Cheltenham Gold Cup – Outside Bets
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is 3 miles and 22 fences which come together to form the most prestigious steeplechase in jumps racing. Its importance can be deduced from the fact that horses which win it more than once tend to become, if not quite household names, then certainly far more famous than the average pony. The likes of Arkle, Kauto Star and Best Mate might not be up there with Kanye West, but they are probably bigger celebrities than the last winner of The Voice, for example (although my postman could probably claim that accolade). That’s because the Gold Cup comes second only to the Grand National in terms of drawing interest from people who wouldn’t normally pay any attention to horse racing. And by ‘people’, we mean punters. And ‘interest’, of course, is just another word for betting.
One of the reasons for this is doubtless the relative unpredictability of the outcome. Of the last five Gold Cups, only two have been won by the favourite, and this is largely down to the fact that, unlike the National, the Gold Cup tends to attract a field which contains high quality throughout, making it tougher – in the absence of a L’Escargot or Golden Miller – to pick the certs or reject the no-hopers. It should be noted, whilst mentioning the legendary L’Esccargot, that when he won his first Gold Cup in 1970 he did so at odds of 33-1, joining other shock victors such as Cool Dawn and Cool Ground, which both won at 25-1 in 1998 and 1992 respectively.
Bearing this in mind – and let’s be honest, if you’re only an occasional punter there’s not much fun to be had in sheepishly backing the favourite – we’d like to offer a few outside tips for the 2016 Gold Cup which brings the curtain down on another Cheltenham Festival:
Holywell – current odds 50-1.
Holywell is trained by Jonjo O’Neill, a man renowned for his eye for a good horse, and someone who wouldn’t be entering the race unless he felt there was a good chance of success. Holywell has won twice before during the Festival, crossing the line first in the Pertemps Final and Festival Handicap. Five wins in five races during February and March indicate that he is a horse in form, and his victory in the Mildmay Novices Chase at Aintree shows that he can hold his own in a Grade 1 field.
Road to Riches – current odds 20-1.
Road to Riches came third in last year’s Gold Cup, having been one of the few in the field to keep pace with eventual winner – and Gold Cup Novice – Coneygree. He won the Clonmel Oil Chase last November an event which, in the past, has been won by horses such as War of Attrition and Sizing Europe, that went on to win during the Cheltenham Festival.
O’Faolains Boy - current odds 33-1.
O’Faolains Boy won at Newbury in December, beating Sausalito Sunrise, having previously triumphed in the 2014 RSA Chase. Injuries kept him largely off the track between the two victories and his outing in the Gold Cup will be a chance to see if he can still boast the racing ability he had as a novice.