The highlight of the four-day Cheltenham National Hunt Festival is the final day highlight, the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. The race is the most valuable non-handicap chase in Britain. The total prize money for the 2018 running is £649,380, up from £575,000 in 2017. The first Cheltenham Gold Cup was a three mile Flat race in 1819, won by Mr Bodenham’s Spectre.
The chase, as we now know it, was introduced in 1924, with Red Splash successful. The winning prize money then was £700. Timico took over sponsorship of the leading race ahead of the 2016 renewal.
The joint biggest Cheltenham Gold Cup field ever was in 2006, when 22 runners went to post. Since the chase was first run in 1924, there has only been one other renewal with more than 18 runners – in 1982 when Silver Buck defeated 21 rivals. The maximum field allowed is 24.
In the Cheltenham Gold Cup’s history, only seven horses have won it more than once, most recently Kauto Star, who took the spoils in 2007 and 2009 and was the only horse to ever regain the Gold Cup. The others were Best Mate (2002/03/04), L’Escargot (1970/71), Arkle (1964/65/66), Cottage Rake (1948/49/50), Golden Miller (1932/33/34/35/36) and Easter Hero (1929/30). Golden Miller holds the record for the most Gold Cup victories, with five consecutive wins from 1932-36.
Most Successful Owner
Golden Miller’s owner, Dorothy Paget, has been the most successful owner in the race with an amazing seven victories, with Roman Hackle (1940) and Mont Tremblant (1952) adding to Golden Miller’s five wins.
Most Successful Trainer
The most successful trainer has been Tom Dreaper, who won five Gold Cups with three horses, namely Prince Regent (1946), Arkle (1964, 1965 and 1966) and Fort Leney (1968).
Paul Nicholls is the most successful current handler with four wins from three horses – See More Business (1999), Kauto Star (2007 & 2009) and Denman (2008). He runs Saphir Du Rheu in 2018.
Most Successful Jockey
The most successful jockey has been Pat Taaffe, who recorded four victories on – Arkle (1964, 1965 & 1966) and Fort Leney (1968). The two most successful current jockeys are Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty, who have both enjoyed two wins. Walsh was on board Kauto Star (2007 & 2009) and Geraghty took the spoils with Kicking King (2005) and Bobs Worth (2013). Geraghty rides Anibale Fly in 2018.
Ridden & Trained Winner
Five winning jockeys went on train the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
Danny Morgan Morse Code (1938) Roddy Owen (1959).
Fred Winter Saffron Tartan (1961), Mandarin (1962) Midnight Court (1978).
Pat Taaffe Arkle (1964, 1965, 1966), Fort Leney (1968) Captain Christy (1974).
Jonjo O’Neill Alverton (1979), Dawn Run (1986) Synchronised (2012).
Jim Culloty Best Mate (2002, 2003, 2004) Lord Windermere (2014).
A total of four mares have won the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup – Ballinode (1925), Kerstin (1958), Glencaraig Lady (1972) and Dawn Run (1986).
Longest & Shortest-Priced Winners, Fate Of The Favourites
The longest-priced winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup has been Norton’s Coin, who started at 100/1 in 1990, while the shortest-priced winner was Arkle, the 1/10 favourite in 1966. In the 89 runnings, 30 favourites have won – just under 34 per cent.
The only grey Cheltenham Gold Cup winner was Desert Orchid in 1989.
The breakdown of winners by age is as follows:
5yo – 3 victories.
6yo – 5 victories
7yo – 17 victories
8yo – 21 victories
9yo – 25 victories
10yo – 11 victories
11yo – 5 victories
12yo – 2 victories
The winners of 25 Cheltenham Gold Cups have been trained overseas.
IRELAND (24): Ballinode (1925), Prince Regent (1946), Cottage Rake (1948, 1949, 1950), Knock Hard (1953), Roddy Owen (1959), Arkle (1964, 1965, 1966), Fort Leney (1968), L’Escargot (1970, 1971), Glencaraig Lady (1972), Captain Christy (1974), Ten Up (1975), Davy Lad (1977), Dawn Run (1986), Imperial Call (1996), Kicking King (2005), War Of Attrition (2006), Lord Windermere (2014), Don Cossack (2016), Sizing John (2017).
FRANCE (1): The Fellow (1994).
Gold Cup/Champion Hurdle Double
Dawn Run is the only horse to have won both the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup. She was successful in 1984 and 1986 respectively.
The fastest winning time is 6 minutes 29.7 seconds, set by Long Run in 2011.
Gold Cup Trivia
A P McCoy’s Unibet Champion Hurdle/Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup double in 1997 on Make A Stand and Mr Mulligan was the 11th time that the big-race double has been landed by one jockey in the same year. The other jockeys to have achieved the feat were Dick Rees (1929), Tom Cullinan (1930), Ted Leader (1932), Bill Stott (1933), Gerry Wilson (1935), Aubrey Brabazon (1949 and 1950), Tim Molony (1953), Fred Winter (1961) and Norman Williamson (1995).
Alderbrook and Master Oats in 1995 enabled Norman Williamson and Kim Bailey to join a very select group of jockey and trainer partnerships who have won both the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup in the same year. The other successful partnerships were Tommy Cullinan and Jack Anthony in 1930, Ted Leader and Basil Briscoe in 1932, Bill Stott and Basil Briscoe in 1933, and Aubrey Brabazon and Vincent O’Brien in both 1949 and 1950.
Michael Dickinson saddled the first five horses home in the 11-runnner 1983 renewal – Bregawn (Graham Bradley – 100/30F), Captain John (David Goulding – 11/1), Wayward Lad (Jonjo O’Neill – 6/1), Silver Buck (Robert Earnshaw – 5/1) and Ashley House (Mr Dermot Browne – 12/1).
Willie Mullins has yet to win the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, but has saddled the runner-up on six occasions – Florida Pearl (2000), Hedgehunter (2006), Sir Des Champs (2013), On His Own (2014) and Djakadam (2015 & 2016).
Three of the last four trainers to win the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup – Jim Culloty (Lord Windermere 2014), Gordon Elliott (Don Cossack 2016) and Jessica Harrington (Sizing John 2017) – did so with their first runner in the race.