Image by janskyclassic from Pixabay
Doing exactly what it says on the tin, the Cheltenham Festival is a bonanza of national hunt horse racing that takes place every March at Prestbury Park, near the town of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in England. The festival is currently in progress.
That being the case, here are some fun facts about the Cheltenham Festival;
1: The meet offers the second highest prize money in the National Hunt season behind the Grand National meeting at Aintree that is held in Liverpool in April, and so draws its entrants from some of the best British and Irish stables. For those not so versed in the ‘sport of Kings’, National Hunt racing is the version of the sport that involves obstacles.
Degas Jockeys Silk Tie
2: There are 28 races over four days of the meeting. Traditionally, there were three days of racing at the festival from its inception until 2005 when a fourth day was added so that each day would include at least one grade 1 championship event, that includes the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, and the main event the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
3: The Gold Cup is contested over 3 miles 2 and a half furlongs for entrants 5 years and older and involves 22 obstacles. Records indicate that the first event to hold the name was a 3-mile race on the flat as long ago as 1819. The event with jumps was begun in 1924 with a move in 1959 to the course where it continues to be held and where it has since grown to become the ‘Blue Riband’ national hunt event.
Race Horse Silk Tie in Light Blue
4: A standout Cheltenham Gold Cup occurred in 1983 when Yorkshire trainer Michael Dickinson was responsible for training all of the first 5 to finish.
5: In 2019, overall prize money available for the festival exceeds £4.4m with the Gold Cup alone offering over £600,000 in prize money.
6: In 1989, in heavy conditions the Gold Cup saw what was subsequently voted by readers of the industry newspaper the Racing Post, as the 'best horse race ever' when the un-favoured but subsequently legendary grey, Desert Orchid got up to beat the favourite Yahoo.
Race Horse Silk Tie in Ivory
7: The longest odds offered on an eventual winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup was 100/1 the very next year when the race was won by Graham McCourt aboard Norton’s Coin, to beat the favourite, and winner from the previous year, Desert Orchid.
8: Unlike many major sporting events like Wimbledon, the Open, the Stanley Cup, F.A. Cup and others, each winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup received their own incarnation of the trophy to be kept permanently, meaning that technically there are many Cheltenham Gold Cups in existence.
However, this year will see the re-presentation of the original trophy awarded after the 1924 event that was returned to the Racecourse organisers last year and will from this year onward be considered a perpetual trophy alike to other great sporting events.
Bookies Favourite Cuff Links