Cheltenham Gold Cup

It’s often written that, as the highlight of the entire National Hunt season, the Cheltenham Gold Cup requires little or no introduction. However, if you’re new to National Hunt racing, or racing in general, you might like to know what all the fuss is about.

In terms of nuts and bolts, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is a Grade 1 steeplechase, run over 3 miles 2½ furlongs on the New Course at Cheltenham.

Grade 1 races are ‘championship’ races, in which the weight carried by each horse is determined by age and sex. The Cheltenham Gold Cup, for example, is open to horses aged five years and upwards; five-year-olds carry 11st 8lb, six-year-olds carry 11st 10lb and mares receive a 7lb allowance. Horses that contest the Cheltenham Gold Cup jump a total of 22 fences, including plain fences, open ditches and a water jump.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the feature race on the fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival, which takes place in March each year. The roll of honour reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of staying chasing talent down the years, with the list of multiple champions headed by Golden Miller, who won the race five years running between 1932 and 1936.

More recently, Cottage Rake, Arkle and Best Mate all won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three years in a row. Other notable winners include Dawn Run, the only horse ever to win the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Desert Orchid and Kauto Star, who won in 2007, finished second to stable companion Denman in 2008 and won again in 2009.

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