Posted on | March 14, 2017 | No Comments
The Gold Cup has been a fixture at Cheltenham ever since July 1819 when it was ran as a flat race. It was contested over a 3 mile track close to where the current racecourse is situated on Cleeve Hill. The event wasn’t as prestigious back then though with the prize money on offer a relatively paltry £685 (around £42,000 today) compared to this years estimated first place prize £350,000. Back then it played third fiddle to the National Hunt Chase and the County Handicap Hurdle which both offered more prize money. It was absolutely dominated in the 1930’s by the most successful horse in the events history, Golden Miller, who won it 5 times on the bounce 1932-1936.
It was switched over to the “new course” at Cheltenham in 1959 and wasn’t must of a contest throughout the 60’s with Arkle winning it three times in a row from 1964 to 1966. Arkle was rated so highly after the first two wins that the odds on the third win were just 1/10 (£10 stake would have returned just £1 in winnings!) which still stands as the shortest price in the race’s history.
The race has been cancelled on a few occasions over the course of its long run. It was cancelled in 1931 because of frost, in 1937 because of massive local flooding and during the second world years 1943 and 1944. It was also cancelled in 2001, along with most of the equine activity that year, due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. A replacement race, the Gold Trophy Chase, was run instead at Sandown in late April but it wasn’t quite up to the spectacle of the regular Gold Cup so is largely ignored. All of the next 3 running’s after that cancellation were won by Best Mate who is the most recent of a special group of 4 horses to have won the Gold Cup three times or more.
Kauto Star deserves special mention when talking about the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2017. It’s the only horse that has successfully managed to regain the Gold Cup in its history. It won the prestigious race in 2007 to be beaten the following year by Denman. In 2009 it put on a dominant performance to regain the trophy described by Kieran Packman, a spokesperson from Timeform, “it is the best Gold Cup-winning figure since the Arkle era in the mid-1960s”.
Cue Card is the favourite this year and is bidding to not only gain revenge for its fall last year but also to become the first 11 year old to claim the Gold cup since 1962.
For more information on this year’s Cheltenham Festival we have put together a great infographic with information on the Gold Cup and more: