The Festival is almost here…

he moment every Jump racing enthusiast eagerly anticipates is now less than a week away – the start of The Festival 2014. Racing commences at 1.30pm on Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11 and continues on Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 12, St Patrick’s Thursday, March 13, before climaxing on Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 14.

Cheltenham in March is the focal point for all those interested in the very finest Jump racing and more than 200,000 racegoers will attend The Festival, while millions more in Britain, Ireland and further afield will keep up to date with what is going on by watching television, listening to the radio or checking online.

This final media pack ahead of The Festival contains an array of facts, figures and landmarks about The Festival, the latest order of running, plus information on other attractions.

 

About The Festival

The Festival runs from Tuesday, March 11 to Friday, March 14 inclusive and is the embodiment of everything that is great about Cheltenham. It is four days of atmosphere, anticipation and action, played out on a beautiful sporting arena that has no equal. The Festival features the best and the bravest horses and jockeys, nervous and excited trainers and owners, and a wide cast of human characters who come together every year determined to have the time of their lives. For racing’s practitioners, Festival glory provides lifelong memories that will never fade and defines careers. Witness the sheer elation of winning connections as they return to the cheers of the crowd and you are seeing dreams fulfilled and years of planning and effort coming to fruition. The Festival is one of those rare events that engages everyone who comes into contact with it, never failing to produce award-winning drama, enjoyment, camaraderie and sporting excellence in a cocktail for which no hangover cure is required. It truly is a life affirming four days.

 

About Cheltenham Racecourse

Cheltenham Racecourse is situated in Prestbury on the outskirts of the historic spa town of Cheltenham. The Home of Jump Racing, Cheltenham Racecourse is the venue for the world’s pre-eminent Jump Racing meeting, The Festival, which takes place in March every year. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham Racecourse is a stunning natural amphitheatre and offers the highest-quality action throughout the Jump season. Cheltenham has been voted Britain’s Racecourse of the Year for the last 10 years by members of the Racegoers Club. Please find more details at www.cheltenham.co.uk and through Twitter (@CheltenhamRaces) and Facebookwww.facebook.com/thehomeofjumpracing

 

Cheltenham Racecourse is part of The Jockey Club, which has been at the heart of British racing for more than 260 years. Today the largest commercial group in the sport, The Jockey Club runs the largest racecourse group in the UK by turnover (2012: £142.1m), courses (15) including those at Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs and Newmarket, attendances (2012: 1.8m), total prize money (2012: £35.3m), contribution to prize money (2012: £16.5m) and quality racing (Group and Graded races); more than 3,000 acres of world-class training grounds in Newmarket and Lambourn; The National Stud breeding enterprise and education provider; and the charity for racing’s people in need, Racing Welfare. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny The Jockey Club makes it puts back into British racing. More information is available atwww.thejockeyclub.co.uk

 

For further information, please contact:          

Sophia Brudenell, Communications Manager – Jockey Club Racecourses South West, on 01242 537 683/07557 054 577 or Sophia.Brudenell@thejockeyclub.co.uk

  

The Festival 2014 – Facts and Figures

 

3,825,000 - The amount of prize money in pounds sterling on offer at The Festival 2014 – the most of any Jump festival in the world.

1,050,000 - The amount of prize money in pounds sterling on offer on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day.

236,472 - The number of pints of Guinness knocked back by spectators at The Festival in 2013.

235,125 - The attendance at The Festival 2013 – up 25,000 from 210,000 in 2009 – and the largest crowd for a four-day sporting event in Britain last year.

67,500 - The maximum capacity of the Cheltenham Racecourse spectator facilities on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day (when all temporary facilities are open). Sold out in 2013.

45,000 - The number of bread rolls eaten at The Festival in 2013.

21,120 - The distance, in feet, run during the National Hunt Chase, The Festival’s longest race.

12,320 - The amount in yards of running rails surrounding the track.

10,745 - The number of bottles of house Champagne sold at The Festival.

10,000 - The number of Irish racing fans who travel to Prestbury Park to watch The Festival each day.

8,000 - The number of sticky toffee puddings eaten during The Festival.

4,500 - The number of staff employed over The Festival.

2001 - The only year, besides the periods during the two World Wars, that The Festival has been cancelled (due to foot-and-mouth disease).

1934 - The year Golden Miller became the first horse to win both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in a season.

1902 - The year The Festival was first organised at a racecourse on Prestbury Park.

800 - The number of press accredited for The Festival each year.

150 - The amount of money, in millions of pounds sterling, bet on The Festival every year.

80 - The amount in millions of pounds sterling The Jockey Club has spent on facilities at Cheltenham in the last 30 years.

50 - Years since Cheltenham Racecourse was saved from falling into the hands of property developers by a group of Jockey Club Members who formed Racecourse Holdings Trust – now Jockey Club Racecourses.

50 - Years since the great Irish chaser Arkle won the first of his three Cheltenham Gold Cups.

50 - The local economic impact of The Festival each year in millions of pounds sterling.

45 - The amount in millions of pounds sterling The Jockey Club will spend on a state-of-the-art new grandstand development ready for use at the start of The Festival 2016.

30 - The number of extra flights put on by Ryanair on the Dublin to Birmingham route during The Festival period.

27 - The number of National Hunt races run at The Festival.

25 - The number, in football pitches, of frost covers used to save The Festival in 2013 from the harsh winter.

 

22 - The number of fences jumped during the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

7 - The most wins by a jockey – Ruby Walsh – in a single year.

5 - The most consecutive victories by a racehorse in any Cheltenham Festival race were achieved by Golden Miller in the Cheltenham Gold Cup between 1932 and 1936, and Quevega in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle between 2009 and 2013.

