Can Native River win the Cheltenham Gold Cup again?

Cheltenham Racecourse

It’s generally 4/1 the field for this seasons Blue Riband event at ‘The Greatest Show On Turf’, displaying how open the renewal is. Our Cheltenham Gold Cup tips are ready for you!

Multiple Winners

Since the Gold Cup was first run as a jumps race back in 1924, just seven horses have won it more than twice and Kauto Star became the first horse to regain the crown in 2009. Best Mate was the latest to gain back to back victories when claiming the prestigious prize three years in a row between 2002 and 2004.

Prior to Best Mate, the last back-to-back winner was L’Escargot all the way back in 1971.

Why is it so difficult to win more than once?

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a notorious test of class, stamina, tenacity, ability and bravery among other things. With the exceptions of Kauto Star, Denman and Long Run, no other winners since Best Mate have even placed in the event subsequently.

Of the other nine winners before 2018, only Bobs Worth even ran in the Gold Cup again. This statistic in itself shows how attritional the unique test is and how much it can take out of horses.

Not only that, but add in the factor that there are improving horses coming through each season with less miles on the clock. These will be fresher in as much as they haven’t endured a test such as the Gold Cup before, giving them an advantage in that regard.

Can Native River do it?

It’s been a slightly strange season for Native River, he’s only had two runs which isn’t a concern given he came into the race last year with just a single outing under his belt. At Haydock in the Betfair Chase the ground was likely on the sharp side for him and he didn’t really handle the track at Kempton on Boxing Day, where his stamina came to the fore late in the day as he stuck on stoutly.

A return to a longer trip and a more galloping track such as Cheltenham will definitely play to his strengths. Any rain that falls will aid his cause and even though it’s obviously a huge ask, he has a more than fair chance of becoming the eighth multiple winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Even though the stat of retaining the title isn’t in his favour, a number of the other trends give him sound claims. He fits all of the following:

  • 10 of the last 16 winners had an official rating of 170 or higher
  • The past 17 winners were all Grade One winners previously
  • 9 of the last 15 hadn’t ran in the same calendar year
  • 12 of the last 18 winners had previously won at the Cheltenham Festival
  • 15 of the last 19 winners ran in either the King George VI Chase or Savills Chase that season

Despite these things, it will be far from easy for Native River to retain his title. There are plenty of improving challengers that will make life very difficult for him.

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