If the Cheltenham Gold Cup was run over a distance of three and a half miles instead of three miles and two furlongs then it is likely that we would have seen a different winner this season. The winner would have been Anibale Fly. He stormed up the run-in to challenge late but ultimately could not quite get to the winner. Al Boum Photo had the speed to get away before Anibale Fly could get going.
This horse is incredibly talented, and he also stays very strongly. When the test of the Cheltenham Gold Cup is not strong enough for a horse, you know you have a very talented, tough, strong staying animal on your hands. And that is exactly what trainer Tony Martin has with this horse here.
Assuming the horse is ok between now and Aintree, for the second year running he will head to the Grand National 2019. He finished third in the Gold Cup last season, which was seen as an ideal prep run for the national. And then he went onto finish fourth at Aintree. This year he went one better at Cheltenham, finishing second. There is no doubt that this was an even better-staying performance by him. He should be feeling great about himself going to Aintree.
Can he go better in the 2019 Grand National? That remains to be seen. But one thing that will go in his favour is that he has had a quieter build up this time around. This will only be his fourth run of the season so far. While last year the Grand National was his sixth and final run of the season. He seems to be a spring horse, and with two huge targets for him to aim at during that time, it makes sense to do what they have done with him.
One thing you don’t have to worry about with the horse is his ability to stay. We have seen this before and again in the Gold Cup he showed that the test was not enough. Something else you don’t have to worry about is his ability to travel well through a race. If he can live with the pace of a Gold Cup with the quality of runners that are in that field, then he is going to have no problem here against a slightly lower quality of horse.
At Cheltenham, we saw a huge performance from Tiger Roll. Rightfully so he has shortened in the betting for the Grand National as a result. However, he wasn’t the only horse to impress and I really like what I saw from Anibale Fly. Let’s hope he stays fit and well between now and April, so we can see the pair of them clashing. It's lining up to be a cracking renewal of the Grand National.