4 - The number of feature races run at the Cheltenham Festival – the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stan James Champion Hurdle and Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

3 - The three-storey temporary structure installed for The Festival, by the Guinness Village, is the biggest, three-tiered temporary structure in Europe.

2 - The shortest distance raced at The Festival in miles.

1 - The number of tons of British beef eaten during The Festival.

 

Possible landmarks at The Festival in 2014

 

Jockeys

 

Seeking first winner

 

Leighton Aspell

Brian Hughes

Paul Moloney

Jamie Moore

Danny Mullins

 

BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase

 

Barry Geraghty will become the most successful jockey ever in the BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase if he wins the race this year. He has had five victories so far, the same as Pat Taaffe.

 

JCB Triumph Hurdle

 

Barry Geraghty will become the most successful jockey ever in the JCB Triumph Hurdle if riding the winner in 2014. He is currently jointly in the lead with Jimmy Uttley with three triumphs.

 

Trainers

 

Seeking first winner

 

John Ferguson

Harry Fry

Martin Keighley

Charlie Longsdon

Fergal O’Brien

Jeremy Scott

Tim Vaughan

Paul Webber

Nick Williams

 

Racing Post Arkle Chase

 

Nicky Henderson, joint most successful trainer in the Racing Post Arkle Chase with five winners alongside Tom Dreaper, would become the most successful trainer of all time in the race if sending out Grandouet to win in 2014

 

Stan James Champion Hurdle

 

Nicky Henderson will become the most successful trainer ever in the Stan James Champion Hurdle if My Tent Or Yours succeeds. He is currently equal with Peter Easterby on five victories.

 

RSA Chase

 

Willie Mullins would become the joint most successful trainer in the RSA Chase, alongside Fulke Walwyn on four wins if taking the 2014 renewal.

 

BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase

 

Nicky Henderson is after a third consecutive victory following Finian’s Rainbow in 2012 and Sprinter Sacre in 2013.

 

 Weatherbys Champion Bumper

 

Willie Mullins is after his ninth success in the race.

 

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup

 

Paul Nicholls will join Tom Dreaper (five victories) as the most successful trainer in the Cheltenham Gold Cup if sending out this year’s winner.

 

Owners

 

Stan James Champion Hurdle

 

J P McManus will become the most successful owner ever in the Stan James Champion Hurdle if My Tent Or Yours or Jezki wins. He is currently the joint most successful owner alongside Dorothy Paget with four successes. He has enjoyed 39 winners in total at The Festival so far.

 

Horses

 

Multiple winners at The Festival

 

Stan James Champion Hurdle

 

Hurricane Fly will become the sixth horse to win three Stan James Champion Hurdles if successful on Tuesday, March 11. He would be the first not to win his three Champion Hurdles in consecutive years. He would be the third 10-year-old to triumph, following Sea Pigeon in 1980 and Hatton’s Grace in 1950.

 

Ladbrokes World Hurdle

 

Big Buck’s won for a record fourth time in the 2012 Labrokes World Hurdle, missed last year’s renewal because of injury and is back this year to go for five victories in the race. Big Buck’s is 11 and the only previous winner of that age was Crimson Embers in 1986.

 

Consecutive wins at The Festival

 

Quevega is going for a record sixth consecutive victory at The Festival in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle on the opening day, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11. She would become the first horse to win six Festival races. She currently shares the record with Golden Miller, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on five consecutive occasions between 1932 and 1936.

 

Bobs Worth is aiming for a second consecutive Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup victory on Friday, March 14 and his fourth consecutive victory at The Festival. He won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2011 and the RSA Chase in 2012

 

Alderwood, who holds three entries at The Festival, is after his third consecutive win at The Festival after taking the 2012 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle and the 2013 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase.

 

Champagne Fever, who has three entries, is going for his third consecutive Festival victory in 2014, following on from success in the 2012 Weatherbys Champion Bumper and the 2013 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

 

Landmarks

 

10 years – Best Mate won the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup for a third consecutive time in 2004. Trainer Henrietta Knight’s late husband Terry Biddlecombe is remembered by the Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase on the first day, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11.

 

15 years – Paul Nicholls sent out the first of his four Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winners – See More Business, who was among the trainer’s first three Festival successes in 1999.

 

20 years – France’s only winner of the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, The Fellow, was triumphant in 1994.

 

20 years – Viking Flagship, ridden by Adrian Maguire, trained by David Nicholson and owned by Roach Foods Ltd, won the first of his two Queen Mother Champion Chases.

 

20 years – Irish challenger Danoli landed a massive gamble in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle for trainer Tom Foley. He was returned at 7/4 in the 23-strong field.

 

25 years – The great grey Desert Orchid defied poor weather and ground conditions to capture a memorable Cheltenham Gold Cup under Simon Sherwood.

 

25 years – Irish racing was at a low ebb and there were no Irish-trained winners in The Festival’s 18 races in 1989.

 

30 years – Paddy Mullins sent out Dawn Run to win the Champion Hurdle. The mare followed up in the Gold Cup two years later and remains the only horse to complete the famous double.

 

30 years – Jenny Pitman became the first woman to train the winner of the Gold Cup, thanks to Burrough Hill Lad.

 

35 years – Jonjo O’Neill rode Alverton, trained by Peter Easterby, to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

50 years – Flyingbolt captured division one of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Tom Dreaper’s charge returned to the next two Festivals, sauntering to victory in the Arkle Challenge Trophy and Queen Mother Champion Chase. Flyingbolt is rated the second-best chaser of all time behind his stable companion Arkle.

 

50 years – The greatest chaser ever, Arkle, won the first of this three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups.

 

Arkle – Facts & Figures

Form figures: 341104-1111111-11311111-113111-11111-212

 

Born: April 19, 1957, Ballymacoll Stud, Dunboyne, Co Meath, Ireland. His sire was Archive and his dam Bright Cherry.

 

Colour: Bay.

