Will it be Rachael Blackmore’s Festival a second time?

In this March’s Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, Rachel Blackmore will defend her crown after a spectacular win in 2022. Starting the race as the favourite, she rode the seven-year-old A Plus Tard to a memorable triumph. Returning to the fold on the same mount, we discuss her chances at this year’s event.

A Plus Tard

Trained by Henry de Bromhead, in 2022 A Plus Tard pipped previous winners Minella Indo and Protektorat in third. This year, the horse remains up there with the favourites. In the Cheltenham betting A Plus Tard is generously priced at 8/1. If there are any concerns, it would only be that the horse has run very little since last year’s win. A single run in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November left the de Bromhead team much deflated after a below-par run behind Protektorat. That horse has also been beaten since, and other contenders have appeared, like Galopin des Champs and Conflated for the Irish, and Bravemansgame for the home team.

The French-bred A Plus Tard has shown considerable talent for trainer Henry De Bromhead. The horse was a consistent performer in his early career, winning several maiden and novice races in France including first place in two out of three first-year races. He then moved to run in the UK and Ireland, where he won several graded races. While a favourite, he is not the only horse Henry de Bromhead is likely to have among the Cheltenham tips, as one of this trainer’s favoured outings. 

In 2020, he showed consistent improvement in form, ending the year with a win at Leopardstown. The next year saw a win at Haydock in November with two more second places, before his win in March at Cheltenham.  As any race enthusiast will know, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the most important races in the calendar and both Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead will be looking to get A Plus Tard back to the scene of his greatest triumph in peak form.

Previous winners

The Gold Cup was first run in 1924, and since then it has been won by some of the most famous horses in steeplechasing history. Horses that have won over the years include Golden Miller, Arkle, Best Mate and Denman. The recent record for the most wins by a horse is held by Best Mate, who won the race in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Arkle won the race three times in a row from 1964 to 1966 and the last two-year consecutive winner was Al Boum Photo. If A Plus Tard returns to form for this year, it can be easy to see the stable chasing the three-time win with a horse so young and full of promise. 

While the Gold Cup is the main event at the Cheltenham Festival, there are many other top-class races in the four-day meeting. Other Grade 1 races at the event include the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and the Stayers’ Hurdle providing a full meeting of action. De Bromhead is a realist; after his dream treble in 2022, a single winner would be as much as he can hope for. 2022 capped a terrific season when Honeysuckle, Put The Kettle On and A Plus Tard each won their respective Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup. Each race at the Festival offers the best horse in their class and are worth your time and effort. Check your odds, get the best prices, and enjoy watching the best racing the world has to offer.

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