Leading Contenders For the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a championship race usually won by the best horse on the day. It is run on the New Course at Cheltenham at the Festival over three miles and two furlongs and 70 yards and 22 fences. The Gold Cup is the most prestigious chase in the sport and the probably the most sought after by professionals. The Grand National is a handicap and won by a horse with a manageable weight while the Gold Cup is the purest test of a steeplechaser.  

Newbury Racecourse Buildings
Newbury Racecourse Buildings

Conditions: Age, Weight, And Gender

In theory, it should be a level weights contest but five-year-olds carry two pounds less than older horses and mares receive an allowance of seven pounds. However, only males horses aged six and older have won the race this century when each winner has carried 11-10. Mares receive a similar allowance in the Champion Hurdle. Annie Power (2015) and Epatante (2020) are recent female winners to take advantage of the allowance.    

The gelding Al Boum Photo won the race last year aged eight and as a seven-year-old in 2019. The horse carried 11-10 in both those races as did the other 11 runners in 2020 and the rest of the 16 strong field in the previous year, except the mare Shattered Love, who ran off 11-03. Dawn Run was the last mare to win the Gold Cup (1986), thus becoming the only horse to win the race and the Champion Hurdle.  Only four mares have won the Gold Cup since it was first run in 1924.    

Horse Racing
Horse Racing

Multiple Winners

There have been two multiple winners this century, both males horses older than five. Kauto Star won the Gold Cup in 2007 and 2009 and is the only winner to reclaim the trophy. Native River won the race in 2018 and is as short as 14/1 to achieve that feat this year.    

Al Boum Photo will be trying to emulate Best Mate, who prevailed three times in three years (2002, 2003 and 2004). Only Golden Miller (1932 to 1936) and Arkle (1964 to 1966) have won three Gold Cups or more in successive years.  

Golden Miller is the only horse to win the Gold Cup and Grand National in the same year, 1934. Santini is prominent in the betting for the Gold Cup and as short as 16/1 for the National, a race the trainer, Nicky Henderson, has never won.    

Kauto Star returned SP’s of 5/4 favourite (2007) and 7/4 favourite (2009). In Best Mate’s three winning years, the SP was 7/1, 13/8 favourite and 8/11 favourite. Al Boum Photo’s SP was 12/1 in 2019 and 10/3 in 2020. The best price for the 2021 race is 11/4.

Other Key Trends

Three key trends for potential Cheltenham Gold Cup winners are the Official Rating, career chase wins over three miles or more and age. This table shows that information for the last 10 winners of the Gold Cup: 

Year Horse Official Rating 3m + chase wins Age
2011 Long Run 179 2 6
2012 Synchronised 167 3 9
2013 Bobs Worth 171 2 8
2014 Lord Windermere 152 1 8
2015 Coneygree 166 1 8
2016 Don Cossack 175 2 9
2017 Sizing John 167 1 7
2018 Native River 166 4 8
2019 Al Boum Photo 164 0 7
2020 Al Boum Photo 175 1 8

 Here are some statistics that summarise the featured records of the winners over the last decade:

 Average Official Rating: 168.20.

  • Official Rating range: 152 to 179.
  • Average chase wins over three miles and longer: 1.70.
  • Range of such wins: 0 to 4.
  • Age range: 6 to 9.
  • Most common age: 8 with 5 wins, 9 and 7 with 2 wins and 6 with 1 win.

 An  average winner of the Gold Cup from 2011 to 2020 ran to an Official Rating of 168, had won 1 or 2 chases over at least three miles and was aged 8.

 Data For Top 6 In Betting

 This is a small sample but it’s interesting to examine the data for 6 leading contenders in the 2021 Gold Cup runners listed at oddschecker. 

Horse Current Official Rating Chase wins over 3m+ Age
Al Boum Photo 175 2 9
Champ 165 1 9
A Plus Tard 170 1 7
Santini 167 2 9
Kemboy 169 5 9
Native River 172 5 11

 Here is a ranking of the six horses based on an approximate matching of these factors and their best odds:

  1. Santini 14/1
  2. Kemboy 14/1 
  3. Champ 5/1
  4. A Plus Tard 6/1
  5. Al Boum Photo 11/4 
  6. Native River 14/1


Santini wins the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup and Kemboy and Champ make the frame!  

PLEASE NOTE: All odds quoted are correct as of March 9th,2021, and are subject to change.