Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the sport’s biggest prizes. Second only to the Grand National in terms of prize money, the Festival’s premier race pits the cream of the racing crop against one another over fences on the final day of the Festival.
Last year’s renewal was won by 7/1 shot Sizing John under the guidance of Robbie Power for Irish trainer Jessica Harrington. The seven-year-old defied the odds to finish ahead of favourites Djakadam and Cue Card. It proved to be his middle Gold Cup success, in-between winning the Punchestown Gold Cup and the Irish Gold Cup. He is the only horse to have achieved the feat.
The 2018 Gold Cup will see Sizing John defend his crown on 16th March 2018. He will go up against runners including Might Bite, Native River and Road to Respect.
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The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase for horses aged five and over. The weight restrictions are 11st 8lb for five-year-olds, and 11st 10lb for horses aged six or over; there is an allowance of 7lb for mares.
The number of participants ranges from fewer than 10 to more than 20. It’s acknowledged as the most important non-handicap National Hunt event.
The length of the course is 3 miles, 2½ furlongs (5,331 metres) and it has 22 fences, including a challenging downhill jump. The course has a long run-in stretch.
The purse for this race is a whopping ££625,000, with the winner taking home £355,937.50.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup was first run in 1819 as a three-mile flat race at Cleeve Hill, not far from today’s location. The prize fund was 100 guineas.
In 1924, the first jumps were added to the race, which moved to what is now the Old Course at Cheltenham. In the early days, the Cheltenham Gold Cup didn’t have quite the prestige that it does today; people tended to think of it as a trial for bigger-name races. In 1959 the race moved to the venue’s New Course, and a new era of the Gold Cup began.
The first company to put its name to the race was Pipe Champagne in 1975. They were followed by The Tote in 1980 which lasted up until 2003, after which point the race became known as the totesport Gold Cup.
Timico began sponsorship of the event in 2016 and will remain as principal sponsors until at least 2019.
Trainers, Jockeys and Horse Records
The most successful horse in Cheltenham Gold Cup history is Golden Miller. The Irish-bred raider won five consecutive races between 1932 and 1936.
Arkle also enjoyed significant success in the Festival showpiece. Tom Dreaper’s runner won a hat-trick of Gold Cups in 1964, 1965 and 1966 to write his name into the record books. Dreaper is also the most successful trainer in the history of the event with five victories. Three of those came with Arkle, while the other two were secured by Prince Regent in 1946 and Fort Leney in 1968.
Jockey Pat Taaffe combined with Dreaper for four of those victories to hold the record for the Gold Cup’s most successful jockey.
Michael Dickinson gives Dreaper a run for his money in terms of the most remarkable achievement in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. In 1983, the top five finishing horses were all his – a feat which has never yet been equalled.
Golden Miller’s owner, Dorothy Paget, trumps them all, with seven Cheltenham Gold Cup wins under her belt. She won five times with Golden Miller in the 1930s, along with Roman Hackle in 1940, and Mont Tremblant in 1952.
Jim Culloty is the most successful jockey since the turn of the millennium thanks to three straight victories aboard Best Mate in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Paul Nicholls has trained four winners since 1999 and will likely saddle another runner in the 2018 edition.
Race Trends and Statistics
The horse most likely to succeed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup is an experienced and high-ranking chaser – although the 2015 victory was amazingly taken by the novice Coneygree, who had only ever started three races over fences.
- 13 of the last 15 winners had run at Cheltenham before.
- Nine of the last 15 had an OR of 150 or higher.
- Eight of the last 15 winners have been SP favourite.
- Seven of 15 had won over fences at Cheltenham previously.
- Five of the last 15 winners have been Irish-trained.
- Five of the last 15 winners had their last race in the King George VI Chase.
- Only one runner has ever won at odds of 100/1 – Norton’s Coin in 1990.
- Only two winners since 1953 has been under the age of seven – Mill House (1963) and Long Run (2011).
Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners
- 2008: Denman – Sam Thomas
- 2009: Kauto Star – Ruby Walsh
- 2010: Imperial Commander – Paddy Brennan
- 2011: Long Run – Sam Waley-Cohen
- 2012: Synchronised – Tony McCoy
- 2013: Bobs Worth – Barry Geraghty
- 2014: Lord Windermere – Davy Russell
- 2015: Coneygree – Nico de Boinville
- 2016: Don Cossack – Bryan Cooper
- 2017: Sizing John – Robbie Power
As one of the most prestigious and hotly-contested races in the National Hunt calendar, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is a real crowd-pleaser, with everyone in attendance at the Festival eager to guess which horse will earn a place on the elite list of Gold Cup winners.