As the most glamorous and arguably most prestigious event on the National Hunt calendar, the annual Cheltenham Festival is a cherished part of British
As the most glamorous and arguably most prestigious event on the National Hunt calendar, the annual Cheltenham Festival is a cherished part of British horse racing culture. As the most prestigious individual race during this four-day extravaganza, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the steeplechase title which every competitor is keenest to win.
Aiming to Become the Next Gold Cup Legend
This year one horse is dominating the headlines ahead of the 2021 Gold Cup. Having already won the race in 2019 and 2020, French-bred and Irish-trained Al Boum Photo is aiming for the third triumph in consecutive years. Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townsend, this horse is on the verge of joining an elite club of legendary multiple champions.
While the list of competitors is of an exceptional standard, ahead of the Friday race, the latest odds on the 2021 Cheltenham Festival inevitably highlight Al Boum Photo as the Gold Cup favourite. Nevertheless, there will be a serious challenge from the suggestively named Champ, with Nico de Boinville in the saddle.
As the first-ever female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, Rachael Blackmore will also fancy her chances of continuing that success this year, riding A Plus Tard in the Gold Cup. If she were to become the first woman to win riding a Gold Cup winner, that truly would be a landmark moment in British horse racing.
The Golden Glory of Yesteryear
Echoes of past glories form the rich tapestry of what makes the Cheltenham Festival so popular. There is almost a mystical sensation of awe and wonder, whenever National Hunt historians share tales of legendary horses. Amongst the most enduring are those of multiple Gold Cup winners.
Triumphing more than once is a marvellous feat in and of itself, given the hugely competitive field of thoroughbred entries each year. Winning the Gold Cup more than twice is truly a rare event, creating authentic legends that will never be forgotten at the Cheltenham Festival.
The first to achieve that feat was the aptly named Golden Miller, winning the tentpole race five times in a row between 1932 and 1936. While no other horse has come close to matching that remarkable achievement, others have since earned their legendary status thanks to three consecutive Gold Cup victories.
The Irish Invasion of Cheltenham
Cottage Rake was the first true Irish success story, winning three consecutive races between 1948 and 1950, trained by Vincent O’Brien from County Cork and ridden each time by Aubrey Brabazon from County Kildare. This paved the way for more tales of success hailing from Emerald Isle.
Irish success has remained prevalent at Cheltenham over the years. Often hailed as one of the greatest National Hunt thoroughbreds of all time, Arkle was the next and perhaps most popular horse ever to win three Gold Cups in a row, doing so between 1964 and 1966. Over the subsequent decades, three consecutive victories became an impossible dream.
However, that all changed when Best Mate romped to three straight Gold Cup victories, triumphing each year from 2002 to 2004. For trainer Henrietta Knight and jockey Jim Culloty, it was undoubtedly the greatest moment of their illustrious equestrian careers.
Good Fortune & Great Horse Racing
Given such inspiring feats of achievement over the years, it’s no wonder the Gold Cup has endured as the flagship race of the Cheltenham Festival. Whichever horses you are backing this year, enjoy what promises to be another historic and exciting event.