 

Breeder: Mary Baker.

 

Sold: Goffs Annual August Sales – Ballsbridge, August 4, 1960.

Arkle, at the time un-named, was lot 148 and had a reserve of 500 guineas. He was sold to Tom Dreaper for 1,150 guineas on behalf of Anne, Duchess of Westminster. Her purchase was subsequently named Arkle, the name of a mountain on the Duchess’ estate in Sutherland, Scotland.

 

Race record: Starts: 35; 1st: 27; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 3; 4th: 2; Unp: 1. His career runs included 26 chases (22 wins), six hurdle races (four wins), two bumpers and one Flat race (one win).

 

Total career earnings: £78,464 5s 6d (around £1.25 million today).

 

Owner: Anne, Duchess of Westminster (1915 – 2003).

 

Trainer: Tom Dreaper (1898-1975).

 

Jockey: Arkle was ridden predominantly by Pat Taaffe (1930-1992). Taaffe partnered Arkle 28 times, including on all the horse’s 26 chase outings, and was successful on 24 occasions The other jockeys who rode Arkle were Mr Mark Hely-Hutchinson (twice), Liam McLoughlin (three times – one win), Paddy Woods (once – one win) and T P Burns (once – one win).

 

First race: Lough Ennel Maiden Plate (a bumper – National Hunt Flat race), Mullingar, Ireland, December 9, 1961. Started 5/1 and finished third under Mark Hely-Hutchinson.

 

First win: Bective Novice Hurdle, Navan, January 20, 1962. Started at 20/1 and ridden by Liam McLoughlin.

 

First outing and win in Britain: Honeybourne Chase, Cheltenham, November 17, 1962. Started the 11/8 favourite and won by 20 lengths under Pat Taaffe.

 

Cheltenham Festival wins (four – Pat Taaffe rode on each occasion):

March 12, 1963 – Broadway Novices’ Chase (RSA Chase) 4/9 Fav, won by 20 lengths.

March 7, 1964 – Cheltenham Gold Cup 7/4 2nd Fav, won by five lengths.

March 11, 1965 – Cheltenham Gold Cup 30/100 Fav, won by 20 lengths.

March 17, 1966 – Cheltenham Gold Cup 1/10 Fav, won by 30 lengths.

Cheltenham: Arkle ran six times at Cheltenham, with his only defeat at the Home of Jump Racing coming on December 12, 1964 in the Massey-Ferguson Gold Cup over 2m 5f. With top-weight of 12st 10lb, the 8/11 favourite finished a close third, beaten a length and a short-head by Flying Wild (10st 6lb) and Buona Notte (10st 12lb) in this valuable handicap chase.

 

Other major victories (all ridden by Pat Taaffe):

Power Gold Cup, Fairyhouse (1963).

Hennessy Gold Cup, Newbury (1964, 1965).

Thyestes Chase, Gowran Park (1964).

Irish Grand National, Fairyhouse (1964).

Leopardstown Chase, Leopardstown (1965, 1966).

Whitbread Gold Cup, Sandown Park (1965).

Gallagher Gold Cup, Sandown Park (1965).

King George VI Chase, Kempton Park (1965).

SGB Chase, Ascot (1966).

 

Betting: Started at odds-on in 22 of his 26 chases. His shortest-ever starting price was 1/10 in the 1966 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

Biggest weight carried to victory: The biggest weight Arkle carried to victory was 12st 11lb in the Milltown Chase at Leopardstown in February, 1963.

 

Longest winning distance: Distance – 1965 King George VI Chase, Kempton Park

 

Timeform: Arkle is rated the best chaser of all-time by Timeform, with a rating of 212.  His one-time stable companion Flyingbolt is next on 210. Current superstar Sprinter Sacre is currently third on 192, with Arkle’s old rival Mill House and Kauto Star both achieving 191.

 

Nickname: Himself.

 

Final Race: King George VI Chase, Kempton Park, December 27, 1966. Second to Dormant, finished lame.

 

Died: May 31, 1970, Bryanstown, County Kildare. Was humanely put down as a result of extreme stiffness and lesions in both hind feet. Originally buried at Bryanstown, his remains were exhumed in 1976 and his skeleton was put on display at the Irish National Stud.

 

Commemoration at Cheltenham: The bronze statue of Arkle created by local artist Doris Lindner was unveiled at Cheltenham by the Duchess of Westminster in 1972. It currently stands above the parade ring.

 

The Cotswold Chase, the championship event for two-mile novice chasers, was re-named the Arkle Trophy in 1969.

 

The Arkle Bar in the Club Enclosure is the most famous racecourse bar in Britain.

The Arkle Story

 

“Could be the best since Arkle” has been an often-stated opinion over the last 50 years. But one phrase never heard during the same period is “Better than Arkle”.

 

Only Red Rum can challenge Arkle’s position in the public consciousness as the most famous chaser of all time and even then it was Red Rum’s unique achievements in the Grand National – three wins and two seconds from five runs – that set him apart.

 

As recently as 2004, Arkle was still voted the favourite horse of all time by readers of the Racing Post newspaper.

 

Arkle is not unique in winning three Cheltenham Gold Cups. Cottage Rake and Best Mate also captured chasing’s Blue Riband three times, while Golden Miller racked up five consecutive wins in the championship race during the 1930s.

 

However, Arkle’s victories at Cheltenham were at the expense of another outstanding performer, Mill House and, coupled with his extraordinary weight-carrying performances in handicaps, the bay gelding, nicknamed “Himself”, became the greatest of all time.

 

His Timeform rating of 212 is the highest ever for a chaser, with his one-time stable companion Flyingbolt on 210, current superstar Sprinter Sacre a distant third on 192, and Mill House and Kauto Star sharing fourth on 191.

