The 2021 Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching, and horse racing fans across the whole of the United Kingdom and Ireland will be licking their lips in anticipation ahead of the illustrious meeting.
As far as today’s racing cards go, nothing beats what the Cheltenham Festival has to offer. There are a whopping 14 Grade 1 races across the course of the four-day meeting, but the Gold Cup is certainly the one that will attract the most attention this year, as Al Boum Photo has his sights set on winning the race for a third successive time, and the Gold Cup odds are in his favour.
So, with history potentially in the making, let’s take a look back at the most successful horses in Gold Cup history. Read on to find out more!
Easter Hero was the first horse to win the Gold Cup back-to-back. In 1929, he became the sixth winner of prestigious race, and he did so in some style, winning by a whopping 20 lengths. For jockey Dick Rees, it was a third victory in the Gold Cup after triumphs in 1928 and the inaugural Gold Cup in 1928. Easter Hero defended his crown in 1930, this time with Tommy Cullinan in the saddle.
Despite dominating in the Gold Cup back in the 1930s, to this day Golden Miller is still the most successful horse in the race’s rich history. Between 1932 and 1936, the Dorothy Paget-owned horse won the Gold Cup on five successive occasions, an amazing feat that is yet to be matched some 90 years on, and probably won’t be for another 90 years. 1934 was undoubtedly the best year for Golden Miller, as well as winning the Gold Cup he also landed the Grand National. He is the only horse in history to complete that double in the same year!
When you think of Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, Arkle is usually one of the first to spring to mind. Most even hold him in higher regard than Golden Miller, despite the fact he has won the race on two fewer occasions. Arkle, who was owned by Anne Grosvenor, The Duchess of Westminster,won the Gold Cup on three successive occasions between 1964 and 1966. His final victory in 1966 is one worth noting. Arkle smashed through a fence in the early stages of the race, as opposed to jumping it, yet he still went on to win by a whopping 30 lengths. The Arkle Challenge Trophy on day one of the Festival is named in honour of the legendary horse.
L’Escargot often gets overlooked when talking about the most successful Gold Cup winners, but he’s worth mentioning as he is still a part of the handful horses who have won the race successively. L’Escargot’s first victory was in 1970, when he won the race as a 33/1 outsider, and he defended his crown in 1971, this time as a much shorter 7/2 shot. It’s also noting that L’Escargot is accredited with stopping a third successive victory for Red Rum in the 1975 Grand National.
Best Mate is a modern-day great. He recorded three victories on the trot between 2002 and 2004, matching Arkle’s 1960s record, and no horse has been able to match it since. Best Mate, who amazingly never fell at a fence nor hurdle,had his sights set on a fourth successive victory in 2005, but an injury ruled him out just eight days prior to the race. There is now a statue of the legendary gelding at Prestbury Park.
Unlike the others, Kauto Star didn’t win the Gold Cup on successive occasions. Instead, with victories in 2007 and 2009, he became the first horse in the history of the race to regain the title. The Paul Nicholls-trained horse was the odds-on favourite in 2008, but he missed out to his stablemate Denman. After his second victory in 2009, he tried for a third Gold Cup three more times. However, he could do no better than a third-place finish in 2011.
Al Boum Photo
After victories in the 2019 and 2020 editions of the Gold Cup, Al Boum Photo is gunning for Arkle and Best Mates’ record of three wins in a row. Despite Willie Mullins’ wealth of success at the Cheltenham Festival over the last decade or so, Al Boum Photo’s victory in 2019 was the trainer’s first triumph in the Gold Cup. Last year, the horse’s connections were made to sweat as Santini pushed Al Boum Photo all the way to the line. There are concerns surrounding the dual winners’ fitness levels, but if he doesn’t run in this year’s showpiece, then not to worry as you can get your Gold Cup non runner money back.