This esteemed Blue Riband event is run on the racecourse at Cheltenham in the United Kingdom during the annual Cheltenham Festival in March. As the most valuable non-handicap race in the country, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is considered to be the most prestigious of the Nation Hunt calendar. It covers 3 miles, 2 1/2 furlongs over 22 fences.
It was originally known as a flat race when the first event took place in 1819 at a site which currently overlooks the current racecourse. However, in 1924 it took place with jumps at what is currently known as the ‘Old Course’, but it was overshadowed at that time by other events at the Cheltenham Festival. Golden Miller, who also won the Grand National in 1934, was the most successful winning horse in the history of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, taking five prizes in a row between 1932 and 1936.
In 1959 the race was moved to the ‘New Course’ and there it has remained. Perhaps the most famous name associated with the Cheltenham Gold Cup is that of Arkle, the horse who won three time consecutively in 1964, 1965 and 1966. So astonishing was his superiority seen to be, that he became the shortest priced winner in the history of the race at 1/10, which meant that a winning bet of ?10 would only have won ?1. The longest ever winning price was 100/1 on Gold Coin in 1990.
The biggest achievement associated with the Cheltenham Gold Cup belongs to trainer Michael Dickinson in 1983, who was proud to have not just trained the winner but the other four horse who followed behind as second, third, fourth and fifth!
Sadly the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the entire Cheltenham Festival had to be canceled in 2001 because of the restrictions in place due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. It was replaced with the Gold Trophy Chase later in the year at Sandown but it was lacking in the aura that the Cheltenham Gold Cup typically generates.