horse racing

Is a festive outing the key to Gold Cup success?

What do 13 of the last 15 (including all of the last 12) 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 9 of the last 10 winners of the Gold Cup finished first or second in that seasons King George or Lexus.

Don’t beleive me? Take a look for yourself –


Gold Cup Winner

Ran in that season’s King George or 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


Did not run in either

So whilst most of us are tucking into our Christmas dinner leftovers the future Gold Cup winner is most likely 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 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 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; they are not races where there is generally 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, there is little to no room for a breather (same could be said of Leopardstown) and your horse is nearly always in top gear; you need plenty of stamina to win both these races.

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

So what of the Gold Cup market leaders this year? Who put their credentials on the line over Christmas and who by-passed these vital trials?

Lets have a look –

King George runners –

1st – KAUTO STAR – Currently 4-1 for Gold Cup

2nd – LONG RUN – Currently 5-2 for Gold Cup

3rd – CAPTAIN CHRIS – Currently 14-1 for Gold Cup

4th – SOMERSBY – Currently 50-1 for Gold Cup

Lexus Chase runners –

1st – SYNCHRONISED – Currently 12-1 for Gold Cup

2nd – RUBI LIGHT – Currently 40-1 for Gold Cup

3rd – QUITO DE LA ROQUE – Currently 20-1 for Gold Cup

Did not run in either King George or Lexus –

GRANDS CRUS – Currently 8-1 for Gold Cup

TIME FOR RUPERT – Currently 20-1 for Gold Cup

WEIRD AL – Currently 20-1 for Gold Cup

DIAMOND HARRY – Currently 25-1 for Gold Cup

JESSIES DREAM – Currently 25-1 for Gold Cup

WHAT A FRIEND – Currently 40-1 for Gold Cup

BOSTONS ANGEL – Currently 33-1 for Gold Cup

Certainly interesting reading, especially if we consider the ‘9 of the last 10 winners of the Gold Cup finished first or second in that seasons King George or Lexus’ stat.

Next week I will be examining the Gold Cup contenders and putting them through their paces with regards to their Dosage figures; just who has the genetic attributes to be a Gold Cup winner?

Stay tuned……

NTF New Years Sale!

There are still a couple of days remaining of the NTF New Years sale. I have created an exclusive discounted package for the NTF National Hunt season for those of you looking to join until the end of the season (Cheltenham, Aintree & Punchestown guides included!).

All details can be found here –

There are also a couple of free guides on there to give you a better idea of exactly what NTF is all about.

Happy punting – Ben (NTF)



2 responses to “Is a festive outing the key to Gold Cup success?”

  1. Hi Mark

    Its more the experience garnished from running in the race or indeed the race fitness gained from taking part, at what could the perfect time gap before the big one in March.

    I would say the actual taking part in the race is more important than simply being an intended runner.


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