Kalendar 23/24 season

Page 1





Welcome to our latest edition of Kalendar Magazine. This is always an exciting time of year as the summer draws to a close and our thoughts turn to the winter and the return of Jump racing ‘proper’

This marks the start of a particularly special season for us at the Home of Jump Racing, as we celebrate the centenary year of the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, an event that we are proud to play our part in and are looking forward to sharing all that this year has in store with you.

Last season was full of unforgettable moments, as we saw the best take on the best over four days of extraordinary racing in March. A moment that will long last in all our memories was seeing Honeysuckle enjoy a golden swansong in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle. Her welcome back into the winner’s enclosure was one of the most emotional moments in recent years and it was brilliant to see the recognition this wonderful mare and her connections received. And who can forget that just 40 minutes before we had seen one of the most impressive performances ever in the Unibet Champion Hurdle, thanks to Constitution Hill who stormed up the Cheltenham hill. He really could be a superstar and we are excited to see what Nicky Henderson and the team have planned for him this season. We learnt a little more about this horse from the person who knows him best, Jaden Lee – the man who

looks after him every day, in a feature for this magazine, and it is a wonderful insight.

We also caught up with the leading Cheltenham Festival trainer, Willie Mullins, who could reach the landmark of 100 Festival winners in 2024. Could he reach his 100th win in the 100th year of the Cheltenham Gold Cup? Racing does have a way of writing the perfect script.

Also in Kalendar, we reflect on Brian Hughes’ fantastic career so far, as well as the unbelievable achievement of Patrick Neville with The Real Whacker – a horse that is quickly becoming a Cheltenham specialist. In addition, we speak to a few of Britain’s leading trainers to hear what they have planned for their stable stars, as well as introducing you to several exciting events we have planned for the Cheltenham Gold Cup centenary year.

Finally, we would like to thank you for your continued support. It was wonderful to see so many of you back on our racecourses last season and we look forward to seeing you over the coming months.

Best wishes

thejockeyclub.co.uk 3

Why David Mann hopes his horse will be written into Jump racing folklore

Bradley Gibbs describes the best last-minute career decision he ever made

The man himself talks about his lifetime of success at Prestbury Park

4 Kalendar CONTENTS 6 THE SEASON AT CHELTENHAM Key dates to have in your diary for the 2023-2024 racing season 8 AND THEY’RE OFF Josh Stacey on the excitement ahead 12 THE NOVEMBER MEETING Nick Seddon sets the scene for the first blockbuster event of the season 16 THE MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN PHENOMENON The young jockey’s extraordinary success story 21 FIVE TO FOLLOW Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson select horses to watch in the coming season 26 NEW YEAR’S DAY Nick Seddon on the treat that’s in store at this time-honoured meeting 28 FESTIVAL TRIALS DAY The exciting appetiser for the main event in March 30 GOLDEN LEGACY Launching The Gold Cup 100 Community Fund 32 MAN ON A MISSION
Hughes talks to
Seddon about his drive to ride more winners 35
thejockeyclub.co.uk 5 CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE cheltenham.co.uk All details in the magazine were
© Newhall Publishing Ltd 2023 NEWHALL PUBLISHING LTD New Hall Lane, Hoylake, Wirral CH47 4BQ Tel: 0844 545 8102 Email: hello@newhallpublishing.com DESIGNED AND PRODUCED FOR CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE RICHARD WOOLLIAMS Managing Director CHRISTINE BLACKFORD Finance Director GARETH EVANS Creative Director FERGUS MCSHANE Editorial Director OWEN MORAN Art Editor ROBYN BARR Digital Media Manager 48 THE FESTIVAL Highlights of the last Cheltenham Festival 60 THE ORCHARD Cheltenham’s luxury enclosure 62 CELEBRATING WITH BOODLES The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Centenary 64 HOSPITALITY The world-class food and drink on offer at Cheltenham 68 CORE ON COURSE BY CLARE SMYTH The three-Michelin-star chef is back for second year 70 ROOM WITH A VIEW Enjoy your travel, hotel and hospitality in one package 72 TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION Getting to the Festival and top tips on where to stay 74 HORSE WELFARE Ensuring that our equine stars live their best life 76 KING OF THE HILL Jaydon Lee’s remarkable journey with the formidable Constitution Hill 80 MORE RACING THRILLS Lots to look forward to at Cheltenham 82 EXPERIENCE DAYS Introducing youngsters to the world of racing 84 CONFERENCE AND EVENTS The potential of Cheltenham Racecourse as a live-event venue 86 LIFE OUT OF THE SADDLE Tom Scudamore on his decision to retire from racing 88 JUNIOR JUMPERS Find out about free club membership for under-18s 90 RETRAINING OF RACEHORSES Aftercare upon retirement 92 WEST COUNTRY WEEKEND The best of the South West 94 ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP The benefits of belonging to Cheltenham Racecourse 96 THE BEST IS YET TO COME Opportunities for members 98 THE CHELTENHAM CLUB Cheltenham Racecourse’s most exclusive membership
correct at the time
press. The contents of this
are owned by the publisher and may not
reproduced without permission.


Don’t miss out on the key dates in the 2023-2024 season at The Home of Jump Racing.


27 – 28 October

The wait is over. We are back. The Showcase raises the curtain to the 2023/24 Cheltenham season, once again, the thundering hooves, eager participants and excited fans will return to the Home of Jump Racing for another season. The meeting showcases the sport, with Q&A sessions with racing greats, and it sets the scene for the drama, history and heroics that will unfold.


17 – 19 November

The magic starts at The November Meeting, the pace has quickened, the atmosphere is electric, and the exhilarating racing action will be revealing Cheltenham Festival clues. Off the track, Shop ‘til you drop in the Shopping Village, enjoy the craic in the Guinness Village and party in The Centaur, there is something for everyone at the unmissable three-day meeting.


15 – 16 December

Commence the celebrations at The Christmas Meeting over a weekend of top-quality racing. With the festive season about to enter the home straight, The Christmas Meeting brings joy and excitement for all, this two-day meeting is a highlight of the Christmas racing calendar and kick-starts the festive sporting season.



1 January

Regardless of how you celebrated New Year’s Eve, there is no better way to jump into 2024 than racing on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham. Thrilling and high-quality racing action, that is sure to provide Cheltenham Festival insight, fresh air, and amazing free family entertainment, makes it the perfect way to start 2024.


12 – 15 March

Cheltenham Festival 2024 is the pinnacle event of the Jump racing calendar, this year will be bigger than ever as we celebrate 100 years of the Gold Cup across the week. Guaranteed excellence, whether you join on Champion Day on Tuesday, Festival Wednesday, St Patrick’s Thursday or Gold Cup Day on Friday. Each day offers a unique twist on four days of extraordinary.


17 – 18 April

The April Meeting is a wonderful two-day meeting at the Home of Jump Racing. The spring sunshine shining over the famous Cleeve Hill and hallowed Cheltenham turf provide the perfect backdrop to a brilliant day out with high-quality racing.


27 January

Excitement, anticipation and expectation is building. It is the final opportunity to see the sports protagonists go out to battle on Cheltenham Racecourse’s hallowed turf before the Cheltenham Festival. What horses will catch the eye before those four days of extraordinary in March, will we see returning champions defending their crown? Whilst anything can happen in March, Festival Trials Day may be able to give us a clearer picture.


3 May

The curtain comes down on the 2023/24 season with Cheltenham’s only evening fixture. It’s a meeting that allows amateur riders and trainers to compete for the ultimate dream of winning at the Home of Jump Racing with seven fiercely fought Hunter Chases.

FEATURE SEASON DATES thejockeyclub.co.uk 7


Josh Stacey anticipates the magic that is Cheltenham

One long, drawn-out summer later, we’ve achieved what at first appeared impossible. I’ve reached the end of my tether, pining for this day to come – sunkissed, fresh and champing at the bit for another season of Jump racing. You’ll struggle to unearth another being who’s spent this long fastening a member’s badge to a jacket, but now it’s ready – beautifully aligned and immaculate.

Excitement is off the scale as entries are released on Monday – a flood of endorphins – along with an immediate resignation that I won’t be sleeping during the coming week. I’ll concede that early – indeed on that Monday evening – as I lie in bed, my mind unwilling to shut down. The house is a hive of activity. Preview podcasts blaring, irons burning and hostile squabbles between housemates about who wins the bumper. There’s no room

for weakness in this war of words – you must go on the offensive and land the first blow.

We’re ready. Skipping out of the front door at ferocious fractions. Two hours of continued dispute later, the car reaches Cleeve Hill’s zenith. Silence. Eyes catching glimpses of grandstands from a distance, a fleeting moment of weightlessness – and then the descent begins. Helicopters battling with blimps overhead. A melting pot of


thrill, tradition and camaraderie inching nearer at every turn.

Parked up. Quick tie adjustment in the car window. Is it going to be too hot for a jacket? There’s walking quickly... and then there’s the Cheltenham Racecourse car park walk. Hundreds of eager jumps fans shifting at Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase pace, jostling for race position, the air filled with anticipation and fervour.

A satisfying bleep at the barrier and we’re in. A traditional pilgrimage to the Arkle Bar, with full appreciation of the parade ring to the right of us. Just how straight are those lines in the grass? A quick diversion to study the racecourse – still as magnificent as I remember. Guinness ordered. Initial sip taken whilst huddled amid a jovial cluster. Ten minutes prior to the first and the palpable energy is heightening. Off we stroll to the lucky spot – we all have one. Mine in front of the stands, under the letter M.

In position. The bookmakers’ shouts echo. Runners down at the start. Gazing in awe at this sporting heaven nestled in the Gloucestershire countryside. A timeless tradition that showcases the unyielding spirit of the sport and the unity it fosters between those who come together to revel in its magic. And they’re off.


Nothing gets me dreaming as much as an impressive debutant and I’m continually dissecting bumpers in the hope of finding that next standout novice hurdler. Currently, the Willie Mullins-trained Ballyburn is at the top of my table for next season. He’s displayed a devasting turn of foot and a stamina tank Mo Farah would be proud of – a winning combination. On top of his natural athletic assets, his mental development between

his first and second run was out of the ordinary. Keen, lairy and a little awkward to a relaxed, uncomplicated and consummate professional –unrecognisable. Barring injury, I expect Ballyburn to be a headline name for years to come.

While trawling through every Irish Bumper run last season, another leading light was Slade Steel, a well-built five-year-old son of Telescope, trained by Henry de Bromhead. Slade Steel looked a veteran on debut, winning in style against more experienced rivals

FEATURE WHAT’S TO COME thejockeyclub.co.uk 9
“Off we stroll to the lucky spot – we all have one. Mine in front of the stands, under the letter M”

Captain Cody and Blizzard Of Oz, who have subsequently boosted that form no end. The former won on his next start and finished a six-length sixth in the Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, while the latter won at Cork before an agonising second in the Grade 2 Weatherbys

National Hunt Flat Race at Aintree’s Grand National Meeting. Slade Steel was held by Ballyburn at the Punchestown Festival, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

It would be remiss of me to dust over the exciting youngsters trained down

in Ditcheat. Each season without fail, Paul Nicholls assembles a battalion of mouth-watering prospects. Farnoge, Isaac Des Obeaux, Fire Flyer, Captain Teague and Meatloaf all made lasting impressions in bumpers last season. Inthewaterside screams a typical highclass Paul Nicholls three-mile chaser of the future and I’d be disappointed if he weren’t contesting graded races this season. He might even be the one to follow the Bravemansgame-Stage Star-Hermes Allen Challow Hurdle route. Keep Thames Water on side – for a gargantuan animal, he had no business

coming off a slow pace in a strong Ascot Bumper and winning as his did. He’s got a tinge of Bravemansgame about him.

Fresh from the Paul Nicholls training ranks, the 2022/23 season was a mammoth one for Harry Derham, the latest training star off the Ditcheat conveyor belt. Harry displayed a sharp eye for placing horses and this came with great success. Although no stable star yet, I believe Il Va De Soi could fill that void this season and after two extremely encouraging runs in bumpers, he’s one who could notch up a couple of wins before venturing into higher grade.

“Inthewaterside screams a typical high-class Paul Nicholls three-mile chaser of the future”


winners of last season

ENVOI ALLEN winner of 2023 Ryanair Chase, Gr. 1 purchased at Tattersalls Cheltenham



Cheltenham November Sale

Friday 17 November*

Cheltenham December Sale

Friday 15 December*

Cheltenham January Sale

Saturday 27 January*

Cheltenham February Sale

Friday 16 February

Cheltenham Festival Sale

Thursday 14 March*

Cheltenham April Sale

Thursday 25 April

Cheltenham May Sale

Thursday 16 May

*Sales held after racing

If you would like to know how to attend or purchase at Tattersalls Cheltenham Sales

Contact: Shirley Anderson-Jolag | +44 7488 708 343



The transition from Flat racing to Jump racing is a steady one, but most people view The November Meeting as the first blockbuster event of the new season. With plenty on the line, excitement and drama is assured across three pulsating days of racing, as Nick Seddon explains…

12 Kalendar

It’s no secret that racing fans love to bicker – particularly if there is a going stick within eyeshot – and the debate as to when the ‘jumps season proper’ begins is one of our sport’s great imponderables.

It’s certainly not the job of this magazine to provide a solution, though it’s undeniable that the campaign steps up a notch or two with The November Meeting, a three-day ‘mini festival’ that plenty view as the weekend where things get serious.

This is the moment when the big names on either side of the Irish Sea arise from their collective slumber, and it isn’t difficult to see why, with four Grade Two races on the line up and more than half a million in prize money on offer across the three days.

The form always proves to be staggeringly strong as a result and we saw some notable names strike at this meeting last year, with the roll of honour including the likes of the subsequent Grade One Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase winner, The Real Whacker, as well as two future Randox Grand National Festival heroes in Fennor Cross and Banbridge.

Centre stage at The November Meeting is the first major contest of the Jump season – Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup. Run over an extended two-and-a-half miles and first staged back in 1960, the roll of honour for the Premier Handicap chase features some legendary performers, including Champion Chase heroes Fortria and Dunkirk, as well as the Grand National winner, Gay Trip.

It takes a classy horse to win the Paddy Power and the victors regularly go on to bigger and better things, as last season’s winner, Ga Law, showed when finishing a fine fifth in the Grade One Ryanair Chase at The Festival.