 

The Arkle story began on April 19, 1957, when Mary Baker’s mare Bright Cherry gave birth to a bay colt by the stallion Archive at the famous Ballymacoll Stud in Dunboyne, County Meath, Ireland. Archive was a superbly-bred son of the great stallion Nearco but had been a flop on the racecourse, meaning that his stud fee was a lowly 48 guineas. Bright Cherry had been a useful chaser herself, doing well in two-mile handicaps in Ireland on her favoured fast ground.

 

The as yet un-named colt was raised at the Baker’s farm near Naul in County Dublin in a steady, traditional way. On August 4, 1960, the three-year-old gelding was offered for sale at the Goffs Annual August Sales at Ballsbridge with a reserve of 500 guineas and caught the eye of legendary trainer Tom Dreaper, an unassuming but totally dedicated Irishman and expert handler of chasers, most notably Prince Regent.

 

Dreaper went to 1,150 guineas, a relatively high-figure at the time, to secure the Archive gelding on behalf of owner Anne, Duchess of Westminster. Known to her friends as ‘Nancy’, Anne, Duchess of Westminster, was the fourth and last wife of the second Duke of Westminster who died in 1953.

 

From a wealthy family herself and the widow of the richest man in Britain, the Duchess had properties in Ireland (Bryanstown), Scotland (Lochmore) and Cheshire (Eaton Lodge). She first approached Tom Dreaper to train racehorses in the 1950s and her horses were named after mountains on the Lochmore estate – Arkle being one of them.

 

Arkle spent time at the Duchess’ Cheshire estate before Tom Dreaper was offered the choice to train either Arkle or another four-year-old named Brae Flame. Despite Brae Flame being the more physically attractive of the duo, Dreaper plumped for Arkle due to the fact he had previously trained members of the horse’s family, including Bright Cherry. Dreaper had also ridden Arkle’s grand-dam, Greenogue Princess, in point-to-points.

 

On his arrival at Dreaper’s Greenogue stables to the north of Dublin, Arkle did not appear anything out of the ordinary and was regarded as rather unattractive and gangly by stable staff.

 

Dreaper’s training methods were geared towards producing chasers – he had little interest in hurdle races other than as a means to bring on horses. From the early days during Dreaper’s twice-weekly schooling sessions, Arkle demonstrated he was a talented jumper.

 

His racecourse debut came at the now-closed Mullingar Racecourse on December 9, 1961 in a bumper. Partnered by amateur Mark Hely-Hutchinson, he started at 5/1 and finished third of the 17 runners on heavy going, some eight lengths adrift of the winner. He came fourth in a similar contest on good ground at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, again with Hely-Hutchinson in the saddle.

 

As Arkle had not demonstrated a huge amount of speed in his two bumper outings, Dreaper chose to start the horse’s hurdling career in a three-mile novice event at Navan on January 20, 1963. Starting at 20/1 on heavy going, he was passed over by Dreaper’s stable jockey Tom Taaffe and instead it was Liam McLoughlin who took the ride as Arkle triumphed by a length and a half.

 

Arkle won three more hurdle races out of a further five starts over the smaller obstacles, showing considerable promise, with Dreaper turning to chasing towards the end of 1962. Fittingly, the horse’s first start over fences was at Cheltenham on November 17, 1962, when he contested the Honeybourne Chase over two and a half miles. Ridden by Pat Taaffe, Arkle was sent off the 11/8 favourite and scored by an effortless 20 lengths. Success over two miles at Leopardstown in February, 1963 followed before Dreaper stepped Arkle up in distance for the three-mile Broardway Chase (a forerunner of today’s RSA Chase) at the Cheltenham Festival in March, 1963. The winning distance was again 20 lengths – “very easily” was the verdict of the form book.

 

In any normal year, Arkle’s Broadway Chase would have propelled him to the head of the ante-post market for the 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup. However, Mill House had won the 1963 Gold Cup by 12 lengths from Dreaper’s Fortria and both the public and media asserted that the strapping Fulke Walwyn-trained gelding would win the feature race for years to come.

 

Arkle and Mill House first met in the 1963 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on a foggy November day. Mill House, saddled with 12 stone, was set to concede five pounds (5lb) to Arkle, who carried 11st 9lb.

 

Three fences from home, Mill House led the way, with Arkle travelling well in third. A blunder from Arkle at that open ditch handed the initiative to Mill House, although some observers reported that Arkle’s mishap was more of an unfortunate slip. Given the foggy conditions and black and white film coverage, it was difficult to see what actually happened. In any event, Mill House stormed to an eight-length victory over Happy Spring with Arkle three quarters of a length back in third.

 

In the minds of many, the Hennessy clearly proved Mill House to be superior, although Arkle’s supporters were adamant the Irish horse would still prove better. If Arkle could not beat Mill House when receiving weight, what chance did he stand at level weights in the Cheltenham Gold Cup of 1964? In the run-up to The Festival, Arkle won three handicap chases under 12st without any trouble in Ireland, while Mill House landed the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.

 

The scene was set for the much-anticipated re-match at Cheltenham on March 7, 1964 on good ground, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup, run over an extended three and a quarter miles, moved from its usual Thursday slot to a Saturday to give as many people as possible the chance of either being at the course or watching on television.

 

Mill House went off the 8/13 favourite with Arkle at 7/4. Two other runners lined up, the 1960 winner Pas Seul and Great Yorkshire Chase scorer King’s Nephew. Mill House made the running, with Arkle pulling hard in second. Coming down the hill for the final time, Arkle moved up menacingly and soon after the second last, burst into the lead into a matter of strides and galloped resolutely to line. He beat Mill House in stunning fashion, with five lengths the official verdict in a new course record time. The BBC commentator perfectly summarised the result: “This is the champion. This is the best we’ve seen for a long time.”

