Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips and Offers

Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview: Tips, Betting Offers and Free Bets, 3.30 at Cheltenham, Friday 13th March 2020, Cheltenham Festival Day Four

The Cheltenham Gold Cup needs little introduction. Read on for betting tips, history and the best odds and offers surrounding this greatest of races on the final day of the Festival.

This is it. The biggest and most prestigious race of the National Hunt season. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the race that every trainer, jockey and owner wants to win and the list of previous winners is a who’s who of the greatest staying horses of all time. The ante post betting for the 2019 Gold Cup suggests we’re in for one of the most competitive renewals for many a year.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Tips and 2020 Race Preview

The Gold Cup is the race that the whole Cheltenham Festival builds up to. It’s the most prestigious race of the National Hunt season and always features a collection of the best chasers in the game. With that said, this isn’t a vintage renewal and racing fans have been picking holes in the form of each of the leading contenders in the weeks leading up to the race.

Al Boum Photo (last year’s winner) and Santini (second in last year’s RSA Chase) are vying for favouritism and are both being talked up by their trainers. They are each deserving of their place in this and any other top class chase they run in but it really is tough to get excited about either of them at a general price of 4/1.

You can, however, get excited about the 8/1 that Coral are quoting about Clan Des Obeaux’s chances of winning. Paul Nicholls and everybody at Ditcheat are big fans of this eight-year-old but they just don’t feel they gave him the best chance in last year’s Gold Cup. The plan was different this year, keeping him at home after winning the King George, and that extra fitness can make all the difference.

For an each way bet at smaller stakes, consider the tenacious Bristol De Mai who may just make the most of the tacky ground on the New Course to hang onto a place.

Previous Race Winners

  • 2019 – Al Boum Photo – jockey Paul Townend, trainer Willie Mullins
  • 2018 – Native River – jockey Richard Johnson, trainer Colin Tizzard
  • 2017 – Sizing John – jockey Robbie Power, trainer Jessica Harrington
  • 2016 – Don Cossack – jockey Brian Cooper, trainer Gordon Elliott
  • 2015 – Coneygree – jockey Nico de Boinville, trainer Mark Bradstock
  • 2014 – Lord Windermere – jockey Davy Russell, trainer Jim Culloty
  • 2013 – Bobs Worth – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Nicky Henderson
  • 2012 – Synchronised – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Jonjo O’Neill
  • 2011 – Long Run – jockey Mr Sam Waley-Cohen, trainer Nicky Henderson
  • 2010 – Imperial Commander – jockey Paddy Brennan, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies
  • 2009 – Kauto Star – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Paul Nicholls
  • 2008 – Denman – jockey Sam Thomas, trainer Paul Nicholls
  • 2007 – Kauto Star – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Paul Nicholls
  • 2006 – War Of Attrition – jockey Conor O’Dwyer, trainer Mouse Morris

Cheltenham Gold Cup Trends

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a race of the highest calibre and trainers must be sure their horse is of sufficient quality before entering them. Specifically, the combination of a previous win at Grade 1 level, multiple chase wins and wins over at least 3m is a good place to start.

Digging deeper into previous form shows there are some very important trial races to consider. The King George VI Chase has provided several recent winners even if the track at Kempton poses a rather different challenge to Cheltenham, the Denman Chase at Newbury is another to keep an eye on whilst Irish Gold Cup contenders will often take in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

It takes a certain amount of top class chasing form in order for trainers to be confident that their horse has a chance in the Gold Cup. Therefore, winners aged under six are very rare indeed but by the same token 10-year-olds have struggled to win in recent years. That speaks to the challenge of the Gold Cup which mandates both confidence over fences and the necessary stamina to travel at speed and finish strongly up the Cheltenham hill.

Be Wary of Backing Favourites

The Gold Cup is a race for the best chasers around and the level of competition means that there are few very strong favourites. Indeed, favourites have only a modest record but more recent winners went off as one of the top three in the betting.

It’s important that horses have had a couple of warm up performance before competing in the Gold Cup but those who have been worked too hard will lack the stamina required to win. Form immediately before Cheltenham is a useful indicator as the vast majority of recent winners went off at 8/1 or shorter in a Grade 1 or 2 contest last time out.

Cheltenham Gold Cup History

The first race referred to as the Cheltenham Gold Cup actually took place way back in 1819. At three miles that contest was similar in distance to the event we know and love today, however, whilst todays protagonists are required to negotiate a total of 22 fences, that initial event held on Cleeve Hill was a flat contest.