To say that the Paddy Power serves as a stepping stone to other things

would be an understatement, however, as it provided a poignant moment at the Home of Jump Racing for Ga Law’s owners, The Footie Partnership, as trainer Jamie Snowden explains: “It’s right up there. We were very lucky to have a Festival winner at an early stage – our third-ever winner at Cheltenham was at The Festival – but these big days are what it’s all about. Who knows how good he can be, but let’s enjoy today first!

“The Footie Partnership was set up for a chap called ‘Footie’ – Nick Foot –who died of cancer. There was a group of six of them who always came racing to Cheltenham and they set up this partnership with the idea of coming here and hopefully winning a big race at Cheltenham.

“Here it is and it’s all credit to this wonderful team of five guys. Nick Foot would have had a grandson

yesterday I think it was, so it came together lovely.”

Things arguably reach a crescendo with the third and final day of the meeting on the Sunday, when Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase hopefuls enter the stage for the Grade Two Shloer Chase.

Best known for being the opening scene of Sprinter Sacre’s remarkable comeback journey in the 2015-16 campaign, the race has quickly become one of the key features of the two-mile season since its establishment in 2009, producing two subsequent champion chasers (Sprinter Sacre and Put The Kettle On) and a Ryanair Chase winner to boot in Uxizandre.

A successful assault on The Festival ultimately didn’t pan out on this occasion for last year’s winner, Nube Negra, but his eight-length success did kickstart a remarkable run of winning

thejockeyclub.co.uk 13 FEATURE THE NOVEMBER MEETING
“The form is always staggeringly strong and we saw some notable names strike at this meeting last year”

weekends for his trainer Dan Skelton, whose red-hot run of form would see him go on to win each of the Betfair Chase, the Ladbrokes Trophy and the Becher Chase in consecutive weekends thereafter.

Joining the Shloer on centre stage on the Sunday is the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle over an extended two miles, which much like the Paddy Power, certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted.

This high-class handicap was inaugurated in 1987 when it went to Celtic Shot, a horse that captured the Champion Hurdle later in the same season, a feat matched by Rooster Booster in 2003/04.

Another good winner was Sizing Europe, who later excelled over fences with successes including the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies couldn’t hide his delight at last year’s winner,

I Like To Move It, who defied top weight when rolling to a five-and-ahalf-length success.

Having trained high-class two milers The New One, Ballyandy and Old Guard in recent years, Twiston-Davies has an eye for a smart one and he wasn’t shy in revealing his Champion Hurdle aspirations after the race.

He said: “It was absolutely superb off 12 stone around there. Taking the hurdles out didn’t help him but he was awesome. He [Sam Twiston-Davies] was very positive on him. He definitely would like softer ground and he stays the two miles well. He was unlucky in the Betfair. He is a proper horse. “He will follow in the hoofprints of a good horse we had called Guard Your Dreams and The New One used to frequent this race before [the International Hurdle]. That is the idea at the moment.”

Victory in the Grade Two Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton later in the campaign and an engagement in the Unibet Champion Hurdle that March for I Like To Move It would ultimately prove Twiston-Davies right, and considering that he’s still only six, it certainly seems as though The November Meeting has uncovered yet another gem.

“His eight-length success did kickstart a remarkable run of winning weekends for his trainer Dan Skelton”


Private charter is the only way to fully travel on your terms and Air Charter Service has over 30 years of experience providing tailored charter solutions. Whether you require a private plane, or a helicopter, we offer the widest choice of aircraft for your unique requirements. Wherever you’re travelling from, and however many passengers are in your party, our team can organise everything, from booking the aircraft to the finer details.


A helicopter provides the quickest and most direct way to get to the races, including The Cheltenham Festival, The Randox Grand National at Aintree, The QIPCO Guineas Festival and The Derby at Epsom Downs. This year, Air Charter Service is looking forward to joining the celebrations for the 100 years of The Gold Cup. During the Festival week in Cheltenham, the fully-licensed temporary Air Charter Service Helipad becomes the biggest of its kind in the UK with over 400 flights over the four days!

To receive a personal quote, or to book your helicopter or private jet charter, call Air Charter Service at +44(0)20 8339 8588



The 23-year-old jockey arrived at Prestbury Park in March with a huge chance in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on what was just his second Cheltenham Festival ride and what followed will go down in Cheltenham folklore, as Nick Seddon finds out…

16 Kalendar

It feels a bit too much like marketing talk to say that dreams are made at the Cheltenham Festival, though with Michael O’Sullivan that certainly feels the case. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally, we are met with a story that feels more like Hollywood than it does reality. And if a scriptwriter was to choose a scenario from last season, they would hone in on jockey Michael O’Sullivan, who arrived at the Festival having turned professional just six months earlier.

O’Sullivan had only had one ride at the Festival prior to March but found himself with a huge opportunity on board the Barry Connell-trained Marine Nationale, a strongly fancied 9-2 chance for the opening Grade One Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Together, the pair would not just triumph but leave the impression

that this was just the beginning of something special – and in O’Sullivan’s case it’s certainly in his pedigree. The 23-year-old hails from a proud racing family that has enjoyed plenty of success at the Festival, with both his father, Willie (Lovely Citizen in 1991), and his cousin, Maxine (It Came To Pass in 2020), winning the St James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase for his uncle Eugene O’Sullivan. Horseracing runs in the family and O’Sullivan explains that he has been involved with horses for as long as he can remember: “I grew up on a farm, my father is a dairy farmer and my uncle Eugene is a horse trainer. That’s all on the same farm, so I grew up surrounded by animals and horses.

“Everyone rode horses, so I just started riding ponies myself. I did a lot of showjumping, eventing

FEATURE MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN thejockeyclub.co.uk 17
“Occasionally, we are met with a story that feels more like Hollywood than it does reality”

and hunting with The Pony Club and that’s where it all started. I did a lot of point-to-pointing. I think I had something like 400 rides and 34 winners, so I got a lot of good experience. Then I got a degree as well at University College Dublin, studying animal science.

“I finished that last year around May time, after four years of studying, so I rode as an amateur and turned professional that September.”

Having finished university, it would be with trainer Barry Connell and a certain Marine Nationale that O’Sullivan would get his big break, and he reveals that it was a partnership that was struck up in rather unusual circumstances – while he was milking cows on his dad’s farm: “There was a meeting coming up at Punchestown last May and I was at home working around the cows with my father. I was checking through the entries for the bumpers, which I’d do all the time and then I’d try and call round and get rides.

“I’d ridden for Barry once before and had nothing to lose, so I just texted him to ask if he was OK for the bumper. He replied and I got the ride on him, thank God, and that text has gone a long way for me since!

“He won that day first time out, when we didn’t really expect him to win, and I’ve ridden him every day

since and I’ve won on him every day since, so it’s been brilliant and I’m very lucky.”

Marine Nationale hasn’t looked back since that debut success at Punchestown and he would go on to win his next three starts under O’Sullivan, providing him with a first Grade One success in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse that December.

The scene was set for the Supreme and you would expect a jockey who was having just his second ride at the Festival to be nervous, but O’Sullivan explains that the day instead passed as a blur.

He says: “It was my second-ever ride at the Festival, so it was exciting, obviously, and I didn’t feel any pressure as you can’t expect to win a race like that.

“It all happens so quickly. Once you get back after riding out and put on your suit, you’re back at the track and the race is on before you know it.

“It wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t get some nerves, but I really like the pressure of riding on those bigger days. Luckily, everything went smoothly and he was really good on the day – it’s amazing how smoothly it went, really.

“I had a moment of worry when Paul [Townend] kicked for home on Facile Vega. He nicked a couple of

“I’d ridden for Barry once before and had nothing to lose, so I texted him to ask if he was OK for the bumper”
Marine Nationale and Michael O’Sullivan after winning the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) at this year’s Cheltenham Festival O’Sullivan receiving the award for champion conditional jockey at Punchestown Festival in April 2023 for the Irish season @Olivia Tudor

lengths on me off the bend. I wasn’t sure how much I’d find, but the horse just kicked into overdrive.

“He was amazing that day and finished the season unbeaten, so hopefully, the best days are ahead of us. He’s a very special horse, but he needs to train on now and win this season and the next to be a great horse.

“He’s French-bred and I suppose you’d have that small bit of worry that he might not train on, but there’s no reason why he won’t. He’s very sound and he’s a pleasure to do anything with. He’s out in the field as we chat, but he’s due in soon, and then the hard work starts again.”

Any jockey would tell you that they would settle for just the one winner at the Festival, but things would get even better for O’Sullivan, who would strike again on the Gordon Elliott-trained Jazzy Matty in the penultimate Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

Jazzy Matty was an 18-1 chance for one of the most competitive handicaps of the week, and O’Sullivan admits that he didn’t think he had any more than a puncher’s chance for the race.

He says: “Jazzy Matty was a nice surprise really. I was riding him on a cloud and feeling no pressure.

I went out there just hoping to get a good spin on him. You could have given him a little chance, but I wouldn’t have said he had a serious chance.

“We just got into a really good rhythm and he travelled and jumped and I felt like I was always going to win once I’d turned for home.

“Even though it was such a tight finish, I always felt like I was going to win. Gordon had him perfect on the day, so it was a special moment.”

O’Sullivan has since ridden out his claim, and looking forward, he reveals that he has his eye on more success at the Festival.

He continues: “Now that I’ve lost my claim, I’ll have to really put my head down and keep connections and things like that. I won’t have the benefit of the claim now, but I hope that I can get the support of some of the bigger trainers. You also need the smaller trainers to keep you going.

“It will be very hard to be a champion jockey unless I am the main jockey at one of the two stables, so I will focus on quality over quantity and try to win some more Grade One races and pick up some more Festival winners.”

thejockeyclub.co.uk 19 FEATURE MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN




Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson pick five of the best horses to follow over this coming season…



“He ran a blinding race in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup last year. He was beaten by a very good horse (Galopin Des Champs) and there were no excuses. We think he got the trip. Possibly, if Harry (Cobden) rode the race again he might have ridden him with a bit more restraint, but the plan was to always ride him forward.

“As a King George (VI Chase) winner we knew that he would run well in the Gold Cup, and so it proved. It was only in the last 50 yards that he ran out of petrol. He jumped brilliantly though, and we were delighted with him.

“He had a good season in winning the King George at Kempton Park and the Charlie Hall at Wetherby and he ran very well in defeat at Punchestown. He is in good shape, but I don’t know where I’m going to start him. If the ground was decent it could well be the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park.

“After the King George we will then make a plan whether we go straight to Cheltenham.

“If he had a couple of runs this side of Christmas and a couple after Christmas that would probably suit him.

“If he ran in four championship races with a chance in all of them you’d be happy with that.”


“He had a wind operation over the summer and I’m hoping that will bring out some improvement. He will go novice chasing this season and is one that could run over anything between two-and-a-half miles and three miles.

“At Cheltenham in the spring he could go over two-anda-half miles for the Turners or three miles for the Brown Advisory, depending on the ground and what we do with some of the others. He is obviously a high-class horse.

“It didn’t quite go to plan at Cheltenham or Aintree, but I think his breathing was troubling him from the start last season, hence why I put a tongue tie on him for his first run.

“I think he appreciated running on good ground at the start of the season at Stratford and Cheltenham and that helped his breathing. He got the run of the race in the Challow Hurdle, plus he was the class horse in that race. He jumps nicely and he will be very interesting.

“If Hermes Allen and Stay Away Fay ran in the same race I wouldn’t be able to split them I don’t think at this stage.”

thejockeyclub.co.uk 21


“He won at the Cheltenham Festival last season in the Turners Novices’ Chase, but he will have to step up if he is to go for the Ryanair Chase. I don’t see why he can’t, as all last season he just seemed to keep on improving and the Ryanair is probably what we will train him for. He won well at Warwick, then the ground was a little bit too firm at Newbury, as they all underperformed there.

“He came back and won well at Plumpton before winning at Cheltenham in January and then winning back there at the Festival. At the end of the season, at Aintree, we realised we ran him a bit too soon after Cheltenham.

“When he is really right and well, and fresh, he is a good horse. His win at Cheltenham in January pointed us in the right direction. He was so good that day with 12 stone on his back and that gave us a lot of belief in him and the track seemed to suit him, so it was all ideal.

“I thought he had to improve again in the Turners to win it, but he did and Harry gave him an exceptional ride. He jumped well and he galloped on strong. The biggest key to him so far is that he has needed to go left-handed.

“He might start off in the race at Newton Abbot and then go from there, but we will see.”


“He could be one that if we change tack with him, the Ryanair could be a race for him. He won his Grade One up at Aintree last season and he does seem to act well on flat tracks, but he does act at Ascot, which is undulating.

“I wouldn’t see any issue at Cheltenham if the ground was decent. He could definitely be a Ryanair type, as he is a good horse that is improving. He is not set in stone to go to Cheltenham at the moment, but it is definitely a possibility this season.

“I think what has helped him develop is just a bit of patience on our part. He has also matured and started to jump nicely and he seems to now have a lot of belief in himself.

“I think the fall he had at Newbury the season before last, when he would have won, just woke him up a bit as he has been good since then. He is a good solid jumper now.

“He would have to step up again to win a Ryanair, but he has got to be in the mix with all those top horses if he improves a bit. His owner Johnny de la Hey has been a good supporter of the yard and it is important for him to have a good horse like this. He was thrilled with last season.”


“He is likely to be aimed at the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, but he could go for the National Hunt Chase. I think he is capable of doing one or the other. He is a good, strong, solid stayer and I’m convinced that he will jump well.

“He pleased us when he made his debut at Newbury and he then should, in my opinion, have won at Doncaster, but it just didn’t work out right.

“He then improved again and won very nicely at Cheltenham in the Albert Bartlett. It did surprise me that day the level of form he showed.

“He ran well at Aintree, but I think as he had been prepared for Cheltenham, he didn’t win. I think he is going to be a really smart novice chaser.

“He has won a point-to-point and he has jumped baby fences at home, so I don’t see it being an issue at all.”

22 Kalendar


“It couldn’t have gone any better last season. Things went ridiculously smoothly. This is what you can do with a horse in a season if you are lucky enough not to miss one single day’s work. He never had a snotty nose, he never had a cough, he never trod on a stone. Nothing went wrong.

“The only thing that varied was the ground was too quick at Ascot and we just moved him back a week. It did cost us, as we had to finish first and second instead of winning two.

“His domination of the Champion Hurdle last season was a performance that was as dominant as you have ever seen. It was that one turn of foot and the race was over. It’s possible Constitution Hill could be the best horse I’ve trained. We are very lucky to have him. He is becoming a public horse and I’m the curator.

