All you need to know about the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 13.
When and where will it be staged? 3.30 Cheltenham, Friday, March 13. Live on Racing TV.
What Grade? Grade One. On what course is it run? New Course
What Distance? 3m 2½f (22 fences). What Prize-money? £625,000
What Ages? For 5yo+ which are allotted a BHA rating of 130 or more
Any Weights & Allowances? 5yo 11st 9lb; 6yo+ 11st 10lb. Allowances, mares 7lb
31 horses have been entered in the 2020 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup
Key Statistics and Trends:
Be wary of the older contenders:
The past 20 winners have been aged nine or under. The last ten-year-old winner was Cool Dawn in 1998 (no race in 2001).
And the younger ones!
Long Run is the only six-year-old winner in more than 50 years. Mill House won before him in 1963.
Fourteen of the past 17 winners were in the top three in the betting (Sizing John was 7-1 in 2017, Lord Windermere 20-1 in 2014 and Al Boum Photo was 12-1 in 2019. They are the three non-qualifiers).
Ten of the past 17 winners had a BHA rating of 170+.
The past 18 victors were all Grade One winners going into the race.
Nine of the past 16 winners had not run in that calendar year before the Festival, although the last six all did.
Al Boum Photo was only the fifth Gold Cup winner in the past 20 years that did not run in either the King George or the Savills Chase (formerly Lexus) that season.
Twelve of the last 19 winners had previously finished first or second at the Cheltenham Festival.
In the Cheltenham Gold Cup’s history, only seven horses have won it more than once.
Kauto Star was the last dual winner (2007 & 2009) and is the only horse to ever regain the race. Al Boum Photo will bid to become the first horse since Best Mate’s hat-trick (2002-04) to bag successive Gold Cups.
The other horses to have won the race more than once are: L’Escargot (1970/71), Arkle (1964/65/66), Cottage Rake (1948/49/50), Golden Miller (1932/33/34/35/36) and Easter Hero (1929/30).
Al Boum Photo provided Willie Mullins with his first Cheltenham Gold Cup victory last year. Watch what the serial Irish Champion trainer had to say immediately afterwards
Willie Mullins finally trained his first Gold Cup winner last year (he has also saddled the runner-up six times!) and Irish-trained horses have won six of the 15 Gold Cups since Best Mate’s dominant spell and four of last six.
The Magners-sponsored Cheltenham Gold Cup is the blue riband event of the Cheltenham Festival and attracts the sport's finest staying steeplechasers.
With a prize fund of £625,000, the Gold Cup is by far the richest non-handicap chase run in Britain, with only the £1m Randox Health Grand National worth more.
The two outstanding horses of the early Gold Cup era were dual winner Easter Hero (1929-30) and Golden Miller, who secured an unprecedented five victories from 1932. In those days, though, the race was something of a trial for the Grand National.
Since Golden Miller, only the great Arkle (1964-66) and Best Mate (2002-04) have won more than two Gold Cups, a feat even the great Kauto Star could not match.
Jim Culloty, the jockey of Best Mate, became just the fifth person to ride the winner and then go on to train a winner of the race when Lord Windermere caused a 20-1 shock in 2014. Lord Windermere remains the only double-figure priced winner of the race this century, and is the longest-priced winner since 25-1 Cool Dawn in 1998.
Past 12 winners:
2019 - Al Boum Photo
Al Boum Photo provided Willie Mullins with a long-awaited first Cheltenham Gold Cup success when storming to victory at 12-1 to defeat Anibale Fly who finished placed in the gruelling contest for the second year running.
Mullins had trained the runner-up no less than six times in the Gold Cup and the champion trainer admitted afterwards he thought he was never going to win it. He said: "I sort of resigned myself to never winning a Gold Cup. Certain jockeys may never win the feature race of their lives, like the Grand National or the Champion Hurdle. I thought maybe I'm not going to be lucky."
Kemboy unseated his rider at the first fence, but got his revenge on Al Boum Photo when winning the Punchestown Gold Cup two months later.
2018 - Native River
An "I was there" Gold Cup, with Native River and Might Bite serving up a titanic tussle on testing ground.
The pair dominated from the start, jumping superbly and setting a gallop that slowly sucked the other 13 in the race out of their comfort zones.
It looked like Might Bite, the 4-1 favourite, would pick off front-running Native River, but the latter, sent off at 5-1, stretched every sinew under Richard Johnson and kept him at bay.
