The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Cheltenham Festival

pony cheltenhamIn the run up to Cheltenham we’ve been enjoying reading some of Cheltenham’s ‘Best moments’. Whilst we’ll be including some of the team’s ideas of what they consider highlights of festivals gone by, we’ll also be sharing some of the lesser known moments that have shaped the festival. So, here’s the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Cheltenham Festival.

Let’s kick off with the most recent news from the Festival, it’s new exclusive presenting partnership with Magners Irish Cider and the first Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, which will take place this year. There’s a four-year agreement with Jockey Club and Magners, which you can read more about in our blog here.

If you cast your mind back a few weeks, you might recall the panic that an outbreak of equine flu was causing amongst trainers, jockeys and festival goers alike. Luckily, with a swift change in the rules, the safety of the horses involved will be preserved. We were worried that the festival might be called off, which has only ever happened a handful of times before. In 2001 a foot and mouth epidemic caused the festival to be cancelled, with the only times prior to this being during the two World Wars.

Moving onto something a little more racing related, we’re heading back to 1983 to trainer Michael Dickinson’s triumph during the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was responsible for training the first five horses who made it home over the line, including winner Bregwan. Gold Cup hattricks are few and far between, with Arkle in the 1960’s managing to consecutively win the Gold Cup from 1964 and setting another Cheltenham record.  

Aside from the moments that are celebrated by punters on mass, we asked the FRT team to share the moments that has stood out to them at previous Cheltenham festivals.

FRT’s resident tipster, Keith, agreed that Michael Dickinson who we’ve mentioned above, deserved to be included. However, a standout moment for Keith was when Laurina won the 2018 Dawn Run Mares Novice’s Hurdle, which is a bit of a mouthful!

The win meant Willie Mullins became the most successful Cheltenham Festival Trainer to date with 61 winners since 1995, surpassing Nicky Henderson who has had 60 wins since 1985. With 20 winners just in the last three years, let’s see what this year has in store for Mullins.

Master of the race cards, Rob, who heads up our sister site Form Ratings, told us that his best Cheltenham moment was a couple of years back in 2017. Rob placed a bet from an FRT tip on Special Tiara, at huge anti-post odds of around 80/1. Let’s just say after Special Tiara won the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Rob was a very happy man!

If you’ve emailed us before then you’ll have spoken with our fantastic customer service team, including Mel. Her best Cheltenham memory was the friendly rivalry between Denman and Kauto Star in the 2018 Gold Cup. After an epic round of jumping there was an incredible atmosphere, with punters picking their favourite of the two and Denman taking home the trophy.

With Cheltenham kicking off, we can’t wait to see what this year will bring in terms of winners, records, hats and horses.