“Of course, there is pressure on me. He has to perform, because anything bar something spectacular doesn’t satisfy, so that is what we have got to

deliver. He was flawless throughout the whole of the last campaign. We have now got to decide which way we are going to go. If we go hurdling it would be the same plan. But the International Hurdle has now been moved to Trials Day, which means if he went down that route he would get an extra race. That would be good for all of us, as everybody says we don’t see enough of these horses.

“By changing that programme I’ve another race we could go for if we stick to hurdles. If we decide to go chasing, it is pretty obvious you work back from the Arkle. You will probably find yourself going to the Kingmaker and the likes. It is what Jonbon did last season. You could go two-anda-half with him if you wanted to but you would probably hang around the two-mile mark.

“The plan, which you have to have, is luck on your side. We can all talk about dreamland of how it is going to go, but you have got to be lucky to carry out a plan as precisely as that.”


“He has only been beaten twice, both times at Cheltenham. Once by Constitution Hill and once in the Arkle, but I don’t think that was him in the Arkle. His jumping was very good all the way through last season, except for Cheltenham where he didn’t jump as well as he can.

“There were just a few things we ironed out before his next two races, but they weren’t complicated things, as he was a miles better horse at Sandown than he was at Cheltenham.

“He was very good at Aintree, then I did a very un-Henderson like thing, which was to bring him out a fortnight later. I wanted to find out if he was a two-miler or not.

“I was leaning towards going twoand-a-half miles with him at Aintree, but the two-mile race was much weaker, so we decided to stay at two miles. After that I was thinking ‘crikey you are a two-miler, so let’s really find out’, and the only way to do that was to take on the older two-milers.

“I think I even surprised JP (McManus, owner) when I said I’ve got a plan, but he was up for it and the horse had looked fantastic all winter. I wanted to see how he compared to the two-milers and he answered the question, so we know where we start. I would have said that all roads lead to the Tingle Creek to start with.”

“It’s possible Constitution Hill could be the best horse I’ve trained. We are very lucky to have him”


“I’ve got a three-miler on my hands in Shishkin now. The King George VI Chase will be our first main objective, but he will obviously have a run before it. Two of the three times he has been beaten over fences have come at Cheltenham, otherwise he has been nearly flawless.

“He was very good at Aintree when we stepped him up to three miles. He has been finishing his races really well and he jumped very well that day at Aintree.

“I didn’t originally think we would end up over this sort of trip, as we started off in the Tingle Creek, but he blatantly got outpaced. It became perfectly obvious he wasn’t a two-miler, but he was still good enough and he misled us a bit by being very good in things like the Arkle, however he blatantly stays.

“Let’s see how he gets on first before we start thinking about the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is a true Grade One horse, there is no doubt about it. The race at Aintree was a good race and he produced a good performance.”


“She will have a look at those nice mares’ races and then the Stayers’ Hurdle. It didn’t quite go her way at Aintree over the extended three miles but she was very impressive on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham in the Relkeel Hurdle, and she did win the Mares’ Hurdle at The Festival the season before, so she was entitled to be doing something like that.

“The one race that went wrong for us at Cheltenham last season was the Mares’ Hurdle. We ran three in the race and I couldn’t split them.

“I thought it was one of our strongest races of the meeting, bar the Champion Hurdle. I would have thought you might possibly be looking at this as her last season, but one never knows.

“She is racing for a syndicate and Middleham Park are probably more interested in racing as opposed to breeding, but we will see how she goes.

“I very much would like to think there is another big race inside her.”


“I’ve always liked Walking On Air and I can’t believe he is not going to make up into a decent horse. I don’t think he had a lot of luck in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham and he had no luck in running at Punchestown. He will go over fences this season and be a three-mile novice chaser.

“I still think we haven’t seen the best of him yet. He got no run coming down the hill at Cheltenham then he travelled like a good horse at Punchestown and he kicked the third last out of the ground and then made a shocking mistake at the second last. He couldn’t finish a race like that doing what he did. He is not an obvious one but he looks fantastic.

“He is rated 138 over hurdles, so the handicapper must think he is okay. Once he jumps a fence I think he will be okay. I would say we would start him off back over either two-and-a-half miles or two miles-six, as three miles is a long way to go first time out for a novice chaser.”



It may take place during the depths of winter, but there’s more than enough on Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day card to get your heart racing, provided that the mulled wine from the night before hasn’t finished you off.

The festive racing season is breathless and this meeting serves as a fitting bookend to King George Day at Kempton Park six days before.

Considering that the Guinness pumps will be in full flow from the moment the gates open, some resolutions will be almost certainly broken before the first race. However, if New Year traditions are your thing, the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle over an extended

two-and-a-half miles is a race that has a habit of providing clues for The Festival.

Serving as a ‘halfway house’ between the Unibet Champion Hurdle and the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, the race is an ideal fit for those looking to test their stamina against a quality field, an assignment that subsequent Stayers’ hero, More Of That, passed with flying colours in 2013-14.

And history came rather close to repeating itself last term with the 2022 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle winner, Marie’s Rock, who was sent off as a 9-4 joint favourite for a repeat success on the back of a six-length victory in this

race, only for a certain Honeysuckle to have other ideas.

There is also plenty of excitement elsewhere on the card, particularly in the £100,000 Grade Three Paddy Power New Year’s Day Chase, which Dan and Harry Skelton have won for two of the past three years.

Meanwhile, anyone interested in finding a star of the future need look no further than the two Listed events, the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and the ‘Junior’ National Hunt Flat Race, ensuring the meeting not only caters for all types of racing fan, but also blows away the cobwebs from the night before in the process.

For many racing fans, heading out to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day is a time-honoured tradition. And those who make the pilgrimage to the Home of Jump Racing are in for a treat, as Nick Seddon explains…


As well as the fantastic racing, New Year’s Day also offers free family entertainment in the CLUB/TATTS enclosure, with live shows and inflatables as well as activities for older children to enjoy.

FEATURE NEW YEAR’S DAY thejockeyclub.co.uk 27


There are few standalone meetings that can rival Festival Trials Day for its excitement and quality. Nick Seddon examines why this day is the ideal appetiser before the main event in March…

The build-up and anticipation for the Cheltenham Festival is something that seems to begin earlier each year, to the point that some would argue the excitement for next year’s Festival begins the second you exit the gates on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day.

Some have more patience than others, but the majority of the waiting has been done by the time the final Saturday in January arrives, when Festival Trials Day provides an unmissable prelude to Jump racing’s most important week of year. Held this season on

Saturday 27 January, the seven-race card gives a taste of what is to come, offering a last chance for a dress rehearsal at Jump Racing HQ before one of the 28 races during Festival week.

As such, each race on the card acts as a direct route to The Festival, as the Paul Nicholls-trained Stage Star showed last year, following up his win in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase with Grade One glory in the Turners Novices’ Chase.

The pathway from Trials Day to Festival glory is a proven one and no race provides better clues for

28 Kalendar

the showpiece than the Grade Two Cotswold Chase, which is seen as one of the key pointers for the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup. Run over an extended three miles and one furlong, the contest is about a furlong short of what any contender can expect here in March, but like the Gold Cup, it is run on the New Course. Three horses have completed the Cotswold Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup double since its inception in 1980 – Little Owl (1981), Master Oats (1995) and Looks Like Trouble (2000).

Several have come close to emulating that trio since the millennium – none more so than Santini, who got within a neck of Al Boum Photo in 2020 – and it’s impossible to say just how close we came in last year’s renewal, seeing as the Lucinda Russell-trained Ahoy Senor was still travelling well in front when falling at six from home in the blue riband.

Not only has the race served as a useful pointer towards the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, it has also thrown up other future Festival winners, with the Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon claiming the 2019 edition just weeks before landing the Ryanair Chase.

An added dimension to Festival Trials in 2024 is the Grade Two International Hurdle. Previously staged at Cheltenham in December, its new position in the calendar should help it serve as a better trial for the Unibet Champion Hurdle. It will be 21 years in 2024 since Rooster Booster won both races in one season.

Also on the card is the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle, which also has an impressive list of previous winners. Run over three miles, the race has become a strong pointer for the Grade One Stayers’ Hurdle, with several horses winning both races in the same season. Inglis Drever won the race on his way to claiming a third Stayers’ Hurdle crown back in 2008, while the legendary Big Buck’s bookended his record tally of four Stayers’ Hurdle successes by winning this race on route in both 2009 and 2012 for Paul Nicholls.

Thistlecrack was another who achieved the feat in 2016 as did Paisley Park in 2019, with Emma Lavelle’s gelding subsequently coming back to win both the 2020 and 2022 renewals of the Cleeve Hurdle.

There was no double last season, but victory in last year’s contest for the Gabriel Leenders-trained Gold Tweet was significant, as he became the first Frenchtrained winner of the Cleeve Hurdle. His three-length success was momentous as it encouraged not one but two French horses to head over and challenge for Stayers’ glory that March, with Hugo Merienne also bringing Henri Le Farceur across the Channel.

The Cotswold Chase and Cleeve Hurdle might take star billing, but the supporting card is no back number, with both the Grade Two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle being two other contests on the day that can have an important bearing on results at The Festival.

FEATURE FESTIVAL TRIALS DAY thejockeyclub.co.uk 29
“The seven-race card offers a last chance for a dress rehearsal at Jump Racing HQ”


The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup is a race that has captured the hearts of the nation for a century, and 2024 will be a momentous year as The Jockey Club celebrates and remembers those greatest moments over the past 100 years

Racegoers will enjoy rewatching famous duels like the 2018 race starring Native River and Might Bite or historic head-toheads like Arkle taking on Mill House, while telling stories about where they were when Best Mate completed the hat-trick – the centenary year will be aiming to leave a golden legacy. The local community is at the heart of The Jockey Club’s ethos, and one of the objectives of the Gold Cup Centennial year is to fundraise for worthy causes. Cheltenham Racecourse will be launching a community fund run in partnership with the Rotary Clubs of Cheltenham to assist with neighbourhood projects.

The Community Grant will be awarded to registered charities –recognised, established community groups promoting sport, art, music, health and well-being, schools and playgroups, sporting, art or music groups or societies and not-for-profit organisations. These grants will support life-enhancing projects and initiatives operating within the boundaries of the Cheltenhamspecific postcodes: GL50, GL51,

GL52, GL53 and GL54.

Over the next 12 months, several fundraising events will take place to raise funds for the Community Grant before a panel made up of representatives from the Rotary Clubs and The Jockey Club to accept applications and ensure that the funding goes to the best possible causes for the community.

Assistant General Manager of Cheltenham, Andre Klein, has led recent campaigns within the local community, such as Love Our Turf. He said: “We

always try to ensure that the local community is at the heart of what we do. We want people to be proud to live in a town that is home to this great sporting arena, and we know it is important to help and support the community where we can.

“Gold Cup 100 is an incredibly exciting project, and it really is a once-in-a-lifetime event to be a part of. We want to leave a legacy from the celebrations that will truly help and enhance our local area, and this felt like a great way to do that.”

To find out more about the Gold Cup 100 Community Fund and how to apply for a grant, please visit our website.

FEATURE GOLD CUP 100 30 Kalendar

Earlier this year, the Cheltenham Racecourse team joined forces with WellChild to transform the communal space in the Cotswold RDA.

thejockeyclub.co.uk 31
“Gold Cup 100 is an incredibly exciting project, and it really is a once-in-a-lifetime event to be a part of”


Fresh from a record-breaking campaign in 2021-22, when he became just the fourth jockey to ride more than 200 winners in a season, Brian Hughes wrapped up title number three last season. However, that isn’t enough, as he sits down with Nick Seddon to explain

The April Meeting is perhaps a strange time to sit down and review a season with a jockey, but with Brian Hughes you take any opportunity you can get.

Clocking up around 75,000 miles in his car each year, the 38-year-old is a difficult man to catch, so an afternoon when he has just the three rides on the card at Cheltenham feels as good an opportunity as any.

It means that, as we chat, he is still around a fortnight or so away from collecting his third Jump jockey’s title in four years at Sandown Park’s Jumps Season Finale, though there is still plenty to discuss.

As we take a seat just inside the weighing room at Prestbury Park, Hughes is asked to reflect on the fact that he has surpassed 150 winners for the second time in his career, a tally of victories that would eventually stand at 165 for the campaign.

It’s a stunning number that deserves celebrating, though ever the perfectionist, Hughes is quick to reveal that it is a tally with which he isn’t completely satisfied – having become just the fourth jockey in history to ride 200 winners in a season the year before.

He explains: “I thought the summer was quite good and I got to 100 winners quicker [than last year], but then I’ve just felt very frustrated from October time onwards. I just never felt as though I’d got rolling the way I’d have liked to.

“It was things like the weather and other factors. It meant I had a slower time. I suppose I’m getting a bit greedy, but when you’re setting that sort of pace, you just want to maintain it.

“To hit 160-plus winners is great, but when I got to 100 by the end of October, I did think that 200 was

definitely on the cards. It didn’t happen, but there’s always next year!”

Based in North Yorkshire, Hughes is a jockey who has great success on the northern circuit, but he has come in for criticism for not being an ever-present figure at some of the bigger meetings last season.

That is perhaps shown most by the fact that his sole Grade one success remains his victory in the 2018 Ascot Chase on Waiting Patiently – a rather unique fact for a three-time Champion jockey. It’s a frustration that he in part shares, though he explains that his main drive has and always will be to ride winners, regardless of the level. “Everyone wants to ride big race winners and take part in the competitive races and it’s not that I don’t want to,” he says. “Donald [McCain] buys a lot of horses and we’re hoping to drop on a couple of good Graded horses, but if you don’t ride for the people who have them, it makes it fairly hard to get on them.


“I don’t know what I can do any differently, really. I ride for who I ride for, and if they have a good horse, hopefully, I’ll ride it. I’d love to be going to the Cheltenham Festival with plenty of rides.

“If I’m not going to be competitive somewhere and I’ve got a good ride somewhere else, I’ll be there in a heartbeat. I want to ride winners and I go where I’m required to go – that’s my job. I’m not looking at anyone with any envy, really. Wherever you’re going, you want to be competitive, and if you can’t get on good rides, it’s pointless to go.”

Hughes found himself with a rather unexpected opportunity at Grade 1 level in April, when he stepped in at the last minute to partner Ahoy Senor in the Aintree Bowl at the Randox Grand National Festival. It took a top-class performance from Shishkin on the day to deny him, and it is perhaps a mark of the man that, when asked, he is quick to reference jockey Derek Fox, the man he replaced.

Fox would, of course, return to fitness in time to partner Corach Rambler to a historic Randox Grand National victory on the Saturday of the meeting, but Hughes reveals that it’s not something that he views as a missed opportunity.

He continues: “It’s not that I don’t want to take part in those races – it’s getting the opportunity. I relished riding Ahoy Senor and I thought we had it.

“Maybe going on like we did was the wrong thing to do, but I thought he was a good stayer. I didn’t know he didn’t have a front shoe at that point, nor when we lost, but we just tied up a bit going to the last.

“The winner is a smart horse and the handicapper obviously thought we ran well, because he put him up even further! It was nice to get the ride on him and it was a shame for Derek [Fox]. I came very close to riding Corach Rambler as well. I schooled him in the week, but to be fair, I don’t feel like I missed out.

“They weren’t my rides – they were Derek’s and I just felt privileged that they [Lucinda Russell and Peter Scudamore] asked me to ride them, because they’re lovely horses. They deserve all the credit.”

The conversation soon switches to life outside racing and what Hughes does with his time when he’s not on a racecourse. His wife Lucy has started a yard at their home for injured horses and those on a break, prompting questions as to whether a future training career could be a possibility for Hughes.

He continues: “Luckily, we have plenty to do when there’s no racing on. I’ve got two children and we’ve also got a yard now, so it keeps us entertained when I have nothing to do – whether I want it or I don’t want it!

“My wife has set up a yard just to look after horses that are injured or are on breaks. It’s mainly for Donald and Kevin Ryan, but we have a few other clients as well. Lucy runs it but I help out – I do as little as I can to be honest!

“Training is absolutely not the idea at all behind the yard. My wife was a school teacher and she was getting fed up with that, so this is her gig. There will never ever be a ‘Brian Hughes racehorse trainer’ – it’s a one million per cent chance, as I don’t fancy that!”

FEATURE BRIAN HUGHES thejockeyclub.co.uk 33
“I want to ride winners and I go where I’m required to go – that’s my job”


Visit us at the only Cheltenham Racecourse bar with trackside viewing. Discover the extraordinary tastes of our exclusive “Gold Cup” range of lagers and IPAs, brewed locally at the heart of Gloucester Docks.


It takes a truly special horse to become written into Jump racing folklore, but owner David Mann hopes his pride and joy can do exactly that this season by completing his amazing journey with victory in the 2024 Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup. Graham Clark caught up with him…

Having enjoyed what he has described as an ‘unreal’ campaign last season with the Patrick Neville-trained seven-year-old, the Irish-based hotelier is now looking forward to what he hopes will be another exciting term with the progressive gelding, who he part owns. In a sport which thrives on the underdog succeeding,

the Mahler gelding produced one of the true David v Goliath moments at the Cheltenham Festival in March when tenaciously making all to secure victory in the Grade one Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase under Sam Twiston-Davies.

And with The Real Whacker now beginning this season as a legitimate contender for Jump racing’s

FEATURE DAVID MANN thejockeyclub.co.uk 35

most sought after prize, the former chef is now dreaming of what could be another rollercoaster ride over the next seven months.

Mann said: “Last season was unreal. To think we had a runner in the Brown Advisory was great, but the fact we won it was something else.

“You think of the horses that have won the Gold Cup over the past 15 to 20 years, and even beyond that, and they have become horses of folklore. They are horses people remember for the rest of their lives, and to think a horse like The Real Whacker could go into that bracket is great. If he comes back to what he did last year, he will put it up to anyone.

“The plan is to challenge for the Gold Cup if we can but I’m assuming along the road Paddy will give him

two or three runs. Paddy will pick those races, but if you look at his record – Cheltenham is his racecourse.”

Although Mann, who has been involved with racehorse ownership for around 20 years, is now proud to be associated with The Real Whacker, he admits he did have reservations before parting with his cash to secure a piece of him.

He added: “I’ve been involved with owning racehorses for about 20 years. The first time I was involved in a horse was with Eric McNamara for one called Skullduggery and he was my first winner under Rules 28 years ago.

“I’ve had winners on the track with Eric McNamara, Michael Hourigan and Charles Byrnes in syndicates. I had some with Paddy that had no luck, then all of

“The horses that have won the Gold Cup over the past 15 to 20 years have become horses of folklore”
thejockeyclub.co.uk 37

a sudden The Real Whacker came along. Paddy approached me and said will you buy a share in him, as I was buying him for a client but he had let me down. I thought, here we go again!

“Paddy said to me I have this lad and he is something special, but I said Paddy every time a trainer comes to me and says they have something special it never works out. I said okay I’ll buy into it, and it has just turned out to be something else.”

Having started his season in inauspicious fashion when finishing down the field at Cheltenham in October, on his return to action The Real Whacker was swiftly switched to fences, over which he made a winning debut at the course’s November Meeting.

From there it was on to the Grade Two Paddy Power Novices’ Chase back at the track on New Year’s Day, a race that will always stick out in the mind of Mann following the response he received from runner-up in the race Monmiral’s famous partowner Sir Alex Ferguson.

Mann said: “I was the only one in the parade ring on

our behalf on New Year’s Day and I only flew over that morning, but I remember standing not far from Sir Alex Ferguson.

“I remember looking at the television cameras running over to Paul Nicholls and Sir Alex Ferguson before the race and there was this lad decked out in red they didn’t see. I didn’t start shouting until two fences from home and again I was waiting for something to take him on.

“He won by several lengths that day and I started shouting like a lunatic in the parade ring and the cameras come up towards me.

“I could see Sir Alex think who the hell is that fella, but fair play to him about an hour-and-a-half later he did come and shake my hand in the owners and trainers bar.”

For as much pleasure Mann enjoyed on New Year’s Day, it was The Real Whacker’s victory at the Festival in March that meant the most. At first glance he thought he had been denied but it is now a victory he hopes will act as a catalyst to more Grade One glory.


Mann continued: “I was sitting up in the bar about an hour-and-a-half before the race and then the nerves really set in. People were coming up to me saying are you okay and I said I was fine. I was just taking in the fact that I had a runner in one of the biggest races at Cheltenham Festival.

“We were confident we had the horse as good as he could be at that particular time. Everything went to plan, but to win it the way we did was unreal.

“When he beat off Bronn coming up the hill I thought we could get this, then I could see Gerri Colombe coming up like a train and I thought we are going to get caught here.

“There was a good group of us there and they were all shouting, and I was so quiet and I said, ‘Oh my God

we have been caught’. “I thought we had been pipped on the line, as you couldn’t really see. Then Matt Chapman ran over and he said Davey you have got it, I’m telling you. I was breathless and I thought is this really happening?

“I’ve been going to Cheltenham well in excess of 20 years and I remember one time looking down into the parade ring thinking wouldn’t it be really good to know someone who has a runner so you might have the chance of getting in there. To have three wins there in 12 months is unbelievable.

“If he comes back in the form he was in last season, and everything goes right with him, he will be a force to be reckoned with. It has been the thing of dreams and hopefully it will continue to be.”

thejockeyclub.co.uk 39 FEATURE DAVID MANN
“If he comes back in the form he was in last season, he will be a force to be reckoned with”


Sometimes, the best decisions can be made on the spur of the moment, and for amateur rider and trainer Bradley Gibbs, the late call to enter Premier Magic in the St James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase will go down as arguably the greatest of his career, as he told Graham Clark

Written off as a 66-1 chance by the bookmakers after failing to complete the amateur riders’ equivalent of the Cheltenham Gold Cup 12 months earlier, the tenyear-old gelding ensured Gibbs’ dream turned into reality in the historic event back at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. However, while Gibbs can proudly tell the tale of how he added his name to the roster of those to triumph in the extended three-and-a-quartermile test, the sight of Premier Magic bounding up the famous Cheltenham hill nearly never materialised. He says: “It was unbelievable to win the race every amateur wants to win. I ran him the year before and expected a big run out of him. I couldn’t see him being out of the first five. I went down the inside and it got tight and he just backed out of it.

“I had another horse going there and she didn’t make it as she had a fall the race before. I said to Claire [Sheriff, partner] I would never take Premier Magic back there as it was such a disappointment with him last year.

“A couple of days before the entries shut, I said we’ve got nothing for it, so I’m going to put him in and we will


just see how he goes. I decided to ride him on the outside, and thankfully, everything came together perfectly.”

With his fate sealed early on in the 2022 renewal of the race, in which Gibbs would eventually pull Premier Magic up after the 11th fence, the 29-year-old felt he knew what his destiny was going to be less than a mile into this year’s race.

He says: “Once I jumped the first four fences, I knew if he was good enough he was going to win. He just jumped and travelled, and he never normally travels in his races. He had cheekpieces on for the first time and they just helped him along a little bit. I was praying after the last that nothing came and nabbed me on the line. There was a real sense of relief after we crossed the line. The walk back in was unbelievable and there is no other place like Cheltenham. Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls had runners in the race and to beat those boys is something else. I think a result like this definitely gives hope to others like me.”

Winning one race at any Cheltenham in a calendar year is always a special moment. However, there was more to come for Gibbs less than two months later, with Premier Magic showing his class once again in the Ineos Grenadier Mixed Open Hunters’ Chase back at the track on Hunter Chase Evening in May.

Gibbs adds: “I’ve been quite lucky at Cheltenham as I’ve had a few winners there. Premier Magic was very good

when he went back to Cheltenham in May on the Hunter Chase Evening.

“I had sent him out to Ireland and he was meant to run at Punchestown, but unfortunately, he didn’t get the chance to run. He had been out in Ireland and he only came back to me a week before, so fair play to him doing all that travelling and coming back to win like that.”

Horses have formed a big part of Gibbs’ life. However, although enjoying considerable success back in his native Wales, he points to making the move to his current base in Hertfordshire three years ago as helping to take his career to the next level.

Gibbs says: “I always had ponies at home and then I started showjumping and pony racing, and from that I went on to point-to-pointing, as dad always trained a few point-to-pointers. We had good results in Wales, but a lot of the recent results are due to the horses we have now at our new place.

“Claire’s plan was always to move back home and it was three years ago that we moved to her dad’s farm. It

was a big decision, but we are lucky up here as we have 360 acres of land.

“With the yard in Wales we wouldn’t be able to get any more stables built, but here we have more room to expand. We had 31 in last year, which is a bit of jump on five or six. We would like to have a, say, 40 or 50 under our belt and we are just getting planning permission in for another barn, which will hopefully help us move to the next level.”

While all routes will lead back to Cheltenham in March for Premier Magic, sooner rather than later, Gibbs will turn his attention solely to training.

He adds: “Premier Magic is likely to have two runs and then it will be all systems go to Cheltenham again. I will keep training, but I’m not sure how many years I will keep riding for.

“I’ve been with Claire for nine years and we have a little boy called Hadley, who is one. Hopefully, he will follow in the family business when he is older, but I think he is a bit big at the moment to be a rider, so hopefully, he won’t grow too much more!”

FEATURE BRADLEY GIBBS thejockeyclub.co.uk 41
“Once I jumped the first four fences, I knew he was going to win”


With 100 Cheltenham Festival winners now in sight, Willie Mullins chats to Nick Seddon about his success over the years at Prestbury Park…

It has been another year to savour for Willie Mullins, on both sides of the Irish Sea. Fresh from sealing the 4,000th winner of his career in January, Mullins once again stole the show at the Cheltenham Festival, with six winners that included both the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. It almost

feels too much of a cliché to say that we have run out of superlatives when it comes to describing Mullins at the Cheltenham Festival, though in his case it’s quite possible that we have, seeing as we would require precisely 94 of them to be able to do him justice.

Plenty have made their mark on the Cotswolds over the years, but very few will be able to match the

FEATURE WILLIE MULLINS thejockeyclub.co.uk 43

legacy of Mullins, who is just six winners away from hitting a century of winners at Jump racing’s most prestigious meeting. It’s a tally he has achieved in each of the last four years and we’re at this point thanks to another vintage year for the master of Closutton, who matched quantity with quality – in abundance. Five of Mullins’ six winners in 2023 came at Grade One level, with two of those coming in the biggest contest of them all, with Energumene and Galopin Des Champs in the ‘Championship’ races.

It’s about as far away from the Cheltenham Festival as you can get when Mullins is asked to reflect on his latest achievements – on a particularly wet Friday when the July Festival is taking centre stage at Newmarket – but as he begins to reflect, the memories quickly begin to come back.

He says: “I think we were delighted with the quality of winners – to win the type of races that we did was fantastic. To get just one winner is tough enough so to win races of that quality in one season is great.

“You’re never guaranteed winners. You’ve got to go there and fight, as every inch of ground is fought for –you forget how difficult it is to win at the Cheltenham Festival until you see them lining up for the Supreme

Novices’ Hurdle and they’re coming past the stands. The pace, the speed and the aggression of the riders on the horses is such that when you do win one, it makes you appreciate just how hard it is to win.”

It quickly becomes apparent that every victory at Cheltenham means a great deal to Mullins, and while it isn’t really in his nature to indulge in his achievements, he makes an exception when it comes to Galopin Des Champs.

A final fence faller when having the race at his mercy in the previous year’s Turners Novices’ Chase, it certainly felt as though the seven-year-old had something to prove on his step up into racing’s Blue Riband – and Mullins admits that he was feeling the pressure heading into the big day.

He says: “It was a special moment and the way the horse did it and how Paul [Townend] rode him, I thought it was a great performance from both of them. The horse had been so unlucky the year before and he came back and proved what he had shown then.

“A lot of people probably doubted his stamina, but with the way the race was set up, there was no hiding place for him. It was run at a serious pace and

“Five of Mullins’ six winners in 2023 came at Grade One level, with two coming in the biggest contest of all”
Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh after Hurricane Fly wins the Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins with Quevega, after she won for the fifth time at the Cheltenham Festival
thejockeyclub.co.uk 45
46 Kalendar
“Mullins is a man who is always looking forward, so it is perhaps fitting that four of his six winners last term came from the novices”

he answered every call that Paul asked of him. It’s very easy to say things in the autumn, but when the spring comes, you’re prime for looking a fool when he doesn’t actually stay and people were doubting him. Thankfully, he answered every call, but we did feel the pressure and it was a huge relief.”

Mullins is a man who is always looking forward, so it is perhaps fitting that four of his six winners last term came from the novices.

