Cheltenham 2018: Gold Cup Odds and Betting Preview

Please keep in mind that all odds mentioned are accurate at the time published on March 14, 2018 and are likely to change.
Friday is the final day of the Cheltenham Festival as the best is saved for last as the Cheltenham Gold Cup takes centre stage. The ultimate staying chase race will take place at around 15:30 as the finest steeplechasing exponents from training bases in various parts of Great Britain and Ireland will do battle for the glory of capturing the prestigious Gold Cup trophy.

Raced over the extended three miles and two and-a-half furlongs (5,331 meters) with 22 fences standing in the way, the Gold Cup race is the truest combined test of speed and ultimate stamina.

The history of the Gold Cup has thrown up some fantastic victories – and huge surprises in equal measure. In recent years, Coneygree was the first novice to win the 2015 Gold Cup for 40 years in only his third start over fences. Best Mate won three Gold Cups back in 2002-04 to place the legendary horse into Gold Cup immortality.

Unfortunately, we won’t see last year’s winner, Sizing John have an opportunity to retain his crown as trainer, Jessica Harrington recently pulled her stable star from the race due to a minor setback. This however will not detract from what promises to be a great race in prospect, and here we will look at some of the main contenders to try and point our readers towards the 2018 winner.

Henderson Hotpot

Nicky Henderson

Veteran trainer Nicky Henderson has several ante-post favourites for the Cheltenham Festival and his Might Bite could enhance his two previous wins in the big race. The nine-year-old is unbeaten in his last five outings – would be seven but for a fall at Kempton – and is the current market leader at the best industry price of 7/2 with Black Type.

Might Bite is a quirky individual, but he has obvious class. After jumping the last with an almost unassailable lead in last year’s RSA Novice Chase, Might Bite wandered around the course under Nico de Boinville, and was briefly headed by Whisper. Might Bite realised he was in a race again and repelled the challenger to win by a nose.

Might Bite has a very high cruising speed which could be used to great effect in this race. One concern for backers of the Henderson hotpot would be the going, as Might Bite would not wish for the ground to be too testing – although he has won before on soft ground.

Stout Stayer

One horse who will relish testing conditions is the Colin Tizzard-trained, Native River, who can be backed at the top price of 11/2 with William Hill. Native River has had a quiet campaign this season with just the one run at Newbury in a three-runner Grade 2 chase. Native River galloped his two rivals into the ground to ease to a 12-length victory.

If the ground conditions turn out to be very testing on Friday afternoon, then Native River could be the answer. His stamina is proven after claiming the 2016 Welsh National over three miles and five furlongs in soft ground at Chepstow. When others will be stopping, you can guarantee that Native River will be battling up the Cheltenham hill.

Others of Note

Willie Mullins

The Irish contingent for the Cheltenham Gold Cup Is always strong and plentiful and this year is no exception. Several contenders are making the trip over the Irish Sea to contest the Gold Cup, with Jessica Harrington’s Our Duke leading the way in the market at a top price of 7/1 (generally available).

Following his 14-length demolition of some decent rivals in the 2017 Irish Grand National, Our Duke shot to prominence in the Gold Cup ante post betting. A pair of indifferent performances followed but Our Duke came back to form last time out by claiming the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park. He is one for the shortlist.

Willie Mullins is again mobhanded for the Gold Cup, as he has four options at this current stage. Killultagh Vic – currently 10/1 with William Hill, Total Recall 16/1 (generally available), Djakadam 33/1 with William Hill and Bachasson also generally available at 33/1.

While not having an obvious first option for Mullins’ stable jockey Ruby Walsh, it could be wise to see which horse he selects to suggest which is their strongest chance in the race. The Gold Cup is the one elusive prize that has yet to be won by the all-conquering Mullins yard, so they should never be discounted.

Road To Respect 10/1 with Ladbrokes and Sport Pesa and Definitly Red at 16/1 with William Hill are also worthy of consideration – especially in each-way calculations.

Conclusion

The weather could have a significant bearing on the outcome in this year’s renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Might Bite would prefer better going, and his chances could be significantly reduced if the ground becomes testing.

Our marginal preference is for Native River on this occasion, as he will relish the potential soft going. There is a slight concern of the ‘bounce factor’ with Native River after impressing on his first run back after injury however. Provided Native River runs his race, the eight year old has no questions to answer regarding stamina and alongside Our Duke, they would be our two selections against the rest of the field.

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