In which year was the Cheltenham Gold Cup first televised?
The brainchild of Frederick Cathcart who was, at the time, Clerk of the Course at Prestbury Park, the Cheltenham Gold Cup was first run, as a steeplechase, in 1924. Remarkably, British Pathé News cameras were on hand to record the victory of Red Splash, with the footage later shown in cinemas as part of the weekly newsreel. That was, of course, before the advent of television and televised National Hunt racing did not become a regular feature until much later in the twentieth century.
In fact, it was not until after World War II, in 1948, that Sandown Park became the first British racecourse to host televised National Hunt racing. However, televised racing proved highly popular with armchair viewers and ad men soon recognised the potential of National Hunt racing as an advertising medium. In 1957, the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, now the Ladbrokes Trophy, became the first sponsored race but, even before then, the 1955 Cheltenham Gold Cup had already been broadcast on BBC television, complete with commentary from the inimitable Sir Peter O’Sullevan. The winner was 33/1 outsider Gay Donald, who came home ten lengths ahead of his nearest pursuer, Halloween, with jockey Tony Grantham looking around for dangers throughout the last half mile.