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.