Having the likes of El Fabiolo and Impaire Et Passe at his disposal means that it’s surely only a matter of time before Closutton hits that milestone of three figures – though Mullins reveals that it is a milestone he is happy for others to keep track of for him.

He says: “It’s something that people will be keeping tabs on, but we go there just hoping to get one winner on the board on the first day. It’s fantastic when we can do that. Then anything else is a bonus.

“Numbers like that are not something we’ve ever thought about, because I don’t think anyone ever considers them. When we started out, numbers like that weren’t achievable, but the present day is a different scenario to 25 or 30 years ago. You’ve got the extra day now, which has helped, while yards are much bigger than they were when we started out.

“I’m sure people will catch up. That’s the thing about statistics – they’re always broken. Every sport is always moving forwards – so I’m sure that even if we hit the century, someone will beat us!”

He may be closing in on a century of winners, but it has very much been a slow build to the top for Mullins, whose tally of Festival winners stood at just 21 at the end of the 2010 Festival. It means he has racked up a scarcely believable 73 winners since then, but when asked whether he could pinpoint a precise moment when things took off, Mullins instead attributes his success to a whole host of factors.

“There were things like Faugheen and Hurricane Fly coming along and people like Rich Ricci and Joe and Marie Donnelly joining the yard. They were all milestones in terms of how the yard improved,” he explains.

“Every year we’d make improvements to things like the gallops that you hope are going to bring the whole operation forwards. Most of those things worked, so it has been very much a slow process.

“There are lots of different things, which go all the way back to the beginning. If you look at Tourist Attraction, he showed that we could have a winner at Cheltenham, while Florida Pearl showed that Tourist Attraction wasn’t a fluke!

“We just keep trying to do the same thing every year with a little bit of improvement. At the end of each season, we sit down and try to look at what we did right and what we did wrong and go from there.”

One moment Mullins does highlight is the emergence of the legendary mare Quevega, with whom he won the Mares’ Hurdle a record six times in a row from 2009 to 2014. The art of preparing a horse for The Festival is something Mullins would master with the mare, and it would ultimately lead to him cracking the ultimate formula – sealing back-to-back Cheltenham Gold Cup victories with Al Boum Photo in 2019 and 2020.

He says: “Quevega was fantastic, and of course, going back every year with her gave us the confidence that we could prepare one for Cheltenham, as we just kept her for that.

“We wouldn’t have had too many winners at the Festival when she won it the first time and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, we can win this again next year,’ and we did and she just kept doing it.

“If you ask any owner if they could have just one win the whole year, the answer will always be going to Cheltenham and that’s what we did.

“Having a horse like that and preparing her just gives the whole yard confidence that we can do it, so in that sense just having Quevega was huge for us.”

thejockeyclub.co.uk 47 FEATURE WILLIE MULLINS
Florida Pearl returning to the winners enclosure under Richard Dunwoody after winning the 1998 Royal & Sunalliance Chase


We look back at the highlights of the last Cheltenham Festival in anticipation of what thrills the next will hold


The wait can feel like a lifetime, but once it has arrived, the Cheltenham Festival certainly doesn’t mess around. With no fewer than four Grade One contests on the opening seven-race card, it’s straight to business on Champion Day…

There are few sporting events that can rival the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival, and there are some racing fans who will admit that the anticipation begins the second the gates close on Gold Cup Day the year before.

With such excitement comes great pressure, though it is safe to say that Champion Day does not disappoint.

Four of the first five races on the card are top-level contests, beginning with the Grade One Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over two miles.

It is a tradition for the curtain-raiser to be met with a ‘Cheltenham roar’ from the 60,000-plus racegoers in attendance, a goosebump moment that’s a fitting way to usher in the first act of horseracing’s greatest play.

Staged over the exact same trip as the Unibet Champion Hurdle, the Supreme is a high-octane test for the novices that often produces a thrilling finish. It has an impressive roll of honour, too, with future stars such as Altior, Douvan and a certain Constitution Hill all coming out on top in recent years. We will touch on the last-named shortly, but last season proved to be

FEATURE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL thejockeyclub.co.uk 49
50 Kalendar

a marquee moment for jockey Michael O’Sullivan, who took Grade One glory in the opener with the Barry Connelltrained Marine Nationale, on what was his second-ever ride at the meeting.

That three-and-a-quarter length success certainly gave a resounding hint that Marine Nationale could be a star of the future, with Connell hinting that his charge could be back for the Arkle in 2024 – another prestigious Tuesday contest.

Things would get even better for O’Sullivan, too, who would complete a double on the card with Jazzy Matty in the penultimate Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

As for Constitution Hill, he returned to the stage tasked with proving that the Supreme is a key pointer for Tuesday’s feature – the Grade One Unibet Champion Hurdle – and he would do so in a style that only a select few have been able to match.

Run over two miles, the race is the ultimate test of speed, and to scan down the Champion Hurdle’s roll of honour is to familiarise yourself with a who’s who of some of the greatest racehorses ever to have graced the hallowed Cheltenham turf. Hardy Eustace, Hurricane Fly, See You Then, Sea Pigeon, Hatton’s Grace, Night Nurse, Monksfield – the list is endless.

A 22-length rout in the 2022 Supreme certainly suggested that it was only a matter of time before Constitution Hill would join that list, but such style would need substance for him to become a great, something that Nicky Henderson’s charge wasted little time in providing last term.

The opposition included an Irish Champion Hurdle winner in State Man, as well as the previous year’s JCB Triumph Hurdle winner in Vauban, but as he did in both the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park earlier in the campaign, Constitution Hill burst into overdrive for a stunning nine-length success.

If there were one man you would trust to encapsulate the moment, it is trainer Nicky Henderson, whose emotions shone through in the aftermath. He said: “I’ve watery eyes and I always will have, but that would bring a tear to most eyes when you see a horse like that. There is a brilliant team behind him and they have done fantastic.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking there was little room for more drama on Champion Day, but enter the legendary Honeysuckle, on the final start of her majestic career in the Grade One Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

A three-time Cheltenham Festival winner – including two wins in the Unibet Champion Hurdle – there are few that can match the record of Honeysuckle, and in a year fraught with devastation for the family of trainer Henry de Bromhead after the tragic loss of his son Jack, the mare had seamlessly taken on the burden of providing some comfort.

Known for her trademark guts and fighting spirit, this would prove to be one of her toughest battles up the Cheltenham hill, but she fought gallantly to thwart the attentions of Love Envoi and provide one of the most thrilling finishes of the week.

Honeysuckle was met with a reception seldom seen at Prestbury Park, a fitting send-off for a Festival legend and a powerful end to an enthralling opening day.

thejockeyclub.co.uk 51 FEATURE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL
“You’d be forgiven for thinking there was little room for more drama, but enter the legendary Honeysuckle”



With the scene now set by a frenetic opening day, you might imagine that Festival Wednesday may present an opportunity to catch your breath. Instead, the speed goes up a notch…

If we were to liken the Cheltenham Festival to a music event, there would be some artists who would struggle with the pressure of following the extraordinary action that Champion Day brings. But with the scene now set, Festival Wednesday takes a completely different role, by delivering sensational sport – at speed. That is brought first and foremost by the feature, the Grade One Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, which builds on the pace of the Champion Hurdle the previous day by offering a speed test like no other.

Staged over two miles, the Champion Chase needs a perfect balance of speed, alongside an ability to be inchperfect over each of the 13 fences on Cheltenham’s Old Course, if you are to be successful.

Add in the fact that each of those obstacles are taken at pace and you have a checklist that few other

sporting events can match, meaning that only a select few have a formula to solve the puzzle.

As such, the Champion Chase has a knack for producing a superstar, and multiple winners of the race this century have included Jumps racing legends such as Altior, Sprinter Sacre, Master Minded, Moscow Flyer and Viking Flagship.

A stunning ten-length victory in last season’s race means that we can now add the name of Energumene to that list, with Willie Mullins’ charge overcoming one of the strongest fields for years to cement his name as the star of the two-mile chasing division.

Grade One winners Edwardstone, Editeur Du Gite and Greaneteen all stood in his way – as did multiple Grade Two winners Nube Negra and Funambule Sivola, to boot – but none could lay a glove on Energumene, who overturned defeat on Festival

Trials Day against the first-named pair in some style.

That victory saw Energumene become the 13th dual winner of the race, and the winning jockey Paul Townend pulled few punches about the manner of his success in the aftermath.

He said: “That was easy, to be honest. I got in a lovely rhythm on him, and after the first two fences, he was taking them on, he was quick at them and it was simple – it was just a matter of keeping him in a rhythm after that.”

Energumene will have the chance to become just the second horse after the legendary Badsworth Boy (in 1983, 1984 and 1985) to win this race three times should be return next year, but there is the small matter of seeing off stablemate and graduating novice El Fabiolo – a ruthless winner of Tuesday’s Grade One Arkle Trophy.

Another novice from last year to keep an eye on this time around is The Real

“Energumene cemented his name as the star of the two-mile chasing division”
thejockeyclub.co.uk 53


Whacker, who showed a combination of class and guts to prevail in the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase over an extended three miles. It may be run on the old course rather than the new, but the Brown Advisory is a key pointer for the biggest race of them all, the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.

It’s a route that Looks Like Trouble, Denman, and most recently, Lord Windermere have all taken to the biggest prize of them all, and considering the manner of the runnerup Gerri Colombe’s success in a Grade One at Aintree the following month,

everything suggests Patrick Neville has a serious contender on his hands.

Meanwhile, Festival Wednesday is also the scene of The Festival’s most unique contest, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase over three-and-threequarter miles. With obstacles that you wouldn’t see in a conventional chase, the race provides a unique test, which plenty use as a warm-up for the following month’s Randox Grand National at Aintree.

It is a race that became synonymous with the dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll – who won this in 2018, 2019 and 2021 – and since his retirement, another

Gigginstown horse has stepped into that void.

Delta Work denied his famous stablemate the ultimate farewell, when defeating him by three quarters of a length in 2022, but if he was the pantomime villain that year, he redeemed himself this time, showing all heart to defeat a top-class opponent in Galvin.

Should he return next year, Delta Work will have the chance to emulate Tiger Roll and become just the second three-time winner of this race, setting the scene for not one, but potentially two, hat-trick bids in 2024.

54 Kalendar
“Delta Work showed all heart
defeat a top-class opponent in Galvin”


St Patrick’s Thursday gives us the opportunity to celebrate our friends from the Emerald Isle, while watching some top-class sport…

It may be that the headline act is still 24 hours away, but there are plenty of racegoers for whom St Patrick’s Thursday is their favourite day.

An Irish winner is always greeted with roars of approval for those who have travelled across the Irish Sea, but it can certainly be said that any who triumph on the Thursday are met with extra cheers as they make their way into the

winners’ enclosure – usually from those with a Guinness in hand.

The Thursday card is unique as the only one across the four days to feature two ‘Championship’ races on the lineup – the Ryanair Chase and the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle – two Grade One contests that are held back-to-back. With a stellar supporting card to boot, Day Three boasts action of relentless

high quality and it can be said that this is the day champions are made.

Last year’s renewal of the Grade One Ryanair Chase certainly lost some of its spark due to the absence of the Willie Mullins-trained Allaho, who had lit up back-to-back renewals of the race in the colours of Cheveley Park Stud.

Victories by 12 lengths in 2021 and 14 lengths in 2022, respectively, would be

thejockeyclub.co.uk 55 FEATURE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL

hard to emulate, and the Thompson Family instead relied on the Henry de Bromhead-trained Envoi Allen. He arrived as a dual Festival winner in his own right, having won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper in 2019 and the Ballymore Hurdle in 2020.

Things hadn’t always gone to plan since for Envoi Allen, struggling in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park over Christmas, but he roared back to his very best here for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, showing the perfect combination of style and grit for a two-and-threequarter-length success.

It was an emotional moment for trainer Henry de Bromhead, who picked up Grade One honours on the day his late son Jack was honoured in the Grade Two Jack De Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle by sponsor Ryanair.

He said: “It is brilliant for the Thompsons and I’m delighted for them as they are great supporters of ours and the industry. I said to Richard [Thompson] that he was as good as he was before going to Kempton.

“I was hoping he would put his best foot forward and he duly did. Whatever we are doing now seems to be working, which is great.

“The amount of people that have travelled over for Jack’s race is great and what Michael O’Leary and Ryanair have done for us is incredible. Everyone has looked after us so well.”

Co-headlining the card is the Grade One Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, a race that requires an equal mix of grit and class if you are to prevail. Before last season’s race, every single winner of the race this century had been between the ages of six and nine, but this would be the year of the veteran.

Enter the Gordon Elliott-trained Sire Du Berlais, a dual winner of the Pertemps Final in 2019 and 2020, who plenty felt had left his best days firmly behind him on his 29th career start.

However, like many of us, the 11-yearold seems to come alive at the Home of Jump Racing, and having kept pace with the leaders coming into the home straight, he showed courage by the

bucket-load to fly up the hill and prove that age is just a number.

And a delighted Elliott admitted in the aftermath that he certainly wasn’t expecting the performance from his unconsidered 33-1 outsider.

He said: “Of course, it is a surprise, but Sire Du Berlais can do that; he’s either first or last, but he’s well able. In fairness to him, he’s very tough.

“Mark [Walsh] gave him a brilliant ride. It’s great to win the race – we

were short-headed in a Grade One yesterday, so it’s great to win.

“We couldn’t get him qualified for the Pertemps Final, but it worked out! I didn’t even think about winning this with him – I thought I was going to win it with the other horse [Teahupoo]!”

Sire Du Berlais would go on to follow up that performance with victory in the Grade One Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree the following month, so who knows, he may be back for more next year.

56 Kalendar
“The Grade One Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle requires grit and class”


After three days of spectacular sport, the curtain comes down on the Cheltenham Festival for another year with the most special race of them all, the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup…

There is no doubt that each day of the Cheltenham Festival is special, though there can also be no doubt that one day stands apart from the rest. After three days of enthralling sport, the stage is set, and it is on Gold Cup Day that the Grade One Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup takes over.

The pinnacle of the Jump season, the blue riband race brings the best of the best together for a spectacle that provides one of the toughest tests that a racehorse can face. Run over an extended three-and-a-quarter miles, the Gold Cup requires a perfect mix of stamina and pace, a formula that very few thoroughbreds can master.

You will hear analysts use the term ‘Championship pace’, a phrase that brings to life the idea that would-be staying chasers have to add substance to their stamina if they are to write their name into the history books.

