Last year’s Cheltenham Festival must have represented a dark moment for horse racing trainer Gordon Elliott. Serving a ban from the sport after photographs emerged showing him sitting on a dead horse, Elliott was forced to watch on from the shadows as many of his top horses were shipped out to rival stables. He most certainly learned a lesson from his misdemeanours.
One year on, Elliott is back in the fray, eager to make up for lost time and enjoy a renaissance at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, which is looming larger on the horizon with every passing day. Having recorded six winners at the 2020 edition of the meeting, Elliott’s aim will be to regain his footing at the top level of racing — restoring his reputation along the way.
The one horse who he’ll be pinning the most hopes on is Galvin. After a stunning victory in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown, Galvin is now being touted as a strong contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. If there’s one race that would catapult Elliott back into the big time, it’s the day four showpiece at Prestbury Park.
Galvin has quickly become one of the most talked about horses in all of racing, and that’s because his form has been effervescent over the last year or two. With just one defeat in his last eight outings, it’s clear to see why Galvin has turned a few heads recently. Indeed, he is also being tipped as a top tip for the Grand National, and it’ll be interesting to see how his spring pans out.
A change in stable made no difference
Not even Elliott’s ban could halt the horse’s momentum. Switching to Ian Ferguson’s stable for the duration of Elliott’s absence, Galvin still secured a win in his one race in that time. It was a big one too, earning a first Cheltenham Festival victory with a win in the Sam Vestey National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices’ Chase.
The only recent blemish is when the eight-year-old was pipped by Frodon in the Down Royal Champion Chase back in October. However, to follow that up with the sensational Savills Chase victory demonstrates that he has not been slowed down by the defeat.
A Plus Tard is the current favourite for the Gold Cup according to the horse betting sites UK, but given the fact that Galvin got the better of him at Leopardstown, you can understand why A Plus Tard’s trainer Henry de Bromhead might be sweating slightly ahead of the showpiece race.
Of course, there are other strong contenders for the Cheltenham Festival’s biggest prize. Last year’s winner Minella Indo is another De Bromhead horse who will be favoured by many, whilst the wildcard that is Al Boum Photo cannot be ruled out having won two Gold Cups in a row in 2019 and 2020. The likes of Protektorat and stablemate Conflated could also cause a stir.
But Galvin’s ability to take on the biggest names in the sport and beat them is the reason why he is so highly regarded at the moment. If he could pull off a memorable victory in the Gold Cup, it would catapult him into superstardom.