In what is the feature race of the famed Cheltenham Festival, the Gold Cup has seen some of National Hunt racing’s most revered thoroughbreds reign supreme in the three-mile and two-and-a-half-furlong affair.
Whether it be multiple-time winners Best Mate, Al Boum Photo or Kauto Star – finishing first past the post on the fourth race of the final day is an achievement only reserved for the elite few. 2023 has yet another exceptional field, and while there are a number of short-priced thoroughbreds who look primed and ready to take home the more than £350,000 in prizemoney awarded to the winner – in this article, we’re going to focus on the outsiders who have the talent and form to upset the applecart on March 17.
Sitting as the sixth-favourite at 10/1, the Gordon Elliot-trained Conflated has enough runs on the board over his four-year career to cause an upset at Prestbury Park. With notable victories that include last year’s Irish Gold Cup and a five-length win in his most recent outing over Kemboy in December – and this nine-year-old has the experience and finishing speed necessary to challenge the better-fancied horses late.
With a victory at Cheltenham the last time we saw him, the Lucinda Russell-trained Ahoy Senor bested a deep field that included the likes of multiple-time Grade 1 winner Protektorat, Grand National champion Noble Yeats and the well-respected Sounds Russian.
It appears that performance has remained front of mind for punters, with Ahoy Senor firming in the Cheltenham betting lines as a result of that run. Despite the money coming in for him over the past few weeks, he still sits as the seventh favourite with most operators at 12/1.
Never write off a previous champion. After winning the meeting’s preeminent fixture two years ago, the Henry De Bromhead-trained Minella Indo was in contention to make it back-to-back Gold Cup’s when he led three out in 2022’s renewal. He would eventually fade late however, giving up ground to eventual winner and stablemate A Plus Tard to lose his crown by 15 lengths.
After pulling up in the Gold Cup at Punchestown a month later – many felt Minella Indo’s time at or near the summit was coming to an end. That was until his run in a Grade 3 outing at Tramore on New Year’s Day, in which he returned to the winner’s circle by a neck from Stattler. While the Irish-bred horse wasn’t up against the most difficult of opposition on the day, De Bromhead was pleased with Minella Indo’s performance nonetheless.
“He seems in great form, that was a fantastic day for us at Tramore and we’re really happy with him,” he said.
“Obviously he’s a bit older now, but he loves Cheltenham and he always comes to life at this time of year. We’re really excited to get him there.”
Therefore, at 20/1, Minella Indo is certainly an outsider to consider – even if it is just an each-way bet.