There are six other races on Friday’s card at the Cheltenham Festival, but there is a reason that the day is known simply as Gold Cup Day.
The single most prestigious jumps contest of the season, the Gold Cup is steeped in history, lasting memories and drama, thanks to the brilliance of the likes of Arkle, Denman and Kauto Star, to name just three.
First run as a flat race back in 1819, the Gold Cup as we know it today over jumps was created in 1924. Since then the race has grown rapidly in popularity and is now considered one of the sport’s crown jewels, appealing to racing fans and the wider public alike as with the Grand National or Epsom Derby.
Next Race: Friday, 19th March 2021
The next race is scheduled to run on 19th March 2021. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 13th March 2020
- Winner: Al Boum Photo
- SP: 10/3
- Trainer: Paul Townend
- Jockey: Willie Mullins
The trip is 3m2½f for this titanic Grade 1 chase which offers a whopping £625,000 in total prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as soft but, with little rain in the area, and perhaps even some sun, is expected to be more like good to soft on the day.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||3m2½f||Grade 1||£625,000||12 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Cheltenham Gold Cup Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
The Festival always flies by and so here we find ourselves at the biggest contest of the four days, if not the entire National Hunt calendar. The Gold Cup is one of the biggest sporting events of the entire year for many racing fans and as ever, we look to have a cracker in store with any number of potential winners.
Paul Nicholls is the most successful of the trainers on show this year, with the likes of Kauto Star and Denman helping the multiple champion to four previous successes in the race. Nicholls now lies just one behind Tom Dreaper – trainer of the mighty Arkle – in the all-time list, and would look to have live claims of drawing level this year, with King George winner Clan Des Obeaux flying the flag for team Ditcheat.
When looking at the age of the recent winners, it would seem that it may be wise to discount both the youngest and oldest runners in the line-up, with six of the past seven editions having fallen to a chaser between seven and eight years of age. That makes perfect sense because you need a fully developed and experienced horse but equally you need one with bags of stamina who hasn’t been overworked in the past.
One of the biggest betting heats of the year, this has been a profitable hunting ground for backers of the market leader over the past 10 years, with the wins of favourites Long Run (2011), Bobs Worth (2013) and Don Cossack (2016) being enough to return a level stakes profit of 1.5 units. Not a big profit, but a profit nonetheless, helped by the fact that even the favourite in this competitive contest tends to start at a very rewarding price.
|Al Boum Photo||7/2||175||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|Santini||7/2||171||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|Delta Work||9/2||171||Gordon Elliott||Mark Walsh|
|Lostintranslation||6/1||173||Colin Tizzard||Robbie Power|
|Clan Des Obeaux||8/1||173||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
AL BOUM PHOTO (7/2)
We have a number of newcomers to the top-level staying chase scene in this year’s renewal, but the one horse who has been there and got the t-shirt when it comes to this event is of course the defending champion. Al Boum Photo was the horse to finally hand Willie Mullins a win in the Festival’s showpiece event 12 months ago, and he looks all set to be well backed this year and put up a bold defence of his crown.
2½l too good for the field last year, the now eight year old arrives at the race having had an identical preparation to 12 months ago, as Mullins appear to be going for the “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” method of racehorse training.
Al Boum Photo will be having just his second start of the season in the big one, having landed the Savills Chase at Tramore by six lengths on New Year’s Day. His sole prep in 2019 also came when coming out on top in that Tramore contest – with the winning margin being exactly six lengths on that occasion too. The son of Bucks Boum is hard to knock and we certainly feel he will prove very hard to beat.
Nicky Henderson is now the most successful trainer in the entire history of the Cheltenham Festival, and has previously had his hands on the biggest prize of them all on two occasions thanks to the victories of Long Run and Bobs Worth. There are plenty who believe Henderson may register a third success in 2020, with his impressive eight year old Santini featuring prominently in the betting market.
Long held in high regard by his handler, this strapping son of Milan will be making his third Festival start here having finished third in the 2018 Albert Bartlett, and second in the RSA here 12 months ago. The RSA is regularly a key pointer towards future Gold Cup success, and this one has certainly continued his progression this term. Arriving on the back of a verdict over Bristol De Mai in the Cotswold Chase at this track last time out, he looks a chaser firmly on the up and a must for the shortlist.
DELTA WORK (9/2)
Leading the charge for Ireland is another horse to have taken part in the RSA Chase here last season – Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work. This Gigginstown House Stud runner was just one place, and 1¾l adrift of Santini that day, in a race where he wasn’t helped by being starved for room at a crucial stage.
Moving on to the current season and Delta Work has now forged ahead of Santini when it comes to achievements at the track. Badly in need of the run on his comeback at Down Royal, he has since gone on to land the big Grade 1 double of the Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown to propel himself towards the head of the market for this. The type to come with a relentless sustained run, the stiff finish up the hill may well suit and he seems sure to run well.
Another trainer with a bit of previous when it comes to Gold Cup success is Dorset’s very own Colin Tizzard. Tizzard’s 2018 winner Native River may have been ruled out through injury this time around, but Lostintranslation still goes to post and he may well be up to the task.