It wasn’t until over 100 years later that what is now Cheltenham’s showpiece event was first held as a jumps contest. The prize money on offer in 1924 for that inaugural Gold Cup over fences was £685. In terms of prestige it ranked behind both the National Hunt Chase and the County Hurdle in those early days.

The first real legend to appear in the records of this race is the remarkable Golden Miller. The Dorothy Paget owned gelding had three different jockeys and two different trainers between the years of 1932 and 1936, but the result was always the same. Nothing could touch Golden Miller as he racked up a record five consecutive wins in this race. Adding a win in the Grand National of 1934, Golden Miller was unquestionably the standout horse of his generation. Paget also took the Gold Cup home in 1940 with Roman Hackle and again in 1952 with Mont Tremblant. Her seven total wins make her the most successful owner in the history of the race.

The status of the Gold Cup was undoubtedly aided by the exploits Golden Miller. This status was further enhanced by events that came following the two year absence of the race in the war years of 1943-44. Firstly the three successes of Cottage Rake for Vincent O’Brien between the years of 1948 and 1950 helped to grab the attention of the Irish who had previously been slow to embrace the contest. The races subsequent ability to consistently attract the top Irish chasers added to its overall quality and appeal.

1959 saw a switch to the New Course for the first time. Not long after this the greatest chaser in history left his indelible hoof prints in the Gold Cup history books. Unsurpassed before or since, the imperious Arkle repeated the feats of Cottage Rake by taking the Gold Cup back to Ireland in 1964, 65 and 66. His dominance is perhaps best illustrated by his starting price for the final of those victories, being sent off at just 1/10 for what is traditionally the hottest race of the jumping year. The best chaser in history is unsurprisingly the Gold Cups shortest priced winner. The horse referred to as “himself” by his legions of Irish followers racked up 15 top class victories between 1963 and 1966, including two Hennessy Gold Cups, the King George VI Chase, Punchestown Gold Cup and an Irish Grand National.

The exploits of Arkle have also left a mark in the leading jockey and trainer table. His jockey Pat Taaffe also won on Fort Leney in 1968, his four wins put him out in front as the races most successful jockey. Trainer Tom Dreaper went one better, sending out Prince Regent to win in 1946 as well as Arkle and Fort Leney.

The next aid to the growth of the Gold Cup came with the advent of sponsorship in 1975, helping to boost prize money and profile. Piper Champagne were the first ever sponsors of the race, various betting companies have also backed the contest over the years with Internet firm Timico taking over in 2016.

One of the most popular winners of the 1980’s was the Paddy Mullins-trained, Dawn Run, who became only the fourth mare to take this prize. She is also the only horse to have won both the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup.

The 1980’s also saw a training feat which is unlikely to ever be repeated. Michael Dickinson won the race with Bregawn and also saddled the second, third, fourth and fifth. Surely the greatest ever training performance over jumps or on the flat.

Then followed a period of ultra-competitive years. 1990 saw the biggest shock in the races history as Norton’s Coin prevailed at 100/1.

2003 brought us the first repeat winner of the race in over 30 years. The hugely popular Best Mate took this prize in 2002, 2003 and 2004 for Henrietta Knight.

Five men have both ridden and trained the winner of this prestigious event. The most recent of these is the jockey of Best Mate, Jim Culloty. Jim took the prize as a trainer in 2014 with Lord Windermere.

The requirements for success here appear to translate well to those needed for the King George VI chase at Kempton, despite the contrasting natures of the tracks. Numerous Gold Cup Winners have also conquered the Kempton showpiece, including the glorious grey, Desert Orchid who won the King George four times, and Kauto Star who went one better with five wins.

Paul Nicholls’ Kauto Star also holds the record as the only horse to have regained the Gold Cup having lost it. Having come home in front in 2007, he failed to conquer stablemate Denman in 2008, before roaring back to claim the 2009 edition.

Only three five-year-olds have won this toughest of high class chasing tests. Of the 87 renewals up to 2015, 72 had been won by runners aged between seven and 10 years of ages. Experience appears to count here with novices not faring particularly well. 2015 winner Coneygree was the first novice to prove successful in over 40 years. The 12-year-olds Silver Fame (1951) and What A Myth (1969) are the oldest ever winners.

The great Willie Mullins saddled his first Gold Cup winner in 2019 with Al Boum Photo.