The Gold Cup is the pinnacle of National Hunt racing. A race that all connections dream of winning, but very few get the honour of doing so. The Cheltenham showpiece has proved to be one of the hardest races to win, the proof being that the great Willie Mullins failed to win it until 2019 with Al Boum Photo.
Mullins’ horse was sent off as a 12/1 outsider on that occasion and returned a year later to retain his title, this time as the 100/30 favourite. This shows that sometimes the prices can’t be trusted in the big one, with so many variables having to be considered before you make your prediction of who will add their name to the illustrious list of previous winners.
How Do Favourites Fare
Looking at this year’s Gold Cup markets and the many 2023 Cheltenham Festival tips, this year’s favourite, Galopin Des Champs at 13/8 is a very popular choice. Looking back over the last 10 years, however, we see that the favourite for the highlight of the four-day meeting has only won the race on four occasions.
In 2013 the gallant Bobs Worth showed incredible heart to beat Sir Des Champs, battling home as the 11/4 favourite under Barry Geraghty.
In contrast, the following year saw Bobs Worth start as the favourite again, but he could only finish fifth to 20/1 shot, Lord Windermere in one of the most dramatic Gold Cup finishes of all time. Another surprise came along the following year when the Novice, Coneygree, powered to victory at 7/1.
Don Cossack put an end to the favourites’ poor performances in 2016, beating off the rest to win at 9/4, but the outsiders were at it again 12 months later when Sizing John returned a 7/1 winner with 3/1 favourite, Djakadam back in fourth.
Al Boum Photo’s first Gold Cup win was preceded by Native River’s 5/1 success in 2019, whilst Minella Indo (9/1) was involved in Gold Cup history when being partnered to victory by the first lady rider to win the prestigious race, Rachael Blackmore.
Last year we saw a favourite win like a favourite should when A Plus Tard blitzed the field at a well-backed price of 3/1.
This Year’s Favourite
As we have seen, Gold Cup favourites over the past ten years have only won the race 40% of the time. It will be very interesting to see how this year’s favourite, Galopin Des Champs, affects this. The Irish raider looks like a top-drawer performer and is looking like he could be very hard to beat.
As we know, the Irish racing public love a Cheltenham banker and Willie Mullins’ star chaser seems to be fitting the bill for the 2023 festival. Strong support from the Irish is likely to see Galopin Des Champs’ price shorten closer to off time, so it might be worthwhile selecting a nice-priced rival to take him on.
Favourites are far from sure things, particularly when it comes to the Gold Cup. In the last 10 years, a horse at 7/1 seems to be a good bet, so last season’s Grand National winner, Noble Yeats, could be an interesting runner for punters to take a chance on.