Gold Cup old guard still the ones to beat says Champion Trainer

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There may be plenty of young pretenders to the Cheltenham Gold Cup throne, but the youth should respect their elders says Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls.

Nicholls saddles two previous Cheltenham Gold Cup winners in Kauto Star and Denman for the blue riband event at the Cheltenham Festival, and while many believe age is getting the better of the two, Nicholls believes his stable stars hold the edge.

At 7/1 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, two-time winner Kauto Star is a huge price if his trainer is right in saying his 11-year-old is capable of another big performance.

While Denman, 6/1 to win the Gold Cup, has never finished outside the top three in the Cheltenham Gold Cup making him a big each way price at 1/4 the odds to finish in the first three.

“There are some interesting young horses in there like Long Run and Diamond Harry but I still think the three older horses, Denman, Kauto Star and Imperial Commander, are the ones to beat,” said Nicholls.

The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander continues to hold the favouritism in the Gold Cup odds at 7/2, and while Nicholls respects the new kids on the block, he believes breaking the old guard will be difficult.

Many believe Hennessey Gold Cup winner Long Run has the ability to break the triumvirate and at 5/1 to win, the Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old is certainly supported in the betting market.

But Long Run has finished third in both of his runs at the Cheltenham Festival despite being favourite and second-favourite, and the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup may have come a year too soon for the youngster.

The eight-year-old Diamond Harry is also fancied in the betting at 8/1 to win the Gold Cup but pulled up in his only Cheltenham start over fences, suggesting that backing experience over confidence is the way to go in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

A £25 stake on Denman winning the Gold Cup would return £175. New customers can sign up here for a free bet worth £25.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.