The Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of the national hunt racing season. Trainers, jockeys and spectators alike all build up for a momentous week of racing and the expectations are enormous.

Ever since 1924, the race has attracted the best of the best in an attempt to be crowned as the greatest steeplechase horse of the year. The list of past winners reads like a who’s who of the greatest jump horses. Then there are the surprising additions to the list. There are those horses who, according to the bookies, stood absolutely no chance of even competing alongside the favourites and they then managed to triumph in adversity and create a welcome surprise win.

There was a stretch of three years where it did not pay off to bet on the favourite horse. Starting in 1997, Mr Mulligan won the race at 20/1, then in 1998, it was Cool Dawn who managed to triumph at 25/1. Following those two outsiders, in 1999, See More Business collected the trophy at 16/1. It was a period of great pay-outs for those who had backed the long odds and just showed that favourites do not always romp home.

It was only a few years ago that Lord Windermere upset the bookies and romped home at 20/1. It was a relatively smaller field, with only nine runners, but Lord Windermere was still very unfancied and even those who used the Gold Cup day betting online at were able to pick up great odds.

In eighty-eight races, the favourite has only won on twenty-four occasions. Nearly 75% of the time, an outsider or non-favourite has taken the crown and waltzed off with the prize. Not only is this great for the sport and it ensures that none of the races are ever predictable, but it means that it is one of the best times of the year to place a bet. If you want to bet on Gold Cup – William Hill have great odds and detailed information on each of this year’s runners.

The record for the longest odds of a winning horse is held by Norton’s Coin in 1990. In a race where the favourite, the legendary horse Desert Orchid, came in third and the second placed horse held odds of 8/1, Graham McCourt managed to magnificently ride Norton’s Coin to the victory. Starting off at 100/1, there appeared to be little hope for Norton’s Coin, in what was considered to be a strong twelve horse field. Yet he held on, in a ride which would cement his place in the history books.

With the history of some amazing horses with very long odds, coming home it might just be time to pick your winner for the Gold Cup day & bet on your favourite race. Sometimes there is more than just a little hope when you back the long shot, sometimes there is a lot of history on your side.