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Cheltenham Update: Gold Cup

| 17.03.2017

A look at the Gold Cup minus Thistlecrack

Now that the news has sunk in that one of the main attractions of this year’s Cheltenham Festival, Colin Tizzard’s Thistlecrack, will not be taking part, we take a look at how the nine-year-old super-star’s absence has affected the Gold Cup betting.

Ruled out for the season with a tendon injury, Tizzard made the heart-breaking announcement earlier this week – less than a fortnight before the curtain goes up at Prestbury Park – that the antepost market leader wouldn’t be making the trip.

He told fans that his team put Thistlecrack through two scans, and both came back the same, meaning he should be out of action until Christmas.

Fan’s favourite Cue Card now betting favourite

That blew the betting wide-open and we now have previous King George winner Cue Card as the pick of the traders, with Coral offering 3/1, alongside Native River. The former will now be a popular choice with punters, as has already tasted glory around here, claiming the Champion Bumper early in his career.

He also has unfinished business in this race and was shaping like a Gold Cup winner 12-months ago when coming down three from home. He had backers excited that day, battling back from a couple of earlier mistakes, and was pouring the pressure all over the leaders before that crushing error denied us a thrilling finish. We’ll never know what could’ve been, but he can make amends here.

Djakadam aims to improve

Don Cossack was left to claim the prize money that day, with Djakadam in behind. The second goes in again and is chalked up at 4/1, third in the pecking order. Willie Mullins’ eight-year-old hasn’t been seen since a fourth-place finish in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over the festive period. Held off for second at the finish by another potential rival in this race, Don Poli, who goes at an appealing 16/1.

Winner of the Lexus that day, Outlander, is certainly talented enough to do the business, but he fell in the JLT Novices last year and has come down in two of his last seven. The same period shows no less than four runner-up finishes, making the 8/1 look tight.

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Daniel McKeown