Victory here certainly writes your name into racing folklore and to look at the roll of honour for the Gold Cup is to glance at a who’s who of the racing world, with some legends of the turf winning here over the years. Indeed,

Gold Cup heroes Best Mate, Kauto Star and Denman have all become household names since winning the race this century, showing that the race has the power to enter the wider public conscience like few others.

Adding his name to the roll of honour in 2023 was the spectacular Galopin Des Champs, whose sevenlength defeat of the King George VI

Chase hero, Bravemansgame, was a performance of the highest quality.

It certainly provided a moment of redemption for Galopin Des Champs, whose last visit to Cheltenham had ended in agony. A stunning victory in the 2021 renewal of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle had marked him out as a star of the future, though that would all go wrong

thejockeyclub.co.uk 57 FEATURE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL

in the following year’s Turners Novices’ Chase.

It looked as though he would be adding Grade One glory to his CV approaching the last fence – with his main rival Bob Olinger well held – only for the landing gear to stutter at the very last moment.

To Mullins’ credit, he never wavered in his faith in Galopin Des Champs, but to elect a horse as your main Gold Cup hope comes with great pressure. As such, the sense of relief was palpable from Mullins – showing that there can even be pressure for a man who had just sealed a record-extending 94th Cheltenham Festival winner!

He said: “I didn’t realise what pressure I was under. I’m absolutely delighted for Audrey and Greg Turley

and for Paul [Townend], who was under huge pressure too, but he gave him a peach of a ride. He had the confidence to drop him in and come through.

“It just worked out. We thought that it was going to be a true test, as everyone was questioning his stamina.

“We elected him as our Gold Cup horse, whereas Al Boum Photo just sort of happened. With this fellow, we thought he was good enough and that puts you under pressure until the actual day when it has happened.

Following the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup is the St James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase. The race is known as the ‘Gold Cup for amateur riders, given it is run over the exact same distance as the feature and channels a traditional Corinthian

spirit, which very few other sports can replicate. Thrilling action is a given and this is not one to be missed.

Meanwhile, the day begins with the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle, which has become known as a factory for stars of the future. Indeed, previous winners of the race have included the likes of Zakandar in 2011, Defi du Seuil in 2017 and even a future Randox Grand National winner in Tiger Roll in 2014.

Last but not least, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle is tasked with bringing the curtain down on the Cheltenham Festival. The final runner passing the winning post will signal the end of the meeting, but also the beginning of the countdown to the next.

“The Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle has become known as a factory for stars of the future”
thejockeyclub.co.uk 59


An exclusive and an unparalleled experience at the Cheltenham Festival

It is no secret that the Cheltenham Festival guarantees high-octane excitement as the very best of Jump racing’s athletes, human and equine go head-to-head to etch their name in history. But is The Orchard, launched in 2019, still a secret to some? If it is, you have no idea what you are missing; if it isn’t, get ready for The Orchard 2024, as it’s going to be more magnificent than ever.

When you step into The Orchard, it feels a bit different; you are still in the thrilling buzz of the Cheltenham Festival, but suddenly you are immersed in a paradise of luxury and exclusive brands, and it feels not only opulent but special too. The vibe is fun, the fashion is fabulous, the bars are beautiful, and this area is ready and waiting for racegoers to make it their own from the moment the gates open.

Situated in the heart of The Village, you are never very far from horse racing’s greatest stage,

but let’s take a trip through The Orchard to see what this oasis of luxury has to offer.

The resident DJ sets the party tone and lights up the area between races. 2023 saw the DJ spin the decks from a luxurious Sunseeker yacht; not only was this a fantastic spectacle, but it generated a new dimension of cool to this hub of exceptional entertainment.

In a nation obsessed with taking pictures, the photo opportunities in The Orchard are endless – pose against the backdrop of one the gorgeous brands, or at one of the eyecatching Orchard photo walls, which could result in a Bentley car or helicopter peering through the wall, probably making it the worthiest Instagram image of your day.

The Orchard Food and Drink Hall is housed in a stunning Orangery, offering a variety of fabulous food. The only walk-in restaurant at the Cheltenham Festival makes it the perfect

60 Kalendar

meeting place with friends for refreshments and a recharge between races and a wonderful way to start your day, whether you are in hospitality or soaking up the atmosphere around the course.

Without doubt it is the brands that make The Orchard so special, they are iconic, aspirational, and exclusive. You don’t have to be a magpie for Boodles to catch the eye and upon entering prepare to be dazzled by the amazing British craftsmanship of arguably the finest jewellery in the world.

From the finest jewellery to the finest motors in the world, the iconic brand Bentley is another exclusive and aspirational brand in The Orchard and racegoers love the opportunity to get close to the stunning display of vehicles. Swapping the road for the water, Sunseeker is the ultimate way to experience and enjoy the sea and you can find out about how to become part of their lifestyle and family in The Orchard.

English sparkling wine Nyetimber is served from a vintage Routemaster bus and people sit within a beautiful picket-fenced garden, which is very pleasing to the eye, especially when the early spring sunshine makes an appearance. It is the perfect retreat for a cold drink between the exhilaration of the races.

The Glenfarclas whiskey cocktails are legendary and the bar bustles with high energy and fun. It is likely that you might spot a few of racing’s celebrities soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying a refreshment in the Glenfarclas Cocktail Bar.

The Orchard is a little bit of London at the Cheltenham Festival, whether you are a diehard racing fan or you are ticking four days of extraordinary off your bucket list.

Pop in or stay all day – however you experience The Orchard, it is sure to be memorable.

FEATURE HOSPITALITY thejockeyclub.co.uk 61


With the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup celebrating its Centenary in 2024, the Managing Director of Boodles, Michael Wainwright, caught up with Ben Cox to talk about how the company plans to celebrate this special anniversary in true Boodles style…

The year 2024 marks the Centenary of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Grade One contest is the pinnacle of the Cheltenham Festival, being worth more than any other run during the four days and the richest non-handicap chase staged anywhere in Britain.

Luxury jewellers Boodles will be sponsoring the race for the third time next year and they are already planning to mark the Centenary in style.

Michael Wainwright, Managing Director of Boodles, said: “We will

be producing a range of jewellery in celebration of the Gold Cup’s Centenary, which is being finalised at the moment.

“We always have a party around 10 days before The Festival in Bond Street, which Ruby Walsh and Rachael Blackmore have previously attended, and I am sure that will be extra special next year in celebration of the Gold Cup’s Centenary.

“Bentley who have exhibited opposite us at Cheltenham for some years will be designing a ‘Boodles Bentley’ to mark

the occasion.

“We have shops around the country and what we are planning to do is take the Gold Cup trophy around them in the months and weeks leading up to the race and making it part of our window displays.

“I am very proud to have the Boodles name associated with the Gold Cup as it celebrates its Centenary and we look back on all its heritage and great winners. I love Jump racing and am fortunate to have a supportive board of family members who aren’t all necessarily in love with horseracing.

“It will be interesting to see how the Centenary Gold Cup will compare to a ‘normal’ Gold Cup. I hope it will get even more publicity.

“This will be our third year of sponsorship and we are immensely proud to be involved.”

Reflecting on the company’s first two years of sponsorship, which saw history made in 2022 when Rachael Blackmore become the first successful female jockey aboard A Plus Tard and a stunning victory for Galopin Des Champs last season, Wainwright is more than satisfied.

He continued: “The first two years


have given fantastic exposure for Boodles. Our brand colour is pink and against the green of the turf it really stands out, particularly when you see it on TV. Both people who are interested in horseracing and those that currently are not have really noticed it and that is why we are doing it.

“Sponsoring at Cheltenham is a great way to entertain our existing customers and we are also trying to turn the heads of people who don’t know us. I’ve become a great fan of sponsorship as it really is a fantastic opportunity for a company like ours to grow our brand – in many ways it is better than advertising. It is of course all gut feeling but I feel it really has helped put us on the map with people who didn’t know us.”

Wainwright also experienced joy as owner at the Home of Jump Racing in the 2022/23 as a member of The Footie Partnership, with Ga Law winning the

Paddy Power Gold Cup – the highlight of The November Meeting. Although he thinks the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup is probably out of reach, he is hoping to see the seven year old back at Cheltenham this season.

He concluded: “Ga Law was entered for the Gold Cup in 2023 and ended up running in the Ryanair Chase. He didn’t run badly in that when finishing fifth, beaten nine and a half lengths, but was then pulled-up in the Bowl at Aintree behind Shishkin on his final start of the season.

“We’ll see about this season - he’s probably not quite top-class but he won the Paddy Power last season which was great and gave us a day to remember.

“He was supposed to be running in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree in 2021 but got injured and then had to miss all of the following season. Our trainer Jamie Snowden said then we

should aim at the Paddy Power Gold Cup when he came back last season and it was great that such a long-haul plan all worked out so brilliantly. I’ve been in racing long enough to know that success is rare, so to win the Paddy Power was very special and a moment to savour.

“We’ll see what this year brings. He has only run twice at Cheltenham and won the Paddy Power and finished a good fifth in the Ryanair. He has good stamina and likes the hill.

“We could maybe look at going for the Paddy Power again but we could also look at stepping him up to three miles and could try and find him a race over three miles at Cheltenham in the first half of the season. He’s rated 154 now so would be lugging a fair bit of weight around. He is just in that place at the moment where he is below Grade One class but at the top of the handicap so we’ll see how he gets on.”

thejockeyclub.co.uk 63


Indulge in top-class sport on the course while enjoying world-class hospitality off it. From Cheltenham Festival to Race Night, our range of restaurants has an experience to suit everyone’s palate

Take in the spectacular views of Cleeve Hill from the iconic Panoramic Restaurant, making it the perfect backdrop for extraordinary cuisine and world-class racing.

Situated on the fifth level of the grandstand, overlooking the Winning Post, our premier restaurant provides the most stunning views over the racecourse. While seated at your table, you will enjoy grade-one cuisine, excellent table service, betting service, and of course, a spectacular view.



Four Eighty serves up the finest dishes to accompany the world’s finest racing. Executive Head Chef, Warren O’Connor, has created every dish using only the best seasonal ingredients that Gloucestershire has to offer. Think succulent smoked salmon, mouth-wateringly tender rack of lamb, and rich, indulgent Cheltenham pudding.

We’re passionate about championing local, sustainable food. That’s why we source most of our ingredients within 60 miles. It’s our inspiration behind Four Eighty.

The finery doesn’t stop with the food and the view. In honour of the new restaurant, Cheltenham has had special sustainable tableware made at its on-site carpentry. The wooden serving boards are inscribed with ‘I was made 200 metres away’ to accompany the baked Cotswold smoked brie. With unparalleled views of the finishing straight, and the sound of thundering hooves above the roar of the crowd, you can guarantee your time at Four Eighty will be unforgettable.

thejockeyclub.co.uk 65 FEATURE HOSPITALITY

Named after the three-time Cheltenham Festival winner, the Alberta’s Run Restaurant promises to be a crowd favourite. Guests will enjoy views of the horse walk and watch horses head out on to course and welcome back Champions from the private balcony overlooking the Parade Ring. Alberta’s Run will offer the best seats in the house


to view that famous amphitheatre, and soak up the incredible atmosphere that is unique to the Cheltenham Festival.

Package Includes:

• Morning coffee & biscuits

• 4 course set lunch menu

• Full afternoon tea

• Complimentary bar including

house wines, beers and soft drinks (excluding Champagne)

• Club admission ticket

• Car parking (1 per 2 people)

• Official racecard

• TV racing coverage

• Tote betting service

• Hospitality team to ensure the smooth running of your day

• Private tables



Located opposite the horse walk between the paddock and the course, the brand new facility offers the chance to watch the horses take to the stage as they approach the course, and for one of them, return victorious. Named after the Gold Cup’s centenary celebration in March 2024, this offering is not to be missed.


If you are looking for a private celebration or want to take clients to a day at the races, a private box is the perfect option for you and your guests. Each box overlooks the course with a private balcony, ensuring you get that perfect view of the horses coming up to the final furlong and racing past the Winning Post.


The world-renowned, Michelin-star chef Michel Roux Jr hosts Chez Roux across the four days of Cheltenham Festival. The restaurant has affirmed itself as one of the most prestigious restaurants across the Festival and is arguably the best seat in the house. The fine-dining experience gives guests the very best cuisine, with stunning dishes to savour – all while overlooking the most competitive Jump racing in the world.

Please note – Chex Roux, Horse and Groom, Four Eighty and Alberta’s Run are only available at Cheltenham Festival.

To find out more about all our hospitality options at The Festival and other racedays, visit thejockeyclub.co.uk/cheltenham/events-tickets/the-festival/dining-and-hospitality

thejockeyclub.co.uk 67 FEATURE HOSPITALITY


The Cheltenham Festival is pleased to welcome back for a second year Core on Course by three-Michelin-star chef Clare Smyth after its very successful first outing in 2023

The 2023 Cheltenham Festival saw the arrival of Core on Course, a luxury space in the heart of the hospitality village that overlooks the racing action. In its first year of occupancy, Core on Course was incredibly popular with existing and new hospitality clients who were eager to try Clare’s unrivalled British cuisine. As we look ahead to 2024, Core on Course is proving to be one of the

more popular bookings for existing customers, so don’t delay your purchase. Core on Course is the perfect hospitality destination for hosting clients, a celebration with family and friends or a wonderful spot to treat a loved one.

World-renowned and award-winning three-Michelin-star chef Clare Smyth brings to the Cheltenham Festival all the quality and innovation from Core by

68 Kalendar

Clare Smyth. Based in London, Core is an elegant fine-dining restaurant with an emphasis on natural, sustainable food, sourced from the UK’s most dedicated farmers and food producers. Clare creates beautifully crafted dishes, seeking out the best of British produce with a passion, to delight and share our love of delicious artisanal food.

Having grown up in Northern Ireland, Clare Smyth was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to the hospitality sector in 2013 and learnt her trade working under Gordon Ramsay for nearly 14 years as Chef Patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

Core by Clare Smyth was the first restaurant to enter The Good Food

Guide with a perfect ten score and in just three years was awarded three Michelin stars. She has received numerous awards, including the title of the World’s Best Female Chef by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and catered for the wedding reception of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Clare and her team will work hard to prepare a stunning six-course tasting menu, accompanied by a glass of Dom Pérignon on arrival and four wines personally chosen by Head Sommelier and Master of Wine, Gareth Ferreira, to accompany your ‘showplate’ menu.

