On Friday the 15th March, we will once again be witness to one of the greatest events on the jump racing calendar, the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup produced a thrilling matchup between the heavily backed Might Bite and eventual winner Native River. The 15-runner race saw Native River and Might Bite battle it out in front of the rest until Native River broke away from the favourite to claim a mighty Gold Cup victory at 5/1.
Now, with some of the same cast looking to impress in 2019, we turn our attention to who is leading the way with the bookies for the next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Might Bite 6/1
Source: Betfair Racing, via Twitter
It should come as no surprise that Might Bite clocks in as one of the early favourites. With tasty odds of 6/1 in the Cheltenham betting 2019, it should come as no surprise that punters are using free bets on Might Bite this early. Having been so heavily backed in 2018, the mighty horse is expected to be able to dictate the race this time around, after Native River forced him into a gung-ho battle last year.
To round out 2018 Might Bite took his second-place from the Cheltenham Gold Cup and went on to race at the Grade 1 Bowl Chase at Aintree a month later. On a field of eight, Might Bite came out as the clear winner by seventh lengths, running at a lighter weight of 11-7.
Presenting Percy 6/1
Source: At the Races, viaTwitter
Presenting Percy will be the perfect age by the time the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup comes around and has a rather stacked résumé to flaunt by this point already. At the Cheltenham Festival last year, Presenting Percy won by a convincing seven lengths over Monalee in the Grade 1 Novices’ Chase. This came after coming a close second in the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase and a clear first in the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle earlier in the season.
It was in 2017 that Presenting Percy showed glimmers of what could be a Gold Cup winning horse when he obliterated the 14-strong field in the Grade B Porterstown Handicap Chase. Weighing 11-10 for the 3m 5f handicap race, he won by 11 lengths over the much lighter Forever Gold. Presenting Percy is the horse that many are backing this early to upset Might Bite in 2019.
Native River 7/1
Source: bet365, viaTwitter
The reigning Gold Cup champion isn’t either of the favourites for 2019, which means that expectations are keeping true to recent history. Since Best Mate landed the triple from 2002 to 2004, no horse has won the Gold Cup in back-to-back years. Kauto Star managed to win it twice, but Denman split the wins in 2008. That said, six of the nine winners since Kauto Star haven’t been the bookies’ favourites.
Native River enjoyed a short season by his usual schedule in the running to his 2018 victory, with only a victory in a Grade 2, three-horse race at Newbury for a warm-up. In 2017, Native River ran four races from the end of October to the mid-March Gold Cup race and finished third in Sizing John’s tremendous victory. So, we’ll have to see how Colin Tizzard plans to use Native River in 2019 before considering him as an unlikely defender of the Gold Cup.
As it stands, punters are backing Might Bite, Presenting Percy, and looking at Native River for the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup in the betting. As a long shot, Footpad at 16/1 has also been considered, but it will rely on Willie Mullins drastically stepping up the incredible young horse’s distance to do so. But, with a horse that won all five of their races in 2018 – which includes four Grade 1 races – it wouldn’t be beyond thinking that Mullins could transform Footpad into a legitimate Gold Cup contender.