Few races have the prestige that comes with winning the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. It is undoubtedly the biggest race of the four-day Festival and the pinnacle of a trainer and jockeys career. To win it you need the have the best chaser in the country which is why there are so few surprises when it comes to those you take the honours.
More recently the Gold Cup has largely been dominated by Irish entries. Irish trainers have won five of the last seven renewals. Henry de Bromhead became the latest trainer to add his name to the roster when Minella Indo romped home in 2021. The fact that he also saddled the runner-up, A Plus Tard, was just the icing on the cake.
So is it time for a UK resurgence at Cheltenham? Can the British trainers boost their arsenal of potential winners and seriously contend in the big race in 2022?
Nicky Henderson Potential Gold Cup Runners
By anybody’s standards, Nicky Henderson is one of the greatest trainers ever. He has been the British jump racing Champion Trainer six times with earnings regularly topping the £2 million mark.
However, last season was not his greatest when he finished fourth in the trainer’s championship, had to retire Altior and then say goodbye to stable star Santini. Owner-breeder Richard Kelvin Hughes felt the horse would benefit from a change of scenery and has moved Santini to trainer Polly Gundry in Devon.
But like all good champions, Nicky Henderson is back with a vengeance this season. With a 28% win rate he has already saddled 42 winners this season putting him in a great position.
In the mix for the Gold Cup 2022 are two very exciting prospects. First up is Champ who won the RSA Chase (now the Browns Advisory Novice Chase) in 2020. He was well fancied for the Gold Cup in 2021 however back issues scuppered his chances.
Speaking to the Racing Post, Henderson said that he is hoping that with the right surgery, Champ will be back to his winning ways and lining up at Cheltenham again next March.
Joining him could be Chantry House, also owned by JP McManus. On terrific form, he won the Marsh Novices Chase at the 2021 Festival and looks like an ideal chaser to take on the Gold Cup field in 2022.
With ante-post odds already available on the race, it’s interesting that Chantry House pips Champ in the betting markets. On odds of 14/1, he is shorter than the 20/1 on offer for Champ.
Henderson’ Gold Cup Wins
Nicky Henderson is no stranger to the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham. One of the Festival’s most successful trainers, he has previously won the Gold Cup on two occasions.
The first was in 2011 with Long Run with jockey Sam Waley-Cohen on board. The second time was two years later with Bobs Worth in 2013 with jockey Barry Geraghty.
Since Geraghty’s retirement, it has been the job of Nico De Boinville to bring home the big winners for Henderson’s yard. Though the burden isn’t his alone with Jerry McGrath, James Bowen, Daryl Jacob and Aidan Coleman also riding for Henderson.
Can one of them win the Gold Cup in 2022 finally ending the dominance of the Irish trainers? And can Nicky Henderson reclaim the trainer’s Championship for the seventh time? Only time will tell.
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