Cheltenham Gold Cup
|Distance||3 miles 2½ furlongs (5,331 m)|
|Qualification||5-years-old and up|
|Weight||11 st 9 lb (5yo);
11 st 10 lb (6yo+)
7 lb for mares
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a Grade 1 National Hunt horse race run on the New Course at Cheltenham Racecourse in England, over a distance of 3 miles 2½ furlongs (5,331 m), and during its running there are 22 fences to be jumped. The race is scheduled to take place each year during the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The steeplechase, which is open to horses aged five years and over, is the most prestigious of all National Hunt events and it is sometimes referred to as the Blue Riband of jump-racing. Its roll of honour features the names of such chasers as Arkle, Best Mate, Golden Miller, Kauto Star and Mill House. The Gold Cup is the most valuable non-handicap chase in Britain, and in 2012 it offered a total prize fund of £491,850. From 2012 it is sponsored by Betfred, after the betting company bought the government-owned Tote in June 2011.
The first horse race known as the Cheltenham Gold Cup took place in July 1819. It was a flat race, and it was contested over 3 miles on Cleeve Hill, which overlooks the present venue. The inaugural winner, Spectre, won a prize of 100 guineas for his owner.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup was first run as a jumps race on 12 March 1924. The race was covered by Pathe News. A prize of £685 was awarded to the owner of the winning horse. The event originally took place on what is now the "Old Course" at Cheltenham. In its early years it was overshadowed at the Festival by another race, the National Hunt Chase.
The Gold Cup was abandoned in 1931 (because of frost) and 1937 (flooding), but the five intervening years saw the emergence of the most successful horse in the event's history. All five races from 1932 to 1936 were won by Golden Miller, who also won the Grand National in 1934.
During World War II the Gold Cup was cancelled twice, in 1943 and 1944. The first multiple winner of the post-war years was Cottage Rake, who won the three runnings from 1948 to 1950. Cottage Rake was trained in Ireland by Vincent O'Brien, and his successes helped to popularise the Gold Cup, and the Festival itself, with the Irish public.
The Gold Cup was switched to the "New Course" in 1959, and this is now the regular track used for the event. In the mid-1960s the race was dominated by Arkle, who won three consecutive runnings from 1964 to 1966. Such was Arkle's perceived superiority before the last of these victories that he was given a starting price of 1/10 (a £10 bet would have won £1). He remains the shortest-priced winner in the race's history.
The most remarkable feat in the Gold Cup by a trainer came in 1983, when Michael Dickinson was responsible for all of the first five horses to finish – Bregawn, Captain John, Wayward Lad, Silver Buck and Ashley House. The 1986 winner, Dawn Run, is the only horse to have ever won both this race and the leading hurdle event, the Champion Hurdle. One of the most popular horses to win the Gold Cup was Desert Orchid, a grey who won the event in 1989. The following year's running was won by Norton's Coin, whose starting price of 100/1 represents the race's longest ever winning price.
The entire Cheltenham Festival was cancelled in 2001 because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. A replacement for the Cheltenham Gold Cup – the Gold Trophy Chase – was contested at Sandown in late April, but the Racing Post stated that this "lacked any strength in depth and was no substitute for the Gold Cup". The next three runnings were all won by Best Mate, who is the most recent of the four horses to have won the race three or more times.
In 2009, Kauto Star became the first horse to regain the Gold Cup. He overcame his stablemate and conqueror in 2008, Denman, who had recovered from a heart condition to take his place in the race. Timeform spokesperson Kieran Packman said of Kauto Star's performance, "it is the best Gold Cup-winning figure since the Arkle era in the mid-1960s".
One of the cups, a different one being awarded each year, was reported stolen on 14 July 2010 after a burglary at a home in Wormington, Gloucestershire.
Most successful horse (5 wins):
- Golden Miller – 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936
Leading jockey (4 wins):
- Pat Taaffe – Arkle (1964, 1965, 1966), Fort Leney (1968)
Leading trainer (5 wins):
- Tom Dreaper – Prince Regent (1946), Arkle (1964, 1965, 1966), Fort Leney (1968)
Leading owner (7 wins):
- Dorothy Paget – Golden Miller (1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936), Roman Hackle (1940), Mont Tremblant (1952)
- Amateur jockeys indicated by "Mr".
1 The race was abandoned in 1931 because of frost, and in 1937 because of flooding.
2 It was cancelled in 1943 and 1944 because of World War II.
3 The 1957 winner, Linwell, was actually trained by Ivor Herbert, who was prevented from holding a trainer's licence by working as a journalist.
3 Tied Cottage finished first in 1980, but he was subsequently disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance.
4 The 2001 running was cancelled due to a foot-and-mouth crisis. A substitute race at Sandown was won by Marlborough.
- Declan Colley, 2010, When Bobby Met Christy – The Story of Bobby Beasley and a Wayward Horse, Collins Press
- "Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup". Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "The Tote sold to Betfred for £265M". 3 June 2011.
- "Pathe News film of 1924 race". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Tote Gold Trophy Chase (2001)". racingpost.com. 27 April 2001. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- "Historic Gold Cup win for Kauto". BBC. 13 March 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- Wood, Greg (15 March 2009). "Kauto still not as good as Dessie, despite second Cup". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- "Cheltenham Gold Cup Stolen From House". Sky News. 14 July 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
- "Peter Scudamore's World of Racing:Linwell's golden era seems a world away". Daily Mail. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- Racing Post:
- cheltenham.co.uk – Media information pack (2010).
- horseracinghistory.co.uk – Cheltenham Gold Cup.
- pedigreequery.com – Cheltenham Gold Cup – Cheltenham.
- tbheritage.com – Cheltenham Gold Cup.
- The Breedon Book of Horse Racing Records. Breedon Books. 1993. p. 234. ISBN 1-873626-15-0.