Irish Gold Cup (Leopardstown) Betting Tips & Predictions – Sunday 3rd February 2019

After enjoying its inaugural run in 1987, the Irish Gold Cup quickly emerged as one of the leading trial races for the Cheltenham equivalent. Although not quite carrying the same level of prestige as one of jump racing’s biggest events, Sunday’s test at Leopardstown is undoubtedly a high class affair.

This year’s renewal of the Grade 1 race sees several familiar names involved including three entries from the Gordon Elliot yard. Despite his heavy presence the Irish trainer looks like he could be denied victory with Bellshill looking the strongest pick for this race.

Top Tips

Bellshill to win @ 4/1

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Info

Several of the main contenders for Sunday’s race are also among the running for next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. Winning both races in the same season is a feat managed by three horses, the most recent being Sizing John in 2017.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good 3m 1 €221,018 10 1/5 1-3

Recent Winners

Nine victories for Willie Mullins puts him a long way clear as the all-time leading trainer in this race. He has however been unable to build on this impressive record recently, denied a winner in the last five renewals.

Favourites have spent even longer without claiming Irish Gold Cup victory. Quel Esprit was the last shortest-priced option to end up first past the line, doing so in 2012.

YearWinnerSPTrainerJockey
2018 Edwulf 33/1 Joseph O’Brien Derek O’Connor
2017 Sizing John 10/3 Jessica Harrington Robbie Power
2016 Carlingford Lough 20/1 John Kiely Mark Walsh
2015 Carlingford Lough 4/1 John Kiely Tony McCoy
2014 Last Instalment 8/1 Philip Fenton Brian O’Connell

Analysis: Top contenders facing exciting rematch

This race is looking a lot like a repeat of December’s Savills Chase which also featured at Leopardstown over three miles. The likes of Bellshill (4/1), Road to Respect (9/4) and Monalee (15/2) all went gunning for glory that day but it was Kemboy who ended up on top.

Kemboy was pulled at the declaration stage for this race, denying him the chance to claim another win over his main rivals. We do have a fresh name in the mix this time though, Al Boum Photo, who was preferred over the shorter Savills Chase at Tramore earlier in the year.

Al Boum Photo a risky pick

It’s hard to know what side of Al Boum Photo (10/3) is going to show up for any given race. Although he looked comfortable during his season return at Tramore, he’s long been the definition of inconsistency with his form reading 1F2F1RO1. The seven-year-old has proven adept in some high class affairs but too often his poor jumping has hindered his chances. His debut at Leopardstown in March was full of mistakes and you are best to expect more errors from him here.

Road to Respect looking seeking improvements

Road To Respect was the 9/4 favourite for December’s Savills Chase at Leopardstown but a stumble ruined his chances of back to back victories. After losing his fluency, the seven-year-old dropped to the back of the field but left himself too much work to do to catch Kemboy. You only have to look to his showing at Down Royal to see how fantastic he can be over three miles however. The competition was a little less fierce for the Champion Chase but Noel Meade’s horse still did exceptionally well to win by 16 lengths. Should he run as strongly here as he did then, the favourite will stand every chance of success.

Ground no issue for Bellshill

It’s not often the Irish Gold Cup sees good ground but this year looks set to be one of the exceptions. Willie Mullins won’t mind the conditions too much with Bellshill not troubled by better ground. He performed credibly during Leopardstown’s Savills Chase on similar going expected this weekend and won the Punchestown Gold Cup on yielding turf. He’s certainly got the legs to go the distance this race too with his last two victories coming between 24 and 25 furlongs.

Final Verdict: Bellshill to win

This is looking like a particularly tight Irish Gold Cup renewal so expect the exciting-looking contest to go right down to the wire. Road To Respect certainly stands a good chance of success but opt for the better priced Bellshill who finished just a length behind the favourite on his last outing.

About the Irish Gold Cup: The Jewel in Leopardstown’s Crown

Finish Line at Leopardstown Racecourse
urasimaru, flickr

One of the very best dual-purpose tracks on either side of the Irish Sea, Leopardstown has no shortage of high-profile flat contests, including the mighty Irish Champion Stakes.

When it comes to the jumping game however the big race of the season is this three-mile chase which takes place each year in February.

First run in 1987 and named in honour of the greatest Irish trainer of all time, Vincent O’Brien, the event has undergone a number of name changes over the years. Known for a period as the Hennessey Gold Cup, or Irish Hennessey, to avoid confusion with the English race of the same name, the race has since been sponsored by bookmaking firms Stan James and Unibet, the latter of whom who took over in 2017.

The Golden Double

There are seventeen fences to be tackled in all in a race which often proves an ideal trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup which takes place only a month later. As of 2018 three runners have succeeded in achieving the famous double: Jodami in 1993, Imperial Call in 1996 and Sizing John in 2017.

Former Champs Can Prove Tough To Dislodge

One of the enduring attractions of the National Hunt game is the longevity of its competitors when compared with those of flat racing. Year after year our old favourites return to the track to strut their stuff once more, enabling the top chasers and hurdlers in the business to embed themselves in the public affections.

The Irish Gold Cup has certainly been a race which has been pretty kind to former winners with six runners having registered multiple wins in the race as of 2018. All told 10 of the opening 32 editions were landed by a runner who had already shown they had what it takes to prevail.

Four For Fabulous Florida

1989 hero Carvill’s Hill became the first dual scorer when rolling back the years to win for the second time in 1992. The ever-popular Beef Or Salmon and Jodami meanwhile claimed the prize three times apiece. Special mention though must go to the most successful runner in the history of the race, the wonderful Florida Pearl. Having rattled off three successive wins between 1999 and 2001, it looked as though he was all set to claim the record as his own. Only fourth in 2002 though and pulled up in 2003, was his chance gone headed into the 2004 edition as a 12 year old? Not a bit of it as he jumped magnificently throughout to bring the house down with a three-length success.

Mighty Mullins In A League Of His Own

Willie Mullins may have been challenged in recent years by the growing force that is Gordon Elliott, but for the best part of a decade he has been the standout dominant force in Irish racing. Given the wealth of Grade 1 performers he has had at his disposal over this time, it is no surprise to see that that dominance has extended to one of the major contests of the Irish calendar year. Mullins has racked up an impressive nine wins in the race to date – helped in no small part by Florida Pearl’s heroics – which is more than the second and third most successful trainers – Michael Hourigan (four wins), and Peter Beaumont (three wins) – combined. As of 2018 Gordon Elliott has yet to win the race.

Experience A Definite Advantage

Chart Showing Ages of Irish Gold Cup Winners

Open to all runners aged five and older, it has proven tough for the youngest performers to master their elders over the years, with no runner younger than seven having claimed glory as of 2018. It hasn’t been particularly easy for the veterans of the game either though, with multiple winners Beef Or Salmon and Florida Pearl being the only runners older than 10 to have come home in front. The chart below gives a full breakdown of the age of the winners up to 2018.

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