Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the biggest steeplechase races in the United Kingdom, dating back to March 1924 when it was first staged.
Held at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Prestbury Park at Gloucestershire, the race involves three miles and 2.5 furlongs as well as 22 fences. Only horses aged five years old and above can participate.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the biggest race day on the Cheltenham course, which hosts about 16 races a year and awards prize money of more than £4 million. The Gold Cup is part of the annual Cheltenham Festival, a four-day extravaganza every March.
The biggest winner at the Cheltenham Gold Cup is Golden Miller, who won the event five straight years, from 1932 to 1936. Four-time winner Pat Taaffe is the jockey with the most wins, from 1964-1968. Meanwhile, the winningest trainer is Tom Dreaper with five wins in a career that spanned over two decades, with the first one in 1946 and the last one in 1968.
While Tom Dreaper is the most successful trainer ever in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, trainer Michael Dickinson also has a special place in Gold Cup history. In 1983, Dreaper was the big story when he achieved the incredible -- the first five horses to finish the Gold Cup, including winner Bregawn, were all trained by Dickinson.
With seven winning horses, Dorothy Paget has her own page in the record books as the most successful owner in Cheltenham Gold Cup history, five wins courtesy of Gold Miler plus two more in 1940 (Roman Hackle) and 1952 (Mont Tremblant).
Naturally, given its long history, the Cheltenham Gold Cup has had its share of dramatic moments. In 1973, Pendil looked like a clear winner when Dikler rallied from out of nowhere to clinch the race. Pendil was the odds-on favorite in 1974 but fell short just three lengths from the finish.
In 1979, Tied Cottage was at the last fence when he was edged by Alverton. The next year, Tied Cottage would pass the post first and seemingly redeem himself but he was disqualified after the race for drugs infringement.
The year 1990 was another notable year as the most improbable winner at Cheltenham Gold Cup, Norton's Coin, a 100/1 underdog, galloped to victory. Norton's Cup is also the only Welsh-trained horse to win this race.
In terms of sheer talent, nothing can match the 1991 race which featured five Cheltenham Gold Cup champions: Desert Orchid (1989), Norton's Coin (1990), Garrison Savannah (1991), Cool Ground (1992), and The Fellow (1994), the only French-trained horse to ever win the Gold Cup.
In recent history, the most successful horse at the Cheltenham Gold Cup is Best Mate, who won the event in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Best Mate was ridden by Jim Culloty and trained by Henrietta Knight on all three occasions.
Since 1924, the Cheltenham Gold Cup has only been canceled five times, including in 1943 and 1944 due to World War II. It was also canceled due to frost (1931) and flooding (1937). The latest cancellation was in 2001 due to outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK.