A look ahead to Cheltenham Gold Cup 2014

With Royal Ascot just a week away, there are only nine months until Jumps Racing showcase; the Cheltenham Festival with the big race of the week being the Cheltenham Gold Cup. With Bob’s Worth running out an impressive winner of last season’s Gold Cup, the focus will be on him to see whether he can be the first horse to do the double since Best Mate back in 2003. Personally, I think he will be very hard to beat based on this year’s run when he was outpaced before being hampered by the fall of Silviniaco Conti three out, but his determination saw him through. Like a few others, I believe he wasn’t 100% on Gold Cup day so he could potentially be even more exciting and if he gets better ground then he will be many people’s banker. The obvious main threats include Sir Des Champs, Long Run and First Lieutenant who are all proven Grade One competitors on their day as evidenced by them filling the first three places in the Punchestown Gold Cup. Also in the mix is Silviniaco Conti, however, I want to look towards the up and coming chasers who could take a hand over the next few seasons in the top staying chaser ranks. I have chosen two to follow with both coming from England. Although he was a disappointing fourth in the RSA Chase behind Lord Windermere, there is plenty to like about Unioniste who we must remember is only a five year old. I feel that he wasn’t at his best at the Festival but anything he did last season was a bonus and he’s an exciting prospect going forwards into next season. This upcoming season will be interesting for him especially as he will have several options open to him and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him have a Hennessy entry. Out of last season’s staying novices, I feel that he is the one most open to improvement from the RSA so I will watch his season with massive interest in which I hope he ends up in the Gold Cup. The 33/1 offered in some places looking an appealing price. The second horse that I feel could cause an upset in a Gold Cup is the Kim Bailey trained Harry Topper who looked a real star in the making when winning at Exeter in February. However, he blotted his copybook with an uncharacteristic unseat at Kelso and was unlucky at Punchestown when Jason Maguire was effectively knocked off by Dedigout. He is another relatively young horse who has the world at his feet and a summer at grass will only help. Kim Bailey’s decision to avoid Cheltenham being was right one with the horse still developing physically and mentally. Let’s look at some of the horses he has beaten over fences; Benefficient, Rocky Creek and Houblon Des Obeauxs. All good novice chasers in particular Benefficient who won at the Festival. This can only bode well for this horse’s future. I would like to take this opportunity to thank JP for letting me write on his website and also to Cathryn for mentioning the idea to me at Uttoxeter about a month ago. I’m delighted to become the Student Writer for JPFestival.com. Adam Webb @AdamWebb121