The Coral Cup is a handicap hurdle and the first big betting heat on Day 2 of the Festival.
Introduced to the Cheltenham Festival in 1993, it is one of the most competitive handicaps of the week and often turns into a cavalry charge on the run to the finish line.
CORAL CUP TRENDS
The Coral Cup has tended to favour lightly raced hurdlers who are less well known to the Irish and British handicappers.
Sky's The Limit is the only horse to carry top weight to victory, although Wicklow Brave was just collared on the line in 2019.
However, while the top rated horse (154) in 2022 was pulled up, the next highest rated: Commander Of Fleet and Ashdale Bob (both 152) finished first and third respectively.
Both had claiming jockeys on-board, with the winner thus carrying 11st 5lb rather than the allotted 11st 10lb.
Big-priced winners are not uncommon in the Coral Cup, as evidenced recently by the victories of Commander Of Fleet at 50/1 in 2022 and Heaven Help Up at 33/1 in 2021.
Before them, Medinas (2013), Idole First (2005) and What's Up Boys (2000) all returned at 33/1.
Top trainers often have more than one runner and it isn’t always the most fancied horse from a yard that prevails.
Nicky Henderson certainly likes to target this and his four winners in the last 13 years have come from no fewer than 39 entries.
But, notably, all four of those winners had won at Cheltenham before (16 of the 39 runners had). That's an impressive 4-16 with horses that have won here before.
Especially when you consider their SP's of 5/1, 28/1, 14/1 & 14/1.
LAST 5 WINNERS’ DATA
Commander Of Fleet sprang a 50/1 surprise in a mud-splattered Coral Cup in 2022 - winning a thrilling head-bobbing finish under 5lb claimer Shane Fitzgerald.
Runner-up in the 2019 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, the winner loves soft ground and relished the stamina-sapping conditions.
Gordon Elliott, who saddled seven runners, celebrated his first Festival winner in two years having been suspended the previous year:
Heaven Help Us galloped clear of the field in 2021 to give Paul Hennessy, a greyhound trainer with just three horses in training, his first Festival winner.
The mare, born and raised at his home, was ridden by 7lb claimer Richie Condon in his first-ever ride at Cheltenham:
The mare Dame De Compagnie justified market support in 2020 to make it back-to-back Coral Cup wins for Nicky Henderson:
William Henry denied the top weight Wicklow Brave with a late thrust in 2019:
Bleu Berry went from last to first in 2018, a first Festival winner for late substitution jockey Mark Walsh:
Back in 2012, Son Of Flicka - beaten by a neck in the previous year's Martin Pipe Hurdle - went one better having been backed in from 66/1 to 16/1 on the day: