With a few weeks to go, the excitement is building for one of the largest annual sporting events in the country’s horse racing calendar. It’s the culmination of the National Hunt Racing year, the Gold Cup Festival to be held at Prestbury Park on the northern outskirts of Cheltenham.
Twenty-eight races will take place during the four afternoons of the festival which will be watched by an average of 65,000 racing fans who descend on Cheltenham from across the UK and abroad to cheer on their favourite horses. The crowds of spectators bring the magic and excitement of each race to a crescendo during the last furlong when the winning horse races past the finishing post to receive the enormous cheer known locally as the Cheltenham Roar.
The first Cheltenham Gold Cup took place just over 100 years ago which was then a three-mile flat race on a racecourse on Cleeve Hill, which today is the backdrop for the present racecourse. Prestbury Park was established in 1831 after the main grandstand on Cleeve Hill was burned down. It wasn’t until 1924 when the inaugural Cheltenham Gold Cup took place for jump racing and Red Splash ridden by jockey Dick Rees, won. Red Splash heads the list of 93 subsequent Gold Cup winners, with Minella Indo, being the 2021 champion ridden by Jack Kennedy and trained by Henry De Bromhead. Minella Indo’s stable mate, A Plus Tard ridden by Rachel Blackmore came in second and Al Boum Photo, who was aiming for historic treble, finished third.
Who will be the 2022 Gold Cup Champion?