Run on the Wednesday at Cheltenham and always attracting a large, competitive field, this season’s running of the Coral Cup will be the 20th since the inception of the race in 1992. The combatants – four-year-olds and above- will line up with ten hurdles and two-miles-and-five-furlongs ahead of them as they attempt to emulate the likes of Monkerhostin and What’s Up Boys in winning this competitive handicap hurdle.
With a hike in the weights always likely for winning the race, it is not surprising that no horse has won two runnings of the Coral Cup. Of recent winners neither Spirit River nor Carlito Brigante had much success when trying again last year as Spirit River tipped up at the last and the Irish raider was pulled up. Monkerhostin probably had the best career of all Coral Cup winners as he became a chaser good enough to beat Kauto Star in the Haldon Gold Cup a year later, and also claimed the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in 2008.
The 2012 renewal saw the gamble of that year’s Festival landed as Son Of Flicka was backed from an early 66/1 into an SP of 16s. The Donald McCain-trained winner had three-and-a-half-lengths to spare over top weight and joint-favourite Get Me Out Of Here come the finishing post, despite desperate form figures of F0909 coming into the race! The now nine-year-old had finished second over course and distance at the Festival in 2011 and is a reminder that previous Festival form could be a big pointer towards finding the Cheltenham winners this season.
Not many recent winners have gone on to better things. As a five-year-old who won the race off top weight in 2006 it was fair to think Edward O’Grady’s Sky’s The Limit had been well-named, however the horse never really ran to the same level again and his career was ultimately disappointing.
Sponsored by Coral since it was introduced to the Festival in ’93, the Coral Cup was upgraded to Grade Three status in 1999 and since then no trainer has won the race more than once.
The legendary Martin Pipe sent out a few handicap blots around Prestbury Park in his time, and it is of no surprise that is the winning-most trainer of the Coral Cup since its creation with three successes. As well as saddling the winner Big Strand in 1997, he was also responsible for the second home Allegation.
A couple of jockeys have been fortunate to get on a couple of well-handicapped mounts in the last few years- Barry Geraghty and Davy Russell both have two wins in the race since 2006.
|2012||Son Of Flicka||8||D McCain||16-1|
|2011||Carlito Brigante||5||G Elliott||16-1|
|2010||Spirit River||5||N Henderson||14-1|
|2009||Ninetieth Minute||6||T Taaffe||14-1|
|2008||Naiad Du Misselot||7||F Murphy||7-1|
|2006||Sky’s The Limit||5||E O’Grady||11-1|
|2005||Idole First||6||V Williams||33-1|
|2000||What’s Up Boys||6||P Hobbs||33-1|