The Cheltenham Gold Cup’s 100-year Anniversary: Favorites and Historic Origins

Cheltenham Gold Cup

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest events of the jump racing calendar. Its prize purse is only bettered by the Grand National, and it promises three days of high-level racing each March. 

The 2024 edition of the festival is also the 165th iteration of the event – naturally, this makes it one of the most prestigious events in the entire United Kingdom calendar. 

The festival’s headline event is the Gold Cup, which closes out the festival each year. The race attracts some of the leading jump racing talents from around the world and has done so for the past century, with the race having run in its current format since 1924. Here we take a look at the favorites to win at the anniversary and delve further into the origins of the world-famous event. 

The 2024 favorites

Last year’s champion Galopin Des Champs is thoroughly expected to strive for glory again in 2024. In the outright odds for Cheltenham Festival, Galopin is currently offered at a price of -138 to secure consecutive Gold Cup successes. As it stands, numerous Cheltenham 2024 betting offer options are available to bettors. Paddy Power’s sign-up offer, for example, would return free bets in exchange for an initial deposit on a favorite or outsider in the Gold Cup. 

Galopin Des Champs’ potential triumph is far from a certainty and one specific horse is positioned strongly to cause an upset. 

Fastorslow is currently offered at +400 to win this year’s Gold Cup, which represents the enormity of the task when it comes to toppling the 2023 winner. The French horse has already demonstrated its ability to win as an underdog against Galopin Des Champs in the Punchestown Gold Cup in April last year. 

Fastorslow is undoubtedly the biggest threat to Galopin Des Champs’ hopes to become a double-winner. Either way, we’ll see a spectacular horse join the rare club of back-to-back winners in 2024 or a brand-new underdog winner – both would result in high-octane drama. 

The Gold Cup’s origins

Over the past century, the Gold Cup has hosted some of the standout horse racing talent in the world. It was initially brought in to make up for a lack of weight-for-age steeplechases in the United Kingdom. Yet since 1924, it’s served as much more than a competitive filler in the calendar. 

The race began with a requirement that all participating horses were five years and up, and this has remained in place to the modern day, as has the three-mile and 2.5-furlong track distance. 

The Gold Cup was overshadowed in its early origins by the National Hunt Chase which was held at the old Cheltenham track. However, by the mid-1930s it began to attract top-level talent from overseas – such as Cottage Rake from Ireland – which helped to spread the popularity of the Gold Cup and make it Cheltenham’s biggest race. 

The beginning of the race’s modern era was marked in 1959 by the opening of the new Cheltenham racecourse. Ever since the unveiling of the new track, the event has held commercial sponsorships with major brands, for example, The Tote and technology company Timico

The brand collaborations have consistently allowed the Gold Cup to broaden its global reach and increase its prize purse. This has allowed it to truly compete with the Grand National as the leading national hunt race in the UK since the 1960s.  

Some would now argue that Cheltenham Gold Cup Day is number one on the jumps racing schedule, and foundations were made in its original and modern origins to reach that point. 

The Gold Cup initially filled a much-needed demand for more races of its kind on the calendar, and since it has benefited from sponsorships and the snowball effect of worldwide participation to become one of the biggest horse racing events in the world. 

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