The annual Cheltenham Festival is undoubtedly one of the key dates on the UK horseracing calendar. It attracts racing and betting fans in their thousands each year and those with an interest in the event often include royalty.
This year’s festival is scheduled to be held between the 14th and 17th of March and it will feature all of the usual celebrated races. They include the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Turners Novices’ Chase.
Each of them contributes to the increasing global interest in the event. For all that though, it is the Gold Cup that represents the pinnacle of the Cheltenham Festival.
Popularity of the Cheltenham Festival
In recent times, this festival has been assuming an ever-higher place in the rankings of UK horseracing events. Arguably the biggest reason for that is just how action-packed it is.
With a championship race taking place every day, alongside six other supporting ones, there is no time for either the competitors or the punters to catch their breath. Furthermore, as top trainers and jockeys have flocked to Cheltenham to compete in the races, the worldwide enthusiasm for it has understandably grown.
The Gold Cup is the final championship race and is the most prestigious of them all. This is the one that every jockey and trainer particularly wants to win and also the race that attracts the most betting interest.
That will be the case again in 2023 and it means that anyone thinking of placing a bet will want to know which horses are ranked as favourites for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Galopin Des Champs
The current favourite for the race among the bookmakers is Galopin Des Champs, with odds of 13/8. He is trained by Willie Mullins, one of the top trainers in the business right now and the seven-year-old heads to Cheltenham in great form.
He won the John Durkan Memorial Chase at the end of last year and followed that up with an Irish Gold Cup triumph last month. That win by eight lengths suggests he has the stamina needed for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, even factoring in the additional two furlongs on that course.
Galopin Des Champs is looking for his first Gold Cup win at Cheltenham, but did come close to claiming victory in the Turners last year, only to fall at the final hurdle.
This eight-year-old horse has risen to become second favourite, at 8/1, and it is not hard to understand why. In just his second season he came from nowhere to beat the fancied Any Second Now at last year’s Grand National.
Going into the race with odds of 50/1, he levelled with the favourite near the end before pulling clear to win by 2 ¼ lengths. That has inevitably increased the interest in him and it will be the same man in the saddle – Sam Waley-Cohen – at Cheltenham.
He is confident that the Emmet Mullins-trained thoroughbred is even better now than he was at Aintree, and winning a first Gold Cup would cap a remarkable year.
A Plus Tard
The next horse to be considered a serious bet for this year’s Gold Cup is A Plus Tard. Trained by Henry De Bromhead, this horse is one of the few non-Irish contenders for 2023.
We certainly know he is capable of it, as he won the Gold Cup at last year’s event. Ridden by Rachael Blackmore, the French thoroughbred finished a remarkable 15 lengths ahead of the rest of the field in the 2022 Gold Cup.
Blackmore will be riding him again this year for the Cheveley Park stable and they have odds of 7/1 at the moment to repeat the triumph. It has not been a great season for him this time though, with his only race being the Betfair Chase last November, where he was pulled up.
It remains to be seen whether Blackmore can pull another top performance out of him at Cheltenham.
Another previous Gold Cup winner is the 20/1 rated Minella Indo. The main reason why the 2021 champ is not rated higher by bookies is that he has not hit those levels since.
He is another Henry De Bromhead horse and is definitely less fancied than A Plus Tard. There are pundits who think he is an under-the-radar contender though, arguing that his season is built around the Gold Cup.
Outside of these four horses, there are Stattler and Shiskin, at 8/1 and 12/1. The former may have the lower odds, but it is the latter horse that caught the eye at the recent Ascot Chase.
Galopin Des Champs is odds-on favourite for a first Gold Cup, but any of these horses could win.