Taking centre stage at Cheltenham on the Saturday of their November meeting is this ultra-competitive handicap contest, the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
First run in 1960, this race has many sponsors over the years. Paddy Power have returned in 2020 having previously supported the Gold Cup between 2003 and 2015. Other backers include Mackeson, Murphy’s and most recently BetVictor.
The top trainers in the game tend to be attracted to Cheltenham for this big early season pot, and it has proven difficult for the smaller operations to break through over the years. This time around will we see the prize again falling to one of the big yards?
Paddy Power Gold Cup Past Winners
|2020||Coole Cody||10/1||Evan Williams||Tom O'Brien|
|2019||Happy Diva||14/1||Kerry Lee||Richard Patrick|
|2018||Baron Alco||8/1||Gary Moore||Jamie Moore|
|2017||Splash Of Ginge||25/1||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Tom Bellamy|
|2016||Taquin Du Seuil||8/1||Jonjo O’Neill||Aidan Coleman|
|2015||Annacotty||12/1||Alan King||Ian Popham|
|2014||Caid Du Berlais||10/1||Paul Nicholls||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|2013||Johns Spirit||7/1||Jonjo O’Neill||Richie McLernon|
|2012||Al Ferof||8/1||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh|
|2011||Great Endeavour||8/1||David Pipe||Timmy Murphy|
|2010||Little Josh||20/1||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|2009||Tranquil Sea||11/2||Edward O'Grady||Andrew McNamara|
|2008||Imperial Commander||13/2||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Paddy Brennan|
|2007||L'Antartique||13/2||Ferdy Murphy||Graham Lee|
|2006||Exotic Dancer||16/1||Jonjo O'Neill||Tony McCoy|
|2005||Our Vic||9/2||Martin Pipe||Timmy Murphy|
|2004||Celestial Gold||12/1||Martin Pipe||Timmy Murphy|
|2003||Fondmort||3/1||Nicky Henderson||Mick Fitzgerald|
|2002||Cyfor Malta||16/1||Martin Pipe||Barry Geraghty|
|2001||Shooting Light||9/4||Martin Pipe||Tony McCoy|
About the Paddy Power Gold Cup
It may not be the most prestigious Gold Cup run at Cheltenham but the Paddy Power Gold Cup is not a contest lacking in reputation. Many view the feature race of November’s Open Meeting as being a highly informative handicap for the season ahead. The chase is contested over a distance a touch further than two and a half miles with all horses aged four and above eligible to compete.
Initially sponsored by Mackeson in 1965 when first introduced, the event has been run under several different guises since. Many of you may know this race as the Paddy Power Gold Cup anyway but the Irish bookmakers pulled their support in 2015 with BetVictor taking their place a year later only for Paddy Power to return in 2020. Sponsorship helps keeps this handicap a valuable one with a prize of £130,000 offered in 2020, a handsome tally for a Grade 3 race.
DECENT RETURNS ON OFFER
Horses outside of the top three in the betting half won nearly half of all Paddy Power Gold Cup renewals since 2002. As a result the average starting price of champions in this time is close to 10/1, making it an attractive race for the punters. It’s a price that would be a lot shorter though if those at the very top of the betting could perform more regularly. Favourites haven’t fared well in recent years, Tranquil Sea the last to do the business back in 2009 at odds of 11/2.
COURSE WIN AN ADVANTAGE
You’ll struggle to find a horse without some form of Cheltenham experience on the racecard for this Gold Cup challenge. Former course wins are not as commonplace though. Out of the 17 runners that took part in the 2019 renewal only five had previously enjoyed success at Cheltenham.
In the renewal prior to that in 2018, seven horses, just over a third the field, boasted a ‘C’ next to their name. Despite usually being outnumbered, those with a New or Old Course win have been first past the post 12 of the last 18 instances of this race. Happy Diva in 2019 and Baron Alco in 2018 became the latest exceptions to the rule but both had twice finished as runners-up previously at Cheltenham.
David Pipe will be hoping he can replicate his father’s unrivalled success in this race but it will take some doing. His dad Martin secured his first Gold Cup winner in 1987 before another seven followed during a dominant 10 year period between 1996 and 2005. Retiring a year after his final winner, the mantle was passed to David and it didn’t take too long for him to get off the mark. Great Endeavour’s win is only time Pipe junior has struck gold in this race though despite his regular presence. As you can see by efforts since, Pipe is in need of some more inspiration if he’s going to close on his dad’s record.
DAVID PIPE’S Paddy Power GOLD CUP RECORD: 2011 – 2019
|2019||Eamon An Cnoic||16/1||Tom Scudamore||Unseated Rider|
|2018||Eamon An Cnoic||50/1||David Noonan||Fifth|
|2018||King’s Socks||12/1||Tom Scudamore||Unseated Rider|
|2016||Ballynagour||33/1||Tom Scudamore||Pulled Up|
|2015||Kings Palace||13/2 F||Tom Scudamore||Eleventh|
|2014||Easter Meteor||12/1||Tom Scudamore||Pulled Up|
|2013||Ballynagour||8/1||Tom Scudamore||Pulled Up|
|2012||Grands Crus||7/4 F||Tom Scudamore||Pulled Up|
|2011||Great Endeavour||8/1||Timmy Murphy||Winner|
IMPERIAL COMMANDER COMPLETES GOLD CUP DOUBLE
Paddy Power Gold Cup participants rarely go on to hit an elite level although many do enjoy a decent degree of success. It’s not often you ever see them wind up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup later in their career but Imperial Commander was a horse unlike most others. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the successful chaser claimed his first notable victory in 2008 when winning this race. One season later he then took part in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, priced only behind Kauto Star and Denman in the betting. There he scooped a hugely prestigious win, making him the only horse ever to win both these particular Gold Cups.