Which horse won the inaugural running of the Cheltenham Gold Cup?
Over a century before the Cheltenham Gold Cup was founded, as a steeplechase, in March, 1924, a race of the same name was run, over 3 miles on the Flat, on Cleeve Hill, which overlooks what is now Cheltenham Racecourse. The inaugural running of that race, staged in July, 1819, was won by a horse called Spectre, a 3-year-old owned by a certain Mr. Bodenham.
However, the details of the inaugural running of the race that would become the most-coveted title in National Hunt racing are better known because they were reported in the newspapers of the day and recorded for posterity by British Pathé News. On March 12, 1924, nine runners went to post on the Old Course at Prestbury Park and, according to contemporary newspaper reports, produced ‘a really magnificent race’. Victory went to Red Splash, trained in Bicester by Fred Withington and ridden by Frederick Brychan ‘Dick’ Rees, one of the finest jockeys in the inter-war period. As a 5-year-old, Red Splash received 9lb from each of his rivals and made the most of the weight concession, edging out Conjuror II and Gerald L by a neck and a head in a driving finish.