 

Arkle’s first Cheltenham Gold Cup victory was followed just 23 days later by an thrilling Irish Grand National  success under 12 stone, when he conceded at least two stone to all his rivals, including the crack racemare Flying Wild.

 

The 1964/65 season saw Arkle reach new heights. He won a three-runner Gowran Park handicap chase and then made up for the Hennessy Gold Cup disappointment of 1963 by winning the 1964 edition under 12st 7lb by 10 lengths on December 5, with Mill House (by then in receipt of 3lb) a well-beaten fourth.

 

Dropped back two miles and five furlongs at Cheltenham a week later, he met a reverse, finishing a close third under a massive weight in the Massey-Ferguson Gold Cup Handicap, with Flying Wild, who received 28lb, taking the glory.

 

Arkle got back to winning ways in a Leopardstown handicap in late February. In the 1965 Gold Cup, the star chaser once again faced Mill House and this time made all the running for an effortless 20-length triumph over his rival – perhaps best performance of his illustrious career.

 

The season was rounded off by success in one of Britain’s most competitive handicaps, the Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown Park, when he conceded at least two and a half stone to all rivals and beat Brasher five lengths.

 

After opening the 1965/66 season by breaking the three-mile track record when 20 lengths superior to Rondetto, with Mill House ( who received 16lb) third, in the Gallaher Gold Cup at Sandown Park, Arkle took a second Hennessy Gold Cup, again under 12st 7lb, by 15 lengths from Freddie and Brasher at a starting price of 30/100. That Christmas he made his first visit to Kempton Park for the King George VI Chase and had little difficulty in overcoming Dormant by a distance.

 

In the 1966 Cheltenham Gold Cup, Arkle made an uncharacteristic blunder at the 11th fence but was still 30 lengths superior to Dormant as he racked up the hat-trick at odds of 1/10.

 

Still only nine years old, how long would Arkle’s reign continue? He attempted to win a third Hennessy Gold Cup in November, 1966, on his first start of the season but gamely had to settle for a half-length second behind Stalbridge Colonist, who was in receipt of a massive 35lb and went on to finish a close second in the 1967 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

Next time out it was business as usual, when Arkle headed to Ascot for the SGB Handicap Chase on December 14. He won by 15 lengths, with all other runners in receipt of at least 32lb.

 

Just 13 days after his Ascot victory, Arkle’s career was over. When attempting to win his second King George VI Chase, he sustained a fracture to his off-fore pedal bone in the closing stages and finished the race very lame, a length behind old opponent Dormant.

 

It was initially hoped that after a period of recuperation Arkle might make a comeback, but it was not to be, with the Duchess announcing the great horse’s retirement on October 8, 1968, with total win prize money of £75,107.

 

He was humanely put down on May 31, 1970, as a result of extreme stiffness and lesions on both hind feet, which had developed independently of his career-ending injury.

 

Arkle’s skeleton is on display at the Irish National Stud and he is commemorated at Cheltenham Racecourse by a statue, a bar and the championship race for two-mile novice chasers, the Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase at The Festival in March.

 

Anne, Duchess of Westminster, saw her colours carried to victory again in the Cheltenham Gold Cup by Ten Up, trained by Tom Dreaper’s son, Jim, in 1975. Having never wanted to risk Arkle in the Grand National, the owner enjoyed victory in the Aintree spectacular with the enigmatic Last Suspect in 1985. She died in 2003, aged 88, with Tom Dreaper having passed away aged 76 in 1975, just a few weeks after Ten Up’s win.

 

Pat Taaffe, who rode Arkle 28 times (including all his chases and winning on 24 occasions), became a trainer and saddled the highly-talented if wayward Captain Christy to win the 1974 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He died aged 62 in 1992. His son Tom kept the Taaffe legacy going by training the 2005 Gold Cup hero, Kicking King.

 

Arkle – The Legend Lives On – Details of TV Documentary

 

Specially-commissioned documentary to mark 50th anniversary of the iconic Gold Cup clash between Arkle and Mill House in 1964 to be screened on Channel 4 & TG4 during Cheltenham Festival Week

 

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup clash between Arkle and Mill House and Touchline Media – producers of the IFTA-nominated “Jump Boys” documentary – have been commissioned by Channel 4 & TG4 to produce “ARKLE – THE LEGEND LIVES ON“, a one-hour documentary that takes a nostalgic look at that momentous occasion and reflects on a golden era when Arkle changed the face of National Hunt racing forever.

 

It also examines how the legend of Arkle has grown over the past half century and compares “Himself” to many of the modern greats of the chasing game.

 

This special documentary will air on Channel 4 at 11pm on Thursday, March 13 at 11pm – the night before the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and on TG4 at 9.30pm on Wednesday, March 12 and at 8.45pm on Saturday, March 15.

 

ARKLE – THE LEGEND LIVES ON” will include extensive archive footage on that great era and contributors include all the surviving connections with the great horse, his work rider Paddy Woods; head lad Johnny Lumley; Jim Dreaper, son of trainer Tom Dreaper; Willie Robinson, rider of Mill House and Cath Walwyn, wife of the late Fulke Walwyn, trainer of Mill House.

 

The documentary also features 96-year-old broadcasting legend Sir Peter O’Sullevan, whose evocative commentaries on Arkle’s three successive Cheltenham Gold Cups from 1964-1966 perfectly captured those thrilling occasions. Other contributors to “ARKLE – THE LEGEND LIVES ON“, include Ted Walsh, Brough Scott, Hugh McIlvanney, Eamon Dunphy, Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls, Alan Sweetman from the Racing Post, racing analyst Donn McClean and senior Irish National Hunt handicapper Noel O’Brien.

 

“Arkle is considered the greatest National Hunt horse of all time and we are delighted to have been commissioned to take a look back at that golden period for National Hunt racing half a century ago when the Arkle and Mill House rivalry thrilled racing fans on both sides of the Irish Sea.

