Monkfish has proven himself at Cheltenham Festival by recording victories in his two visits to the racecourse, winning both the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. Willie Mullins now has a major decision to make to determine which of the crowns his charge will pursue in the 2022 Cheltenham Festival.
Mullins’ recent success with Al Boum Photo could persuade the Irishman to send Monkfish forward for the ultimate prize of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. However, the Irish thoroughbred will have to prove his form over the course of the National Hunt campaign before being certified to take on the best.
Monkfish has strong credentials for the contest and is backed as the early favorite for the Gold Cup: his past performances at Cheltenham have demonstrated that Monkfish clearly has the capability to perform on the grand stage. However, as any bettor knows, form is subject to change and though past performances may serve as a good indicator, there are plenty of other factors that must be considered in the lead-up to the prestigious meet.
While bettors have conventionally relied on astute observation and luck, modern technological advancements have reshaped the betting process by focusing on empirical and objective data.
For example, the recent adoption of AI tools is proving to be a good way of determining which horses will struggle or rise to the occasion at a meet. This is because these tools calculate which horse has the best opportunity of winning the contest based on many key quantitative factors such as the form of the horses, the weather, the ground, pedigree, and racecourse.
With this information in mind, the bettor can then pick an educated selection and find their pick with the optimum odds on the leading horse racing betting sites to make their wager for the Gold Cup. Presently, all the early signs point to Monkfish being the outstanding contender, though that could change during the National Hunt season. There’ll be opportunities in 2021 to make a statement, particularly with the King George VI Chase on the agenda at Kempton Park in December.
Mullins didn’t send Al Boum Photo to the contest, but he’s raced charges in the past such as Footpad, who finished third in 2019. It would be solid preparation for the Gold Cup, where he could face off against the likes of Clan des Obeaux, Minella Indo, and A Plus Tard.
A victory at Kempton Park would signal that he’s ahead of the other top contenders for the crown, although it has been a stronghold for Paul Nicholls in the last three years.
Therefore, Mullins may opt to put Monkfish on the same trajectory as Al Boum Photo in his previous runs at the Gold Cup.
The French thoroughbred was deployed at Tramore in the Savills Chase, where he triumphed in both 2019 and 2020 ahead of victories in Cheltenham’s most prestigious race. That alone may convince Mullins to keep the same philosophy in his bid to win a third Gold Cup.
No two horses are the same, and the Irishman may want to see his charge compete against the elite of the field before making a final decision. It will not be an easy choice to make for the experienced trainer. He also has Allaho at his disposal, who has more experience as a chaser.
The runs ahead of the Gold Cup could make or break whether Mullins and his team are adding another Gold Cup crown to their collection or questioning their methods in preparation for the race. All will be revealed soon enough.