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Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup Preview

Cheltenham Gold CupThe Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious race in the National Hunt calendar and always attracts a truly elite group of superstars that battle it out for glory. They bid to stand alongside legends like Arkle, Golden Miller, Kauto Star, Desert Orchid, Mill House and Best Mate as the ultimate champions of jumps racing.

The prize purse is north of £600,000 and the prestige is absolutely peerless, so nothing can beat the thrill of these magnificent runners roaring up the final hill at the famous racecourse. This year’s renewal promises to be another exhilarating contest as some brilliant stars are set to line up.

Who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2017?

Sizing John secured a fantastic three-length victory over Minella Rocco in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. It followed on from his victory in the Leopardstown Gold Cup and he went on to secure a famous hat-trick when he won another at Punchestown.

It vindicated Jessica Harrington’s decision to step him up in trip after he endured a string of high-profile defeats at the hands of Douvan over shorter distances.

Sizing John stepped up in style and annihilated a field packed full of the greatest runners in the business. Native River could only finish third, while favourite Djakadam was nowhere near Sizing John. Cue Card, the punters’ darling, fell at the third-last, the same fence that tripped him the previous year, while Tea For Two flopped.

Ultimately the day belonged to Harrington, who became only the third female trainer in history to win the Gold Cup. Winning jockey Robbie Power said: “This is even more special than winning the Grand National.”

Who was the last horse to win the Gold Cup two years running?

The last horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice in a row was the legendary Best Mate, who actually claimed a hat-trick of wins between 2002 and 2004. Denman stopped Kauto Star winning it twice consecutively, and it is a monumentally difficult feat to achieve.

What are the odds on Sizing John winning his second consecutive Gold Cup?

Sizing John is the 6/1 second favourite to win a second consecutive Gold Cup, but he will be up against it as the field is extremely strong. He has only run twice since the Punchestown Gold Cup win and the first went to plan as he beat Djakadam to the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, but his last race was a disaster.

Sizing John went off as 9/10 favourite for the 3-mile Leopardstown Christmas Chase, but he could only finish seventh. He was well beaten by Road To Respect, but he also finished behind Minella Rocco and summoned to find any fluency.

That is worrying form to take into Cheltenham, but Harrington will hope it is a blip and that he roars back to form over a longer distance in the Gold Cup.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

Which top trainers have horses scheduled to run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup?

All the big names have put forward their leading lights for the Cheltenham Gold Cup: Harrington, Nicky Henderson, Willie Mullins, Henry de Bromhead, Colin Tizzard, Gordon Elliott, Jonjo O’Neill, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Paul Nicholls. It really is a roll call of the greats of the National Hunt scene.

Who is the favourite to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup?

Might Bite leads the ante post betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, priced at 3/1. Henderson’s nine-year-old has won five in a row and was last seen coasting to victory in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. In that race he beat many of the leading Gold Cup contenders, so he definitely deserves his favourite tag.

Who are the horses to watch?

Might Bite and Sizing John will gain the most attention, but the field is stacked with talent and it is worth noting that the favourite was beaten in six of the past 10 years. Watch out for Road To Respect, Native River and Coney Island among others.

Who looks the best long shot?

Right now you can get a massive 20/1 on Bristol De Mai, which looks an interesting each-way shot. He destroyed the field in the Betfair Chase and it is worth noting that he really excels in sloppy conditions. The price on him will plummet dramatically if the forecast is bad, so it might be worth taking a punt now at the longer odds. It is risky, but he can still perform on better going, so it looks like an intriguing option.

Otherwise, how about Definitely Red at 16/1? He has won his last two races, both Grade 2 contests, ahead of horses that will line up for the Gold Cup and he looks a great each-way shout.