 

“The documentary will feature many of the great moments in Arkle’s glittering career and it is appropriate that both Channel 4 and TG4 viewers can relive that great era on the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic races of the 20th century”, said Denis Kirwan, Producer, Touchline Media.

 

Luke McManus, Director of ”ARKLE – THE LEGEND LIVES ON“, said: “Never before or since has a horse so powerfully captured the public imagination and become a symbol, not just of success, but of hope. The story of Arkle is uniquely fascinating.

 

“He came to prominence in the sixties, at the time of JFK, the Beatles, George Best & Muhammad Ali. Just like them, Arkle was sublimely talented, charismatic and ultimately, iconic. In Ireland, Arkle still inspires devotion. As Brough Scott says in the film ‘It’s much more than just a racing story…it’s about a nation yearning for something’.”

 

ARKLE – THE LEGEND LIVES ON” has been supported by funding from Channel 4, TG4 and by Horse Racing Ireland. Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland said: “The story of Arkle is timeless and the people who were part of his story are legends in their own right. Horse Racing Ireland is honoured to be involved in bringing that story to life once again.”

 

For further information contact: Denis Kirwan, Director, Touchline Media 00353(87)2701070

  

The Prestbury Cup at The Festival

 

Challenge between Great Britain and Ireland given official title

 

The Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse has seen great rivalry between the home team of British-trained runners and those crossing the Irish Sea for many years. To celebrate this rivalry, the competition between the two countries has been christened The Prestbury Cup.

 

The Prestbury Cup runs from the first race of the four-day meeting, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, on Tuesday, March 11 until either country has 14 winners or more. Last year, for the first time, there were more Irish-trained horses winners than British-trained, with 14 trophies taken back across the Irish Sea. There are a total of 27 races during The Festival, not including the charity Flat race, the St Patrick’s Day Derby, on Thursday of the meeting.

 

Sophia Brudenell, Communications Manager for the South West Region of Jockey Club Racecourses, commented: “The competition between Ireland and Great Britain is an element of The Festival that has grown hugely in significance over the last few years, noticeably when Ireland had more winners than Britain last year for the first time.

 

“It therefore seemed appropriate that the competition between the two countries should be given an official title, hence the name The Prestbury Cup. With such strong entries from Ireland this year, as well as hundreds of British-trained horses running, I’m sure The Prestbury Cup will provide a great narrative to The Festival.”

 

The Prestbury Cup, named after the nearest village to Cheltenham Racecourse, will be presented to jockeys and trainers from Ireland or Britain once the winning country is confirmed. The Cup itself has been sealed with some hallowed Cheltenham turf, so the winning country will be taking a little bit of Cheltenham with them.

 

What else is happening at The Festival?

 

Gold Cup Champions among Retraining of Racehorses Parade

On the first day of The Festival, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11, two previous Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Kauto Star and Denman,will be there as part of the Retraining of Racehorses’ (RoR) parade, sponsored by the Racing Post.

Theformer racehorses, also including Her Majesty The Queen’s Barbers Shop, who finished second at The Festival in 2008, take centre stage in the parade ring before racing.

Trained for his races by Nicky Henderson, Barbers Shop enjoyed high-profile success with Katie Jerram in the showing arena. The duo won at the Royal Windsor Show in June before going on to win the final of the RoR/Tattersalls Show Series Championship at Hickstead in 2013.

 

The RoR parades were introduced in 2008 by the charity to showcase the successes of former racehorses and are now an established part of the major Jump racing festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree, as well as on Ascot’s King George Day in July.

RoR Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot, explained why the parades are so important and growing in popularity.

“It is a fantastic way for us to showcase in front of racing audiences the versatility of the racehorse. Not only do the parades provide people with the chance to see their old favourites but they also show the adaptability of former racehorses, including thosehorses who may not have had such a distinguished racing career but are now excelling in a new equine discipline.”

Di said this mix of horses is an essential element of the success of the parades. “Horse of the Year winner Deep Reflection, who is now a RoR Champion and star in the showing world, will parade alongside the sport’s former champions and The Festival stalwarts likeMonkerhostin and Blazing Bailey, who are now enjoying a more relaxed life hunting and hacking away from the limelight.

“These RoR parades really show too how former racehorses can make the most rewarding animals to retrain for second careers, and offer a snapshot of their new skills whether competing in showing, show jumping, eventing, polo, endurance, dressage or simply as a hunter or hack.”

Sophia Brudenell, Communications Manager for the South West region of Jockey Club Racecourses, added: “The RoR parade on the opening day of The Festival is something that has grown in popularity each year and it is great to see such a strong line-up for this year.

“Kauto Star and Denman are so popular but it will also be great to see Blazing Bailey and Crystal D’Ainay, who were both Festival regulars in their time, notching up five and four appearances respectively. Blazing Bailey and Crystal D’Ainay both finished third in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. Monkerhostin ran at six Festivals and won there.”

The St Patrick’s Derby

 

The St Patrick’s Derby at The Festival, in aid of Cancer Research UK, is a charity Flat race, over one mile and five furlongs, which takes place on St Patrick’s Thursday, March 13.

 

Over the past three years, in excess of £840,000 has been raised for Cancer Research UK at The Festival and the charity race will again be the centrepiece of the fundraising for Cancer Research UK on St Patrick’s Thursday. It is hoped that a total of £1 million will be generated during the four years that Cheltenham Racecourse and Cancer Research UK have worked together.

 

The 12 jockeys for the 2014 charity race, selected from over 100 applications, include riders based in England, Ireland, Dubai and France with a wide range of backgrounds.

