The last four winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup
While the Grand National is known as the race that the world stops to watch, the Cheltenham Gold Cup arguably tops the Aintree showpiece as the pinnacle event of the National Hunt racing calendar. No race carries the same prestige as the three-mile, two-and-a-half-furlong contest and it’s every owner, trainer and jockey’s dream to hoist aloft the famed trophy on the final card of the four-day Festival.
This year’s favourite is the Willie Mullins-trained Galopin Des Champs, who is already as short as 11/8 in the horse racing odds to win the Irish handler his third Gold Cup. But that doesn’t mean that the race is a foregone conclusion, with National winner Noble Yeats, defending champion A Plus Tard, Stattler and King George victor Bravemansgame all in single figures.
So, as anticipation builds for the 2023 renewal of the Cheltenham Festival, read on as we take a look back at the last four winners of the Gold Cup.
2019: Al Boum Photo
Despite dominating the Festival for years prior to the 2019 renewal, Mullins didn’t win his maiden Gold Cup title until 2019. It was a nightmare start to the contest for the Closutton man, as Kemboy — the best of his four runners, according to the market — unseated David Mullins at the first fence before Bellshill pulled up shortly after the eighth and Invitation Only was fatally injured at the 10th.
That left just 12/1 shot Al Boum Photo as Mullins’ last hope by the half-way stage. The then seven-year-old was in touch at the 12th before moving up to fourth by the 15th. Now leading on the turn for home, Al Boum Photo reached for the last but stayed on strongly up the hill and ran on well to win by over two lengths clear of Anibale Fly.
2020: Al Boum Photo
Controversially going ahead despite the rise of Coronavirus, Al Boum Photo became the first horse since Best Mate in 2004 to win consecutive Gold Cups at the 2020 Festival. After his success the previous year, the Jessica Donnelly-owned horse returned to Prestbury Park as the 100/30 favourite and he duly delivered.
Mullins had already won the opening three races of the final day, including Grade 1s in the form of the Triumph Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, and Al Boum Photo made it an historic four timer — surpassing Lostintranslation at the last before holding off Santini by nothing more than a neck at the line in a dramatic finish.
2021: Minella Indo
An unprecedented renewal of Cheltenham, as crowds were banned from Prestbury Park due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2021 edition of the Festival was one to remember for Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead and his regular rider Rachael Blackmore — who although won the Top Jockey award, didn’t land the Gold Cup.
Instead, De Bromhead’s victory in the Festival’s feature was delivered by a young Jack Kennedy (now the number one rider for Gordon Elliot). A Plus Tard was the more favoured of the Co. Waterford-based runners, but he and Blackmore could fare no better than second as 9/1 chance Minella Indo stayed on well after the last to win by over a length clear of his stablemate.
2022: A Plus Tard
2022 might not have presented De Bromhead with as many winners as the previous year, but he still celebrated three victories at the renewal — including back-to-back successes in the Champion Hurdle thanks to Honeysuckle and the Gold Cup through A Plus Tard as Blackmore became the first female rider to win the sport’s top prize.
The 3/1 favourite, A Plus Tard was in touch with the leaders three out before making a challenge at the home turn — going second two out and pushing into the lead at the last, storming up the hill to a 15-length victory over Minella Indo.