A Brief History of the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Posted on 28th December 2019

Everyone involved in horse racing over jumps wants to be involved with a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. It shines a greater spotlight on all the hard work that goes into running racehorse yards and liveries with stable staff and owners watching on excitedly.

The Gold Cup is the blue riband steeplechase of the Cheltenham Festival, run this year on Friday, 13 March over a distance of just more than three-and-a-quarter miles. First contested in 1924, Easter Hero became the first multiple winner when he defended his title in 1930.

Golden Miller is the most famous interwar period winner of the Gold Cup. He dominated the 1930s, winning it a record five times on the spin between 1932 and 1936. Only one horse, Irish mare Quevega, has won more Cheltenham Festival races.

A couple of horses are bidding to match Golden Miller at this year’s Festival. Tiger Roll is a hot 11/10 favourite with bookmakers to win the Cross Country Chase again. Altior, meanwhile, has won at four consecutive Festivals and a 2/1 fancy to land the Queen Mother Champion Chase for a third time.

Cottage Rake notched a postwar Gold Cup hat-trick in the late 1940s. Arkle – the racehorse with the distinction of being the highest-rated steeplechaser ever in training – did likewise in the mid-1960s.

L’Escargot in 1970 and 1971 was another ran multiple winner trained over in Ireland. It took until the early 2000s to have another when Best Mate landed three in a row in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Kauto Star, a five-time King George VI Chase winner, was the last horse to win the Gold Cup more than once. He did so in 2007 and 2009, famously regaining the crown from Paul Nicholls stable companion Denman to a thunderous ovation.

It’s a huge achievement for any racehorse to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but winning it again is even harder. That is the task facing Al Boum Photo this year.

Willie Mullins spent his entire training career trying to produce a Gold Cup winner at his Closutton stables in County Carlow. Al Boum Photo is a general 7/2 favourite to defy history and retain his title. His closest rival is Santini, a 4/1 shot with William Hill.

Only six horses – Cottage Rake, Limber Hill, Arkle, Desert Orchid, Best Mate and Kauto Star – have won the King George and Gold Cup double in the same season. That suggests Clan Des Obeaux has it all to do if he is to justify odds of 8/1 and follow-up on his Kempton exploits.

You can see all the latest Gold Cup betting odds at https://www.freebets.co.uk/cheltenham-festival-free-bets/ with free bets and offers available throughout the Festival. A park racecourse like Kempton offers a completely different test to the undulating track at Cheltenham, so you should consider that when backing the King George winner.

It’s not all about geldings either. Four mares, the most famous being Dawn Run in 1986, have won the Gold Cup. She previously landed another the Cheltenham Festival’s big races, the Champion Hurdle and is only the horse in history to claim that unique double.

Big outsiders have been known to spring shocks in the Gold Cup too. The most notable was Norton’s Coin at massive odds of 100/1 in 1991. With such an illustrious roll of honour, it’s no wonder everyone wants to win the Cheltenham Festival showpiece.

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