A solid second to an on-song Defi Du Seuil in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the meeting 12 months ago, he rounded off last season with a hugely impressive six length thrashing of RSA winner Topofthegame at Aintree.
A winner of a listed contest at Carlisle on his return this season, the son of Flemensfirth then achieved the considerable feat of mastering Bristol De Mai at his beloved Haydock. It hasn’t all been plain sailing though as he bombed out badly in the King George last time out, and now heads into this having his first start since a wind operation.
That said, he wouldn’t be the first horse to bounce back from a flop at Kempton, and on those earlier efforts he looks the best of the Gold Cup newcomers. At the current prices, he gets our vote, just offering a little more value than those above him in the betting.
CLAN DES OBEAUX (8/1)
Another not to be ruled out is the dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux. In truth this Paul Nicholls star didn’t just win the latest renewal of the Kempton showpiece, he absolutely obliterated the opposition to the tune of 21 lengths. From a visual perspective at least, that was just about the most impressive performance in a staying chase by any horse this season. If he is able to repeat that level of form then he must go close here but there are certainly reasons to doubt he will be able to do that.
The key question is whether he can replicate that effort here at Cheltenham. Two previous Festival starts have yielded a sixth in the Triumph Hurdle and an eleven length fifth in this race 12 months ago. He did travel ominously well in that 2019 edition though, and may well see it out better this season having had another year to develop. 8/1 will tempt some but for us, Lostintranslation is the better option.
Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners
|2020||Al Boum Photo||10/3||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2019||Al Boum Photo||12/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2018||Native River||5/1||Colin Tizzard||Richard Johnson|
|2017||Sizing John||7/1||Jessica Harrington||Robbie Power|
|2016||Don Cossack||9/4||Gordon Elliott||Bryan Cooper|
|2015||Coneygree||7/1||Mark Bradstock||Nico de Boinville|
|2014||Lord Windermere||20/1||Jim Culloty||Davy Russell|
|2013||Bobs Worth||11/4||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2012||Synchronised||8/1||Jonjo O'Neill||A P McCoy|
|2011||Long Run||7/2||Nicky Henderson||Mr Sam Waley-Cohen|
About the Cheltenham Gold Cup: The Festival’s Finest Prize
There are many “Cup” contests staged over the course of the British racing year, be it on the flat or over jumps, gold, silver or otherwise, but when it comes to prestige, profile and resonance with the racing public, there is one such race which stands head and shoulders above them all. That race is of course the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Acting as the headline race on the fourth and final day of the magnificent Cheltenham Festival in March, this Grade 1, 3m2½f event featuring no fewer than 22 formidable fences. Open to runners aged five and older, it is just about the finest advertisement for the sport, never failing to deliver in terms of excitement, class and drama.
Stamina has always been a key requirement for success in this contest, but not always jumping ability. The first race to go under the Cheltenham Gold Cup title being a three mile flat affair which took place way back in 1819.
The history of the race we know and love today really begins in 1924 though with the first edition of the event to be contested over obstacles. Now the jewel in the National Hunt crown, the Gold Cup wasn’t always the most glittering prize on the Cheltenham roster, being upstaged by the National Hunt Chase and County Hurdle in its early years. A succession of classy and hugely popular winners, in addition to rapidly increasing prize money – now well over £460,000 (£625,000 in 2020) – would soon change that though.
All Time Greats Shine Bright
Chances are that even non-racing fans will be familiar with at least a couple of the horses in the above chart. The fact that the likes of Arkle, Best Mate and Kauto Star are names which transcend the sport is in no small part down to their exploits in this contest.
Golden Miller Top Of The Gold Cup Tree (1932 – 1936)
|1936||21/20 F||Owen Anthony||Evan Williams||Royal Mail (5/1)||12 Lengths|
|1935||1/2 F||Basil Briscoe||Gerry Wilson||Thomond II (5/2)||¾ Length|
|1934||6/5 F||Basil Briscoe||Gerry Wilson||Avenger (6/1)||6 Lengths|
|1933||4/7 F||Basil Briscoe||Billy Stott||Thomond II (11/4)||10 Lengths|
|1932||13/2||Basil Briscoe||Ted Leader||Inverse (8/1)||4 Lengths|
Topping the pile and two clear of the field in terms of number of wins is the legendary Golden Miller. Simply unstoppable around here between 1932 and 1936, his five victories make owner Dorothy Paget the most successful in Gold Cup history. As of 2020 Golden Miller remains the only horse to win both the Gold Cup and Grand National in the same season (1934), a feat unlikely to be repeated.
Awesome Arkle Draws Irish In (1964 – 1966)
|1966||1/10 F||Tom Dreaper||Pat Taaffe||Dormant (20/1)||30 Lengths|
|1965||3/10 F||Tom Dreaper||Pat Taaffe||Mill House (10/3)||20 Lengths|
|1964||7/4||Tom Dreaper||Pat Taaffe||Mill House (8/13 F)||5 Lengths|
It is only fitting that National Hunt’s greatest race has been won by the sport’s greatest ever exponent. Officially rated the most talented chaser of all time, the imperious Arkle took top honours in three consecutive years between 1964-1966. It is the success of Arkle and his huge Irish following which really cemented the love affair between Britain’s most prestigious jumps race and our friends from the Emerald Isle – an affair began with Vincent O’Brien’s three-time winner Cottage Rake and which continues as strongly as ever to this day.
