Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners & History
The Cheltenham Gold Cup was first run in 1924 when Dick Rees rode Splash to victory, earning the distinction of being the first Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. Since those early days of competition the Cheltenham Gold Cup has developed into one of the most exciting races in the world, and a showpiece event for the talents of some of the finest racehorses the world has seen.
Within a decade of the first Cheltenham Gold Cup being run, the first legend of the event entered the stage. In 1932 the Irish-born gelding Golden Miller was entered into the Grand National for the first time and won it as a five-year old. The following year he entered the race again and won. Golden Miller went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup for the next three years, amassing five victories in succession – a record that is unlikely to be repeated.
It took another decade for the Cheltenham Gold Cup to deliver another heroic Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. In 1948 the Irish duo of racehorse Cottage Rake and trainer Vincent O’Brien claimed the first of three consecutive victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It was perhaps this string of victories more than any other factor that led to the Cheltenham Festival developing into the unofficial national hunt championships contested by the English and Irish racing fraternities.
Once Cottage Rake had departed the scene 13 years were to pass before the Cheltenham Gold Cup delivered its next champion racehorse. In 1963 Arkle had impressed at the Cheltenham Festival by winning the Novices’ Steeplechase by 20 lengths. In 1964 he converted this performance into a Cheltenham Gold Cup win and went on to win another two Cheltenham Gold Cups in the next two years.
From the 1960s onward the Cheltenham Gold Cup continued to produce exciting races, displaying the talents of great racehorses such a Desert Orchid, who won the race in 1989. It was not until the millennium that a horse established dominance at the event, when Best Mate won three consecutive titles between 2002 and 2004, making his trainer Henrietta Knight the most successful female trainer in the history of national hunt racing.
Despite Henrietta Knight’s impressive achievements in recent years it is Tom Dreaper who is remembered as the most successful trainer of Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, training three Gold Cup winners including Arkle. Arkle’s jockey Pat Taaffe is the most successful jockey in the history of the event, riding Arkle to three of his wins and claiming one Gold Cup victory on Fort Leney.