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Thursday 2 February 2023

Cheltenham Gold Cup

As the most prestigious race run during the National Hunt season, the Cheltenham Gold Cup requires little or no introduction. However, for anyone unfamiliar with the 'Blue Riband' event, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is a Grade 1 steeplechase run over 3 miles, 2 furlongs and 70 yards on the New Course at Cheltenham in March. The race was inaugurated, as a steeplechase, in 1924, but was run on the Old Course at Cheltenham until 1959.

The legendary Golden Miller – who remains the only horse to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same season – won five consecutive renewals in 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935 and 1936 and is, unsurprisingly, the most successful horse in the history of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Other notable winners include Arkle, the highest-rated steeplechaser of the Timeform era, Mill House, Kauto Star, Desert Orchid and Burrough Hill Lad, to name but a handful.

The late Thomas 'Tom' Dreaper saddled Prince Regent (1946), Arkle (1964, 1965, 1966) and Fort Leney (1968) to victory and, more than five decades after his retirement in 1971, remains the leading trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Looking ahead to the 2023 renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is scheduled for 3.05pm on Friday, March 17, it may be worth noting that six of the last seven running have been won by Irish-trained horses.

Perhaps a little surprisingly, the early ante-post market is headed not by reigning champion, A Plus Tard, but rather by Galopin Des Champs, who has won three of his four starts over fences with consummate ease and was an unlucky loser in the Turners Novices' Chase, when falling at the final fence with the race at his mercy. The home challenge is headed by Ahoy Senor and L'Homme Presse, who filled the first two places in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase,