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Gone but not forgotten: 5 lost races of the Cheltenham Festival

Posted on March 03, 2019 by David Hay
The history of the Cheltenham Festival dates back more than 150 years.

Cheltenham hasn’t always been the location for the festival, with both Market Harborough and Warwick racecourses hosting the event in the 19th century. Since 1911, the permanent home of the festival has been Cheltenham’s Prestbury Park, although it had been held at Cheltenham on a few occasions prior to this.

The Cheltenham Festival always sees plenty of closely fought races, and the Cheltenham odds certainly suggest that this year will be no different. There are plenty of races to focus on at this year’s event, but what about races which no longer exist? We’ve taken a look at five of the races that are no longer run at Cheltenham.

National Hunt Juvenile Chase (1892-58)

Arguably the festival’s most notorious race, the National Hunt Juvenile Chase was finally abandoned in 1958. The race often featured horses who were younger than four and had very little experience in jumping over fences, leading to carnage.

The last ever winner was Bee Off, ridden by Lord Oaksey. Other notable winners include future Grand National winner Grakle and Gold Cup champion Medoc II. The race was replaced by what is now the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Newent Selling Chase (1924-41)

The Newent Chase was run over two miles and was the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival for several years. Probably the most famous winner of the race was Ferrens, trained by George Beeby. Ferrens made seven appearances at the Festival between 1933 and 1939 and became the joint oldest horse to win at the festival, at the age of 15.

United Hunts’ Chase (1923-73)

Lasting for 50 years, the United Hunts’ Chase is remembered for two things. A strong chestnut horse named Bulking Green won the race three times in a row from 1963 to 1965 before making it four wins in five years when he won it in 1967.

His defeat at the 1966 event led to the other reason why this race is remembered. After he unseated his jockey, Tim Forster, Snowdra Queen went on to win the race. This race was the first in Britain to be won by a female trainer, as Snowdra Queen was trained by Jackie Brutton. The race still exists in the present day, featuring in Cheltenham’s hunter chase card in April.

Coventry Cup Chase (1928-36)

Named after the Earl of Coventry, the Coventry Cup Chase, which was included in the festival from 1928 to 1936, was the nearest thing to a 2 mile championship chase prior to 1959.

14-year-old Dudley was the winner in the inaugural race and the race was also won by Brienz, Blaris and Golden Miller’s rival Thomond.

Cathcart Champion Hunters’ Chase (1975-77)

A very short lived race, the Cathcart Champion Hunters’ Chase was raced in place of the Cathcart Chase, which had been suspended for three years. At three miles and one furlong, the hunter chase provided an alternative to the Foxhunter Chase, which was being run at four miles.

Despite being included in the festival for three years, the race was actually only run twice, as the inaugural race was abandoned. The two winners of the race were Mickley Seabright and Rusty Tears.

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