The race forms part of the four-day Cheltenham Festival, having begun as a humble flat race back in 1819. It switched to jumps in 1924 and gained popularity in the 1930s thanks to legendary horse Golden Miller who won it five times in a row. In 1934, he completed a historic Gold Cup and Grand National double.
Since 1959, the race has been run on the new course at Cheltenham and has changed little. It is open to horses five years and older and covers a distance of three miles, two furlongs and 70 yards (5,294 m). But how do you pick a winner for the big race?
History has not been kind to the favourites
The race attracts some of the best horses in the business, so there are usually several key contenders. To highlight the competitiveness, only nine favourites have won the race since 1967, although eight of those came after 2003. Last year’s winner started at 12/1 and the highest-priced winner was Norton’s Coin who set off at 100/1 in 1990. However, 17 of the last 19 winners had a starting price below 10/1.
Age is more than just a number
No 10-year-old has won the race since Cool Dawn in 1998. Since then six nine-year-olds, seven eight-year-olds and six seven-year-olds have triumphed. The oldest horse to win was What a Myth, who was 12 when he won the 1969 edition. The last six-year-old to win was Mill House in 1967 and a five-year-old has not been victorious since Golden Miller’s first win in 1932.
Trainers have shared the spoils in recent editions
The last eight winners came from eight different trainers. And of those, only Nicky Henderson has ever won the race more than once. So don’t rule out trainers with zero previous wins when betting on 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup winners.
So what does all of this tell us? We should look for a horse priced under 10/1 but maybe avoid the favourite – that would rule out 2019 champion Al Boum Photo. That horse should be between seven and nine-years-old and perhaps from a trainer who has not won the race before or who has only one it once.
Do your homework
Beyond that, you need to look at the recent and upcoming form of the top contenders. That means checking out the latest results and studying today’s and tomorrow’s racecards to see who is running where and when. Who has form over the course? Who can go the distance? Who steps up for the big events? Potential winners can still emerge in the weeks leading up to the race so keep in the loop.
Once you have done all this and found a horse that ticks all the boxes, you can wager in the knowledge that you have really done your homework. Alternatively, you can do what many others do and stick a pin in a list and hope for the best!