 

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/Festival14

 

The 12 riders taking part are:

 

Rishi Persad

Presenter for Channel 4, BBC and Racing UK

Due to knee problems, work/life and commitments, Rishi has not sat on a horse since his youth. Although he currently exercises once a week with a personal trainer, he has stepped up significantly with his training, as shown on Channel 4 Racing.

 

Kieran Patrick Ryan

Kieran has been riding for about 10 years and has completed in the Newmarket Town Plate three times. To get to the right weight to ride in the race, Kieran has been obliged to shed 25 to 30lb. This also helps to portray a slimmed-down alternative to the traditional image of the fat cat banker. Competing in this race is important to him not only because of his love of Cheltenham but because his father, who was also very passionate about racing, sadly passed about two years ago due to cancer.

 

Nigel Roddis

Development Director at Great British Racing

To prove how much racing is embedded in Nigel’s life, he secured his first job at a law firm by tipping Imperial Call for the Cheltenham Gold Cup to the managing partner. Living in London means that riding out for Nigel is curtailed to the weekends; however the thought of riding up the hill at Cheltenham has kick-started a new fitness regime. Nigel lost his grandfather, father and a close personal friend to cancer and so is very aware of the fantastic work that Cancer Research does.

 

Shiekh Samir Mirdad

Advisor to senior Royal Family members in the Gulf Region

Shiekh Samir Mirdad rides out as often as he can at home in County Louth, Ireland and has competed in some amateur show jumping as well as having ridden in the Portuguese Sunshine tour in 2013. His grandmother, who raised him, fell victim to the cancer, while his wife is currently recovering from cancer. He would like to raise as much money and awareness as he can for such a worthy cause.

 

Heather Kemp

Property Manager and Point-to-Point Trainer

Heather has 77 point-to-point winners as well as having more than 20 rides in hunter chases with four seconds to her credit. Her husband has recently been diagnosed with a rare condition called Cortico Basal Regeneration, which has an average life expectancy of two years. She is hoping to raise in excess of £25,000 with sponsorship from Weatherbys.

 

Bernadette Murphy

Restricted horse trainer and Clerical Officer

Bernadette is more than a competent rider with over 15 years’ experience and rides out every day. She was successful in a point-to-point and has been in the frame over hurdles and in a bumper. She is very fit as she runs 10 kilometres three to four times a week. Bernadette has first-hand experience of the suffering that cancer causes, as her father passed away in 1999 after a brave battle.

 

Lucy Bridgwater

Assistant trainer to David Bridgwater

Lucy works at a yard that is local to Cheltenham and has a large number of followers, many of whom support The Giant Bolster, owned by Simon Hunt, who has been second and fourth in the last two renewals of the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. Back in 2011, the yard lost its head girl Kelly Walsh to cancer and Lucy would love to raise £15,000 to £20,000 for Cancer Research UK.

 

Douglas Taylor

Company Director

Douglas has 20 years’ riding experience and has done a lot of show jumping in his time, as well as hunting. He rides our three mornings a week and maintains an excellent level of fitness by training five times a week. He has been coming to Cheltenham for 23 years and holds two ambitions. One, to have a winner at The Festival which he achieved in 2011, with Final Approach winning the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle. The second ambition is to win the Charity race at The Festival.

 

Alexia Buckwell

Account Manager and Director of Country to Country Property Group

Alexia has an advanced 3DE, worked with Henrietta Knight on horses including Best Mate and pre-trained racehorses for Flat and Jump races. She is currently riding out once a week and is hoping to increase this to three times. Alexia was diagnosed with primary lymphoedema in her left leg, after the birth of her first child. She would like to raise awareness of the condition as it can go undiagnosed and untreated leaving the condition to worsen. By applying for the race, she is hoping that people will see that having such a condition does not mean that you have to stop doing the activities you enjoy.

 

Tom O’Neill

Student

Tom rides out at his uncle’s Jonjo O’Neill’s Jackdaws Castle throughout the year and takes part at his local point-to-point yard in Cork. He also enjoys hunting and takes part in show jumping leagues. Both of Tom’s uncles have battled with cancer including Jonjo O’Neill. When he first listened to Jonjo talk about the treatment and the pain he had to go through, Tom thought how amazing it was to see how a human can defeat this terrible illness. He wishes to raise as much money as possible to help the everyday research to defeat cancer.

 

Georg Constantin Prince von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach

Managing Director of a sustainable energy business.

Georg rides out up to 10 months of the year, three to four times a week. During the hunting season, he can spend up to 20 hours a week in the saddle. Having been a patron, and advised a number of charity events such as the International Martin Luther Foundation, the St Andrews charity fashion show and the Grouse and Grape annual luncheon, Georg has an extensive background in fundraising. Georg hopes to raise £10,000 with the promise that his company would match any external funds pound for pound.

 

Vicky Laing

International show jumper

Having joined the Pony Club as a child and then taking up eventing, Vicky has a long history with horses. She was the first reserve for the young rider Europeans, even being selected for the squad one year. She is currently competing in show jumping competitions up to 140 level internationally and trains with Tim Stockdale. Vicky has strong ties with charity work, having been on the Cure Parkinson committee, and hopes to raise as close as she can to £15,000 for Cancer Research UK.

 

Musical Entertainment at The Festival

 

Champion Day, Tuesday, March 11

 

Murphys Marbles will be playing throughout the day in the Guinness Village. Accessible to those with either a Club or Tatteralls ticket.

 

The Marbles comprise four musicians. Their line-up includes guitars, fiddle, whistle, flute, bass, mandolin, bodhran and harmonica. Murphy’s Marbles have performed the length and breadth of the country, Ireland, and throughout Europe at numerous major festivals. Their stage performance is charismatic and dynamic.

 

The Master Butchers will be playing throughout the day next to the Best Mate statue situated at the front of the Tented Village. Accessible to those with either a Club or Tatteralls ticket.

