A Beginners Guide To The Cheltenham Gold Cup

Cheltenham Gold Cup - How Lucky We Are

The jewel in the crown of National Hunt racing, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the showpiece event of the Cheltenham Festival and is the climax of the season for the staying chasers. A race that every trainer and jockey wants to win, it’s steeped in history and always produces the best spectacle of the season (besides the Grand National). If you’re new to racing, or just don’t know much about the race, we’ve produced a beginners’ guide, so that you’re all clued up on the Festival climax. Our Cheltenham Festival tips section is already on site, with all our early opinions on the races!

The history of the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Having its inaugural running in 1924, a race won by Red Splash for Fred Withington, the Cheltenham Gold Cup has a history like no other contest. Its unique test means that there are no undeserving winners of the race, with only the best of the best succeeding in landing the prize. Its 3m 2f stamina test demands the most courageous of horses and needs an equine showman who jumps with speed and precision, as twenty-two fences will need to be jumped.

Won by the likes of Arkle, Best Mate, Golden Miller, Kauto Star, Denman and Mill House, it’s roll of honour is quite simply staggering and encompasses the best that National Hunt racing has to offer. Golden Miller stands as the most successful horse in Gold Cup history, winning the race a record-breaking five times, while trainer Tom Dreaper has landed the race the same amount of times as a trainer, including with Arkle.

What does it take to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup?

You’ll hear the Cheltenham Gold Cup referred to as the Blue Riband of jumping-racing and there is very good reason for that. Raced over the 3m 2f distance on perhaps the most testing course in the UK & Ireland, the Gold Cup needs the perfect horse to put in a special performance to land the prize.

The 3m 2f distance demands a horse with stamina, guts and determination. After the turn for home, the horses will encounter the famed “Cheltenham Hill”, which is a very steep incline all the way up until the finishing post. With two fences up the home straight, the long run-in has caught out many a horse, and ungenuine types will simply not make it home in front.

Why is the Cheltenham Gold Cup so special?

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is special in many of the same ways that I mentioned in the previous section. To win a Gold Cup, you need to be the perfect horse for steeplechasing. You need a horse who jumps and travels in equally good measure, but that is only half the battle.

A horse without guts, will and determination, quite simply won’t win a Gold Cup. You might ask, how can you measure that in a horse? Well, I’d guide you to the 2008 renewal, where Denman jumped them into submission and produced arguably one of the most perfect performances in Gold Cup history.

The rivalry of Denman and Kauto Star in many ways is the perfect way to show why the Gold Cup is so special. Unlike the flat, most of the best National Hunt horses will be on the track for at least six years, with many of the best amassing their own fan clubs. Many of the best will find their rivals and will battle them over the years, much like Kauto and Denman did, exchanging the Gold Cup in 2008 and 2009, producing one of the best storylines in Gold Cup history.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Trivia

  • The Cheltenham Gold Cup was run as a flat race from 1819, where it was contested over three miles at Cleeve Hill, which overshadows today’s venue.
  • In 1983, trainer Michael Dickinson produced a staggering feat when training the first five home in the 1983 Gold Cup. Those five also happened to be the only finishers of that year’s renewal.
  • Dawn Run is the only horse in history to have won both the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
  • The longest priced winner of the Gold Cup came in 1990, when Norton’s Coin was lifted home to a 100/1 success.
  • Willie Mullins is yet to win the Gold Cup, coming closest when Djakadam chased home Coneygree in the 2015 renewal of the race.
Please Gamble Responsibly