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The 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup takes place on
Friday 19 March
and horse racing fans from around the globe are tingling with anticipation for what is one of the best steeplechase races on the racing calendar. Al Boum Photo is the clear favorite to win what will be his third consecutive Gold Cup, but can any of the chasing pack stop this remarkable feat from happening?
Several amazing horses can lay claim to being the Gold Cup winner. Arkle, Best Mate, Golden Miller, the world-famous Kauto Star, Denman, and Mill House have all emerged victoriously after jumping 22 fences across the three-miles 2.5 furlongs course. You can add Al Boum Photo to that list of stellar names because he was triumphant in both 2019 and again in 2020.
Only Golden Miller (1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, and 1936) and Arkle (1964, 1965, and 1966) have won three consecutive Gold Cups. The latest Gold Cup betting odds at MyBookie suggest Al Boum Photo will join that incredible duo. Al Boum Photo is a 5/2 favorite to complete his hattrick with Champ (9/2) and A Plus Tard (5/1) being the most likely to challenge the nine-year-old.
Al Boum Photo’s Previous Gold Cup Victories
Al Boum Photo went off at 12/1 in the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup and Paul Townend rode him to perfection. The race was one of the quicker Gold Cups in recent history, taking 6:39.06. Townend guided Al Boum Photo home 2.5 lengths ahead of Anibale Fly who had finished third a year earlier. Third-place finisher Bristol de Mai was 3.75 lengths behind the champion.
Bookies were wary about Al Boum Photo going into the 2020 Gold Cup and priced him as the 100/30 favorite. They were correct to be cautious because the Willie Mullins trained horse won again, this time by a neck over Santini, and 1.25 lengths ahead of Lostintranslation.
Like most elite horses, Al Boum Photo does not take to the track too often. The gelding’s only race since last year’s Gold Cup came on New Year’s Day at Tranmore. He romped home 19 lengths ahead of Acapella Bourgeois. Ironically, Al Boum Photo beat the same horse on the same course before winning the 2020 Gold Cup. It also won at Tranmore before the 2019 Gold Cup, albeit with Ruby Walsh in the saddle.
“Al Boum Photo” by Oisin Keniry is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Can Champ of A Plus Tard Cause an Upset?
Al Boum Photo is going to take some stopping in its quest for three straight Gold Cup victories. JP McManus-trained Champ is the bookmakers’ second-favorite for 2021 Gold Cup glory. The Irish horse won the RSA Insurance Novice’s Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, finishing one length ahead of Minella Indo. The runner-up in that race is competing in this year’s Gold Cup and is a 9/1 fourth-favorite.
The horse has only raced once since, doing so on February 21 at Newbury where it found Sceau Royal too strong, losing by two lengths.
A Plus Tard raced at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival but not in the Gold Cup. Rachael Blackmore rode A Plus Tard to a third-place finish in the Ryanair Chase, finishing 1.75 lengths behind Min. Last time out, on December 28, Darragh O’Keefe won over three miles at Leopardstown, finishing 0.5 lengths ahead of Kemboy.
Anything can happen in horse racing, especially when there are jumps involved, but Al Boum Photo looks to be streets ahead of the competition. He goes up against 15 of the world’s best horses in the 2021 Gold Cup, yet it is difficult to see any of them seriously challenging him. That is of course unless the weather plays a role or he gets caught up in traffic. Otherwise, it looks likely Al Boum Photo is going to win his third straight Gold Cup.