It was already a big surprise when Grands Crus was touted as a potential runner in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but it is an even bigger shock that another of the season’s top novices is included among the 34 horses at the first declaration stage.
To date, Finian’s Rainbow has been largely campaigned over two miles and he has never raced beyond 2m5f, with both of his runs over this distance being over hurdles.
Meanwhile, he failed to finish better than third in either of his two starts over this extended trip.
However, despite all previous form suggesting that he will not stay 3m2f in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the fact he has failed to stay up the hill on both his previous visits to the course, he has an entry.
Finian’s Rainbow has been installed at 20/1 in the Cheltenham odds.
The big problem for not only Finian’s Rainbow but any novice tackling the Gold Cup is that the pace of the race tends to put further strain on their already suspect jumping because of their inexperience over the larger obstacles.
This is partly the reason that the last novice to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup was Captain Christy back in 1974, while the best result of the 20 others to try since was when Dorans Price finished third behind Mr Mulligan in 1997.
Grands Crus is also a novice, but at least has previous form over 3m and has looked like a fine jumper of a fence in his three victories since stepping up from the hurdle ranks.
He is 6/1 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Of the remainder of the initial 34 declarations, Synchronised, Mon Mome and Junior are included and could all use Cheltenham as a tough workout ahead of attempting to land their chief goal of winning the Grand National.