Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners

The Cheltenham Festival is the most important National Hunt meeting in Britain, and it features the blue riband race of the season. The big highlight of the four-day Festival is the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

With at least three Grade 1 fixtures on each day of the meeting, there’s nothing in racing quite like the Cheltenham Festival for quality and excitement. On this page, it is a look at some history of the Gold Cup and some of the most outstanding Cheltenham winners.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners: 2000 to Present

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Time
2021 Minella Indo Jack Kennedy Henry De Bromhead 6:45.35
2020 Al Boum Photo Paul Townend Willie Mullins 6:50.38
2019 Al Boum Photo Paul Townend Willie Mullins 6:39.06
2018 Native River Richard Johnson Colin Tizzard 7:02.60
2017 Sizing John Robbie Power Jessica Harrington 6:36.10
2016 Don Cossack Bryan Cooper Gordon Elliott 6:35.00
2015 Coneygree Nico de Boinville Mark Bradstock 6:42.50
2014 Lord Windermere Davy Russell Jim Culloty 6:43.88
2013 Bobs Worth Barry Geraghty Nicky Henderson 7:05.06
2012 Synchronised Tony McCoy Jonjo O’Neill 6:36.19
2011 Long Run Mr Sam Waley-Cohen Nicky Henderson 6:29.70
2010 Imperial Commander Paddy Brennan Nigel Twiston-Davies 6:43.90
2009 Kauto Star Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 6:44.95
2008 Denman Sam Thomas Paul Nicholls 6:47.84
2007 Kauto Star Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 6:40.46
2006 War Of Attrition Conor O’Dwyer Mouse Morris 6:31.70
2005 Kicking King Barry Geraghty Tom Taaffe 6:42.90
2004 Best Mate Jim Culloty Henrietta Knight 6:42.60
2003 Best Mate Jim Culloty Henrietta Knight 6:39.10
2002 Best Mate Jim Culloty Henrietta Knight 6:50.10
2001 No Race No Race No Race No Race
2000 Looks Like Trouble Richard Johnson Noel Chance 6:30.3

Cheltenham Gold Cup Early Years

What we know as the Cheltenham Gold Cup today isn’t the way it always was. The race has evolved a lot. It’s now the biggest National Hunt race around, but the first edition of the Cheltenham Cup in the summer of 1819 was a flat race.

It had a prize of 100 guineas, which is roughly £105, and the very first  Cheltenham Gold Cup winner was Spectre. Furthermore, it wasn’t until 1924 that it was contested for the first time over the jumps on Cheltenham’s Old Course, which is still in use today for the first two days of the Festival. 1924 therefore, is considered the actual introduction of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

In the 1930s, the first big star came along – Golden Miller won it for five consecutive years and is a legend in Cheltenham Gold Cup winners history. Irish runner Cottage Rake helped elevate the race’s profile further in the post-war era, winning it for three consecutive years.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Modern era

In 1959 the race saw another change as it was moved over to the New Course at Cheltenham for the first time, and horse Roddy Owen landed the win that year at 5/1. The Cheltenham Gold Cup has created many legendary horses, and arguably one of the greatest took centre stage in the 1960s.

Arkle, one of the most remarkable horses in Cheltenham Gold Cup winners history, completed a hattrick of Gold Cup wins from 1964 to 1966. The Irish Thoroughbred has a Cheltenham Festival race named after him and is one of the most famous national hunt racing stars ever.

Some other big Cheltenham winners in the Cheltenham Gold Cup include Desert Orchid, Best Mate, Kauto Star and Denman, with the history of the Grade 1 race reading like a who’s-who of national hunt racing.

Horse Records Held at The Cheltenham Festival

Of course, records have been set at the Cheltenham Festival, and they will continue to be broken. From a Cheltenham Gold Cup betting perspective, the shortest-priced winner ever is Arkle when he completed his hattrick in 1966 as the 1/10 FAV.

Arkle won that renewal by 30 lengths after making a mid-race mistake. If ever there was an indicator of his dominance, those 1/10 Gold Cup odds were it.

But Arkle is not the most successful horse in the history of the Gold Cup, as that title goes to the aforementioned Golden Miller with his five-timer from 1932-1936. 

Jockey Records Held at The Cheltenham Festival

The most successful jockey in the history of the Cheltenham Gold Cup is Pat Taaffe, and there is a fair reason for that as well. The Irish jockey was on the back of Arkle for all three of his victories, and the rider paired up with the horse for other significant successes at the Irish Grand National, the King George VI Chase and a couple of Hennessy Gold Cups. 

