Synchronised Cheltenham Gold Cup PreviewThis time next month, the 2013 Cheltenham Festival will be underway! Check out the latest of our Festival previews, the big one itself – the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Last year’s showpiece race was won by Synchronised (pictured) who is sadly no longer with us to defend his crown, but this year’s race does contain two former winners. We’ve picked out a 7/1 (8.00) shot (Bet365) with a very strong chance indeed…

In our quest to find the winner of the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, we’ve taken our usual approach of analysing past winners of the race and picking out the key trends. We can use these to thin out this year’s field and focus on those horses with the right type of profile.

Key Trends

Age

  • 17 of the last 19 Cheltenham Gold Cup winners were aged 7 to 9

Few Gold Cup trends are stronger than this one. Horses aged six simply don’t win the race (okay, Long Run did two years ago, but he became the first six year old to do so since Mill House in 1963) while there hasn’t been a winner aged 10 or older since 1998.

Form

  • All of the last 12 Cheltenham Gold Cup winners had previously won a Grade One chase in their career
  • 11 of the last 12 winners finished in the front two on their last start
  • 13 of the last 16 had placed in a previous Cheltenham Festival race

As with any race at the Cheltenham Festival, we should be looking for classy horses that are approaching the top of their game and that have shown ability to handle the big occasion and the famously testing track. Big runs at Festivals gone by are important, but so is current form. Don’t look for anything finishing way down the field last time out and a Grade One chase success is key (10 of the last winners had won a Grade One in the same season, too).

Stamina

  • 10 of the last 12 Cheltenham Gold Cup winners had previously won over 3m or further

The Gold Cup is such a test of stamina that it’s important to only back those horses that are proven to be able to handle it. Even the two exceptions to this trend had finished second (by a combined total of less than one length) on their only failed attempts at 3m or further.

Summary

These trends allow us to whittle the field down to just three, though admittedly, it is three of the big guns: Bobs Worth, Sir Des Champs and Long Run

Sir Des Champs is a strange one, for me. Two from two at the Festival is very impressive and I don’t know how he does it, given that they only run him against weak opposition for the rest of the year. He’s hardly set the world alight this year and personally, I’m not convinced he’s a real superstar – yet. I think I’d rather look elsewhere, especially when his best odds are currently just 5/1 (6.00) with Ladbrokes.

I was impressed with Bobs Worth during the Hennesey and he has an incredible record at Prestbury Park, with four wins from four runs, including two at the Festival. If I’m honest, I expected to be backing the Nicky Henderson trained eight year old for the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, but I am put off by his prohibitive odds of just 3/1 (Bet365). I wonder if it might be worth siding with experience, as he’s a lightly raced chaser (just five runs over fences) and all of the last ten winners had run in at least eight chases. Plus, he’s only had the one spin this year, while most winners tend to have at least two runs ahead of the Festival.

With that in mind, I’m going to plump for Long Run. Another Nicky Henderson trained eight year old, he should need no introduction, having won the Cheltenham Gold Cup back in 2011 aged just six. This year, he goes to the Festival off the back of his King George VI Chase success – as he did in 2011 when winning the Gold Cup – bypassing the extra race at Newbury that he took in last term en route to his third place finish. This should see him fresher on the big day. He’s still only eight years old don’t forget, and I was shocked to see him priced as generously as 7/1 (8.00) with Bet365.

Think about that. He has never finished out of the front three in his career, including an RSA Chase third, a Gold Cup third and a Gold Cup success. Twice a winner of the King George VI Chase. 7/1 available to back. That’s an Each-Way bet to nothing if ever I saw one.

Advice

The Cheltenham Gold Cup

Friday 15th March 2013, 15:20
Long Run @ 7/1 (8.00) with Bet365

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