Last season Irish Champion trainer, Willie Mullins, won his first Cheltenham Gold Cup with Al Boum Photo. And it looks like he will be back to defend his title in 2020. Leading the 31 entries for this year’s race, Al Boum Photo is the second highest-rated horse to get the green light.
On and OR of 175, only Kemboy, also a Mullins horse, is rated higher on 177. So with the two best horses entered, will Mullins be able to win back-to-back Gold Cups on Friday 13th March 2020?
On paper, things are looking quite rosy for Willie Mullins and his Gold Cup prospects. Even in the betting markets, both are vying for the top spot as favourite with Al Boum Photo on ante-post odds of 7/2 with Kemboy at 11/2.
Kemboy may have unseated in the race last year but on the back of the Gold Cup, both headed to Punchestown for the Coral Gold Cup. There Kemboy took the honours, beating Al Boum Photo by 2L. So it really could go either way.
Lostintranslation Gold Cup 2020 Contender
However, as good as they are, the 2020 Gold Cup will not be a two horse race. Run over a distance of 3m2f and with 22 fences to be jumped, the Gold Cup by its very nature is a tough race to win. But there are some entries that may spoil the Willie Mullins party this year.
Lostintranslation, from Colin Tizzard, is one horse who could, on a good day, show up and take the spoils. A novice runner until this season, he was second in the Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham last year. He started this season well with wins at both Carlisle and Haydock in the Betfair Chase.
However, last time out at Kempton in the King George VI Chase he was disappointing and jockey Robbie Power had no choice but to pull him up. On the back of that connections have now decided to simply hold off until the Gold Cup which is the next time we will see him in action.
Following the disappointing run at Kempton, Tizzard was at a bit of a loss for an explanation. He said “He had an off-day.
“Whether Haydock took more out of him than perhaps we thought, it’s hard to tell, but all his work leading up to Kempton was very good and we couldn’t have been happier.
“It’s our job now to get him back and get him 100% for the Gold Cup.
“It would be nice to point at something and say that was the reason, but we haven’t got that, so we’ll just freshen him up and I don’t think we will run him before the Gold Cup.”
Clan Des Obeaux
A two-time winner of the King George VI Chase, Clan Des Obeaux is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson. He ran in the Gold Cup last year but could only manage fifth place. So can he do better in 2020?
His emphatic win at Kempton, where he beat stablemate Cyrname by a whopping 21L proved that he is definitely on form. However, he isn’t as consistent as some of the other potential Gold Cup runners and has never won at more than 3m. So that extra two and a half furlongs in the Gold Cup may be a stretch too far for him.
He lost last year by 11L and history tells us that if you fade early and can’t get home in the Gold Cup once, you’re unlikely to ever win it.
Officially entered into the 2020 Gold Cup there is also speculation that he may try his luck at the 2020 Grand National. Now ten years old, Native River did win the Gold Cup in 2018 on his second attempt after finishing third the year before.
In 2019 he ran it again only to finish fourth so if he goes again in 2020 it will be his fourth consecutive attempt in the race. Taking a different route this year, he ran at Aintree in the Many Clouds Chase in December, which he won.
There’s a really good chance that he will get a Grand National entry if only because connections haven’t settled on a definite plan for him yet. So they’re really keeping as many doors open as possible at the moment.
As is often the case with the National hunt season, plenty of horses get entered into both the Cheltenham and Grand National festivals and how they come out of the first one determines whether they go to the second one.
This will be the case for Native River so don’t expect any firm decision on his participation in either until much closer to race day.
For the full list of all 31 Gold Cup 2020 entries, please click here for our Gold Cup page. With a maximum of 22 runners allowed, and realistically with only 15/16 runners, the card will be reduced by about 50% over the next few weeks which will give us a better picture of who can win the 2020 Gold Cup at Cheltenham.