Taaffe would claim a fourth Cheltenham Gold Cup win on the back of Fort Leney in 1968. However, Taaffe’s link with the Gold Cup didn’t stop there as he trained 1974 winner Captain Christy. In terms of the overall Cheltenham Festival, Ruby Walsh holds the record for the most wins at 58.

Trainer Records Held at The Cheltenham Festival

As much as there are bragging rights for jockeys at the Cheltenham Festival, the meeting naturally brings all the top trainers into the picture as well. Arguably the two biggest names of the entire Cheltenham Festival are Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson.

Irish trainer Mullins has landed 78 Cheltenham winners at the Festival, making him the most successful trainer ever. There have been two Gold Cup wins for him – Al Boum Photo in 2019 and 2020.

Nicky Henderson has trained 70 Cheltenham winners, and two have been in the Gold Cup. Henderson’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winners were Long Run in 2011 and Bobs Worth in 2013. 

The Prize Pot of the Cheltenham Gold Cup over the years

The prize pot for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival was £468,750, with the winner Minella Indo claiming £263,766. It is the richest, non-handicap race in British Racing. To put modern prize money into context, the great three-time winner Arkle did not reach £100k winnings in his entire career.

The prize money has come a long way from the 100 guineas purse in that 1819 Gold Cup to the £685 prize doled out to 1924 winner Red Splash. At the turn of the century, the first Gold Cup had a purse of £280,000, with the winner Looks Like Trouble taking £162,400.

FAQ’s 

What is a Grade 1 race?

A Grade 1 horse race like the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the top-level in British National Hunt racing. There are three Grade levels, 1, 2 & 3, which are the elite level of racing. There are a total of 14 Grade 1 races at the Cheltenham Festival. 

When was the first race at Cheltenham?

The 1924 edition of the Cheltenham Gold Cup is traditionally recognised as the real first Cheltenham Gold Cup. That’s the year when it was hosted on Cheltenham’s Old Course over the jumps. Before that, it had been run at Cleeve Hill from 1819 as a flat race. Cleeve Hill overlooks the Cheltenham racecourse.

Who are the horses with the most Gold Cup wins?

There’s one clear leader in Cheltenham Gold Cup wins – Golden Miller. He was the first superstar of the modern Cheltenham Gold Cup as he won it five consecutive years from 1932 through to 1936. He had four different jockeys for those five wins and two other trainers.

What was the first commercial sponsorship of the race?

The first time that the Cheltenham Gold Cup was sponsored was in the 1972 edition. That first sponsor was Piper Champagne, and mare Glencaraig Lady won that year’s race. Other commercial sponsors of the Cheltenham Gold Cup include the Tote, Betfred, Magners and Boodles.

What is the most remarkable feat in the Gold Cup by a trainer?

While success at the Cheltenham Gold Cup is usually noted by how many winners have been tallied up, trainer Michael Dickinson had a different type of feat in 1983. While he did land the win with Bregawn, Dickinson was the trainer of the first five finishers of that renewal. 

What are the most popular horses to win the Gold Cup?

There are so many famous winners of the Gold Cup throughout the race’s rich history. Desert Orchid, the much-loved grey, was a hugely popular winner in 1989, having been well-supported. Arkle, Best Mate, and brilliant stablemate rivals Kauto Star and Denman all tasted success, and Kauto Star was the first-ever horse to regain the Gold Cup with his 2009 victory.

What was the last time a race at Cheltenham had to be cancelled?

The most recent cancellation of the Cheltenham Gold Cup was in 2001 because of Foot and Mouth disease outbreak. Other cancellations outside the World War II years happened in 1931 and 1937 because of the weather.

Which horse was the first multiple Gold Cup winner?

From 1924 when the race moved to Cheltenham racecourse, the first time a horse won the race twice was Easter Hero in 1929 and 1930. Immediately following that came Golden Miller’s five-timer.

Who is the most successful trainer in Cheltenham Gold Cup history?

The most successful trainer by Cheltenham Gold Cup wins is Tom Dreaper, who won it five times, and three of those were with Arkle. The great modern-day national hunt trainers Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson have won it twice.

What is the prize pot for the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup? 

The prize purse for the Cheltenham Gold Cup goes up once again this year. The 2022 purse is at £625,000.

How many horses have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup 3 times?

There have only been a handful of exceptional horses who have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times. ‘Steeplechaser of the Century’ Golden Miller had five wins, Cottage Rake had three wins, Arkle took his three and then the most recent was Best Mate, who completed a hat trick in 2004.

Who was the first-ever sponsor of the Cheltenham Gold Cup?

There was no Gold Cup sponsor before 1972, when Piper Champagne started an eight-year sponsorship of the blue riband race.