Has any horse ever won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in a single season?

The Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National are the two premier steeplechases run in Britain and, as such, are much-coverted prizes. Indeed, many owners, jockeys and trainers spend their entire lives dreaming of winning one or the other, never mind both.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup wasn’t run, as a steeplechase, until 1924, while the first ‘official’ Grand National was run in 1839 but, in the period that the races have co-existed, just two horses have won both. L’Escargot, trained by Dan Moore, recorded back-to-back victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1970 and 1971, before defeating none other than Red Rum, who was chasing an unprecedented hat-trick, in the 1975 renewal of the Grand National.

However, the legendary Golden Miller, trained by Basil Briscoe and, later, by Owen Anthony, remains the only horse ever to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in a single season. In fact, ‘The Miller’ won the Cheltenham Gold Cup five years running between 1932 and 1936, inclusive and following his third win, in 1934, cruised to victory in the Grand National, under 12st 2lb, and broke the course record in the process.

How many horses have won the Champion Hurdle more than once?

The two-mile hurdling championship, the Champion Hurdle, has been a fixture of the Cheltenham Festival since 1927 and, in the better part of a century, no horse has won the race more than three times. That said, the last three-time winner, Istabraq, was odds-on on to complete an unprecedented four-timer in 2001, only to be robbed of the opportunity by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. Nevertheless, alongside Hatton’s Grace, Sir Ken, Persian War and See You Then, Istabraq is, jointly, the most successful horse in Champion Hurdle history.

Down the years, numerous horses, starting with Insurance, owned by Dorothy Paget, in 1931 and 1932, have won the Champion Hurdle twice. National Spirit, one of the best hurdlers of the post-war era, did so in 1947 and 1948, but it wasn’t until the ‘golden era’ of hurdling in the Seventies and early Eighties that Bula, Comedy Of Errors, Night Nurse, Monksfield and Sea Pigeon became dual winners. More recently, Hardy Eustace recorded back-to-back victories in 2004 and 2005, as did Buveir D’Air in 2017 and 2018, whil Hurricane Fly won in 2011 and 2013, having finished third, at odds-on, in 2012. So, at the time of writing, five horses have won the Champion Hurdle three times and ten have won it twice, making a total of fifteen to have won the race more than once.

How many horses have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup more than once?

The Cheltenham Gold Cup, as a steeplechase, was inaugurated in 1924 and, as such, pre-dates the Champion Hurdle by three years. However, while the Champion Hurdle has seen 15 multiple winners down the years, the Cheltenham Gold Cup has seen just eight.

The first of them, Easter Hero, recorded back-to-back victories, both by 20 lengths, in 1929 and 1930, at a time when the Cheltenham Gold Cup was still run on the Old Course at Prestbury Park. The 1931 renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup was abandoned, due to frost, but for the next five years the race was dominated by ‘Steeplechaser of the Century’ Golden Miller, who also won the Grand National in 1934.

Following World War II, Cottage Rake completed a hat-trick of successes in 1948, 1949 and 1950 and Arkle – widely considered the greatest steeplechaser of all time – did likewise in 1964, 1965 and 1966, by which time the Cheltenham Gold Cup had been transferred to the New Course. More recently, L’Escargot won consecutive renewals in 1970 and 1971, Best Mate became the last horse to win three in a row in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and, in 2009, Kauto Star made history by becoming the first horse to recapture his title, having won in 2007 and finished second to stablemate Denman in 2008. Of course, Al Boum Photo won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019 and 2020 and may yet win three, or more, in a row.

Did Willie Mullins ever ride a winner at the Cheltenham Festival?

Nowadays, Willie Mullins is best known as perennial Irish Champion National Hunt Trainer and, of course, the most successful handler in the history of the Cheltenham Festival, with 72 winners. However, in his earlier years, Mullins was a highly accomplished amateur jockey. In fact, he was Champion Amateur in his native land on six occasions and, in 1983, rode Atha Cliath, trained by his father, Paddy, to victory in the Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase, over the Grand National fences, at Aintree.

Having worked for his father and Jim Bolger as assistant trainer, Mulllins took out a training licence in his own right, at his yard in Closutton, Co. Carlow, in 1988. However, he continued to ride, even after saddling his first Cheltenham Festival winner, Tourist Attraction, in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1995. The following year, at the age of 40, he trained and rode Wither Or Which to win Grade One Champion Bumper, thereby recording his one and only success at the Festival as a jockey. As a trainer, though, Mullins was far from finished with the Champion Bumper, winning the race again in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2018 and 2020, for a total of 10 wins in all.

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