The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious jumps race of the year and always the highlight of the week at the Cheltenham Festival.
Its roll of honour includes household names such as Golden Miller, Arkle, Dawn Run, Desert Orchid, Best Mate and Kauto Star.
The race is a true test of a horse’s stamina and jumping, with 22 fences to be cleared before the final, punishing climb to the line.
Indeed, just eight horses have won the Gold Cup on more than one occasion:
CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP TRENDS
Recently, lightly raced chasers have fared best - the vast majority of winners having run in 12 or less chases when lining up in the Gold Cup.
Most winners have either won or placed at the Festival before and Coneygree (2015) is the only winner since 1996 not to have run at the Festival previously.
Surprisingly though, proven stamina isn’t so important: only 4 of the last 17 winners had already won beyond 3 miles ½ furlong.
But class is everything, with every winner this century having already won a Grade 1.
Age is also a good guide: most winners are aged seven, eight, or nine, with Long Run (aged six) the only exception this century.
More recently, 8 of the last 9 winners were aged either seven or eight.
Six of the last seven Cheltenham Gold Cups have now gone to Ireland.
LAST 5 WINNERS’ DATA
This year A Plus Tard comprehensively turned the tables on his 2021 conqueror under Rachael Blackmore, who'd kept the faith.
He ran out a highly impressive 15-length winner for another Gold Cup 1-2 for Henry De Bromhead:
The 2021 Gold Cup winner was Minella Indo who finished ahead of stablemate A Plus Tard in a 1-2 for Henry de Bromhead:
Al Boum Photo achieved the rare feat of back-to-back Gold Cups in 2020:
Willie Mullins finally won the Gold Cup in 2019, having trained the runner-up 6 times:
Native River and Might Bite had an almighty battle almost from start to finish in 2018:
Sizing John was the first horse to achieve the Irish Gold Cup, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup treble in 2017:
Cue Card was set to win a £1m bonus for winning the 'Triple Crown' of Betfair Chase, King George and Gold Cup in 2016.
However, the two-time Festival winner fell three out when going well, leaving Don Cossack to triumph for Gordon Elliott:
Coneygree was the first novice in 40 years to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015, on only his fourth start over fences:
Lord Windermere followed up victory in the RSA Chase the year before to win in 2014.
Trained by Jim Culloty, who won the race three times as a jockey with Best Mate, he remains the longest priced Cheltenham Gold Cup winner this century at 20/1:
Bobs Worth rallied to maintain his unbeaten record at Cheltenham in 2013.
He was the first horse since Flying Bolt in the 1960's to win three different Festival races, following the Albert Bartlett Hurdle in 2011 and the RSA Chase in 2012.
CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP HISTORY
The first Cheltenham Gold Cup was run way back in 1819 when it was a flat race that took place on Cleeve Hill, which overlooks the modern racecourse.
The jumps race we know now was introduced in 1924 and first won by Red Splash, who only took part due to the late withdrawal of the favourite Alcazar.
It was less prestigious at that time than both the National Hunt Chase and County Hurdle.
Golden Miller raised its profile, winning five years in a row from 1932 to 1936 in the silks of his colourful owner, Dorothy Paget.
The race was switched to the New Course in 1959 and arguably the most remarkable renewal took place in 1983 when Michael Dickinson saddled the first five runners home, headed by Bregawn.
However, the most memorable contest was probably the 1989 running which saw an emotional success for the massively popular grey, Desert Orchid:
Dawn Run was also a hugely popular winner in 1986, becoming the only horse to date to win both the Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle.
Passed on the run-in by the previous year's winner Forgive 'n Forget and Wayward Lad, she rallied to snatch a famous victory:
While Jenny Pitman was the first woman to train a winner of the Gold Cup with Burrough Hill Lad in 1984:
Further back, the 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup was billed as 'the race of the century' - a showdown between Mill House and Arkle.
Only two other horses were even entered!
Mill House started as the favourite, having beaten Arkle in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury 4 months prior, but Arkle won this now fabled duel by five lengths:
The legendary chaser completed his Gold Cup hat-trick in 1966 as the 1/10 favourite:
In 2004, Best Mate emulated Arkle's feat by winning the race for a third time:
The most hyped Cheltenham Gold Cup took place in 2009, as reigning champion Kauto Star took on stablemate Denman:
But in 2009 Kauto Star became the first horse to regain his crown: