With so many races to keep to track of for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, the biggest story of the week (so far) is that 12 potential Gold Cup runners have now been scratched. They include Presenting Percy and Bristol De Mai, both of whom have been confirmed for the 2021 Grand National at Aintree instead.

Previously trained by Patrick Kelly, Presenting Percy was switched to trainer Gordon Elliott in October 2020. Since then he has had three runs for his new trainer starting at Down Royal in October where he finished 4th in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase.

From there he headed to Thurles for the boomerang.ie Chase which he won, beating Kemboy by just over six lengths. However, when he headed to Leopardstown for the Savills Chase in December he was well beaten by a whopping 76L.

So given the mixed form, it’s no real surprise that Elliott has decided to take him out of Gold Cup 2021 contention. But his poor form can be explained by a leg infection which means he may not have another run before the Grand National on April 10th.

Runners Scratched From 2021 Gold Cup

Presenting Percy is not the only entry to be scratched from the Gold Cup at this stage. With 12 getting withdrawn, here is the full list:

  • Presenting Percy
  • Waiting Patiently
  • Lake View Lad
  • Bristol De Mai
  • Terrefort
  • Acapella Bourgeois
  • Castlebawn West
  • Itchy Feet
  • Lord Du Mesnil
  • Mister Malarky
  • Spyglass Hill
  • Monalee

The withdrawal of Waiting Patiently is interesting. His last win was in February 2018 but since then he has had some good runs, finishing either second or third in all of his most recent races. And that includes a second in the King George in December.

However, trainer Ruth Jefferson has confirmed that he will be aimed at Aintree’s National meeting in April instead.

Jefferson said: “I took him out of the Champion Chase ages ago and I’ve now taken him out of the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup.

“Thinking about it, we felt the King George wasn’t the fastest run three-mile race in the world, so maybe the Gold Cup wasn’t the right option.

“And, after his last race, he was going to need a little bit of veterinary attention, so we thought we’d leave him for Aintree.

“He’s not had an issue as such, but the longer between his Clarence House run and his next run the better.”

Bristol De Mai Heading To The Grand National

Bristol De Mai has previously had multiple entries into the Grand National. He was entered in 2018 but connections opted to run him in the Aintree Bowl instead. The same thing happened again in 2019.

His third entry was in 2020 but of course, that race never happened so now we’re here again in 2021. The difference this time is that he is much more likely to actually run this time.

That probably comes down to the fact that he has attempted the Gold Cup three times already. He was 7th in 2017, skipped 2018, finished 3rd in 2019 and was 9th in 2020. The lack of success in the race may have prompted connections to change tack and opt for the National instead.

His form this season is still very good. He won the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November and followed that up with a second place in the Cotswold Chase at Sandown, losing out to Native River.

That performance was enough to instill real confidence in his Grand National chances.

Speaking to Racing Post Daryl Jacob, his jockey, said: “He’s run an absolute belter.

“On his day, Native River is a very good horse and a dour stayer.

“All credit to the winner but I’m pleased with my lad.

“He’s run his heart out and his form is very solid.

“I think we’ll skip the Gold Cup and look forward to the National now.

“He went down trying today, had a nice blow and it was a good race.”

Gold Cup 2021 Contenders

With the news that 12 runners have been scratched from the Gold Cup that leaves 30 still in contention. Traditionally only about half of that number will actually make it to the starting tape on the day.

They will include the race favourite, and dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo. Can he win three in a row? Odds are short at just 5/2 but given how comprehensively he won the last two, it’s difficult to see how anyone can beat him.

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A Plus Tard is his closest rival in the betting markets at a general 6/1. He is followed by Royale Pagaille at 8/1 and Champ and Kemboy at 10/1.

Cyrname is still in there as the highest-rated horse in the race (172). However, on the back of a very poor run in the King George at Kempton, his odds have dipped to a general 25/1.

Over the next few weeks, as the entires are whittled down even further, we will have a much better picture of how the Gold Cup 2021 could play out.

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