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: Sunday, 7th February 2021
The next race is scheduled to run on 7th February 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: 2nd February 2020
- Winner: Delta Work
- SP: 5/2
- Trainer: Gordon Elliott
- Jockey: Jack Kennedy
The trip is 3m for this prestigious Grade 1 Chase contest which offers €250,000 in guaranteed prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as yielding to soft with only minimal rain forecast in the lead up to the race.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Yielding Soft||3m||Grade 1||£250,000||10 Runners||1/5 1-2-3|
Irish 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.
In common with many of the top Irish National Hunt contests, it is Willie Mullins who boasts much the best record in this race. Mullins may have just the one Cheltenham Gold Cup to his name, but he has proven considerably more successful on home soil, with his hugely impressive tally of 10 victories giving him the all time lead in this event.
Only one horse older than nine years of age has come home in front in this in the past 10 years, a fact which speaks against defending champion Bellshill and Cheltenham Gold Cup runner up Anibale Fly this year.
This race hasn’t been averse to a shock result in recent times, which is a bit of a shock for a contest of this calibre. In the last few years alone we have seen 33/1 shot Edwulf landing the pot in 2018, and Carlingford Lough defying odds of 20/1 when successfully defending his crown in 2016. Overall, this has been a slightly disappointing race for favourite backers in the past decade, with just the two coming home in front, for a level stakes loss of 4.5pts.
If Willie Mullins is to improve his already formidable record in this race, then the horse most likely to do it – at least according to the betting market – is the eight year old, Kemboy. This son of Voix Du Nord is the current market leader for this year’s race, and on the pick of his form it’s hard to argue with that assessment.
It was over this course and distance in the 2018 Savills Chase that Kemboy first announced himself as potentially something a little bit special. Travelling like a dream that day, the manner in which he quickened at the end of three miles was seriously impressive, and saw him head into the Cheltenham Gold Cup well fancied by many to land the biggest prize of all.
It didn’t go anything like to plan at Prestbury Park as he unluckily unseated at the very first fence, but he did go on to hint at what might have been when routing the field in the Aintree Bowl and beating Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo in the Punchestown Gold Cup. He wasn’t at his best when fourth on his comeback at this track last time out, but can be expected to come on for that and is the one to beat for our money.
DELTA WORK (13/8)
If there is to be a new Irish star on the staying chase scene this season, it may well be the Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work. Going in the famous Gigginstown House Stud silks, this one enjoyed a most productive novice campaign. Impressive in winning each of his first three starts, he then found only Topofthegame and Santini too good, when a slightly unlucky in running third in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Going on to round off his season with a 12-length demolition job in a Grade 1 at Punchestown, he looked one of his powerful yard’s shining lights headed into the current campaign.
As such, his return to the track at Down Royal in November must have left connections scratching their heads just a little. Even accounting for the fact that he may not have been fully wound up, it was still a disappointing effort to finish 16 lengths adrift of the winner in beating just the one home that day.
Thankfully Delta Work went on to prove that run to be all wrong when given another crack in a Grade 1 in the Savills Chase in December. In what turned into something of a war of attrition, it was he who stayed on best of all to get up close home, with the likes of Kemboy, Presenting Percy and Bellshill all in behind. Reportedly expected to come on for that run, he looks a major threat to all but the odds may be a shade short given he has a little still to prove.
PRESENTING PERCY (4/1)
It may have been Al Boum Photo who ultimately landed the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season, but it was Pat Kelly’s Presenting Percy who was sent off clear favourite for that race on the day. In the end he managed only eighth, but did have his excuses, including a slipped saddle and being noted as having finished lame in his post-race examination.
Whatever the reasons for that defeat, you don’t get to the head of the market for the hottest staying chase of the season without boasting some impressive form in the book. In the case of Presenting Percy that form included a seven length rout in the 2018 RSA Chase – with Al Boum Photo amongst those unable to live with him that day.
In truth he hasn’t really run to anything like that level since, but at nine years of age, he does still have time to come good again and should be at his best right now. Only four lengths adrift of Delta Work in that Savills Chase contest last time out, he doesn’t have all that much to find and can’t be ruled out, especially at much longer odds that the two market leaders.
CHRIS’S DREAM (11/2)
One who seems to be coming in for reasonable support in the lead up to the race is the relatively unheralded Chris’s Dream from the yard of Henry De Bromhead.
A winner of a Grade 2 event at Navan in February last season, he then had two unsuccessful bites of the cherry in top class company. Firstly, when never landing a blow in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree, and latterly when pulled up behind Delta Work at the Punchestown Festival. Two efforts which clearly need improving upon if he is to take a hand in this but there are plenty who believe he can do just that.
Judging by his sole effort this season though, it is easy to see why this eight year old son of Mahler is being supported to find the required improvement. It may have only been a handicap affair he won last time out at Navan, but to turn an event so competitive as that Troytown Chase contest into something of a procession was no mean feat. An easy 9½l too good for the field when running off a mark of 146 that day, he looks well worth his place in this line-up and could certainly give the market principles a scare or two.
Irish Gold Cup Winners
|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|
|2011||Kempes||5/1||Willie Mullins||David Casey|
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.