Brief History of Sport in England
Many Ideas about modern sport were birthed in England. Semantics such rule forming, the many…
Fans of My Fair Lady are familiar with the pomp and circumstance that surround Ascot (And if you aren’t a fan of that film, then you’d better get your ducks in a row and become one!), but there’s a lot more to horseracing than Ascot. As the second largest spectator sport in Britain (just below football), horseracing is about a lot more than horses: beer, celebrities, betting, the roar of the crowd, and, of course, hats.
The Cheltenham Festival is the first major race meeting of the year and home to the Gold Cup – one of the most celebrated races in the world. It’s usually held on the second week of March, and it features “the best in British- and Irish-trained horses in the event” which spans across a weekend.
The Gold Cup is not only an “enthralling extravaganza,” revered across the world, it also boasts a prize pot that only comes second to the UK’s biggest race meet, the Grand National (that’s £475,000). The Gold Cup has helped transform horses into iconic figures in the race world. Some of these include the legendary Kauto Star, Best Mate and Golden Miller. The latest horse to win the Gold Cup was Lord Windermere in 2014.
This steeplechase is open to horses between the age of 5 and over, and has established itself as the most famous National Hunt event in the UK. The Gold Cup has also coined the moniker of the “Blue Riband” of jump-racing. However, it wasn’t always a jump-race, as it started out as a flat race in 1819 – contested over 3 miles.
Famous jockeys such as Tony McCoy, Ruby Walsh and Mick Fitzgerald have all won the Gold Cup, and the event has become somewhat of a celebrity showcase in recent years among racing’s elite, which revered trainer Paul Nicholls regularly updates racing fans through his weekly BetFair column.
But the event doesn’t just attract horse racing’s elite. Over the last couple of years, celebs such as Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, model Katie Price, the royal family’s Zara Phillips and sports television host Kirsty Gallagher are just some of the people who regularly attend the Cheltenham Festival.
There’s also the well-publicised Ladies Day at the Cheltenham Festival that sees many women flock to the festival to showcase their very best dresses and hats (some of which are absolutely bizarre). The best usually get some airtime on the multitude of television channels that cover the event globally.
As we get closer to this year’s Festival, many rumours regarding the horses and jockeys that will be appearing at the Festival will be doing the rounds. But if you don’t want to follow the very reliable predictions of the aforementioned Paul Nicholls, there are several reputable sites you can go on to follow the latest news as the Festival approaches.
Enjoy one of my favourite scenes from My Fair Lady:
– Guest post by Jamie Holmes