Cheltenham Festival: The key Gold Cup trends

Steve Mullington
2015-03-13
Steve Mullington has been crunching the big race numbers

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a Grade 1 race run over a distance of 3 miles 2½ furlongs in which the competitors jump twenty two fences in total. It is open to five year olds and above.

The race is the absolute pinnacle of the National Hunt calendar, Aintree Grand National aside, and is referred to as the ‘Blue-Riband’ of jumps racing.

The race was first run as a  steeple chase in 1924 and its popularity was lifted by a five year-old called Golden Miller who went on to win the Gold Cup five times in succession.

In the modern era winners of the Gold Cup have become, or already were, household names. Desert Orchid, Dawn Run, Best Mate and Kauto Star were all successful and all had their legions of fans and followers.

Here are some trends and statistics on the Cheltenham Gold Cup based on the last ten years.

Age (Wins-Place-Runners)

6-y-o: 1-0-3

7-y-o: 3-5-24

8-y-o: 3-4-40

9-y-o: 3-5-36

10-y-o: 0-4-27

11-y-o: 0-2-10

12-y-o+: 0-0-3

Horses ages between six and nine (10-14-103) have won the last ten runnings.

Horses aged ten or over (0-6-40) have gained no wins.

This age statistic would rule out: Bobs Worth, Boston Bob, On His Own, River Choice & The Giant Bolster.

Form

Seven of the last ten winners won last time out.

Nine of the last ten winners had won over 3m+.

Six of the last ten winners had won a Grade 1 race that season.

Six out of six second season chaser winners had won at least one Grade 1 Novice race.

Cheltenham Form

Nine out of the last ten winners ran in a chase at the previous festival.

Eight out of the last ten winners had previously finished in the first three at the festival.

Four of the past ten winners ran in the previous RSA Chase finishing 1-3-1-1.

Other significant races

Betfair Chase winner: 012PFPPF

King George winner: 1121F1P34

5/10 winners ran in the King George finishing: 11151

4/10 winners ran in the Lexus Chase finishing: 2117

If we expand this statistic even further, fourteen of the last fifteen winners contested either the King George or Lexus Chase.

Trainers

Paul Nicholls (3-6-27) has trained three of the last eight winners and has seen a high percentage place.

Nicky Henderson (2-2-8) trained the winner in 2011 and 2013.

Jonjo O’Neill (1-2-7) won this race in 2012.

Irish trained runners (3-4-22) were in the doldrums between 2007 and 2013 before bouncing back in fine style last year when Lord Windermere and On His Own finished first and second.

Price

Until last year nine of the last ten winners had come from the first three in the betting. Lord Windermere blew that statistic wide open when winning at 20/1 and with an open field once again this year who can second guess what the winner’s S.P will be?

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2015 summary

It wouldn’t be too impolite of me to say that some of today’s runners have “been around the block” a bit because some of them actually have. Friday afternoon’s renewal of the Gold Cup therefore looks perfectly poised for the arrival of some new blood to tackle the old guard, but is anyone up to the task?

Coneygree may just fit those criteria. His trainer, Mark Bradstock, is taking a big gamble taking on the established chasers here but he believes he has the ammunition. His runner will bid to become the first novice chaser to land jump racing's most-coveted prize since Captain Christy in 1974.

Two wins this season at Newbury and one at Kempton have all been achieved with consummate ease and this eight-year-old bay gelding deserves to take his chance in the contest today.