Core on Course boasts the perfect combination of world-class hospitality meets world-class sporting action, as

the restaurant takes the pinnacle spot in Prestbury Park.

Ian Renton, The Jockey Club’s Managing Director West could not be happier with how Core on Course operated in its first year. He says:

“We were thrilled that Core on Course by Clare Smyth was so successful in its first year at the Cheltenham Festival. The restaurant offered racegoers an experience like no other and perfectly complemented the action on the track with an unrivalled level of hospitality at the Festival. We are excited to see how Core on Course has grown in its second year as we celebrate 100 years of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.”



• Dom Pérignon or Irish Cocktail reception

• Stunning six-course tasting menu

• Three wines to pair with your tasting experience

• Afternoon snacks & treats

• Premium beers, wines and soft drinks (excludes champagne & spirits)

• Full wine, champagnes and spirits list available to purchase on the day or in advance

• In person meeting with Clare Smyth

thejockeyclub.co.uk 69 FEATURE HOSPITALITY


Enjoy Cheltenham Festival in style with your travel, accommodation and hospitality catered for in one iconic package

The exclusive Room With a View package is brought to you by our official partner, Air Charter Service. Enjoy a seamless day of helicopter transfers, luxury accommodation and worldclass hospitality to truly elevate your Cheltenham Festival experience.


Drop your bags off at one of the carefully selected hotels before being escorted to a spacious twin-engine helicopter. Avoid the traffic and enjoy stunning views over the Cotswolds before landing at the Air Charter

Service Helipad, where a chauffeured luxury car awaits to take you to your chosen hospitality restaurant at Cheltenham Racecourse.

After an exciting day of racing, your chauffeur will drive you back to the Helipad where you will be whisked back to your luxury hotel by helicopter.



The Room with a View package offers a choice of luxury hotels providing the perfect rural retreats, with hundreds of acres of green pastures on their doorsteps, plus charm, character and service that is heartfelt and personal.


A popular choice for those seeking convenience and luxury, Foxhill Manor is a five-star private-house hotel in the Cotswolds that overlooks the quaint village of Broadway. A Grade II-listed country home revitalised for the 21st century, Foxhill provides a personal service to make you feel right at home.

Helicopter transfer time to the racecourse: 10 minutes


Set in sprawling National Trust grounds and just a 40-minute drive from central London, Cliveden House is a five-star hotel that needs to be experienced to be understood. The Grade I-listed stately home retains the grandeur of the past but introduces modern touches to create an atmosphere that instantly puts you at ease. With its award-winning restaurant, Cliveden captures the essence of British opulence in every way.

Helicopter transfer time to the racecourse: 30 minutes


Whether you’re looking to tuck into a rustic menu or sample a six-course meal curated by a three-Michelin-star chef, all 12 of our fine-dining hospitality options at Cheltenham Racecourse provide something for every palate.


There are very few chefs on the planet who have received three Michelin stars, but Clare Smyth MBE is one of them. She was the first and only British female chef to achieve that feat for her restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth. She

takes her culinary genius from Notting Hill to Cheltenham for The Festival to serve an incredible six-course tasting menu. This experience includes a Dom Pérignon Champagne or Irish Cocktail reception, three pairing wines, afternoon snacks and an appearance from Clare Smyth herself.


Two-Michelin-star and world-renowned chef Michel Roux Jr serves up a delicious fine-dining experience on the hospitality stand’s top floor. Guests are treated to a Moët Champagne reception before being presented with a carefully crafted four-course meal. The positioning of the restaurant’s

balcony means everyone gets a perfect view of the horses thundering over the last two fences on their way to the finish line.


A more relaxed but no less delicious affair, the Horse and Groom recreates all the comforts of your local at the Home of Jump Racing. Tuck into some breakfast bites in the morning, indulge in a hearty, three-course, pub-style meal at lunch and enjoy your favourite drinks from the complimentary bar throughout the day. To fuel the afternoon, the restaurant serves up afternoon tea along with a selection of British cheeses.

For more information or to discuss the best Room With a View options for you, please email roomwithaview@aircharterservice.com or call 07355 094323.

FEATURE HOSPITALITY thejockeyclub.co.uk 71
“Room with a View offers luxury hotels with charm and character”


Top tips on where to stay and how to get to the Home of Jump Racing

There is an abundance of accommodation options in Cheltenham town centre and there is no doubt the town is buzzing during the Cheltenham Festival, with fun, excitement and anticipation in the air. But that buzz is not restricted to Cheltenham town centre – have you considered staying slightly further afield?

Cheltenham Racecourse is situated in the heart of the Cotswolds, an enviable location for other sporting venues, and it means choosing accommodation beyond the perimeters of the town centre can provide the most fantastic options. From historic and opulent hotels and superb holiday cottages to quaint guest houses, there is certainly something to suit all


budgets and requirements. When you find somewhere you love, be prepared to rebook as you leave, because the Cheltenham Festival is an annual pilgrimage.

There is no shortage of Festival frenzy in the surrounding Cotswold towns and villages, as the Cheltenham Festival atmosphere sweeps through the whole area for miles. If you choose carefully the area you stay in, you may even find you are rubbing shoulders with racing celebrities in some of the local establishments. There is a plethora of trainers in the Cotswolds, including Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainers Jonjo O’Neill and Nigel Twiston-Davies, as well as other top trainers such as Fergal O’Brien and Martin Keighley, to name a few. So, you could just find yourself sitting on the next table to one of these Jump racing greats.

The Cotswolds is famed for its fantastic local produce and the restaurants and pubs in the area are among some of the best in the country. The range of options is vast, so you are sure to find a favourite or two. Several pubs in the Cotswold villages do a breakfast and bus package, which usually consists of a hearty breakfast followed by a lift to the greatest Jump racing event on earth. It is the perfect way to both start your day and travel to the races, joining in the bus banter with like-minded racing fans and debating which horses you think will join the star-studded roll call of Cheltenham Festival winners.

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire steam train departs from Toddington and arrives at the Cheltenham Racecourse station, meaning it is only a short walk to the entrance, as the station is located in the grounds of the racecourse. The journey will give you time to have a final glance over your selections for the day or just sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful

scenery on the way to the Home of Jump Racing.

Arriving by train couldn’t be easier. Cheltenham Spa has links from all over the country, including direct trains from London, Bristol and Birmingham. From the station, there is a dedicated bus service that will take you to and from the racecourse, providing a smooth and seamless journey.

Coach, taxi, minbus and limo hire are other options, with designated pickup and drop-off areas for all modes of transport. Ideal for travelling in a group, you can choose your own times, and start and end your day, your way.

Finally, why not truly arrive in style at the Cheltenham Festival? Travelling by helicopter is the ultimate way to get to four days of extraordinary Jump racing. During the Cheltenham Festival, the fully licensed, temporary ACS Helipad

becomes the biggest of its kind in the UK, receiving over 400 flights over the four days. There is no better way to arrive at the greatest four days of Jump racing during the year. Wherever you decide to stay and however you decide to travel, one thing is guaranteed – there is nothing quite like the Cheltenham Festival.

FEATURE TRAVEL thejockeyclub.co.uk 73
“There is no shortage of Festival frenzy in the surrounding Cotswold towns and villages”


Those involved in British racing – whether it be jockeys, trainers, owners, or wider employees – work tirelessly to deliver five-star care to enable racehorses to thrive as athletes, perform to the best of their abilities, and live a good life. Racing also has an independently chaired Horse Welfare Board, formed in 2019, to help focus collective efforts to drive forward innovation and progress across the sport.

It goes without saying that equine welfare is of the utmost importance to The Jockey Club. Our vision is for every thoroughbred racehorse in British horseracing to be always treated with compassion, respect, and care. A vital part of our strategy is ensuring equine welfare is at the centre of everything we do and that we set the standard for industry facilities. For so many, the chance to see these beautiful animals competing provides a wonderful spectacle, steeped in tradition and heritage.


Every single member of our team is committed to providing the absolute best in equine welfare. Our focus is to provide industry-leading facilities and

to continuously invest in equine welfare initiatives and improvements across both Cheltenham Racecourse and wider Jockey Club racecourses. This work is identified and managed by a panel of experts included vets, racehorse owners and Jockey Club employees.


On each raceday we have five specifically qualified equine vets led by Senior Veterinary Surgeon Liam

Kearns. They care for the horses from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. During each race, vets and medical staff follow the runners by car and can respond to and attend a horse or jockey immediately.

There are four specialist equine ambulances on course at all times and five ambulances for any incidents involving injuries to jockeys. The course has a set of ground-breaking fracture support kits that give immediate and

Respect for the horse is at the heart of British racing, with an industry promise and strategy to ensure every horse bred for racing will lead a life well lived

effective support to any horse with a limb injury, resulting in rapid relief from pain and anxiety and give the best chance for recovery and rehabilitation. And our permanent veterinary boxes have recently been refurbished to provide enhanced facilities for the treatment and assessment of any injuries.


As Britain’s second biggest spectator sport, horseracing makes an enormously valuable contribution to communities, generating £4.1 billion annually for the rural economy and providing jobs for more than 18,000 full-time employees. It is also the biggest single investor in equine veterinary research, science, and education, having provided more than £40m over the last 20 years via the Horserace Betting Levy Board and, more recently, the Racing Foundation. Investment that ultimately benefits the whole equestrian community, not just racing.

Racing also works with top-tier universities and collaborates with organisations across the world to access cutting-edge research and

thinking to continuously improve welfare and safety in the sport. In 2022, research carried out by Exeter University on equine vision resulted in all markers on hurdles and obstacles across all 40 of Britain’s jump courses being changed from orange to white to aid better visibility for the horses. Led by the Horse Welfare Board, this change is just one example of the sport’s ongoing efforts to continuously minimise risk on racecourses.

Horseracing in Britain is among the world’s best regulated animal activities and is governed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). In fact, among an equine population estimated to be around 1 million, racehorses in Britain are among the healthiest and best looked-after 2% of horses in the country. The 14,000 horses in training at any one time enjoy a level of care and a quality of life virtually unsurpassed by any other domesticated animal.

thejockeyclub.co.uk 75
“Our team is committed to providing the absolute best in equine welfare”


When Constitution Hill crossed the line in last season’s Unibet Champion Hurdle to cement his place as one of Jump racing’s modernday greats, it was a victory celebrated by many, but according to the man who knows him better than anyone, the best is still yet to come, as he tells Graham Clark

It is the dream of every groom involved in Jump racing to lead their pride and joy back into the hallowed winner’s enclosure following a championship race at the Cheltenham Festival. However, it is an experience only a select few will go on to enjoy throughout their career.

Since joining trainer Nicky Henderson just over four years ago, Jaydon Lee has received the pleasure in that time of not only looking after multiple Grade One winner Shishkin, but now the undoubted star of Jump racing that is Constitution Hill. The six-year-old is undefeated in all of his seven starts under Rules –with six of his victories coming at Grade One level.

And while March 14 2023 is a day that Lee, who 12 months earlier had celebrated Constitution Hill winning the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, insists he will never forget, as he was nearly denied his moment of a lifetime following a case of mistaken identity.

Lee says: “You just do anything in that moment. You shout, you punch the air. It is just pure emotion. I ran up the chute with him, although I got stopped by security halfway up, as they thought I was a racegoer, but I eventually went all the way up there.

“It was more special than when he won the Supreme, as since he has won that, the racing world has grown more towards him.

“I’ve never seen so many people taking so many photos. Walking down, you would have people reaching over, shaking your hand and saying, “Well done.” It was class and it is a day I will never forget, that is for sure.

“I’m as excited as anyone this season. Whatever way he does go, you know he is the horse you have got to look forward to. I don’t think we have seen the best of him yet. If there is a horse that can give him a race, he will just be even better. The better the opposition, the better he will be. I’ve never seen a horse like him before. To see what he does on the gallops every day, especially on work mornings, you just dream and want to see the full ability he has got, and I don’t think we have seen it yet.”

Receiving plenty of attention is nothing new to Lee following his journey with Shishkin. However, the

thejockeyclub.co.uk 77

21-year-old admits he was taken aback by the level of interest in Constitution Hill from his ever-increasing fan club at the 2023 Festival.

He adds: “When we got there to unload him in the morning, there were crowds that had gathered to see him unload. As soon as we got out, there were flashes from cameras everywhere. When you turn that corner to enter the paddock, you then realised all eyes were on him. The atmosphere and the occasion – then it hits you.

“Leading a horse around as good as him, you want your job to go well, as although everyone is not watching you, they are watching the horse. Until you let them go, you want it all to go smoothly. It is nervous excitement when you see, in this case, Nico [de Boinville] getting the leg up. When you let them go, your job is done, and in some ways, it is horrible, as it is then out of your control.

“Everyone has taken to him, and in some ways, as Michael Buckley [owner] has said, he almost doesn’t own the horse anymore – the racing world does.”

For any stable hand watching a race unfold, it brings with it a rollercoaster of emotions. However, for Lee, who hails from Leamington Spa, he insists that while

the nerves intensified close to the finish for much of the race, he was reasonably calm about what was being played out in front of him.

He adds: “I was fairly relaxed through the race, as with this horse you can do anything. Nico had him in a nice position early on and he jumped the first two nicely. He looked like he had it under control and he went through the race perfectly and he didn’t miss a hurdle.

“As the race went on, you could almost allow yourself to grow in confidence in what you were seeing. We had State Man hanging on our tail, but coming down the hill when Nico started going through the gears, you started to believe.

“When I saw him sprint from the bend, I was thinking just get over that last obstacle and with luck you will be fine. As soon as he landed over the other side, it was a relief.”

While the immediate aftermath at the track was a moment that Lee will treasure forever, the celebrations went above and beyond those at the track, such is the impact Constitution Hill has had on the sport.

Lee says: “I spent most of the time after the race going through the messages. After the race I had

“We had State Man hanging on our tail, but coming down the hill, you started to believe”

about 100 messages just from people saying well done. He didn’t know he had done a stroke, as he just takes it all in.

“When Constitution Hill got back to the yard, he had his feed and a roll and that was it for him and it was a case of good night.

“When we come back into Lambourn, we have to go past a pub called The George in the village and they were all standing out there cheering us on. That was lovely. We had a drink to celebrate it, but only a small one, as we had day two of the Festival to do. However, we celebrated properly at the end of the week.”

