All you need to know about Gold Cup winner Minella Indo, currently ‘having fun’ going cross-country

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  • The 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo made his Cheltenham racecourse cross-country race debut in December, finishing fourth behind Grand National contender Latenightpass.

    He now heads to the Cheltenham Festival as favourite for Wednesday’s Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and trainer Henry de Bromhead is bullish about the 11-year-old gelding’s chances.

    “He loved the cross-country course in December and this time it’s a conditions chase,” he explained of Minella Indo’s Cheltenham Festival target.

    “We felt we had to go for the cross-country race in December to give him a taste of it, as it would be tough to go for it first time at The Festival. Gavin Sheehan had schooled him at the previous meeting and was delighted with him and Rachel Blackmore was delighted with him in the race. He had top weight but you couldn’t have asked for a better run.”

    Minella Indo: “It’s good fun for a horse like him to prolong his career”

    Minella Indo, who runs in the colours of Barry Maloney, first rose to prominence when winning the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2021, and has now won three Grade One races, and finished second to stable-mate A Plus Tard in the 2022 Gold Cup with Robert Power in the saddle.

    But he had also shown some mixed form since winning the Blue Riband race at the Cheltenham Festival with jockey Jack Kennedy three years ago and was pulled up in the race last year.

    Minella Indo in action at the Cheltenham Festival

    Jack Kennedy riding Minella Indo (R) clear the last to win The WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase from Rachael Blackmore and A Plus Tard (red) at Cheltenham in 2021.

    Minella Indo now seems to be relishing this change of direction in preparation for his debut in next month’s Randox Grand National at Aintree, a race for which he is currently a 25/1 shot.

    “He is in mighty form. It seems a good route to the Grand National as Gordon Elliott and others have proved,” says Henry. “He has always enjoyed cross-county and was doing it even when he was running in the Gold Cup. He just loves it.

    “It’s lovely and good fun for a horse like him to prolong his career.”

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