Cheltenham tips: Gold Cup antepost best bets from Ruby Walsh

Can Al Boum Photo make it three in a row?

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change

Ruby Walsh has taken a keen look at the leading Gold Cup contenders ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival – where Paddy Power is offering non-runner money back on all 28 races so there’s no risk of losing out if your pick withdraws.

Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s special ‘Countdown to Cheltenham’ podcast, our resident jockey-turned-pundit is hoping Al Boum Photo can complete an unlikely treble in the headline race at Prestbury Park but feels there are threats throughout the field.

You can listen to the full show BELOW.

By going straight from Tramore to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, people don’t see much of AL BOUM PHOTO. Therefore he doesn’t ingrain in their minds like horses they see more of, and they don’t have the same affiliation for him. That being said, if he can go back and win a third Gold Cup then what’s to say that he won’t go back and win a fourth?

He won last year’s race against the run of play – it was a race completely run to not suit him, as well as Santini in second – and I would argue they only finished there because the jockeys on their backs (Paul Townend and Nico de Boinville) realised they had gone too slow for two stayers. They set sail and turned it into a one-mile sprint.

Al Boum Photo Paul Townend Gold Cup Cheltenham Festival March 13, 2020

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Al Boum Photo won a race that went against him, and looking at the make-up of this year’s race with Frodon and Native River, it could suit him more. He could be hard to beat and he could potentially join illustrious company and become a triple Gold Cup winner. That’s a hell of training performance, and from the horse and the rider. I hope he does it.

I got him beaten in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse on his first start, and then we won at Thurles after that. Paul then won on him at Fairyhouse but even standing in the yard, Patrick Mullins often says if someone pointed to Al Boum Photo and said “that’s a dual Gold Cup winner” you would be thinking “how?” He’s not that imposing, he doesn’t stand out from the string, he’s just a normal horse and he has terrific stamina. He has a great cruising speed, he’s very sound and his jumping is fine. He has learnt to get himself from A to B but his jumping is not his strongest point. However, he can stay incredibly well and that’s what Gold Cup winners do.

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Al Boum Photo Gold Cup - Non Runner Money Back

Gold Cup latest odds and tips for Cheltenham Festival 2021’s big race

KEMBOY is also entered in the Stayers’ Hurdle, and he’s had two disappointing runs in the Gold Cup so I don’t know if Willie Mullins is planning to go there instead. I can’t see BURROWS SAINT in this, as I think the Grand National is his target, while MELON is running in the same colours as Al Boum Photo and after watching him in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup you would imagine the two would split and he could go to the Ryanair Chase. It could be Al Boum Photo and maybe Kemboy, but not too many more.

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Kemboy Gold Cup - Non Runner Money Back

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Burrows Saint Gold Cup - Non Runner Money Back

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Melon Gold Cup - Non Runner Money Back

MINELLA INDO and ALLAHO have stepped into open company in Ireland on two occasions at the same track, and both have come fourth. There wasn’t that much between them in last year’s RSA so is that what they are? Are they just behind the Gold Cup horses? Watching Minella Indo at Wexford when he beat Milan Native, I thought there could be a challenger to Al Boum Photo, but I’m not certain I’ve seen that horse again since.

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Minella Indo Gold Cup - Non Runner Money Back

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Allaho Gold Cup - Non Runner Money Back

Minella Indo Rachel Blackmore Punchestown May 1, 2019

Gold Cup potential runners and latest news for Cheltenham Festival 2021

It will not be straightforward, but Al Boum Photo is the most likely winner. You may not want to back him now, but I would be getting on him before racing starts on Tuesday because if Willie Mullins gets on a roll at the Festival – and he’s got a lot of really well-fancied horses – he will be plenty short enough, whether the public get into him or not. If it goes the other way, you can always back him again, but if he rolls in then you will have missed the price.

My each-way fancy would be NATIVE RIVER – I thought he was really good in the Cotswold Chase and the Colin Tizzard horses are back in form. He looked like the Native River that won the Welsh National, the Ladbroke Trophy and the Gold Cup. There was definitely some enthusiasm and spring about him, and I would say he’s overpriced for a horse that is guaranteed to get the trip.

14/1
Native River Gold Cup - Non Runner Money Back

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change

Ruby Walsh’s Cheltenham Gold Cup summary

Al Boum Photo
Native River (each-way)

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S OTHER BIG RACES

March 16 – 13.20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.05 – Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 14.30 – Ryanair Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 15.05 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 13.20 – JCB Triumph Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY FOUR SCHEDULE

13.20 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 179y

13.55 – County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 179y

14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y

15.05 – Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m 2f 70y

15.40 – St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup 3m 2f 70y

16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase (Grade 2) 2m 4f 127y

16.50 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f 56y

*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.

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