Three Key Cheltenham Gold Cup Stats

"Cheltenham Gold Cup" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the blue riband event of National Hunt steeplechasing. As one of the biggest races in global horse racing, there are certain statistics which are worth considering when looking at the betting markets.

While such trends and data can't guarantee you'll find the winner, they are always worth bearing in mind and can narrow the field. Here are three key Cheltenham Gold Cup stats ahead of the 2019 running on Friday, March 15.

Recent history highlights how older horses are best avoided

Thistlecrack was the ante-post favourite for this race in each of the previous two years, but injury ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival and a crack at glory both times. Hopefully, the Colin Tizzard trained 11-year-old will make it to the track for the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2019 for what may be his only shot at it.

Half-a-century of history is against the 11-year-old, however, who is 14/1 with Paddy Power this year. The last horse older than ten to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup was What A Myth way back in 1969. That one was a 12-year-old. This reflects a broader trend that suggests it’s wiser to avoid backing older horses.

Only two ten-year-olds since the popular grey Desert Orchid triumphed in 1989 have won the race, and none of those successes for elder statesmen have come in the last 20 years. It's a clear negative against last year's Gold Cup runner-up Might Bite from Nicky Henderson's stable and the Yorkshire-trained Definitly Red.

The former was out to 20/1 following his dismal defence of the King George VI Chase at Kempton over Christmas, but has since been slashed to half those odds. Your search for a Gold Cup winner may prove more profitable to look at horses aged between seven and nine.

Nearly a century since there was a winner who warmed up over hurdles

Presenting Percy has been prominent in the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting from the moment he won the RSA Chase at the Festival in 2018. The only concern is he hasn't been seen jumping fences in anger since and, although schooled over them at Galway, his only competitive action this season was the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park.

If you're thinking of piling into the 7/2 joint-favourite, then consider this; the last horse to win the Gold Cup off the back of a hurdles victory was Easter Hero way back in 1929. Being lightly-raced isn't a problem as Native River showed last year, but his one run came in a chase rather than over the smaller obstacles.

Presenting Percy's trainer Pat Kelly used the Galmoy Hurdle as part of his preparation on route to Cheltenham and that triumph in the RSA last year. Though, if there is one horse who could belie a 90-year record, it may well be this one.

No horse has defended Gold Cup since Best Mate

"Best Mate statue" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

Returning to Native River, who despite the likely absence of cut in the ground during this year's Festival is trading around 11/2 to retain the Gold Cup, history is also against him. Thistlecrack's illustrious stable companion bids to become the first horse for 15 years to defend his title.

Not even modern great Kauto Star could win the Gold Cup in consecutive years. He remains the last horse to twice climb the mountain, but the previous back-to-back victor was Best Mate. Henrietta Knight's star chaser won three Gold Cups in a row between 2002 and 2004.

Prior to that, the last multiple winner was L'Escargot in the early 1970s. It is a mammoth task to try and defend the Cheltenham Gold Cup then, and all-time greats like Arkle, Cottage Rake and Golden Miller take some emulating in the modern era.