Historic moment for Cheltenham as original Gold Cup trophy returns home

Fri 28 Sep 2018

National Hunt legends Golden Miller, Arkle and Cottage Rake are among the names of previous Cheltenham Gold Cup winners engraved on the original trophy, which has been handed back to the racecourse.

The nine-carat gold trophy, weighing 644 grams, will be reintroduced as a perpetual prize, presented to the winning connections of the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup in March and in future years. 

It is the first time the Cheltenham Gold Cup trophy has changed since 1972.

The race was inaugurated in 1924 and won by the five-year-old Red Splash, owned by Major Humphrey Wyndham, trained by Fred Withington and ridden by Dick Rees.

Red Splash won a thrilling race by a neck and a head from Conjuror II and Gerald L – but only took part due to the late withdrawal of the favourite Alcazar, who would have been ridden by Rees.

The Gold Cup was not a championship race in its early days, but that soon changed when Easter Hero became the first horse to retain the crown in 1930.

Golden Miller took public interest to a high level when successful five years in a row from 1932 to 1936 in the silks of his colourful owner, Dorothy Paget.

Recognised as the blue riband prize of jump racing, the Gold Cup continued to go from strength to strength after World War Two, when an up-and-coming Irish trainer named Vincent O’Brien sent out Cottage Rake to complete a hat-trick between 1948 and 1950.

The introduction of television helped the race reach greater heights, allowing armchair fans to see the likes of Mill House and three-times hero Arkle in the 1960s do battle in the three-and-a-quarter mile showpiece, regarded as the pinnacle of the sport.

Since 1972, such stars as another triple winner Best Mate, Desert Orchid, Kauto Star and Denman have etched their names on to the Gold Cup roll of honour.

Plated in 18-carat gold to enhance its colour, the trophy will be mounted on a plinth bearing the names of every horse to have ever won the race.

Commissioned and purchased from Simmons of Cheltenham, the 1924 trophy was created by S Blanckensee & Son Ltd of Birmingham. Its whereabouts over past decades are unclear, but it has been in private ownership in recent times. 

Ian Renton, the Jockey Club’s regional director, Cheltenham & the South West, said: “To bring the first ever Cheltenham Gold Cup trophy back to its rightful home and to use it as the perpetual trophy moving forwards really demonstrates the rich history and heritage of the race.

“We are also delighted that it will now carry the names of all our previous winners on the plinth.

“It’s a beautiful, decorative trophy, dating back almost 100 years and it will sit perfectly on the winner’s podium come March next year, when we crown the next Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup champion.”

Jason Ash, chief marketing officer at C&C Group plc, owners of Magners Cider said: “As we look forward with huge anticipation to our first Festival, we share the Jockey Club’s excitement that the original Cheltenham Gold Cup will be presented to the connections of next year’s winner. 

“We have no doubt that the history, heritage and prestige of this great race will be enhanced through the re-introduction of this beautiful cup as originally presented back in 1924.

“On behalf of millions of National Hunt fans in the UK and Ireland and beyond who are already turning their thoughts to next year’s Festival, we would like to congratulate the Jockey Club on bringing the original Cheltenham Gold Cup back home to Cheltenham.”

The 2019 winning owner will receive a replica of the original Cheltenham Gold Cup to keep, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup remaining at the track over the year.

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