March 16, 2017
March 17 is, of course, well known as St. Patrick’s Day, and this year it is also Cheltenham Gold Cup Day.
Cheltenham – a scenic, bustling borough on the edge of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire, England – annually becomes a mecca for National Hunt racing fans across the globe. Popular in the U.K., France and Ireland, National Hunt is a form of racing in which the horses are required to jump fences and ditches. From March 14 – 17, the world’s finest horses, jockeys, owners and trainers battle for racing honors at The Cheltenham Festival, the pinnacle of jumping season. The atmosphere is electric as fans cheer on their favorites and hope they’ve backed a winner.
Because this year’s event coincides with St. Patrick’s Day, Cheltenham will be awash with green in the form of suits, shirts and shamrocks.
“I have been lucky enough to be at Cheltenham on 10 Gold Cup days and can honestly say it is the most invigorating occasion ever,” says Peter Keighery, Carr Golf Travel Expert. “Last year’s Gold Cup drew crowds of 73,000 and at least 75% of those were Irish. The great craic, the characters, the music, the celebrities, the Guinness Village, the bookies…you just get carried away on a wave of all that is good in racing.”
- The Gold Cup was first run on March 12, 1924.
- The most famous horse to win the Gold Cup was Golden Miller – a five-time winner from 1932 – 36.
- In the mid-1960s, the race was dominated by the great Irish horse Arkle, who won three times from 1964 – 66.
- In 1983 a remarkable feat was accomplished as English trainer Michael Dickenson trained the first five horses to finish led by Bregawn.
- The greatest jockey in Gold Cup history is the now-retired Tony McCoy who won in 1997 and again in 2012.
Consider a visit to Cheltenham next year, combining the excitement of world class National Hunt horse racing, and the best of English Golf courses at Sunningdale, Swinley Forrest and Royal Porthcawl.
Ireland also boasts world-class horse racing, particularly in the Eastern province of Leinster. Established in 1870, the Irish Grand National Meeting at Fairyhouse Racecourse takes place on Easter Monday each year.
With a grand prize of €152,000, it is one of the world’s most valuable National Hunt races. Featuring 12 Grade 1 contests – the highest standard of National Hunt racing – The Punchestown Festival will be held on April 25 – 29. The thrilling event also features the La Touche Cup, a unique, must-see cross country race.
The Irish Derby – the highlight of the Irish flat racing championship – will be held at The Curragh Racecourse this summer. Over 150 years old, it is one of Europe’s richest races with the purse presently set at €1.25 million.
Embrace outstanding Irish horse racing while enjoying a few days out playing on exceptional golf courses. Visitors to the East Coast have a wide swath of courses to choose from including Portmarnock Golf Club, The European Club, K Club, The Island Golf Club and The Royal Dublin Golf Club.
Whether you want to attend a race, arrange a VIP private trainer visit or tour a stud farm, we will work with you to create the ideal itinerary.
It’s a perfect pairing of the “Sport of Kings” and the ancient game of Scottish shepherds first played in the Kingdom of Fife over 500 years ago.