Will Lostintranslation run in the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup?

Lostintranslation was labelled the ‘forgotten’ horse prior to his participation in the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup, in which he finished a highly creditable third, beaten a neck and 1¼ lengths by Al Boum Photo and Santini. He had previously been pulled up in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, having suffered a breathing problem, but subsequently underwent a soft palate operation.

The Flemensfirth gelding reappeared in the Betfair Chase at Haydock where, despite heavy going, on which he had been soundly beaten previously, he was sent off 7/4 favourite to beat four rivals, only two of whom had any realistic chance at the weights. Lostintranslation ran a lacklustre race, losing touch with the leaders before the second-last fence and trailing in third, beaten 47 lengths, behind the winner, Bristol De Mai. On Boxing Day, he lined up in the King George VI Chase for the second year running but, despite assistant trainer Joe Tizzard announcing ‘complete faith’ in hime beforehand, was pulled up after the fourth-last, having burst a blood vessel.

Prior to Kempton, Tizzard had also said of Lostintranslation, ‘If we get him right he can be competitive in these top races’ but, granted he has disappointed on three of his last four starts, that appears to be an increasingly big ‘if’. Connections have yet to make any announcement with regard to the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup, but doubts about him have seen him pushed out to a dismissive

33/1 in the ante post lists.

Will A Plus Tard run in the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup or the 2021 Ryanair Chase?

Notwithstanding national lockdown legislation, which runs until March 31, 2021 and has called the future of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, as a whole, into question, A Plus Tard features in the ante post betting for both the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup and the 2021 Ryanair Chase, albeit at a disdainful 45/1 in the case of the latter. By contrast, the seven-year-old, who was beaten favourite in the Ryanair Chase in 2020, is available at 12/1 for the Gold Cup, which appears to be his preferred target at the Festival.

A Plus Tard recorded arguably a career-best effort on his second attempt at, or beyond, 3 miles, in a vintage renewal of the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. His task was made easier by the departure of both the favourite, Minella Indo, and the second favourite, Delta Work early on the second circuit, but he could no more than beat what was in front of him. Indeed, he kept on strongly on the run-in to overhaul Kemboy in the final strides and win by half a length. According to trainer Henry De Bromhead, A Plus Tard needed ‘every inch’ of the 3-mile distance and, although he was loath to make any plans immediately afterwards, owners Cheveley Park Stud may find it difficult to resist a crack at the ‘Blue Riband’ event.

Prior to Leopardstown, A Plus Tard had raced beyond 2 miles 4 furlongs – the distance at which he won the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival – just once before, as a novice, when proving no match for Delta Work in the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown. However, his stamina appears to be improving with age and, while Minella Indo, who started favourite for, but came to grief in, the Savills Chase, may prove to be the stable first-string in the Gold Cup, A Plus Tard should not be underestimated.

What price is Minella Indo for the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup?

In short, at the time of writing, Minella Indo is a top-priced 10/1 second favourite for the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup ante post, behind defending champion Al Boum Photo, who heads the market at 4/1. Trained by Henry De Bromhead in Co. Waterford, Minella Indo was the surprise 50/1 winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and looked all over the winner of the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the 2020 Festival, only to be overhauled by Champ in the closing stages.

Minella Indo returned to action with two easy wins, at odds-on, in small-field Graded contests at Wexford and Navan in October and November 2020. Consequently, he was sent off 5/2 favourite for a highly competitive renewal of the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, but made a msitake and fell just before halfway. De Bromhead described his exit as ‘unfortunate’ and ‘very frustrating’, but Minella Indo reportedly suffered no ill effects and remains on course for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Savills Chase produced an unsatisfactory result insofar as second favourite Delta Work also unseated his rider shortly after halfway, but the fact that stable jockey Rachael Blackmore chose to ride Minella Indo rather than eventual winner A Plus Tard – now only 12/1 for the Gold Cup – is encouraging. Minella Indo has yet to win beyond an extended 3 miles, but an extra quarter-of-a-mile or so in the Gold Cup should hold no terrors for him, although it is worth noting that, so far, he has shown his best form with significant cut in the ground.

Is Melon a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender?

Now a nine-year-old, Melon has the dubious distinction of finishing second on all four visits to the Cheltenham Festival, including when beaten a neck by Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle in 2018 and a nose by Samcro in the Marsh Novices’ Chase. The Medicean gelding can be considered a 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup contender insofar as he holds an entry in the ‘Blue Riband’ event, but the fact remains that he has yet to win beyond 2 miles 1 furlong, over hurdles or fences, so his stamina is questionable. That said, his close third in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown on his first attempt at 3 miles over fences provides some hope for the 3 miles 2½ furlongs of the Gold Cup, although he is available at a dismissive 33/1 ante post. By contrast, he is a top-priced 12/1 for the Ryanair Chase, over 2 miles 5 furlongs, which may be his preferred option at the Cheltenham Festival.

However, according to Patrick Mullins, who rode Melon at Cheltenham and Leopardstown, he makes ‘an awful lot of ground in the air’, a fact that may enter calculations with regard to the 2021 Grand National in due course. At the time of writing, the bookmakers are equally dismissive of his chances at National, again offering 33/1 ante post, but it can be be argued that he wouldn’t be the first classy two-and-a-half mile steeplechaser to win the Aintree marathon. Of course, he still has his stamina to prove over 3 miles 2½ furlongs, never mind 4 miles 2½ furlongs, but it will be interesting to see how his season progresses.

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