Every year in March a racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire plays host to the Gold Cup. A four-day jump racing event running from Tuesday to the finale of the festival, “The Gold Cup” ran at 3.30pm on the Friday. To many this is the pinnacle of the European racing season, and one not to be missed.
The average attendance each day over the festival is 65,000, people come from all over the country to enjoy this spectacle. What really gives The Gold Cup that extra life and International feel is the thousands of Irish race fans that make the trip every year from all over Ireland. Many of these save up all year and book their accommodation as soon as the last festival has finished. For one week in March every hotel room, bed and breakfast and spare room available is full of Irish people, in Cheltenham and across Gloucestershire making it feel like a small corner of Ireland.
The Irish fans come from all corners of Ireland including Dublin, Kerry, Belfast, Cork and Knock. The Airports in Ireland have a busy week coordinating flights in and out of the Country. If you are looking to book a flight in the future to see your favourite jockey or horse or just experience the atmosphere of Cheltenham Gold Cup go to one of the many Irish airport websites such as https://irelandwestairport.com/ for further information.
There are several Irish jockeys that have raced in the Gold Cup, including retired Northern Irish jockey AP McCoy. He was awarded the OBE and made Sir Anthony Peter McCoy in Jan 2016 and was named BBC sportsman of the year in 2010. AP McCoy has won the Gold Cup twice, his first win was on Mr Mulligan in 1997, he didn’t win again until 2012 when he won on a horse called Synchronised
Ruby Walsh is a prolific Jockey from County Kildare in Ireland, he holds the record of seven wins over the four-day festival in 2009 and he then repeated that feat again in 2016. He has won the Gold Cup twice both times on the same horse, French Bred Kauto Star in 2007 and 2009, both times the horse was the bookies favourite to win.
Jonjo O’Neil the former Irish jockey, now a trainer from County Cork in Ireland has also ridden two winners in the Gold Cup. A horse called Alverton in 1979 and Dawn Run in 1986, he has also had a winner as a trainer in 2012 with the horse Synchronised ridden by AP McCoy.
Over the years there have been some great winners, memorable moments and friendships made.