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The Cheltenham Gold Cup

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Cheltenham Gold Cup

By Dave Bartholemew

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is known as the Blue Riband of jump racing and the race is the most valuable National Hunt chase in Britain. Held at the world famous Cheltenham Festival, the race is ran over more than three miles and twenty-two fences.

* The first horse race known as the Cheltenham Gold Cup was ran back in July 1819 but that race was a flat race and was won by a horse called Spectre.

* The Gold Cup has been run at the 'new course' at Cheltenham since 1959 and in the mid 1960s was dominated by a horse called Arkle who won the race three times on the trot. Such was the dominance of the horse that bookmakers would only offer a starting price of 1/10, the shortest-priced winner in the race's history.
* The Cheltenham Festival now takes place over four days in March with one championship race on each day, climaxing with the Gold Cup on Friday. Unlike other meeting in Britain and Ireland, the meeting does not attract many international contenders but that does not in any way detract from the event's popularity.
* The meeting is hugely popular with Irish visitors as it coincides with Saint Patrick's day and they visit Cheltenham in their thousands to soak up the atmosphere and place huge sums on their favourite horses.
* Irish jockey, Ruby Walsh has dominated the festival in recent years being the top winning jockey in 2004, 2006 and 2008 - 10.

Thanks to the rivalry between the English and Irish jockeys, trainers and horses, the Cheltenham Festival and its climax the Gold Cup is unique in world horse racing. An event keen horse racing punters won't want to miss.

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