After enjoying its inaugural run in 1987, Leopardstown’s Irish Gold Cup quickly emerged as one of the leading trial races for the Cheltenham equivalent. The first four Gold Cups were named after one of Ireland’s most successful trainers, Vincent O’Brien.
Although not quite carrying the same level of prestige as the Cheltenham Gold Cup, this is undoubtedly a high class affair and one of jump racing’s biggest events.
This race is synonymous with the Willie Mullins trained chaser Florida Pearl, who won the Irish Gold Cup on a record four occasions, including as a twelve year old in his last ever race.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 7th February 2021
- Winner: Kemboy
- SP: 11/4
- Trainer: Willie Mullins
- Jockey: Danny Mullins
One of the big highlights of the Dublin Racing Festival is this Grade 1 Chase contest which sees the runners lock horns over a trip of 3m½f. With a very tidy sum of €200,000 in total prize money on offer, this event regularly attracts the real cream of the division. The ground at the track is currently described as yielding to soft.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Yielding to Soft||3m½f||Grade 1||€200,000||5 Runners||1/4 1-2|
Irish Gold Cup Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2021. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
It should come as no surprise to even those with a superficial interest in Irish racing that it is Willie Mullins who sits atop the trainers' table in this race. The dominant force in Irish racing for close to 20 years now, Mullins has racked up an impressive 10 wins in this contest. The Closutton maestro would look to have a strong chance of adding to that tally as his two representatives this year, Kemboy and Melon, are currently the second and third favourites in the betting.
Repeat winners have been relatively frequent in this event. Since the race made its debut in 1987, a total of six horses have come home in front on more than one occasion, led by the popular four-time champ Florida Pearl. Bidding to join that club this year is Gordon Elliott’s defending champion, Delta Work.
This event has experienced a couple of big shocks in the past decade with Carlingford Lough scoring at odds of 20/1 in 2016 and Edwulf defying odds of 33/1 when coming home in front in 2018. Overall, this hasn’t been a great race for the favourites, with just one winning jolly in the past 10 years, resulting in a loss of £7.75 to £1 level stakes for supporters of the market leader.
|Minella Indo||5/2||165||Henry De Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
|Delta Work||5/1||170||Gordon Elliot||Jack Kennedy|
Eighty percent of this year’s five-runner field hail from the all-conquering yards of either Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott, but it is the odd horse out who currently heads the betting in the shape of the Henry De Bromhead-trained runner, Minella Indo. Only third best on the ratings, his place atop of the betting is largely due to the feeling that we are yet to see the best of this son of Beat Hollow, which seems a reasonable assessment considering he will be making only his fourth start outside of novice company here.
Held in high regard by his astute handler, Minella Indo has shown consistent class throughout his career to date; landing his Point to Point easily, winning twice in Grade 1 company as a novice hurdler – including when causing a 50/1 shock in the 2019 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival – and only narrowly going down to Champ in last season RSA Novices Chase.
Given the quality of that form, hopes were understandably high that he could make his presence felt against the big boys this term, and he could scarcely have started any better in winning his first two outings by a combined margin of 32½ lengths. Sent off as the favourite for the Grade 1 Savills Chase at this track last time out on the back of those efforts, all appeared to be going well enough until he came to grief at the eighth fence. Not the ideal preparation for this, but he is reported to be none the worse for that fall and going well again at home. With the excellent Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, he can be fancied to make a bold bid at getting his season back on track.
Delta Work– 5/1
The Willie Mullins duo of Kemboy and Melon deserve plenty of respect having finished second and third in that Savills Chase contest last time out. However, at a bigger price, we fancy the one who may be the biggest danger to the market leader, the Gordon Elliott-trained 2020 winner of the race, Delta Work.
This Gigginstown House Stud runner comes into the race on the back of a similar prep to Minella Indo having made it only as far as the ninth before unseating in the Savills Chase. Prior to that, the eight year old had finished an underwhelming fifth place to stablemate The Storyteller – who also goes here – in the Champion Chase at Down Royal. However, his trainer has made no secret of the fact that this is a horse who needs at least one run before reaching his peak, and his form from previous campaigns would certainly back that up.
With one and a half runs under his belt now, it seems reasonable that he may be approaching his best, and that best may well be good enough here. Already a five-time Grade 1 winner, including three wins at this track, he had too many guns for Kemboy and Presenting Percy in this race 12-months ago and a repeat performance ought to see him go very close. A final tick in the box of this one comes with the fact that Jack Kennedy takes over in the saddle – Kennedy has only ridden Delta Work three times, with the two most recent of those rides coming in the horse’s two most recent Grade 1 wins.
Irish Gold Cup Winners
|2021||Kemboy||11/4||Willie Mullins||Danny Mullins|
|2020||Delta Work||5/2||Gordon Elliott||Jack Kennedy|
|2019||Bellshill||2/1||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|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|
|2013||Sir Des Champs||11/8||Willie Mullins||Davy Russell|
|2012||Quel Esprit||5/4||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
About the Irish Gold Cup: The Jewel in Leopardstown’s Crown
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 until 2019. From 2020 Irish bookmakers Paddy Power became backers of the contest.
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 2019 three runners have succeeded in achieving the famous double: Jodami in 1993, Imperial Call in 1996 and Sizing John in 2017.
Same Season Irish and Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners
|2017||Sizing John||Jessica Harrington||Robbie Power|
|1996||Imperial Call||Fergie Sutherland||Conor O’Dwyer|
|1993||Jodami||Peter Beaumont||Mark Dwyer|
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 2020. All told, 10 of the 34 editions were landed by a runner who had already shown they had what it takes to prevail.
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.
List of Multiple Irish Gold Cup Winning Horses
|Florida Pearl||Willie Mullins||2004||2001||2000||1999|
|Beef Or Salmon||Michael Hourigan||2007||2006||2003|
|Carlingford Lough||John Kiely||2016||2015|
|Carvill’s Hill||Martin Pipe & Jim Dreaper||1992||1989|
|Nick The Brief||John Upson||1991||1990|
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 ten 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. In 2020, Gordon Elliott won his first Irish Gold Cup with Delta Work.
Experience A Definite Advantage
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 2020. 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 2020.