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The Gold Cup is traditionally the highlight of the Cheltenham Festival, and that will be no different in 2021. The legendary race, run over 3m2f on the New Course at Prestbury Park, is considered to be the blue-riband event of the Jumps season and boasts a purse in excess of £600,000.
The iconic Grade 1 steeplechase sees the best-of-the-best National Hunt chasers face 22 fences before tackling the infamous stamina-sapping Cheltenham Hill on one of the most gruelling run-ins in racing. The event is open to horses aged five years and older, and the 2021 renewal is set to feature a stellar field – including two former winners.
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The most famous of these is Al Boum Photo, who is seeking to become the first horse since Best Mate in 2004 to win three consecutive Gold Cups. The Willie Mullins-trained charger is unsurprisingly our ante-post favourite, but several rivals are looking to steal the nine-year-old’s crown.
Those include 2018 champion Native River, who comfortably beat fellow Gold Cup contenders Bristol De Mai and Santini in the Cotswold Chase at Sandown at the start of February, as well as the likes of A Plus Tard, Royale Pagaille and 2020 RSA Novices’ Chase winner Champ.
When is the Gold Cup?
The Cheltenham Festival 2021 is a four-day meeting taking place between Tuesday March 16 and Friday March 19, and consists of 28 races – including 14 Grade 1 contests.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the centre-piece of the fourth and final day of racing on the Friday, which is handily named Gold Cup Day.
What time does the Gold Cup start?
The Gold Cup is the feature race on Friday March 19, with runners expected to go to post at 3.05pm.
How far do the horses have to run in the Gold Cup?
The Gold Cup is run over a distance of 3m2f and 70 yards – or 5,294m for those who love the metric system – on the New Course at Cheltenham.
There are 22 steeplechase fences to be jumped during the contest, consisting of a combination of plain fences, open ditches and a water jump. The field will tackle two plain fences – which become the second-last and last in two circuits time – before turning left and heading uphill, out into the country. The fourth fence (later the 14th) is the water jump while the fifth and seventh (later the 15th and 17th) are open ditches.
Which horses are our experts tipping in the Gold Cup?
Frank Hickey: “AL BOUM PHOTO’S got versatility, he won a strongly-run Gold Cup in 2019 and a tactical one in 2020 so what beats him?”
FULL PREVIEW: FRANK HICKEY’S GOLD CUP TIPS
Ruby Walsh: “AL BOUM PHOTO could be hard to beat and he could potentially join illustrious company and become a triple Gold Cup winner. That’s a hell of training performance, and from the horse and the rider. I hope he does it.”
FULL PREVIEW: RUBY WALSH’S GOLD CUP TIPS
Which horses have won the last five runnings of the Gold Cup?
2020 – Al Boum Photo (Horse), Paul Townend (Jockey), Willie Mullins (Trainer)
2019 – Al Boum Photo, Paul Townend, Willie Mullins
2018 – Native River, Richard Johnson, Colin Tizzard
2017 – Sizing John, Robbie Power, Jessica Harrington
2016 – Don Cossack, Bryan Cooper, Gordon Elliott
*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.
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