The Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the most iconic races of the National Hunt season and is staged on the final day of the festival, taking place during the second week of March. It is competed over 3 miles and 2 1/2 furlongs with 22 fences to be jumped along the way. It is a hugely popular betting heat as punters place ante-post wagers throughout the year with many early-season contests offering several clues that could help decipher the winner of this event.
During the extensive build-up to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, punters carefully monitor the progress of many of the leading contenders, although trainers are often a little reticent when it comes to imparting too much information. Jessica Harrington’s Our Duke remains prominent in the betting but has drifted since the announcement that the Irish Grand National winner will require a routine back operation and is likely to miss three months of the season. Loss of form for either jockey or trainer can also affect the market negatively; however, encouraging performances in the King George or any of the other traditional warm-up races can help attract significant support.
Nearly every horse competing at the Cheltenham Gold Cup has previously bumped into the majority of the field at either Prestbury Park or one of the other leading jumps tracks so doing research is absolutely key. For example, Oddschecker have Thistlecrack, Might Bite and Sizing John as the favourites in the 2018 Gold Cup betting with all three set to lock horns in the King George, which takes place at Kempton on Boxing Day. Thistlecrack won last year’s post-Christmas showdown and was an early favourite for the 2017 staging of the Cheltenham Gold Cup but suffered an injury in February and unfortunately wasn’t able to compete for the Tizzard yard.
Prominent trainers are also key when it comes to betting on the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There has been an Irish dominance over the last few years with Gordon Elliott, Jim Culloty and Jessica Harrington all sending winners to the Gloucestershire track but the hugely successful Willie Mullins is yet to find himself in the winners’ enclosure. Mullins is one of the most prominent trainers at the meeting but he hasn’t had much luck in this particular event with Djakadam only managing 4th in 2017.
Coneygree was the first novice in over 40 years to win the race back in 2015 with the 7-1 shot seeing off a talented field to spring a surprise on just his fourth start over fences. Generally, punters are searching for horses who are vastly experienced over the larger objects and have already run during the course of the National Hunt season; however, Coneygree proved an exception to both of these rules.
Strong stayers are also required, particularly if the conditions have taken a turn for the worse. Any contest longer than three miles requires stamina and persistence as well as plenty of concentration so previous experience over this kind of distance is also a huge plus point.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the most hotly anticipated contests of the National Hunt season and punters are constantly searching for clues throughout the year. Ante-post betting can shift dramatically depending on the outcome of the King George as punters look ahead to the iconic race, which helps brings the curtain down on the Festival each and every year.