The people of Cheltenham infographic in celebration of 2016 Festival
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | March 10, 2016
The Cheltenham Festival has become the greatest show on turf because of some hugely influential figures in the horse racing world.
Here at Coral, we celebrate in another insightful infographic those special people who, without their contributions, the Prestbury Park showpiece simply wouldn’t be so compelling. Cheltenham is the home of National Hunt racing because of these men and women…
Cheltenham’s first-ever clerk of the course was also chairman from 1908 to 1934. Under his leadership, Prestbury Park was established as the elite place for National Hunt horses to perform, with the inaugural runnings of both the Cheltenham Gold Cup (1924) and Champion Hurdle (1927) organised on his watch.
The Cathcart Challenge Cup, named after him, was ran from 1938 to 2004 before being replaced by the Ryanair Chase, with Fred Winter (pictured) the most successful jockey in it with eight wins.
Father of current top trainer Nicky (see below), Henderson senior was a founder of the Racecourse Holdings Trust that raised £240k to buy Prestbury Park. From 1964, the Cheltenham Festival was under their banner.
Two years after his death, the Grand Annual Chase was renamed in his honour and it is the oldest chase in the National Hunt calendar, first contested way back in 1834.
Nothing reflects the Festival spirit more than the c.200k spectators that pack themselves into Prestbury Park over the four days every March. When the starter raises the tape on the opening race, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Cheltenham Roar reverberates around the Cotswolds!
The 20-times Champion Jockey rode 31 Festival winners during the most distinguished horse racing career of modern times. Knighted for his services to the sport after retiring from the saddle, his Cheltenham triumphs include three Champion Hurdle crowns and a couple of Cheltenham Gold Cup mounts. This year’s Festival won’t be the same without magnificent McCoy!
Eclipsing Tony McCoy with 45 Festival winners under his belt, jockey Walsh is perhaps best known for partnering the hugely popular Kauto Star to two Cheltenham Gold Cup successes in 2007 and 2009.
Mounts of his to watch out for at the 2016 Festival include Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Vautour. Father Ted is a trainer, while sister Katie will also be riding horses going around Prestbury Park.
The first female jockey to win a race at the Cheltenham Festival in 1987. Armytage’s brother Marcus also enjoyed success here and was a Grand National winner. Like the Walsh family above, perhaps it’s in the genes…
Where would Prestbury Park be without more than 5k dedicated servants ensuring racegoers are fed and get a decent drink, with over 10k gallons of tea, 20k pints of Guinness (it’s St Patrick’s Day during the Cheltenham Festival after all) and 20k bottles of champagne.
If father Johnny proved influential in the Festival existing, then Henderson junior has done his very best to saddle Cheltenham winners. He holds the record with 51 victorious horses during the Prestbury Park showpiece, including recent Gold Cup champions Long Run and Bobs Worth, and is a nine-time top trainer award winner.
Top Irish trainer Mullins is the one to beat at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, as he looks primed to follow up and better his eight winning runners in 2015. Watch out for Annie Power, Djakadam, Don Poli, Min and others.
Three generations of this horse racing dynasty have graced Prestbury Park. Michael senior was the winning jockey on board Linwell in the 1957 Gold Cup, son Peter rode 13 Festival winners and brothers Tom and Michael junior combined last year to score and saddle Next Sensations to a Cheltenham win.
A trainer of distinction in the 1980s, Dickinson incredibly saddled the first five horses home in the 1983 Gold Cup won by Bregawn. It’s a feat nobody has matched since, but could some Mullins magic be on the cards this year?
Far be it from us to praise another bookmaker, but “Fearless Freddie” would stand in the Cheltenham parade ring and take six-figure bets without flinching. The Scot was renowned for his battles with Irish owner and legendary punter JP McManus.
Sir Peter O’Sullevan
The undisputed voice of horse racing is sorely missed, and the way he called Dawn Run’s 1986 Gold Cup triumph is the stuff of commentating legend.
As mentioned above, McManus loves a bet and the bookies fear his wagers almost as much as horses whose jockeys don his green and gold colours.