horse racing

Christmas clues for the Cheltenham Gold Cup…

I covered this angle on the Blog last season but it is such a strong pointer for the Cheltenham Gold Cup it is well worth re-visiting and updating for the impending festive racing jamboree…

What do 14 of the last 15 (including ALL of the last 13) Cheltenham Gold Cup winners have in common?

Answer – They all ran in either that seasons King George VI chase at Kempton or the Lexus chase at Leopardstown!

Looking a bit closer we also see that 10 of the last 11 winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup finished first or second in that seasons King George Chase or Lexus Chase.

Don’t believe me? Well take a look for yourself –

Gold Cup Winner

Ran in that season’s King George or Lexus?


1st in Lexus

2011 – LONG RUN

1st in King George


5th in King George


1st in King George

2008 – DENMAN

1st in Lexus


1st in King George


2nd in Lexus


1st in King George

2004 – BEST MATE

1st in Lexus

2003 – BEST MATE

1st in King George

2002 – BEST MATE

2nd in King George


Pulled-Up in King George


Pulled-Up in King George

1998 – COOL DAWN

Did not run in either


Fell in King George

So whilst most of us are tucking into our Christmas dinner leftovers the future Gold Cup winner will most likely be putting his Blue Riband credentials on the line at Kempton or Leopardstown.

But what is it about these particular races that make them ideal preparation for the rigours of the Gold Cup?

The most obvious answer would be that to be a Gold Cup winner you need to be mixing it with the best chasers at the top level. Generally these races attract the cream of the chasing talent on both sides of the Irish Sea and it could be the even the experience of running in these Grade 1 contests is enough to sharpen the skills for Gold Cup glory.

The timing of the race could also be a factor. There is around 11 or 12 weeks between these Christmas Grade 1′s and the Gold Cup in March and a number of Gold Cup winners use these races as their final stepping stone in their Gold Cup preparation. If these races are not their final prep before the big one then its likely they will only have one more run before lining up at Prestbury Park in March, again the 11-12 week break is ideal for slotting in one final race with plenty of time to build back up for the Gold Cup.

The configuration of the tracks and the way these Christmas Grade 1′s are run may also having a strong bearing on their links with the Gold Cup. Although both tracks are significantly flatter than Cheltenham both the King George and Lexus are usually run at a fairly steady pace; there are very little hiding places and they are not races where there is time to get a breather into your horse. I’ve never been a believer of the ‘if you are going to stay 3 miles anywhere it’s going to be round Kempton’. You are always on the go at Kempton (especially in a race such as the King George), there is little to no room for a breather (same could be said of Leopardstown) and your horse is nearly always in top gear; the facts are you need plenty of stamina to win both these races.

Using the Dosage method as a gauge we can see plenty of correlation between the Dosage figures of a King George/Lexus winners and the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. All 3 races require generous lashings of stamina and it is no surprise to see runners of the Xmas Grade 1’s going on to success at the Cheltenham festival in March.

In my mind both of these festive races are the most realistic gauge of a horse’s Cheltenham Gold Cup aspirations. 

Synchronised continue the trend last season, can the winner of the 2012 King George/Lexus land Cheltenham spoils again this term?

When you’re taking in the King George and Lexus this festive period make sure you keep the Cheltenham Gold Cup firmly at the front of your mind.

NTF Xmas Quiz…

Yes folks it’s that time of year again! Well almost.

The NTF Xmas quiz will be on the Blog tomorrow (Sunday 23rd) and there will be prizes for both the winner AND runner up. Stan James have kindly stumped up a £20 FREE bet for the winner and a £10 FREE bet for the runner-up.

Get your brains warmed up today by watching old re-runs of Catchphrase (or any quiz show of your choice!) as you will need to be at your sharpest to crack the 3rd annual NTF Xmas quiz and be in with a shout of winning those FREE BETS!!

Ben (NTF)

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