Which was the last mare to win the Champion Hurdle?

Which was the last mare to win the Champion Hurdle?  The Champion Hurdle, run over 2 miles and 87 yards on the Old Course at Cheltenham, was inaugurated in 1927 and is currently the feature race on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. Fillies and mares receive a 7lb allowance from their male counterparts but, remarkably, in 90 runnings of the two-mile hurdling championship, just five of them have won.

The first of them, African Sister, won way back in 1939, before the start of World War II, but it would be another 45 years before the most famous mare of them all, Dawn Run, completed the first leg of what would become an historic Champion Hurdle – Cheltenham Gold Cup double two years later. Thereafter, it would be another decade before the unheralded Flakey Dove, trained by Leominster husbandman Richard Price, lifted the spoils in 1994 and another twenty-two years before Annie Power – who was anything but unheralded – laid the ghost of her final-flight fall in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle the previous year to rest in 2016.

However, the last mare to win the Champion Hurdle was Epatante, who justified favouritism on the 69th birthday of her owner, J.P. McManus, in 2020. Indeed, at the time of writing, Epatante is vying for favouritism with another mare, Honeysuckle, for the 2021 renewal of the Champion Hurdle so, like London buses, two or three may turn at once!

Which horse won the inaugural Cheltenham Gold Cup?

Which horse won the inaugural Cheltenham Gold Cup?  By way of clarification, by ‘Cheltenham Gold Cup’ we mean the Cheltenham Gold Cup in its current guise, as a steeplechase, which was first run on March 12, 1924, rather than the three-mile Flat race, which was first run at nearby Cleeve Hill, rather than Prestbury Park, over a century earlier. Nowadays, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious contest in National Hunt racing but, in its early days was overshadowed by other races, notably the National Hunt Chase.

Nevertheless, the inaugural running was covered by British Pathé News, under the title ‘Chasing’s Ascot’, and produced a thrilling finish. The eventual winner, Red Splash, trained by Fred Withington and ridden by Dick Rees, edged his nearest pursuers, Conjuror II and Gerard L by a neck and a head and won the princely sum of £685 for his trouble.

As a footnote, the original Cheltenham Gold Cup presented to winning owner Major Humphrey Wyndham, which consists of nearly a pound-and-a-half of nine carat gold, plated with 18 carat gold, was returned to Cheltenham Raecourse by its previous owner in 2018; since 2019, it has been presented to winning connections as a perpetual trophy.

1 12 13 14