Irish Gold Cup

 The Hennessy Gold Cup, which now has the official title of the Irish Gold Cup, takes place in February of every year at the Leopardstown racecourse. It’s held over a distance of 3 miles and is an Irish Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase event. The race is often seen as good preparation for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and rightfully so, since three horses have won both events: Jodami (1993), Imperial Call (1996) and Sizing John (2017).

Although the race name will ring bells with many, the race itself is actually quite new, with the event first run in 1987 where it was called the Vincent O’Brien Irish Gold Cup after the successful trainer. As with many races, sponsorship shifts over time can result in changes to a race name, and in 2018 the race is currently named the Unibet Irish Gold Cup.

Florida Pearl with four wins from 1999 to 2004 is the most successful horse in the Irish Gold Cup, jockey Mark Dwyer matches this tally, and Willie Mullins is clearly fond of the course on account that he’s had a massive 9 winners over the years.

The 2018 winner was Edwulf, trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by Derek O’Connor. He was a very attractive 33-1, no doubt resulting in a profitable day for his backers.

King’s Stand Stakes

 The King’s Stand Stakes is an event with quite some history, as it was inaugurated in 1860 when the winner was Queen of the Vale. It’s a Group one race suited to horses three years old and upwards. The race is a brisk 5 furlongs in length and is held at Ascot in June of each year, on the first day of the Royal Ascot meeting.

The race has curious beginnings having been born out of the fact that bad weather at Ascot in 1860 made it impossible to run the Royal Stand Plate (a two mile race). As such a shorter alternative took place, which subsequently became an important sprint, and highlight for many. It was initially named the Queen Stand Stakes and was renamed the King’s Stand Stakes upon the death of the Queen and accession of King Edward VII.

As with many other big races, the King’s Stand Stakes worked its way into a group of races, in this case the new international race series, the Global Sprint Challenge, in 2005. It remains part of this series to this day and this has resulted in it attracting the cream of the crop of racing talent.

While a miriad of horses have achieved two wins in the race, we still wait to this day for a horse to make it third time lucky. Leading jockey in the King’s Stand Stakes is Lester Piggott with 7 wins, and leading trainer Vince O’Brien with 5 wins. The 2018 winner at odds of 6-1 was Blue Point ridden by William Buick and trained by Charlie Appleby.

Betfair Chase

 Often with races that draw in the crowds, there’s a wealth of history leading to this moment, but that’s not really the case with the Betfair Chase. The Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase event was inauguirated in just 2005, making it very much a baby compared to races dripping in tradition which often go back decades or even centuries.

That being said, the Betfair Chase has certainly made an impact, and has had a lot to offer for those winning it and going on to achieve further success. The race is open to horses aged five and above and is held in November each year at Haydock Park. The 3 miles and 1½ furlongs race has nineteen fences to clear and the event has a generous purse of £200,000, with over £112,00 of that going to the winner.

The race, launched by Betfair, was designed to make waves, and as such a cool £1,000,000 bonus was initially on offer to the winner of the Betfair Chase ‘if’ they went on to win the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup too. With this being no easy task, the Lexus Chase was eventually included as an alternative path, and none other than Kauto Star nabbed the prize in 2006-2007. Following a couple more versions of the bonus, it was eventually dropped.

With yet another twist in the tail, the £1,000,000 offer was resurrected in 2015, this time by The Jockey Club as the ‘Chase Triple Crown’, with once again any horse winning this, King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup was entitled to the prize. Cue Card came very close but fell during the Gold Cup. While this monetary rollerocaster ride has now ended, symbolically it continues, with any horse winning the three races being awarded the newly minted ‘Kauto Star Trophy’.

Kauto Star is also the most successful horse in the Betfair Chase, winning it four times between 2006 and 2011. The leading jockey is Ruby Walsh with four wins also, and leading trainer Paul Nicholls with six wins.

BetVictor Gold Cup

 The BetVictor Gold Cup  first took place in 1960. It’s a National Hunt race that takes place in Cheltenham in mid November each year as part of The November Meeting. The Grade 3 race, which is on the second day oF the three day meeting, is run over a 2 miles and 4½ furlongs course and horses aged four years old and upward are eligable to enter.

As with many of these races, it’s had a miriad of sponsors over the years, from Mackeson in the early days, to Murphy’s , Paddy Power and others, but from 2016 and to this day, it is known as the BetVictor Gold Cup.

While not necessarily seen as ‘the one to win’ when compared to some other races with more gravitas and history, the purse for the race is still significant, at the £160,000 + level, with over £90,000 going to the winner. In 2017 that winner was the playfully named Splash of Ginge ridden by Tom Bellamy and trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. The outsider won at the very nice price of 25-1, while 4-1 favourite Kylemore Lough pulled up.

Stand outs over the years of the BetVictor Gold Cup include the four wins by leading jockey Tony McCoy Cyfor Malta (1998), Lady Cricket (2000), Shooting Light (2001), Exotic Dancer (2006) and 8 wins by trainer Martin Pipe, who clearly took a shine to the event.