The home of intelligent horse racing discussion
The home of intelligent horse racing discussion

When did the Gold Cup become the most important race?

Home Forums Horse Racing When did the Gold Cup become the most important race?

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #21513
    RichK
    Participant
    • Total Posts 201

    I was mulling this over when thinking about Golden Miller. I’m aware that initially the Gold Cup was considered a Grand National trial and the National was the most prestigious jumps race (with the National Hunt Chase second in importance? Was the Grand Annual still important then?)

    I wonder if you racing eggheads can pinpoint when the Gold Cup came to acquire its status as the Blue Ribband? I assume that by the time Golden Miller was winning his Gold Cups, the National was still the one to win?

    #400360
    Venusian
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1665

    The Gold Cup wasn’t even the most valuable race at the meeting until about 1947. The 4 mile National Hunt chase was worth more.

    #400362
    RichK
    Participant
    • Total Posts 201

    That’s interesting, the NH Chase was run on the full open country course until the 1960’s I think, so there must have been a fairly rapid decline in it’s importance. Anyone know the reason why? The war perhaps changing the role of amateurs in the sport??

    I keep meaning to pick up that book about the National Hunt Chase, that might answer a few questions.

    #400364
    Bachelors Hall
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1604

    I’m not an egghead per se but I can’t see beyond Arkle being the moment/reason.

    #400366
    RichK
    Participant
    • Total Posts 201

    That’s interesting also. So the theory is that whilst the National retained its status as most valuable race, the Gold Cup gained credibility as a result of its patronage by Arkle (I had a feeling his owner the Duchess didn’t like the national, but she did have a winner in Last Suspect of course).

    I assume also that Aintree’s doldrum years contributed to it’s decline in prestige.

    So a gradual transfer of status, with the Arkle years being the pivot point?

    A related question then, when was the pattern introduced to Jump racing? That would have also official deprecated the national, being a handicap (I recall it was a listed race in my first national year, 1987, that being the highest status a handicap was allowed at the time).

    #400381
    Venusian
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1665

    I’m afraid I was following the sport a few years before 1964, and the Gold Cup was definitely THE race, so I’d put the date a bit earlier than Arkle, perhaps the Cottage Rake era is a better choice.

    With Hatton’s Grace winning 3 Champion Hurdles, you might argue that it was Vincent O’Brien that helped to make the Festival the meeting it is now.

    #400390
    RichK
    Participant
    • Total Posts 201

    Excellent insight there Venusian, so some time during the very late 40’s/early 50s then?

    Interesting to think back and see how events naturally go in and out of fashion.

    #400397
    Miss Woodford
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1335

    When people stopped accepting the death of horses during a steeplechase as a natural and common occurrence. The Grand National is far more deadly than the Gold Cup, so as soon as prominent owners decided to keep their valuable horses out of it it stopped being the be-all end-all of steeplechasing.

    #400411
    Venusian
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1665

    When people stopped accepting the death of horses during a steeplechase as a natural and common occurrence. The Grand National is far more deadly than the Gold Cup, so as soon as prominent owners decided to keep their valuable horses out of it it stopped being the be-all end-all of steeplechasing.

    I often find your posts interesting and informative, Miss Woodford, but this one is utter nonsense. What have you been smoking?

    #400415
    Miss Woodford
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1335

    When people stopped accepting the death of horses during a steeplechase as a natural and common occurrence. The Grand National is far more deadly than the Gold Cup, so as soon as prominent owners decided to keep their valuable horses out of it it stopped being the be-all end-all of steeplechasing.

    I often find your posts interesting and informative, Miss Woodford, but this one is utter nonsense. What have you been smoking?

    Generally in the Cheltenham Gold Cup it is expected that more than half the field finishes. Not the case in the Grand National, and the public eventually grows tired of seeing fallers at every fence.

    #400425
    RichK
    Participant
    • Total Posts 201

    Well it’s true I wasn’t looking for another navel gazing debate about the merits or otherwise of the race, but it’s certainly true. I remember when I first got into racing in the 1980’s that there was a sense that the good horses went for the gold cup and the ones not quite good enough went for the national.

    That must have started at some point, so she has a point.

    #400437
    Miss Woodford
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1335

    Well it’s true I wasn’t looking for another navel gazing debate about the merits or otherwise of the race, but it’s certainly true. I remember when I first got into racing in the 1980’s that there was a sense that the good horses went for the gold cup and the ones not quite good enough went for the national.

    That must have started at some point, so she has a point.

    Just imagine the anxiety/outrage/hand-wringing on this very forum if Kauto Star or Denman were to have ran in the 2009 or 2010 Grand National!

    #400444
    Hurdygurdyman
    Member
    • Total Posts 1555

    That’s interesting, the NH Chase was run on the full open country course until the 1960’s I think, so there must have been a fairly rapid decline in it’s importance. Anyone know the reason why? The war perhaps changing the role of amateurs in the sport??

    I keep meaning to pick up that book about the National Hunt Chase, that might answer a few questions.

    No one seems to know exactly when the Gold Cup became the most important race money wise but popularity/prestige wise with race fans it started with TV

    The difference between the 2 races wasn’t only the trip the Gold Cup was producing real champions but the NHC wasn’t.

    By what I have read when Golden Miller won 5 Gold Cups it was a bit like winning 5 Tophams.

    When Cottage Rake won 3 gold cups and was trained by Vincent O’Brien it was then the ball apparently started rolling.

    When Roddy Owen won the race in 1959 the race was televised but it’s popularity viewing wise was nothing in comparison to what it was 5 years later.

    A year earlier in 1963 Mill House became a national hero when as a mere 6yo won the race in a canter. From that point to every jump fans the Gold Cup was the most important horse race on the planet and Mill House declared unbeatable.

    In 1964 the BBC and Cheltenham decided it was best for national interest if the meeting be moved to a Thus-Saturday.

    By this time Shop Stewards had a habit of calling "Everybody out" when Cheltenham was on and doctors were suffering from wrist ache writing sick lines .

    Mill House’s crown was being threaten by some Irish pipsqueak called Arkle who the Irish claimed would eat Mill House alive. Panic set in and those concerned was sure to see the numbers of people dogging off work increase 100 fold so the meeting was moved for the one and only time in it’s history.

    The next 2 year Arkle’s fan club soared through the roof, he got more Xmas cards than the queen appeared and the deal was sealed.

    As I say I have no idea when it became the richest race but there can be no doubt Mill House’s popularity and TV and is when it became the most important NH race to win and Arkle subsequent performances sealed the deal

    #400489
    RichK
    Participant
    • Total Posts 201

    A fascinating post, thanks for that’

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.