The Cheltenham Festival is just a matter of days away and of course, out of the 14 Grade 1 races, the one everyone is looking forward to the most is day four’s showpiece, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. As always, National Hunt Racing’s finest will line up for starter’s orders for the prestigious race. But, for many it will be hard to look past Al Boum Photo. The Willie Mullins-trained horse is gunning for a third successive victory in the race, which would see him etch his name into the history books alongside the likes of Arkle and Best Mate, and the Gold Cup betting is firmly in his favour.
However, it will be an incredibly tough field as always, and there will be plenty of owners, trainers and jockeys with their sights firmly set on winning the sought-after Gold Cup. In fact, even one of Al Boum Photo’s own stablemates could deny him of the historic feat. So, let’s take a look at the fellow Mullins-trained horses in with a shout of winning the Gold Cup.
Kemboy – 10/1
Once as far out as 25/1, Kemboy is now as short as 10/1 to win the Gold Cup, making him the joint-fourth favourite to land a victory in the race. The nine-year-old largely struggled for form throughout the back end of 2019 and 2020, as he failed to pick up a victory in five races. However, an impressive win in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown last month has put him in with a shout of winning the showpiece event, and the French-bred will certainly be well-backed by the punters. Mullins will certainly be hoping that the tides are turning for Kemboy ahead of the Gold Cup, especially given his poor performances in the big race in the past, which include unseating his rider last year and a seventh-place finish the year before.
Allaho – 20/1
Similar to Kemboy, Allaho has found a bit of form at potentially the perfect time. The seven-year-old landed a huge 21-length victory over Milan Native in a Beginner Chase last January. However, despite heading to Prestbury Park as the favourite for the Festival Novices’ Chase, he was narrowly beaten over the line by JP McManus’ Champ and Henry de Bromhead-trained Minella Indo. Two races without a victory followed, but he got back on track at Thurles at the end of January with a three-length victory over his stablemate Elimay in the Grade 2 Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase. Allaho is currently the market leader for the Ryanair Chase at 4/1. However, with second-favourite Min looking to defend his title, Mullins could opt for the Gold Cup instead.
Melon – 33/1
Given Melon’s form, it would be somewhat of a miracle if he beat Al Boum Photo over the line in the Gold Cup. The Mullins-trained horse has only won twice in his last 20 outings, with his last victory coming at Leopardstown in December 2019, when he won the Paddy Power “Live Stream All Irish Racing On Our App” Beginners Chase. That was five races ago now, and he was particularly disappointing in his last outing, finishing last in the five-horse Irish Gold Cup field. It is worth noting, however, that he is never far off the pace at Prestbury Park. If you check the Cheltenham Festival fast results you’ll notice that last year, he was beaten by the nose of Samcro in the Golden Miller Novices’ Chase, whilst he was also second in the three years prior, including being beaten by a neck in the Champion Hurdle in 2018.
Mullins could also call upon Burrows Saint to take part in the race. However, he is as far out as 40/1.