held up in mid-division, not fluent 1st, headway from 11th, not fluent 17th, hit 4 out, held in pocket bend before 2 out, soon went 3rd but unable to go with front pair, held after, stayed on
held up towards rear, steady headway from 13th, mistake 16th, checked and taken back slightly before 3 out, went close 2nd final bend, 2 lengths down 2 out, stayed on well but able to get back to winner
Native River, the winner in 2018, is bidding to give Colin Tizzard a fairytale ending to his last Festival as a trainer. He showed he was no back number when running away with the rearranged Cotswold at Sandown last month but it is 20 years since a winner of that race went on to glory here. Last year’s runner-up Santini was well beaten, however, and the 11-year-old is also preferred to last year’s third Lostintranslation, who has a lot to prove nowadays. Frodon deserves a crack a first Gold Cup but often comes up short against the elite over 3m, though did win the King George in December when Santini and Black Op were behind. Kemboy was only seventh last year and failed to finish in 2019 and it’s impossible to believe he’ll finish ahead of AL BOUM PHOTO (NAP). Everything looks right for the Mullins’ stayer to complete his hat-trick in chasing’s Blue Riband as he went smoothly through the gears in his prep race at Tramore and will arrive fresher than most. Champ has also had only one run since beating Minella Indo at The Festival last year, over an inadequate 2m, and he might be the danger though Royale Pagaille remains something of an unknown quantity having progressed rapidly through the handicapping ranks. A Plus Tard touched off Kemboy in the Savills at Leopardstown over Christmas but might struggle to cope with a strongly-run race over this trip
Al Boum Photo (FR) 2-9fav (12-0) Settled 3rd, closer at 11th, 2nd next, challenged 2 out, soon led, pushed out to assert before last, kept on strongly run-in, comfortably, won at Tramore 2m 5f (1) sft in Jan beating Acapella Bourgeois (11-10) by 19l, 5 ran.
A Plus Tard (FR) 15-2 (11-12) Rear of mid-division, headway after 4 out and 5th next, pushed along and went 3rd entering straight, closer at last, ridden and kept on well run-in to lead close home, won at Leopardstown 3m (1) Yielding in Dec beating Kemboy (11-12) by 1/2l, 14 ran.
Aso (FR) 9-4fav (10-12) Towards rear, untidy 12th, headway when shaken up 3 out, disputed 2nd 2 out and last, kept on well run-in and secured 2nd final 110 yards, 2nd of 5, 7 1/2l behind Cloth Cap (11-2) at Kelso 2m 7f lst (1) gs in Mar.
Black Op (IRE) 66-1 (11-10) Chased winner until 2nd, lost place and in mid-division after, headway chasing leaders before 10th, weakened 4 out, 6th of 9, 17 1/2l behind Frodon (11-10) at Kempton 3m (1) gs in Dec.
Champ (IRE) 5-1 (11-3) Jumped left on occasions, led 2nd, headed 2 out, every chance when not fluent last, kept on well flat, 2nd of 6, 2l behind Sceau Royal (11-0) at Newbury 2m (1) gs in Feb.
Frodon (FR) 20-1 (11-10) Occasionally jumped left, made all, ridden clear between last 2, stayed on strongly, unchallenged, won at Kempton 3m (1) gs in Dec beating Waiting Patiently (11-10) by 2 1/4l, 9 ran.
Kemboy (FR) 11-4 (11-12) Made all, slight mistake 6th, almost joined 2 out, soon advantage again, ridden and pressed before last, asserted approaching last, kept on well run-in, won at Leopardstown 3m (1) sft in Feb beating The Storyteller (11-12) by 2l, 5 ran.
Lostintranslation (IRE) 7-1 (11-6) Held up in touch, hit 3rd, headway to chase leaders 14th, pressed leaders 3 out, lost place next, soon pushed along and weakened approaching last, lost fourth flat, 5th of 7, 26l behind Secret Investor (11-0) at Newbury 2m 7f (1) gs in Feb.
Minella Indo (IRE) 13-8fav (11-12) Chased leader, 2nd halfway, improved to challenge and almost on terms when mistake 2 out, soon ridden in 2nd, pressed leader briefly before last, no extra approaching last, dropped to 4th run-in, kept on one pace, 4th of 5, 6 3/4l behind Kemboy (11-12) at Leopardstown 3m (1) sft in Feb.
Native River (IRE) 13-2 (11-6) Pressed leader, led 17th, 3 lengths ahead and in command from 2 out, stayed on gamely to go well clear run-in, won at Sandown 3m (1) hvy in Feb beating Bristol De Mai (11-6) by 9 1/2l, 6 ran.
Royale Pagaille (FR) 11-5fav (11-10) Headway 2nd and close up, led 11th, pushed clear 2out, comfortable, won at Haydock 3m 2f hcp (1) hvy in Jan beating Potters Legend (10-4) by 16l, 8 ran.
Santini 5-2 (11-6) Chased leading trio, blundered 8th, pushed along before 16th (water), reminders before next, went modest 3rd 3 out, plugged on, no chance, 3rd of 6, 17l behind Native River (11-6) at Sandown 3m (1) hvy in Feb.