Monday 23 October 2017

Cheltenham Festival - The Cheltenham Gold Cup

The Gold Cup is Cheltenham’s main race. All races that take place over the four days are meant to set the stage for this premier race.

It is a Grade 1 National Hunt competition that takes place over a stretch of 5,331 metres (3 mi 2 furlongs) by horses of a minimum of five years of age. The challenging run is dotted by a massive 22 fences that require the horses and jockeys to be at their best levels of skill and concentration.

An explosive crowd always gathers on the viewing stands to witness this race. Immediately it is time for the Gold Cup, a palatable change in the atmosphere occurs.

This steeplechase has been in existence since as early as 1819. That will be two centuries in 2019! Then, it was a flat race and the inaugural edition was won by famous horse Spectre. A winning prize of 100 Guineas was awarded to Spectre’s owner.

Being the biggest race, the Gold Cup definitely attracts a big prize. The winner pockets up to £327,000 of an available £575,000. A lot of fanfare forms part of the race’s build-up, including the honour roll for massive winners who have graced the event such as Bet Mate, Arkle and Mill House.

The race was initially run on the Old Course but was moved to the New Course in 1959.

Most of the Gold Cup’s standing records were set before 1970. Golden Miller's record of five consecutive wins between 1932 and 1936 is yet to be broken. Jockey part Taafe’s record four
wins- three atop Arkle- was set in 1968, the same year trainer Tom Dreaper set a record of five wins.

The race has for most years been won by experienced horses who have had dominant runs in jump races. In 2015, however, eight-year-old Coneygree broke a record that stood for over 40 years
by winning the race as a novice. Coneygree had only started three fence races previously before Nico de Boinville rode him to a storming victory in the 2015 event.

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