Friday, 19 March 2021 inclusive and you can be the first to hear when tickets go on sale by registering your interest online at cheltenham.co.uk. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham Racecourse is a stunning natural arena and offers the highest-quality action throughout the Jump season. More information is available at www.cheltenham.co.uk and through: Twitter @CheltenhamRaces Facebook www.facebook.com/thehomeofjumpracing Instagram @cheltenhamraces
About The Jockey Club
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