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Coral Cup Trends for the 2024 Cheltenham Festival

Jessica Lamb for Bookies.com

Jessica Lamb  | 13 mins

Coral Cup Trends for the 2024 Cheltenham Festival

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2024 Coral Cup Trends

The Coral Cup is often one of the most difficult races at the Cheltenham Festival to find the winner of. Let's take a look at the Coral Cup trends to try and narrow the field to make finding a winner at betting apps easier. 

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The last 10 winners:

  • Had never won the Coral Cup before (no horse has won more than once since it began in 1993)
  • Had not won more than two handicap hurdles
  • Had won at least two hurdle races, but not more than four
  • Were not carrying topweight
  • Were rated 138+, three were rated 150+
  • Last ran over hurdles - and at least 22 days ago

Nine of the last 10 winners:

  • Carried at least 6lbs less than topweight (William Henry)
  • Had never won a Grade 1 race (exception Commander Of Fleet)
  • Had never won a Grade 2 race (Bleu Berry)
  • Were not the favourite in the betting (Dame De Compagnie)
  • Had never won a chase (Heaven Help Us)
  • Had run at least six times over hurdles (Aux Ptits Soins)
  • Had run over at least 2m4f before (Aux Ptits Soins)
  • Had only won once over jumps that season, if at all (Heaven Help Us)

Eight of the last 10 winners:

  • Had already run at Cheltenham - four had won at the course (Bleu Berry and Aux Ptits Soins)
  • Had won at least once in their last three starts, four won last time out (Commander Of Fleet and Langer Dan)
  • Were aged between 7-9, including the last eight (the 2014 and 2015 winners were aged six and five)

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Key Trials from the last 10 years

Three runners in the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury have gone on to be placed in the same year's Coral Cup (Blazer (2016), Activial (2015) and Smashing (2014). The winner of that handicap hurdle has never won the next Coral Cup. Last year's winner, Aucunrisque, was unplaced in the County Hurdle instead. It takes place in March in 2024.

Bleu Berry ran in February's valuable 2m handicap hurdle at Leopardstown before his Coral Cup win in 2018 for Willie Mullins. In 2020 the winner of that race, Thosedaysaregone, finished third in the Coral Cup and in 2022 Fastorslow was down the field at Leopardstown, but second in the Coral Cup. It's generally a better guide for the County Hurdle, but, if you need to know, Lord Erskine won this year at 40/1.

2020 Coral Cup winner Dame De Compagnie was the first female winner in the race's 28-year history and she warmed up for the Festival race by winning a mares’ handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in December. That day a mare also finish second, and in 2021 another mare won - Heaven Help Us - after winning a mares' handicap hurdle at Leopardstown.

In 2022 the winner Commander Of Fleet and third Ashdale Bob had been placed in the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan on their latest outing before Cheltenham. The 2017 winner Supasundae also ran in that race before his Coral Cup win.

Trainer Trends

  • Nicky Henderson boasts the most winners in the Coral Cup with four winners overall, including two of the last five.
  • Gordon Elliott has won this race three times and saddled five placed-runners (two in 2020).
  • Willie Mullins has had seven placed runners to add to his 2018 winner.
  • Paul Nicholls is 1/13 in the last 10 years, winning last in 2015 with Aux Ptits Soins.
  • Dan Skelton is extremely good at producing Cheltenham Festival handicap hurdle winners, and he got his first Coral Cup win in 2023. He is now one win and one placed runner from just four in total.
  • Martin Brassil saddled the second in 2022 and 2023. He has had no other runners in the last 10 years. Respect what he enters.
  • Trainers based in Ireland have won five of the last eight renewals. Only Nicky Henderson, Dan Skelton and Paul Nicholls have won for British trainers in the last 10 years.

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Jockey Trends

  • Nico de Boinville’s association with Nicky Henderson has led to him partnering two winners this decade (both in the colours of Dai Walters), most recently William Henry in 2019.

How did the trends do last year?

Langer Dan had all the hallmarks of a Coral Cup winner, hitting the key trends of having won at least two, but no more than four, hurdle races, and having crucially now won more than two handicap hurdles. These trends are important as they affect what handicap mark a horse has in the race.

His performances meant he was in the right rating bracket with his rating of 141 giving him a weight that was more than 6lbs lower than topweight. This is another key trend he hit.

The only trend he did not hit was the one requiring a horse to have one once in their last three starts, but he wasn't alone in not hitting that, and he had won four runs ago. It's clearly not an important trend, just something to keep in mind, as eight of the last 10 winners did fit that trend.

Second An Epic Song was also a strong trends pick, but his low rating of 137 did mark him out as perhaps not quite classy enough. He would have been the lowest-rated winner since 2012. Third Camprond had won two many hurdle races and was too exposed, while fourth Scaramanga was a totally unknown quantity having not run over hurdles for nearly a year, and only twice in the past two years.

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Who Fits The Trends Best In 2024?

This is as ever a wide-open field, and at this time entries have not been revealed, but looking at the betting there are some already standing out on trends.

Ticking all the boxes on trends are Hansard, No Ordinary Joe, The Big Doyen, and Under Control, who would have to not run in the Morebattle Hurdle in March to continue to be a trends pick.

Under Control and No Ordinary Joe represent top race trainer Nicky Henderson, while The Big Doyen is trained in Ireland, making them all the more appealing.

An emerging trend to pay attention to is one for older, more experienced horses to win this event. The last eight winners were aged no younger than seven, and the last two had run more than 10 times over hurdles. This is a negative for six-year-old Hansard.

At this very early stage, the strongest trends picks might be last year's Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle runner-up No Ordinary Joe, and The Big Doyen, who was third in a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Cheltenham in November.

For anyone tempted by Langer Dan, remember that no horse has ever won more than one Coral Cup since the race began in 1993, and plenty have tried.

2023 Coral Cup Result

Position Name Price Jockey Trainer
1st Langer Dan 9/1 Harry Skelton Dan Skelton
2nd An Epic Song 16/1 JJ Slevin Martin Brassil
3rd Camprond 20/1 Aidan Coleman Philip Hobbs
4th Scaramanga 50/1 Jack Foley Willie Mullins
 

About the Author

Jessica Lamb is a multi-media journalist who specializes in horse racing, cycling and sports betting and has worked on desks at the Racing Post and Irish Sun newspapers.