On the fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival, the race that everyone has been waiting for is held. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is known as the most prestigious race in the National Hunt calendar. The significance of this race has grown over the years and 2019 looks set to be the closest contest yet. It’s the event every jockey wants to win and the fans flock to watch in their thousands at Prestbury Park and cheer on the horses and their riders.
The Class A Grade 1 chase is run over three miles at a strong pace and is open to horses aged five and upwards. Cheltenham horse racing can be dated back to 1819, when it was a flat race ran on Cleeve Hill, which now overlooks the current racecourse.
The inaugural winner was a horse named Spectre, trained by a Mr Bodenham, who took home 100 Guineas as his prize. The race introduced jumps in 1924 and the 1930’s was dominated by Golden Miller, who won all five races between 1932 and 1936 and to this day remains the most successful horse in the race’s history. After a slump during the war era, the 1960’s saw the rise of perhaps the most famous horse to ever run in the Gold Cup, Arkle. The race switched to the ‘New Course’ in 1959, and from 1964 to 1966 Arkle won three consecutive races and remains the shortest-priced winner in the race’s entire history.
Last year’s winner was Native River, ridden by Richard Johnson, who took home a cool £600,000 in prize money. Trainer Colin Tizzard will be hoping to repeat the feat next year but will face stiff competition from a few horses, including outside favourite Total Recall, trained by Willie Mullins. Winner at Newbury, the progressive handicapper should be comfortable making the transition to Grade 1 with his proven fitness over long furlongs.
Another horse in the running is last year’s runner-up Might Bite, who ran a superb race, pushing Total Recall all the way to the line. If the conditions next year are faster, then Might Bite could be hard to beat and might well grab first place next time out. There are also outside chances for Killultagh Vic and Definitly Red.
Killultagh Vic is trained by the Irishman WP Mullins and ridden by nephew David Mullins, winner of the 2016 Grand National. Definitly Red has looked good all season and trainer Brian Ellison will be hoping his jockey Danny Cook continues his recent form after winning on his last two outings with the ever-improving Definitly Red. All-time great jockey Ruby Walsh will also look to make his mark and prove he’s still the master of the chase.
So who will add their name to the list of greats already etched onto the prestigious Gold Cup, the likes of Golden Miller, Arkle and Kauto Star, and which jockey will guarantee them self a place in the realm of racing royalty?
Find out at 3.30 pm on Friday the 15th of March 2019.