Irish horses are some of the sport’s best, regularly sweeping everything before them. We look at five Irish winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
If overseas success is the aim in racing, you can trust an Irish-bred or Irish-trained horse to get the job done.
Some of the most prestigious renewals in the sport have been won by Irish raiders in recent years – from Twilight Payment in the Melbourne Cup and Rebel’s Romance in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, right through to Found’s victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the most prized targets for Irish connections on British soil; such is their dominance, a horse bred or trained on the Emerald Isle has prevailed in eight of the last ten editions of the Prestbury Park showpiece.
So who are the best Irish winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup?
- Irish horses are some of the sport’s best, regularly sweeping everything before them. We look at five Irish winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
5. Al Boum Photo – a back-to-back champion
In the post-war era, only five horses have won back-to-back editions of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The horse racing odds for the 2024 Festival suggest that Galopin Des Champs, the 2023 champion, could add his name to the list. Willie Mullins’ horse is the 2/1 favourite ahead of Gerri Colombe (6/1), Bravemansgame (8/1), and Shishkin (10/1).
It will be fascinating to follow the horse racing results this season to see if the eight-year-old finds form ahead of his title defence.
He will be looking to emulate the achievements of Al Boum Photo, the last back-to-back champion of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The 2019-20 victor may not be as decorated as some of the horses on the list, but he has still racked up more than €1 million in prize money.
A triumph in the Ryanair Gold Cup was an early marker of his talents, but it was his unbeaten streak in the Savills New Year’s Day Chase – four straight wins from 2019 to 2022 – that confirmed this Irish powerhouse to be the ultimate ‘horses for courses’ campaigner.
4. Arkle – three-time Irish winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup
A three-time winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup between 1964 and 1966, Anne Grosvenor’s horse was unstoppable in a career cruelly cut short by injury.
Highlights include major triumphs on both sides of the Irish Sea, from the King George VI Chase to the Punchestown Gold Cup.
3. Don Cossack – a born winner
Owned by the prolific Gigginstown Stud and trained by Gordon Elliott, Don Cossack would save his Cheltenham Gold Cup win as his major racing swansong.
Before that triumph in 2016, ‘The Don’ won a catalogue of graded races on Irish soil, including the Punchestown Chase and Gold Cup – he was a brilliant horse no matter where he travelled.
Rated as high as 177, Don Cossack deserves his place on the all-time list.
2. Captain Christy – an elite hurdler and chaser
It’s not always a given that a champion hurdler will go on to become an elite chaser as well. But Captain Christy had an incredible versatility that ensures that he goes down as one of the best Irish chasers in history.
Success over the smaller obstacles brought wins in the Scottish and Irish Champion Hurdle, before a switch to the bigger fences delivered the fine 1-2 of victory in the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
1. Dawn Run – the greatest racemare in the history of jumps racing
Ireland has produced officially the greatest racemare in the history of jumps racing.
Dawn Run routinely defeated her male counterparts in some of British and Irish racing’s most prestigious renewals, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup of 1986 a fitting swansong to her career.
But before then, Paddy Mullins was an outstanding campaigner over both hurdles and fences, with highlights on the CV including wins in the Champion Hurdle, Irish Champion Hurdle, and the John Durkan Memorial Chase.
Which Irish raiders will add their name to this list in the years to come?
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