Everything you need to know about the Cheltenham Gold Cup

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a horse race, it's a social gathering and it's a handsome 96-year-old trophy.

But it's also the most prestigious National Hunt (ie horses which race over jumps) festival in the calendar.

This year the Cheltenham Festival runs from Tuesday March 10 to Friday March 13, with the highlight, the Gold Cup race itself, is run.

And last year the original Gold trophy was presented to the winner, Al Boum Photo's, handlers for the first time in almost 50 years.

The first Gold Cup race was run in 1819, a three-mile Flat race won by Spectre.

But the race as we know it now was introduced in 1924, when Red Splash won the trophy we now recognise as the Gold Cup.

It continued to be presented until the early 1970s when a private owner took possession and placed it in a bank vault. It was reacquired by the racecourse in 2018 and now remains on display there, the winning owners receiving a replica.

It weighs 644 grams of nine carat gold and is plated in 18 carat gold to give it a rich colour.

A Gold Cup is not all the winning handlers receive. The race is the most valuable non-handicap chase in Britain. The total prize money for the 2019 running was £625,000, with £351,687 going to the winner and prize money down to the eighth horse home.

The race is run over a distance of three miles, two furlongs and 70 yards and during its running there are 22 fences to be jumped.

The steeplechase is open to horses aged five years and over.

The most famous winner of the race was Arkle, who won three consecutive runnings from 1964 to 1966.

So certain were bookies that the gelding was going to win for a third time in 1966 he was given a starting price of 1/10 (a £10 bet would have won £1).

Of course he won.

Most successful Gold Cup horse

Even Arkle couldn't compare with the record of the remarkable Golden Miller. He won five successive Gold Cups between 1932 and 1936.

He couldn't win in 1931 or 1937 because first frost and then flooding caused the cancellation of that year's running.

But he returned in 1938, where he came second to Morse Code.

Most famous rivalry

The run in to the finish line is uphill which has impacted on so many famous finishes.

In 2011 the famous Kauto Star and Denman went head to head, but the younger legs of Long Run told up the hill as the 7/2 favourite powered past both to win for the only time.

Kauto Star won the race in 2007, but was beaten into second place by Denman the following year. In 2009 Kauto Star then reversed the finishing order, forcing Denman into the runners up spot.

The gallant Denman also finished second in 2010 and 2011.

Record attendance

Last year's Gold Cup saw 71,816 gather at Cheltenham, a new record for the race.

The total for the four days also set a new record at 266,779.

Most successful Gold Cup jockey

Pat Taafe is the most successful jockey to ride in the Gold Cup. He rode Arkle to all three of his victories in 1964, 1965 and 1966, then piloted Fort Leney to victory in 1968. In total Taafe rode 32 winners at Cheltenham, including five Champion Chases as well as his four Gold Cups.

The last horse to win a hat-trick of Gold Cups

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