The Cheltenham Festival comes to an end on Friday and all eyes will be on the meeting's flagship race, the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30). We've taken a look at previous runnings and the key factors to help pick out this year's winner . . .
Conditions have rarely come up testing in the last ten runnings of the Gold Cup, with seven staged on good to soft or quicker. The last four editions have all been run on good to soft.
That would benefit last year's winner A Plus Tard, who stormed up the hill to a 15-length success under Rachael Blackmore. However, all his main rivals also act on those conditions.
Galopin Des Champs won the 2021 Martin Pipe on good to soft, as did Stattler in the National Hunt Chase. Good to soft was also the description for Noble Yeats's Grand National victory, and Bravemansgame and Ahoy Senor have been successful on that going too.
One horse who could want it softer than most is Protektorat, whose best efforts on Racing Post Ratings came on soft, including his 11-length win in the Betfair Chase in November.
Eight-year-olds have dominated the Gold Cup, with seven winners in the last ten runnings. Dual winner Al Boum Photo won his first Gold Cup as a seven-year-old, Sizing John was that age when winning in 2017 while Don Cossack was nine when prevailing in 2016.
Leading fancies Stattler, Noble Yeats, Bravemansgame and Ahoy Senor are all aged eight, as is last year's third Protektorat, while Galopin Des Champs represents the seven-year-olds and A Plus Tard and Conflated the nine-year-olds.
No ten-year-old has won the Gold Cup since Cool Dawn in 1998, so 2021 winner Minella Indo will have to defy the stats if he is to win.
Winning form coming into a Gold Cup has proved incredibly handy in the last decade, with seven of the last ten winners coming into the race off the back of a victory. Only Lord Windermere (2014), Minella Indo (2021) and A Plus Tard last year were beaten on their most recent start.
Red-hot favourite Galopin Des Champs was an impressive winner of the Irish Gold Cup and bids for a double last completed by Sizing John in 2017, while Bravemansgame, Ahoy Senor and Conflated were all victorious last time, the latter winning the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Ahoy Senor's win came in the Cotswold Chase at the track on Trials day, but the last horse to complete that double was Looks Like Trouble in 2000, while Synchronised was the last horse to complete the Savills Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup double in 2012.
A Plus Tard, last year's winner, will need to bounce back from the biggest blot on his copybook when pulling up in the Betfair Chase in November.
The average winning RPR in the last ten years has been 177, with A Plus Tard's stunning win last year with an RPR of 184 being the highest, and Lord Windermere's win in 2014 being the lowest (168).
That average bodes well for A Plus Tard, Galopin Des Champs – whose wide-margin win at Fairyhouse last April earned that exact RPR – and Bravemansgame. Protektorat earned an RPR of 176 for winning the Betfair Chase.
Those who have a little to find on RPRs include Noble Yeats, Ahoy Senor and Conflated, while Stattler's best RPR of 167 falls short of Lord Windermere's winning rating.
Market leaders have a modest record, with four obliging in the last ten years, including A Plus Tard last year.
Only two double-priced winners have occurred in the same time period. Al Boum Photo won at 12-1 in 2019, while Lord Windermere caused a 20-1 shock in 2014.
That bodes well for Galopin Des Champs, A Plus Tard, Stattler, Noble Yeats and Bravemansgame.
Galopin Des Champs is the red-hot favourite, and all the trends point towards him winning the prestigious contest.
A winner at the track, he handles a range of ground conditions, meets the RPR requirement and has been in stunning form this season.
Bravemansgame, Ahoy Senor and Conflated cannot be discounted, while last year's winner A Plus Tard and third Protektorat must improve on poor showings last time.
Grand National hero Noble Yeats could be the one to defy Galopin Des Champs should the latter disappoint, given he's the prime age, is a proven stayer and was a winner on good to soft in December.
Read these next:
Cheltenham Gold Cup 2023: the runners, the odds, the verdict
Cheltenham Gold Cup 2023: confirmed runners and riders
Cheltenham Gold Cup tips: why this horse can win
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