By the finish, Native River had stretched four and a half lengths clear. Anibale Fly kept on for third, with Total Recall a notable faller four out.
2017 - Sizing John:
Stepped out of Douvan’s shadow when going up in trip and, having won the Irish Gold Cup on his first attempt at 3m the previous month, the Jessica Harrington-trained seven-year-old shot to the top of the chasing ranks by leading home an Irish 1-2-3-4-5 in the Festival blue-riband event.
Always travelling best under Robbie Power, he found plenty after the last to conclusively prove his stamina for championship races over staying trips and mark himself down as the best three-mile chaser in training.
2016 - Don Cossack:
Made amends for crashing out at the second-last in the King George (looked a major threat at time) earlier that season by running out a brilliant four-and-a-half length winner of the Gold Cup under Bryan Cooper.
Things might have been different had Cue Card, the King George hero, not come down out at the third-last fence when still seemingly full of running. Injury prevented Don Cossack from defending his crown and he was not seen on a racecourse again.
2015 – Coneygree:
Became the first novice to win the Gold Cup since Captain Christy in 1974 with as gutsy a display of front running as you could wish to see.
The eight-year-old, having just his 11th career start, jumped superbly and dug deep in the closing stages to repel reliable yardstick Djakadam to justify connections’ ambitious decision to skip the RSA Chase and head straight for the big one.
2014 - Lord Windermere:
Became the biggest-priced winner of the race this century after springing a 20-1 shock for trainer Jim Culloty, who won the race three times aboard Best Mate.
Official ratings illustrate that Lord Windermere is one of the lowest-rated winners of the race in recent times (6-4 market leader Bobs Worth disappointed) but his record at Prestbury Park is superb with an RSA Chase victory and a Gold Cup success from just three visits.
2013 - Bobs Worth:
Justified favouritism by forging to a bloodless seven-length success for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty.
In doing so, he became the first horse since the great Flying Bolt in the 1960s to win three different Cheltenham Festival races, having previously landed the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2011 and the RSA Chase in 2012.
2012 – Synchronised:
The 2012 renewal had been billed as a clash between the great Kauto Star and the reigning champion Long Run, but the big match did not materialise as Kauto Star was pulled up before the 10th fence.
Tony McCoy took full advantage to win his first and only Gold Cup, galvanising the stamina-laden Synchronised to a power-packed finish that saw him clear of 50-1 chance The Giant Bolster and 7-4 favourite Long Run. Tragically, Synchronised suffered a fatal injury in the Grand National the following month.
2011 - Long Run:
The 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup was a particularly strong renewal with the previous four winners all lining up, and the stage was set approaching the fourth last as all the main protagonists were in contention.
They were upstaged by the new kid on the block, however, who powered up the hill under amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen to become the first six-year-old since Mill House in 1963 to win the Gold Cup.
Long Run, who was imperious in the King George that season, had been perceived to be a ‘flat track bully’ before this seven-length demolition job and the doubters were well and truly silenced.
2010 - Imperial Commander:
Imperial Commander had shown earlier in the 2009-10 season that he was capable of mixing it with the big boys when going down by just a nose to Kauto Star in the Betfair Chase but was allowed to go off a 7-1 chance in the Gold Cup after a hugely disappointing performance in the King George. However, a completely different Imperial Commander turned up at the Festival in March and Paddy Brennan’s mount blitzed his rivals to the tune of seven lengths on rain-softened ground.
2009 - Kauto Star:
Only a special horse can win a Gold Cup by 13 lengths and Kauto Star was certainly that. He was out for revenge, having gone down to stablemate Denman the previous season and the result was never in doubt as Ruby Walsh sat motionless on the Clive Smith-owned star before the pair sauntered clear from the third-last fence to win their second Gold Cup.
It was without doubt one of the most dominant performances in Gold Cup history, from one of the greatest ever steeplechasers.
2008 – Denman:
The meteoric rise of Denman, who had suffered defeat only once in 14 previous starts (when sent off a hot favourite for the 2006 Royal & Sun Alliance Hurdle) reached a pinnacle in the 2008 Gold Cup when he faced stablemate and reigning champion Kauto Star.
Denman had a huge profile on and off the track, partly in thanks to his larger-than-life co-owner Harry Findlay, whose dreams were realised when ‘The Tank’ posted a monstrous performance, to the extent that he was awarded a BHA mark of 185, putting him on a par with the great Desert Orchid.
It was one of the great Gold Cup performances.
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