Kauto Star the Comeback King (2007 & 2009)
|2009||7/4 F||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh||Denman (7/1)||13 Lengths|
|2007||5/4 F||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh||Exotic Dancer (9/2)||2½ Lengths|
Moving into more modern times, Henrietta Knight’s tough and talented Best Mate would not be denied between 2002 and 2004 and deserves his place on the list of best ever winners, but even he was outshone by the Paul Nicholls trained Kauto Star.
A record breaking five time winner of the King George VI Chase at Kempton, Kauto Star may only have won this race on two occasions, but the second of those successes set him apart from the rest. Too good for the field in 2007, he then had no answers to the grinding assault of the horse known as “The Tank”, as stablemate Denman saw off all comers in 2008. What then followed in 2009 was simply sensational as Kauto Star put in a jaw dropping display to pulverise the opposition to the tune of 13 lengths, becoming the first and – as of 2020 – only horse to ever reclaim his Gold Cup crown having lost it.
The Long And The Short Of It
Given their utter dominance of the chasing game during their careers, it’s no surprise that the names of Golden Miller and Arkle are to the fore when looking at the shortest priced winners of the race. Golden Miller started at 4/7 in 1933 and 1/2 in 1935, but even those prices look big compared to those returned by Arkle. Coming home in front at 30/100 in 1965, the cat was well and truly out of the bag one year later, with horse known simply as “himself” being sent off at odds of just 1/10!
This race doesn’t always go the way of the market leaders though. Gay Donlad (1955) and L’Escargot (1970) both returned SP’s of a rewarding 33/1. However the biggest shock of them all came in 1990. Supposedly well out of his depth and there to make up the numbers in the eyes of many, the Graham McCourt trained Norton’s Coin defied them all to come home in front at a massive 100/1.
The Young And The Old
Open to all chasers aged five and older, it is nevertheless rare for one so young as five to have the necessary mix of talent and maturity in order to come out on top. So rare in fact that as of 2020, only three runners have achieved such a feat: Red Splash (1924), Patron Saint (1928) and most recently Golden Miller in 1932. It’s certainly been a while since this has been a race for the youngsters.
At the other end of the spectrum we have a couple of horses for whom father time proved to be no obstacle in pursuit of jump racing’s most coveted prize. Silver Fame (1951) and What A Myth (1969) both came home in front at the grand old age of 12. Overall though – as with many chase contests at the festival – it seems that the ideal window of opportunity lies between seven and nine years of age.
Legendary Names on the Trainers & Jockeys List
Propelled by Arkle’s three wins and topped up by further successes from Prince Regent (1946) and Fort Leney (1968) it is Tom Dreaper who leads the way amongst the trainers here. Legends of yesteryear, Vincent O’Brien, Fulke Walwyn and Basil Briscoe won’t be catching him now, but sitting on four wins as of 2020, multiple Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls just might.
Aboard Arkle for his three successes and also Fort Leney, Pat Taaffe leads the jockey standings with 4 wins.
List Multiple Gold Cup Winning Jockeys: 1924 – 2020
|Wins||Jockey||First Win (Horse)||Last Win (Horse)|
|4||Pat Taaffe||1964 (Arkle)||1968 (Fort Leney)|
|3||Jim Culloty||2002 (Best Mate)||2004 (Best Mate)|
|3||Tommy Carberry||1970 (L’Escargot)||1975 (Ten Up)|
|3||Aubrey Brabazon||1948 (Cottage Rake)||1950 (Cottage Rake)|
|3||Dick Rees||1924 (Red Splash)||1928 (Patron Saint)|
|2||Paul Townend||2019 (Al Boum Photo)||2020 (Al Boum Photo)|
|2||Richard Johnson||2000 (Looks Like Trouble)||2018 (Native River)|
|2||Barry Geraghty||2005 (Kicking King)||2013 (Bobs Worth)|
|2||Tony McCoy||1997 (Mr Mulligan)||2012 (Synchronised)|
|2||Ruby Walsh||2007 (Kauto Star)||2009 (Kauto Star)|
|2||Conor O’Dwyer||1996 (Imperial Call)||2006 (War Of Attrition)|
|2||Mark Dwyer||1985 (Forgive’N Forget)||1993 (Jodami)|
|2||Jonjo O’Neill||1979 (Alverton)||1986 (Dawn Run)|
|2||Bobby Beasley||1959 (Roddy Owen)||1974 (Captain Christy)|
|2||Fred Winter||1961 (Saffron Tartan)||1962 (Mandarin)|
|2||Evan Williams||1936 (Golden Miller)||1940 (Roman Hackle)|
|2||Gerry Wilson||1934 (Golden Miller)||1935 (Golden Miller)|
|2||Ted Leader||1925 (Ballinode)||1932 (Golden Miller)|