Isn’t National Hunt horse racing amazing? Just when you thought the contenders for the Cheltenham Gold Cup were done and dusted, ready for the race, another runner comes to the fore. Conflated is part of Gordon Elliot’s yard, so it’s smart to respect it because the outfit is packed with quality. However, the gelding is also the current Irish Gold Cup winner, making it an extra tasty prospect within the betting markets. Of course, what everyone wants to know is simple – was Leopardstown a sign of things to come or a fluke?
He’s Beaten World-Class Horses
"He was hot today" – Trainer Gordon Elliott salutes Conflated after his victory in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at the #DublinRacingFestival – next step it would seem is a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup on 18 March @LeopardstownRC #rteracing pic.twitter.com/5eJPrJ4BZR— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) February 5, 2022
Conflated was a shock 19.00 winner of the Irish Gold Cup. Before the event, he was as long as 50/1 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the blue-riband race of the entire National Hunt season. Now, the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting ranks him as a 16.50 shot, making him the joint sixth-favourite behind quite a few quality nags.
However, the reason the bookies decided to shorten the Elliot horse’s odds immediately after Leopardstown is due to the rivals he beat. Frodon is an experienced runner that was specifically aimed at the Irish edition of the Gold Cup, for example. More importantly, Minella Indo, the 7.60 third-favourite for Cheltenham, was beaten into second place.
For most punters and pundits, this symbolises Conflated’s ability because not many horses could do what he did. Therefore, there’s a likelihood from his last run alone that he could go on to bigger and better things. Watch this space.
Davy Russell Will Have a Tough Decision to Make
Davy Russell is a leading jockey, hence why he secures so many top rides throughout the season. Previously, it was nailed on that Russell would be aboard Galvin, the current second favourite for the Gold Cup. The Irishman himself was the pilot when the horse blew away the competition in between Christmas and New Year, including A Plus Tard.
The decision might be simpler than it appears on the surface. Galvin is a certified winner, one with an extremely good opportunity of claiming a maiden Gold Cup in March. Still, the way Conflated stayed and stretched away from Minella Indo in Ireland will stick in the jockey’s mind because the horse has an engine and picks up when asked for more.
These are credentials that trainers and jockeys desperately search for leading up to Cheltenham. If Russell chooses Conflated, it says that Elliot’s main man believes he’s better suited for the Gold Cup. His odds will probably tumble again in this scenario.
Question Marks Versus Momentum
Momentum is essential in sport, and a couple of Gold Cup runners head into the race with plenty of it on their side. Conflated is one of them, along with Tornado Flyer and Protektorat, one of the only feasible British hopes.
They’re superseded by four horses that have stellar CVs, such as Al Boum Photo, the double Gold Cup winner, and Minella Indo. Unfortunately, there are several question marks surrounding the favourites. For example, Indo hasn’t won in his last four races, even if finishing second to Conflated represented an upturn in form.
Al Boum Photo was soundly beaten the last time he competed for Gold Cup glory, and A Plus Tard was taken out by Galvin at Leopardstown. The cream rises to the top, but only when the quality hasn’t disappeared. Judging by some of their previous performances, the favourites might have to make way for the new guard.
Conflated is a shock contender for the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup. When you win the Irish Gold Cup, people sit up and take notice, especially the main competitors.