Cheltenham Gold Cup 2022: De Bromhead's runners ready for the rematch

Minella Indo Cheltenham

The Blue Ribband of the Cheltenham Festival and indeed the whole National Hunt Season is set to take place this coming Friday the 18th March. 11 entries have been confirmed for Friday's race (15:30) and it looks like a fiercely competitive renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. We've taken a look through some of the big names and given a brief assessment of their chances...

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Reigning champion and two-time Festival winner Minella Indo is all set to defend the crown he won so impressively from stablemate A Plus Tard back at the eerily empty Festival of 2021. It was a week for the ages for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore but the history making pilot was wrong in her choice last season when picking the horse beaten into second over the victorious stablemate. This season, the odds suggest that Blackmore has a better chance of revenge aboard A Plus Tard than whichever rider takes the mantle on Minella Indo has of repeating the feat. Minella Indo has had a scratchy season but looked somewhat back to his best last time out, while A Plus Tard looked awesome in winning the Betfair Chase but was beaten at odds-on in the Irish Gold Cup.

His conqueror Galvin is his main market rival here and Gordon Elliott seems to be buzzing about running this likeable chaser in the big one. An impressive winner of the National Hunt Chase last season, his stamina is unquestionable, however at the start of this campaign many doubted he would have the speed or class to figure in a Gold Cup. However, his season has continued where the last one left off with a string of impressive displays culminating in his well earned victory over A Plus Tard at Leopardstown.

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The leading challenger from Britain is Protektorat of Dan Skelton's who catapulted himself into Gold Cup contention with a stunning success at Aintree in the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase back in December. He has not been seen since but Skelton is a master at getting one cherry ripe for the big day and his chance must be respected. Tornado Flyer comes here as the reigning King George winner, a result which surprised many, and represents the behemoth Willie Mullins operation. He is an unknown at the trip but cannot be discounted after his impressive performance at Kempton over Christmas. The more illustrious of Mullins' entrants is of course dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo, who is looking to emulate Kauto Star in regaining his title and Best Mate in becoming a three time winner. Mullins had planned to give him a more busy campaign this season but that has not come to pass and in truth it is hard to see why the old champion has any more than a place chance in 2022. 

Another Mullins runner Asterion Forlonge surely could not be trusted with even the most optimistic of punters' cash. As talented as he is his temperament and jumping are not up to a Gold Cup surely. Chantry House won the Marsh last season but his workmanlike wins this campaign have seen him pushed to the outsider ranks for this one. Aye Right, Santini or Royal Pagaille being crowned Gold Cup winner would require either a huge shock or an absolute bog in the case of the last of those mentioned, but we are undoubtedly in for a thrilling race.

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