Cheltenham Tips

Cheltenham Gold Cup: Timeform's expert verdict

Galopin des Champs
Galopin des Champs is looking to defend his crown in Cheltenham Gold Cup

"He is Timeform's highest-rated horse in training and will be hard to beat..."

Timeform bring you their runner-by-runner guide and 1-2-3 verdict for the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival on Friday...

Cheltenham Gold Cup
15:30 Cheltenham, Friday
Live on ITV

1. Bravemansgame (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden)

Won the King George at Kempton last season and was clear of the rest when second to Galopin des Champs in this race last year. A bit below that level when runner-up on all three outings this term, although he wasn't helped by being hampered by the departing Shishkin when one and a half lengths second to Hewick in the latest King George on Boxing Day. Place claims.

2. Corach Rambler (Lucinda Russell/Derex Fox)

Proved too strong for Fastorslow when landing a second successive win in the Ultima at last year's Festival and followed up in the Grand National at Aintree. Off since finishing a respectable 15 and a half lengths third of four in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, though a biggish price, he can't be totally ruled out given his record at this track or this time of year.

3. Fastorslow (Martin Brassil/J. J. Slevin)

Inflicted defeats on Galopin des Champs in Grade 1s at Punchestown in April and in November of 2023, but last year's Gold Cup winner saw him off by four and a half lengths in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown (3m, soft) last month. Had wind surgery since then and should go well with the extra emphasis on stamina in this race sure to suit him.

4. Galopin Des Champs (Willie Mullins/Paul Townend)

Most impressive when seeing off Bravemansgame in this race 12 months ago. Suffered defeats to Fastorslow at Punchestown on his next two starts, but back to his best when winning Savills Chase (by 23 lengths from Gerri Colombe) and Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown this winter, beating Fastorslow by four and a lengths. He is Timeform's highest-rated horse in training and will be hard to beat.

5. Gentlemansgame (Mouse Morris/D. J. O'Keeffe)

Has quickly established himself on the staying chasing scene, having only his third start over fences when claiming the scalp of Bravemansgame in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby (3m, heavy) in November. Not seen since but no surprise were he to progress again for a trainer who has won this before.

6. Gerri Colombe (Gordon Elliott/Jack Kennedy)

Dual Grade 1 novice chase winner last term, who bagged another success at the highest level when getting the better of Envoi Allen on his return at Down Royal. His Gold Cup aspirations took a significant dent when no match for Galopin des Champs in the Savills at Leopardstown over Christmas, but he wasn't best placed that day, and it would be no surprise were he to bounce back after a short break.

8. Jungle Boogie (Henry de Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore)

Won a bumper, hurdle and chase on first three starts for Willie Mullins. Lost unbeaten record when fourth in a Grade 2 at Cork over 2m on return from long absence in December, but quickly back to winning ways when stepped up to 23 furlongs at Tramore (Grade 3) on New Year's Day. A lot more needed here but he is unexposed.

9. L'Homme Presse (Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch)

Top-class chaser who was off for over a year after a late unseat in last season's King George, but his comeback win at Lingfield in January suggests he retains all of his ability. Not seen to best effect over shorter at a right-handed track when second to Pic d'Orhy in Ascot Chase since and this more suitable.

10. Monkfish (Willie Mullins/Mr Patrick Mullins)

Highly promising novice chaser in 2021 who has shown he's still capable of smart form back hurdling since returning from a long absence last spring, winning 3m Grade 2 at Galway on reappearance in January. This a big ask back chasing but he goes well on testing ground and does possess plenty of ability.

11. Nassalam (Gary Moore/Niall Houlihan)

Has reacted very positively to blinkers, producing a really smart performance when turning the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow (heavy) over Christmas into a procession. A different kettle of fish trying to dominate a field of this calibre but not ruled out if the ground is similarly testing.

12. The Real Whacker (Patrick Neville/Sam Twiston-Davies)

Three from three in novice chases round here last season, culminating with a narrow defeat of Gerri Colombe at this meeting. Hasn't been able to take it up another notch this term, his fourth to Hewick in the King George and second in Cotswold Chase here suggesting he'll come up short unless a visor sparks improvement.

Timeform's Analyst Verdict:

After a couple of defeats Galopin des Champs has reestablished himself as the best around in this division with Grade 1 wins at Leopardstown on his last 2 starts (particularly impressive on the first occasion) and can emulate former stablemate Al Boum Photo and become the ninth dual winner of jump racing's Blue Riband. Fastorslow, who beat the selection twice last year and chased him home at Leopardstown last month, can fill the forecast spot ahead of last year's runner-up Bravemansgame.

Timeform's 1-2-3:

1. Galopin des Champs
2. Fastorslow
3. Bravemansgame

Back Galopin des Champs @ 2.01/1 on Betfair Exchange

Bet here

Now read Cheltenham Tips for Thursday: Tony Calvin's tips for Day 4


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