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Cheltenham Festival Historical Facts

10 historical facts relating to the greatest four days of national hunt action that is the Cheltenham Festival at Prestbury Park.

1. While the Cheltenham Festival dates back to 1860 it’s present venue was not established until 1902. The meeting was held at Warwick between 1906 and 1910 since when Prestbury Park has been it’s home. The earliest traceable reference to a “Festival“ is in the Warwick Advertiser of 1907.

2. The oldest of the championship races is the Stayers’ Hurdle which was run for the first time in 1912. The Champion Hurdle dates back to 1927, three years after the Gold Cup was inaugurated.

3. Over 8000 Gallons of tea and coffee will be served over the four days of the Festival.

4. Golden Miller is the only horse to have won the Gold Cup 5 times. The horse won the race between 1932 and 1936 – Gerry Wilson being the jockey on two occasions with Ted Leader, Billy Stott and Evan Williams each recording one victory.

5. The greatest, and highest rated, horse to win at the Festival was the incomparable Arkle who won the 1963 Broadway Chase before going on to win the next three Gold Cups. The son of Archive holds the record for the greatest winning distance in the Gold Cup – 30 lengths in 1966 at odds of 1-10 – also the shortest recorded SP.

6. Up to 300,000 pints of Guinness will be consumed over the four days and in the region of 20,000 bottles of Champagne.

7. With the exception of the war years of 1943 and 1944 the only time the Festival has had to be cancelled was in 2001 due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. In 1978 the then final day (Thursday) was abandoned when racegoers woke up to find Cheltenham covered in snow. The Gold Cup was eventually run in April and went to Midnight Court and jockey John Francome.

8. Until 2005 the Festival took place over three days (Tuesday to Thursday) since when an extra day (Friday) has been added, climaxing with the Gold Cup on the final day. 28 races now take place at the Festival, seven on each day.

9. 10,000 Irish racing fans will attend the Festival each day with Ryanair putting on an extra 30 flights from Dublin to Birmingham during the Festival period.

10. Irish jockey Ruby Walsh has finished top jockey at the Festival a record eleven times. His highest (a record) winning total of 7 came in both 2009 and 2016.