When it comes to the Cheltenham Festival, everybody wants to boast to their mates about picking the winner in the meeting’s biggest races, especially the Gold Cup. However, it’s fair to say that making the correct selection in the showpiece race is a notoriously difficult thing to do, and often the favorite isn’t always the best choice. In fact, since 2010, only four market leaders in the pre-race Cheltenham betting have gone on to win the Gold Cup, including last year’s winner Al Boum Photo, who is gunning for a hattrick in the prestigious race this year.
So, instead of scouring through the form guides and looking for tips on social media, let’s take a look at some of the key trends to consider when making your selections for the Gold Cup, and perhaps the cold hard facts can help you make a more educated choice, as opposed to a stab in the dark, or because you like the look of the jockey’s silks on the racecard.
Age is a key factor when picking the winner in the Gold Cup. 11 of the last 12 horses to win the showpiece race have been between the age of seven and nine. In fact, the last winner outside of that age bracket was Long Run in 2011. The Nicky Henderson-trained horse was just six years of age when he beat previous winners Kauto Star and Denman over the line to become the first six-year-old since Mill House in 1963 to win the Gold Cup. So, the safest bet is to stick within the seven to nine category, and certainly don’t go over it, as the last winner over nine was 10-year-old Cool Dawn in 1998.
That rules out: Native River, Master Tommytucker, Shattered Love, Aso, Black Op, and Magic Of Light.
As we have already mentioned just four favorites have won the Gold Cup in the last 11 outings. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the other seven races have been won by massive outsiders, as that’s not the case either. In fact, just two winners in the last decade have had odds of double figures, and they were Lord Windermere (20/1) in 2014 and Al Boum Photo (12/1) in 2019. Three winners in that period have been 7/1, whilst there have also been 8/1 and 5/1 champions as well. So, it’s probably best to stick within the single-figure odds.
That brings us down to just three horses: Al Boum Photo, A Plus Tard, and Royale Pagaille.
So, let’s dwindle it down to the winner from the three remaining horses by delving further into the key trends. And, unfortunately, it isn’t looking good for the Rich Ricci-owned Royale Pagaille, who has gained a bit of traction of late in the Cheltenham racing tips.
All of the last 12 Gold Cup winners have had at least one previous outing at Cheltenham, whilst they have all also previously won at Grade 1 level. The Venetia William-trained horse is lacking both of these crucial stats from his résumé, and that’s enough grounds to rule him out against the experienced Al Boum Photo and A Plus Tard.
It’s extremely difficult to pick between the remaining two horses as they both meet most of the criteria. However, given the latter’s better form and previous history in the race, we’d have to stick with Al Boum Photo, and it really wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the Willie Mullins-trained horse romping over the line and etching his name in the history books alongside the likes of Arkle and Best Mate.
See the key trends summed up below:
Age – 11 of the last 12 winners have been between seven and nine.
Odds – Only four favorites have won in the last decade. However, only two winners have had odds in double figures.
Outings at Cheltenham – All of the last 12 Gold Cup winners have had an outing at Cheltenham before the Gold Cup.
Grade 1 victories – All of the last 12 Gold Cup winners have won at least once at Grade 1 level before the Gold Cup.
Form – 10 of the last 12 Gold Cup winners won their previous race before the Gold Cup.