 

The trio are sure to bring along their usual good craic and popular songs.

 

The Mark Black Band will be playing throughout the day within the Best Mate enclosure. Accessible to those with any type of ticket.

 

The Mark Black Band is a four-piece live band performing all the classic hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and today – from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Elbow and the Killers.

 

The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars will be performing in The Fashion Zone after racing.

 

A versatile combo, the All-Stars have a repertoire ranging from classic jazz standards such as Caravan and A Train, through composers including Cole Porter, Oscar Peterson, all the way up to more modern classics from the likes of Aretha Franklin and Joni Mitchell.

 

The Chip Shop Boys will be performing in the Final Flight after racing. Accessible to those with a Club ticket only.

 

The Chip Shop Boys are a seven-piece rock & pop covers band from Cheltenham. The band formed in 1997 when Tommy & Stu fancied getting up in front of a few friends in a local bar to sing the latest pop tunes.

Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 12

 

Murphys Marbles (see above) will be playing throughout the day in the Guinness Village. Accessible to those with either a Club or Tatteralls ticket.

 

The Wickermen will be playing throughout the day within the Best Mate Enclosure. Accessible to those with any type of ticket.

 

The Wickermen are one of the UK’s most in-demand rock bands. The past 10 years has seen them travelling extensively both home and abroad.

 

The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars (see above) will be performing in The Fashion Zone after racing. Accessible to those with either a Club or Tatteralls ticket.

 

The Chip Shop Boys (see above) will be performing in the Final Flight after racing. Accessible to those with a Club ticket only.

 

St Patrick’s Thursday, March 13

 

Murphys Marbles (see above) will be playing throughout the day in the Guinness Village. Accessible to those with either a Club or Tatteralls ticket.

 

The Master Butchers (see above) will be playing throughout the day next to the Best Mate statue situated at the front of the Tented Village. Accessible to those with either a Club or Tatteralls ticket.

 

Naymedici will be playing throughout the morning within the Best Mate enclosure. Accessible to those with any type of ticket. Naymedici will also be performing in The Centaur after racing.

 

Naymedici play folk as it should be played, loud! Combining gypsy licks, Irish reels, punk guitars and thrashing drums, Naymedici have burst on to the UK and Irish music scene with an original fresh sound that is both in your face, and a lot of fun!

 

The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars (see above) will be performing in The Fashion Zone after racing.

 

The Chip Shop Boys (see above) will be performing in the Final Flight after racing. Accessible to those with a Club ticket only.

 

Celtic Clan will be playing on the balcony at the entrance of The Centaur as the gates open on Thursday morning. The band will then be roaming the site playing their eclectic mix of celtic, folk, pop and rock music.

 

Celtic Clan is a contemporary Birmingham Irish party band that covers five decades of popular music. Mixing live harmony vocals, live fiddle, guitar, harmonica, bass, bodhran and pennywhistle, along with stunning backing tracks.

 

Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 14

 

Naymedici (see above) will be playing throughout the morning within the Best Mate Enclosure. Accessible to those with any type of ticket.

 

The Master Butchers (see above) will be playing throughout the day next to the Best Mate statue situated at the front of the Tented Village. Accessible to those with either a Club or Tatteralls ticket.

 

The Wickermen (see above) will be playing throughout the day within the Best Mate enclosure. Accessible to those with any type of ticket.

 

The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars (see above) will be performing in The Fashion Zone after racing.

 

The Chip Shop Boys (see above) will be performing in the Final Flight after racing. Accessible to those with a Club ticket only.

 

 

Hot Off The Catwalk…

 

Situated in a fashionable VIP area within the tented village, the Fashion Zone Live! offers racegoers a brand new racing experience in the warmth of a stylish facility.

 

For only £50 per person the package includes:

* Fashion Zone Live! entry for the day

* Glass of Moët Champagne

* VIP Goody bag

* Access to premium bar

* Catwalk shows

* TV coverage of the racing

* Totepool couriers

* Performances from Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Band and DJ’s after racing

 

Please note a Club or Tattersalls ticket must also be purchased to accompany your entrance ticket to the Fashion Zone Live!. This package is available to all Club and Tattersalls ticket purchasers.

 

The Fashion Zone Live! is situated in the tented village at the heart of Cheltenham’s shopping district and features a VIP bar serving Moët & Chandon champagne and premium drinks.

 

Fashion mavens will be able to watch four catwalk shows per day featuring a host of famous brands, including Amber, Holland & Cooper, Liquorish, Moloh and Really Wild Clothing Company. Ticket holders will also have the opportunity to experience a complimentary hand massage courtesy of the Greenway Hotel.

 

Open from 10.30am every day, The Fashion Zone Live! is the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the Shopping Village and a fantastic opportunity to view the latest in fashion designs made for racing. An oasis of calm away from the bustle of the paddock makes The Fashion Zone Live! the must have ticket of The Festival, and television screens ensure that you won’t miss a second of the racing action as well.

 

The style does not end with the racing – stay after the last race and enjoy the music as Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club pay their first ever visit to The Festival, playing live on the catwalk from 5.30pm followed by the relaxing sound of our exclusive DJ who will bring the evening to a close at 7.30pm.

 

Limited tickets are available for those wishing to enter The Fashion Zone Live! for the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars’ performance at 5.30pm; these can be purchased on the door for just £20. However, they will be strictly subject to availability and we reserve the right to refuse entry.

 

Time schedule for The Fashion Zone Live!

 

10:30am: The Fashion Zone Live! opens

11:30am: First catwalk show

1:30pm: First race

5:15pm: Last race

5:30pm: Ronnie Scott’s All Stars

6:30pm: Relaxing sound of our resident DJ

7:45pm: The Fashion Zone Live! closes

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave A Comment

© 2017 Racenews · One Bird Design · RSS Feed · Log in