Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview – Friday 16th March

Last updated: March 14, 2018 by Leon Marshal

The climax of the four-day Cheltenham Festival is the Gold Cup on Friday over three and a quarter miles.

Golden Miller won the race five times in the 1930’s while Arkle was successful for three consecutive seasons between 1964 and 1966. Best Mate repeated the feat by winning for three successive years between 2002 to 2004. Other multiple winners include L’Escargot (1970 and 1971) and Kauto Star(2007 and 2009). Household names like Dawn Run (1986) and Desert Orchid (1989) have also claimed famous Gold Cup victories.

A horse jumping a hurdle at the Gold Cup

Might Bite favourite for Gold Cup glory

The ante-post favourite for this race is Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite, a nine-year-old gelding by Scorpion. He was useful over hurdles but has shown dramatic improvement over fences.

Might Bite looked certain to win last year’s RSA Chase comfortably last season when well clear turning for home. He started to hang across the course, allowing stable companion Whisper to head him briefly on the run-in. Might Bite rallied bravely to regain the lead on the line. He extended his advantage over Whisper to two lengths when the pair met again at Aintree in April.

He reappeared with an easy victory over Frodon at Sandown in November before winning the King George VI Chase. He was always prominent and held the late run of outsider Double Shuffle by a length.

Harrington relies on Our Duke

Jessica Harrington saddled Sizing John to win the race last year, defeating Minella Rocco and Native River. He followed up with a narrow victory from Djakadam in the Punchestown Gold Cup. Hopes of a successful defence of his title took a knock when he ran disappointingly at Leopardstown in December. His test results were abnormal afterwards and Harrington was forced to withdraw him last week.

Stable companion Our Duke booked his place in the field when winning the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase last month. He had finished a moderate fourth in the Irish Gold Cup in February behind Edwulf, Outlander and Djakadam.

Native Ruler suited by testing conditions

Colin Tizzard will be hoping that conditions remain testing for Friday’s Gold Cup. Native Ruler is at his best when the mud is flying, notably when winning last season’s Welsh National under 11st 12lbs. The going was probably on the fast side in last year’s Gold Cup and he was a very easy winner at Newbury last month.

Road To Respect kept on gamely to beat Balko Des Flos for Noel Meade at Leopardstown. That race came 54 days after his run behind Outlander at Down Royal and he usually goes well after a break. Killultagh Vic is a lively contender for Willie Mullins who is still seeking his first Gold Cup win. The nine-year-old was travelling well when falling at the final fence in the Irish Gold Cup. That was only his third race over fences but he was a high class hurdler. He was beaten only half a length by Thistlecrack at Punchestown in April 2015.

A pack of horses racing along a straight at the Gold Cup

Definitly Red has each-way claims

Djakadam has been runner-up twice in this race and was fourth last season. The final hill seems to find him out and he was over ten lengths adrift of Edwulf at Leopardstown. The winner had been pulled up on his previous start and is trained by Joseph O’Brien. Total Recall was all out to beat Whisper in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in receipt of a stone. He warmed up for the Festival with a win over hurdles last month.

Brian Ellison has high hopes for Definitly Red after his win in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham. He stayed on strongly to beat American by eight lengths in heavy ground. The more cut in the ground the better for the nine-year-old gelding. American has been supplemented at a cost of £27,500 but has a lot to find on the form book. King George runner-up Double Shuffle may struggle to stay the trip on this course while last year’s runner-up Minella Rocco has shown little form since.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Betting Tips

Might Bite @4-1 BetBright

Killultagh Vic @10-1

Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3

The Cheltenham Gold Cup will be shown live on ITV and is due off at 3.30 on Friday 16th March.