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Of all the races in the National Hunt calendar the Cheltenham Gold Cup has to be the finest. Three miles two furlongs of precision jumping at an unrelenting gallop is a test in which only the fittest and most talented chasers have prevailed. The 2016 renewal promises to live up to its legendary status.
The roll call of honour includes legends such as Desert Orchid, Best Mate and Kauto Star but attempting to pinpoint the likeliest winner is a far from simple task; only 7 of the last 11 favourites have won.
The most obvious starting point when analysing the runners in the Cheltenham Gold Cup is to use past trends to highlight the likeliest candidates.
Age – In the last 22 renewals only 3 winners (Long Run in 2011 as a 6yr old, Cool Dawn ’98 and Cool Ground ’93, both 10 yr olds) have not been aged between 7 and 9
Betting – 7 of the last 11 favourites have won while the last 13 winners came from the first 3 in the market. Bobs Worth is a worthy favourite for this year's renewal (2014)
Places – In the last 17 renewals there have been 17 placed horses at prices bigger than 16/1. Two winners, eight 2nds and seven 3rds. The Giant Bolster was 2nd at 50/1 and Mon Mome was 3rd at 50/1
Stayers - only 14 of last 24 winners had previously won over a distance in excess of 3m. There have been no Novice winners since Captain Christy in 1974
Trainers – in the last 15 renewals the Irish have won 2 and had 10 placed.
Class –The last 14 winners of the race were all previous Grade 1 Chase winners and all but one had won that season. 12 of the last 16 Gold Cup winners had finished 1st or 2nd at a previous Festival.
Significant Races - A number of horses have won the King George prior to winning the Gold Cup including Arkle, Desert Orchid, Best Mate, Kicking King, Kauto Star (twice) and Long Run and Silviniaco Conti (winner in 2013) who is entered in this year’s renewal. Other races include the Lexus, The Irish Hennessy and the G2 Aon.
Ratings – 11 of the last 12 winners were rated 166+
Headgear – There have been no winners wearing headgear in the past 11 years
Times – These will depend on the state of the ground; in 2013 the going was soft and the time 7 mins 6 secs. While on good ground in 2011 the current record was achieved in 6 mins 30 secs.