The Cheltenham Festival is famous for its legendary battles between British and Irish-trained horses, but from time to time other nations get involved in the greatest jump racing meeting in the world.
One nation that has a history of making unexpected raids at the festival is France. France is a famous breeding ground for future stars of the jump racing world, but with most of the precocious talents ending up in training in Britain, the French continue to fall behind.
In 2023, however, a French-trained horse is heading to Cheltenham with a live chance in one of the week's biggest races.
Gold Tweet is the horse that will be flying the French flag at the Cheltenham Festival in 2023. Trained by Gabriel Leenders, Gold Tweet will be lining up in the Stayers' Hurdle, for which he is currently a 9/1 shot in the Cheltenham Festival betting odds.
Probably better known as a chaser in his homeland, Gold Tweet has been impressive since reverting to hurdles this season and after making a surprise trip to England in January, he became very popular in many expert's Cheltenham Festival betting tips after winning the Cleeve Hurdle.
The 6-year-old gelding was sent off at odds of 14/1 on that occasion, but he easily outran that price on his favored soft surface to win by 3 lengths. It was a result that shocked many in the racing world, but one man that showed no surprise at all was his trainer, who immediately pinpointed the Stayers' Hurdle at the festival to be his stable star's next appointment.
Can He Take Home The Prize?
This year's Stayers' Hurdle looks to be one of the most competitive races of the week. Very little separates a large group of horses at the top of the market, and in truth, the vast majority of the 14 runners set to line up will fancy their chances of winning, one of which is the pride of France, Gold Tweet.
Whether or not Gold Tweet can win the Grade 1 contest will depend on a couple of factors. Soft ground is going to be critical for the French runner. His victory in the Cleeve Hurdle proved this, as he was able to handle the ground easier than his rivals, and eventually pulled clear with ease.
Something else that will affect the chances of Gold Tweet is obviously the performances of his main rivals, of which there are many. His main threats will all come from Ireland, with Blazing Khal, Teahupoo, Flooring Porter, and Home By The Lee, all currently ahead of Gold Tweet in the betting markets.
Blazing Khal, the 3/1 favorite, is so far unbeaten over hurdles and has the potential to improve even further, although he has had a disrupted build-up. Teahupoo is the class act in the field but has stamina concerns, whilst Home By The Lee still has a lot to prove at this level.
The main danger to Gold Tweet may come from Flooring Porter. The winner of the last two renewals of the Stayers' Hurdle, Flooring Porter has had a mixed preparation for the festival this year, but experience is usually key at Cheltenham, and he is likely to bounce back to his best at just the right time.
It is going to be a tough task for Gold Tweet to provide his connections with a dream result at Cheltenham, but he has shown a wonderful will to win on many occasions and if the dream does not come through, it will not be for a lack of effort from the flashy French superstar.