The upcoming Gold Cup at Cheltenham Festival is sure to attract a lot of bets this race season, so we spoke to Peter Watton, from matched betting specialists OddsMonkey, to get some essential advice on where the smart money will be. It's that exciting time of the year when we're almost at the finale of the National Hunt racing season and everyone is looking forward to the big events in the forthcoming few months. Now, most people are focusing on one of the biggest meetings of the year in the Cheltenham Festival 2019, and, more specifically, its flagship race the Gold Cup. But, with the field set to be packed with runners this year — there's 43 confirmed, the highest since 2007 — it's harder than ever to pick that all-important winner from the pack. With this in mind, I've put together some advice on how to place your bets, as well as some key trends to keep an eye on.
GOLD CUP BETTING ADVICE
TIMING YOUR BET One of the most important things to think about before putting money on the Gold Cup is getting the timing of your bet right. The entrants to the race were announced back in January and the market has been open even longer, but, while a prospective early bet will net you much better odds, there's a chance that that your horse will not run. Most bookies offer a "No Runner, No Bet" (NRNB) policy, where if a horse doesn't run, the bet is considered null and the stake is returned to you, but it's always worth checking this is the case. For a safer bet, you may want to consider ante-post (day before) once the 48-hour declaration for the Cup has been made. Or, you can reduce risk of a non-runner further by betting on the day, though you will likely receive shorter odds.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT RUNNER There are quite a few approaches to choosing your preferred horse. Many people like to listen to the tipsters, who've done most of the legwork when it comes to analysing things like the runner's form and how they'll perform on the going. But, if you're willing to do some research yourself, you can look up a horse's form, as well as the latest reports on racecourse conditions and make a decision. If there's one thing you can count on, it's that the bookies will have done thorough analysis of the field and will be offering odds that reflect who they think the favourites are. We found that the favourite has won 27% of Gold Cup races from 1924–2018— an excellent strike rate — so it really can be worth taking in what the bookies have to say. That being said, if you're looking to win more money, the favourite will have the shortest odds and the least opportunity for bigger returns. If this is the case, consider putting your money on the chasing pack.
WHO WON LAST YEAR? ARE THEY RUNNING AGAIN? Last year's Gold Cup was won by third favourite (5/1) Native River, ridden by Richard Johnson and trained by Colin Tizzard. He's also listed as an entrant again this year but is also joined by his close-run rival Might Bite, who was the favourite last time around. Native River is attempting to become the first horse since Best Mate to retain his Gold Cup title. The field is also spiced up by past Gold Cup winners in Sizing John (2017) and Coneygree (2015), as well as Elegant Escape, who won the Welsh Grand National and is also trained by Tizzard. So, if you don't fancy putting money on last years' winner, there are plenty of alternative horses with racing pedigree to choose from instead.
ARE THERE ANY TRENDS I SHOULD WATCH OUT FOR? There are a few Gold Cup trends that might affect how you place your bets in 2019. We've included a few more of these insights in our Cheltenham Gold Cup 2019 guide, so it’s well worth a read if you plan on placing a bet or two. As we've already mentioned, across the history of the race, the bookies' favourite has succeeded in winning quite regularly. This record improves if you focus on the last decade, as the favourite has won four times out of ten, so if you're looking for the safest bet possible, they're definitely worth considering. Age is also seemingly a big factor in the Gold Cup, with senior horses faring poorly. In fact, there hasn't been a winner aged ten or older since 1998. The average age of winning horses over the past decade is eight, so you might wish to pick a runner that's around this age. If you prefer to pick your horses for more whimsical reasons, you might be interested to know that nearly three-quarters (74%) of Gold Cup winners have two-word names. Also, horses with a name beginning with 'M' have won the race nine times, making it the most successful initial letter. Take my advice on board and you will be much better placed to back a Gold Cup winner in 2019. All that's left is to wish you luck and fortune next month!