While excited about what the future holds for Constitution Hill, it is only fair that Lee’s other

equine celebrity, Shishkin, is given a mention after announcing himself as potential Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup contender, much to the delight of the ardent Chelsea FC fan.

He says: “Fingers crossed Shishkin can be a Gold Cup contender. I’ve said it many times before that I’m very lucky who I look after. He seems to have reinvented himself again as a three-miler. He looked good at Aintree winning the Bowl and we will just see what happens. I think he can be a Gold Cup horse this season. He did really well to outbattle Ahoy Senor at Aintree and the Gold Cup trip won’t be a bother so it is a case of keeping our fingers crossed.”

thejockeyclub.co.uk 79
“When Constitution Hill got back to the yard, he had his feed and a roll and that was it for him”


If you’ve enjoyed the excitement of the Cheltenham Festival, there are plenty of other chances to get your competition fix at the Home of Jump Racing


The Christmas Meeting offers not only spectacular racing, but also a fabulous Christmas Extravaganza. Last year’s meeting was cut short on account of the freezing temperatures, so to make up for it, this year it promises to be bigger and better than ever, with a brand-new Christmas-themed entertainment schedule.

It is the perfect way to begin the festive sporting season.

The racing agenda is made up of 13 races, with both Grade two and three action on Saturday’s card.

The Christmas Meeting signifies the start of the Christmas racing period, and while it is true that we start to talk about the next Cheltenham Festival at the end of the

previous one, this is when the gears go up a notch and the countdown to the Festival really starts.

With Christmas-themed family fun, including Santa’s Grotto, Christmas characters, carols, a Living Snow Globe and the unravelling of Cheltenham Festival clues, it is going to be a weekend to remember for children and adults alike.



Race Night, featuring Hunter Chase Racing, is party night at Cheltenham Racecourse and it is when the curtain closes on another season at the Home of Jump Racing.

Being the only evening fixture at Cheltenham Racecourse, with an allHunter Chase card, it naturally offers a different atmosphere to other meetings. It is a chance for the amateurs of our great sport to race and for the lucky ones to win on Cheltenham’s hallowed turf.

The big names of the point-to-point and Hunter Chase world were among last year’s winners. Premier Magic followed up on his win in the St James’s Place Cheltenham Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival for jockey/trainer Bradley Gibbs,

who is quickly making a name for himself.

The formidable husband and wife combination of Tom Ellis and Gina Andrews were also in the winner’s enclosure when Fairly Famous


The perfect tonic after the buzz and excitement of the Cheltenham Festival. Two days nestled in the middle of April, with top-quality racing, a relaxed atmosphere and spring sunshine, it’s a wonderful day out with family, friends or colleagues. The seven-race card on the opening day boasts Grade two action, and much like other meetings at Cheltenham, we welcomed participants from the other side of the Irish Sea last year.

The second day of the meeting is one for the girls, as the racing on the track is restricted to mares only. There are Grade two and Listed contests on the course and plenty happening off the course, too.

People may still be thinking about the Cheltenham Festival that’s just gone, as well as the one to come, but the April Meeting offers all the sport’s top protagonists, from Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls to Nico de Boinville and Harry Cobden. With relaxed entertainment, a superb atmosphere and the last chance to see the pros battling it out at the Home of Jump Racing for the season, it’s another unmissable day at Cheltenham Racecourse.

recorded his fifth win on the trot, the four previous ones on the point-to-point circuit.

The evening and Cheltenham season are closed by an afterparty with a famous DJ in The Centaur, making it an occasion you just cannot miss.

thejockeyclub.co.uk 81 FEATURE RACE MEETINGS


For many youngsters, breaking into the racing world can feel like an impossible task – however, the next generation of fans can now get involved with the sport through a series of unique experience days across the country

Over the summer holidays, children as young as seven were given the chance to get an in-depth look at the racing industry as part of a brandnew partnership between the largest commercial horseracing organisation in the UK, The Jockey Club, and one of the largest insurance brokerages, risk management and HR consultancy companies in the world, Gallaghers.

The aim of the partnership is to offer unrivalled experiences to young people from a broad range of backgrounds –some of whom may already be involved with the sport and others who may never have seen or touched a horse.

The first experience day of the summer took place at the National Stud in Newmarket, where there was a focus on young people in secondary education from the London area.

Teenagers in attendance were offered the chance to learn about racing to see if it could offer a career path for them. This event also united with another of the Jockey Club’s partners – the Rio Ferdinand Foundation.

Grace, who was there, said: “It was fantastic. We learnt all about horses – their anatomy, how they are groomed, how they grow up and how

they become racehorses. I didn’t know much about horses before, so it was definitely great to understand more about them and the creatives employed within the racing industry.

“I am not usually comfortable around animals, but to be there and feel so relaxed made it a great experience.”

On the day, guests were given a tour of the 500-acre estate, which provided an opportunity to see the stud’s stallions, including much-loved Stradivarius. There was also a tour of the foaling unit, giving the group the chance to see how and where a racehorse is born and all the work and love that goes into their care.

The experience day at Exeter was slightly different, with the 100 young people in attendance introduced

to pony racing. As part of the day, a behind-the-scenes look at everything that goes on at the racecourse was given before they gained an insight into equine welfare with a talk from a vet. Lastly, a pony race was staged before the rest of the day’s card began.

Sophie Chambers, Managing Director of Gallagher’s bloodstock practice, said: “Horseracing is a fantastic sport and we want to encourage more youngsters, who might not think of this as a career choice, to consider coming into the racing and thoroughbred industry. There are hugely diverse roles available, beyond just the jockeys we see on the racecourses, all offering great future progression.”

Carey Weeks, Partnerships Director at The Jockey Club, said: “It’s fantastic that our partnerships with Gallagher and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation were able to deliver these experience days.

“All of the events, in their own way, went to the very heart of what these partnerships are about – opening up racing to young people from a wide range of backgrounds and enhancing engagement.

“We look forward to staging further events throughout the remainder of 2023 and beyond.”

thejockeyclub.co.uk 83


There is so much more to The Home of Jump Racing than horses. Cheltenham Racecourse offers a versatile and flexible venue to deliver exceptional-quality live events from two to 2,500 guests

Aunique venue that boasts 2,600sq m of flexible indoor space along with over 360 acres of outdoor space, Cheltenham Racecourse can be adapted to suit all event needs. Whatever the size of your event, our facilities and function room hire promise to impress guests with a comfortable welcoming environment. The Centaur is our biggest and best asset for indoor events. Since opening, it has played host to film crews, sporting events, awards ceremonies

and a number of high-profile exhibitions and concerts, including Jools Holland, Jack Whitehall, the Snooker World Grand Prix, Rob Beckett and many more.

The Centaur is a multipurpose event space offering 1,300sq m of space, which is perfect for hosting conferences, parties and exhibitions. It is the ideal space for everything from an extravagant Christmas party to a government meeting and has numerous breakout rooms of varying sizes also available. Cheltenham

Racecourse is the perfect choice, full of endless opportunities, with a flexible approach and a team that thoroughly enjoys working with clients to create the perfect event to meet your needs. Our fresh, healthy and divine food is thoughtfully and carefully prepared by our team of exceptional chefs. Ingredients are ethically sourced from local suppliers wherever possible. Impact on the environment is reduced through sustainable produce and practices, waste is minimised, and dishes are seasonal, fresh and balanced


with a focus on promoting healthy eating, as well as providing choice for those with dietary requirements. As a service-focused organisation, we tailor the food offerings to our clients’ requirements, so whether it is a BBQ menu for a team-building day using the generous outdoor space or a light sandwich lunch for 30, we cater for all needs, styles and occasions.

All of our Jockey Club venues, including Cheltenham, have ample free on-site car parking, free Wi-Fi and all the latest audio-visual equipment. Our venues are members of the HBAA, ABPCO and are AIM Accredited. We are proud to offer an array of refreshingly different delegate experiences, purposely designed to enhance your event.

Our easily accessible southwest location, just off the M5, and set against the beautiful backdrop of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham Racecourse is a stunning natural arena and offers the highest-quality action throughout the Jump season.


• Purpose-built conference and meeting facilities for events of all sizes

• Dedicated Event Manager

• State-of-the-art AV equipment

• Free Wi-Fi

• Award-winning catering with versatile menu options

• Stunning views with a unique heritage

• Ample free parking

• Easily accessible by road and rail

• Wide choice of flexible spaces


Do you like it shaken or stirred? Join us this year for our suave and sophisticated Diamonds Are Forever Christmas party at Cheltenham Racecourse.

Enjoy a festive 007-themed evening starting with a specially crafted James Bond cocktail, three-course meal, entertainment and then dance the night away with our resident DJ.

So, grab your tuxedo or ballgown and get ready for a Christmas party like no other!

To find out more about our other Christmas parties across the group, visit thejockeyclub.co.uk/ venues/what-we-do/christmasvenue-hire/

To find out more about our conference and event spaces, call 01242 539 538, email CheltenhamEvents@thejockeyclub.co,uk or visit thejockeyclub.co.uk/cheltenham/venue-hire/

thejockeyclub.co.uk 85


After an illustrious 25-year career, jockey Tom Scudamore decided to retire from racing in February. He talks to The Cotswold Gentleman about the reasons for his decision and his plans for the future

Retirement is a scary word for any sportsperson. Many think about it for months before deciding. Some don’t have that choice. And others, if you’re Frankie Dettori, embark on a year-long worldwide victory parade to celebrate an incredible career.

On 17 February 2023, Tom Scudamore called time on a career that spanned 25 years and saw him ride over 1,500 winners and form an unforgettable partnership with the spectacular Thistlecrack. I have known Tom since his days growing up in Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard in Naunton and drinking at The Hollow Bottom in Guiting Power when his father Peter was a part-owner of the pub. Today we are both quite a bit older, and hopefully, a little wiser.

Was it a difficult decision to retire?

“The decision wasn’t that hard. I knew I was coming to the back end of my career and would love to have finished by riding 100 winners again and really wanted to get closer to riding more winners than Dad!”

“For a large part of last season, this looked very achievable. Going into December, I was delighted with the way things were going. I had ridden 50

winners and was sitting fourth in the Jockeys Championship, but sadly, weeks of freezing temperatures put paid to that.

“Things went well after Christmas with a nice winner on Remastered for David [Pipe] and a second in the King George. I then got a bad concussion at Chepstow. I’d been very fortunate to have a wonderful career and was lucky that I could say thank you on my own terms.

“I will miss everything about riding. I was very privileged to be able to do what I loved doing and always wanted to do when I was growing up. I miss the great days, but I even miss the bad days, as you learnt so much from them.”

In May this year, it was announced that dual Grand National-winning trainer Lucinda Russell and Tom’s brother Michael would join forces in Scotland, with Tom taking on Michael’s Eccleswall Court Stables in Herefordshire that will become a satellite and pretraining yard for the joint operation.

Did you think this would be the path you would take?

“I didn’t expect this to be the way I would go. However, myself, Michael, Dad and Lucinda had been speaking for quite some time about how we could all


work together as a family, but I wasn’t sure if it would be right for everybody. We then all sat down around March time and all the cards just fell into place and it made perfect sense that this is the best way forward.

“Eccleswall will become an arm to what is going on up in Scotland. The best way of looking at it is that I’m in charge of the under-21s squad, and when the horses come to run at courses down south, I will have a few first teamers as well. It means we can cover the whole country and continue the success that both operations have enjoyed on their own. Michael, with his small team, has had a Cheltenham Festival and Welsh Grand National winner, as well as other big wins, while Lucinda has enjoyed so much success in recent years. It felt that we had done so many things apart and if we put it all together, we would be in a position to achieve all the ambitions we want to do.” Does this mean we will see more southern runners for Michael Scudamore and Lucinda Russell Racing?

“Ultimately, yes. It’s very exciting. We have a big team and this means we can cover more of the country and take on everybody. Lucinda and Michael want to be competing at the top table and this is the way we think we can go and achieve that.”

Herefordshire is rich in Scudamore history, with your great-grandfather, grandfather and father all residing in the county. So does it feel like a natural home?

“I do already feel at home here, but I have a huge affinity with the West Country and a big part of my

heart will always remain there. I spent the last 20 years in Devon, my wife is from Devon and my three daughters were born in Devon. I love Exmoor, I love the people and I feel Herefordshire is very similar to that with its charm, way of life and values.”

So does this mean an end to your brief stint in the media?

“Absolutely not! I can’t wait to join the team at ITV again. They are fantastic for racing, and the support they have given the sport over the last few years is unbelievable. I think their coverage is fantastic and we’re very lucky to have so much terrestrial airtime and should never take this for granted. There will always be rumblings and grumblings about it, but the support they give is amazing. I will also be continuing my ambassador role with Coral, a great supporter of mine when I was riding.”

So what are your ambitions for the season ahead?

“To be as successful as possible. I have never been one to set too many targets as there are a million and one things that can get in your way. I tend to concentrate on the smaller things like I did when I was riding. Can I improve certain horses? Can we do certain things at home? So my ambition is to find a routine that works, make things efficient and make sure our standards remain very high for everybody working here.

“And if we get all the small things right, the big things will hopefully follow.”

FEATURE TOM SCUDAMORE thejockeyclub.co.uk 87
“I miss the great days, but I even miss the bad days, as you learnt so much from them”


This free club membership scheme offers racegoers under 18 fun and excitement throughout the season while the Family Fun Racedays include entertainment, inflatables, arts and crafts and some famous faces!

It isn’t only adults who can enjoy an exclusive membership at Cheltenham Racecourse – Junior Jumpers is a free membership for racegoers under 18. It is the perfect membership for our young enthusiastic racing fans who enjoy a day’s racing at Cheltenham, Warwick, Wincanton and Exeter.

Created to provide an introduction to racing for the next generation, being a Junior Jumper offers fun and excitement for new racegoers and their families throughout the season. Adult members are looked after at Cheltenham and recognised by the special badge they wear, but so too are the youngest members, officially

known as the Junior Jumpers. This free membership club scheme was introduced across the South West at all four racecourses – Cheltenham, Warwick, Exeter and Wincanton – in 2017, and with over 3,000 young racing fans signed up, it has already proved a hit with young fans, who receive a smart slimline presentation pack,

88 Kalendar

which includes a membership badge, swing badge and a pin badge as well as a raceday collector’s book. For every fixture they attend at any one of the four racecourses, they collect a stamp, which in turn wins them another pin. The collector’s book includes space to collect autographs of the racing world personalities and offers the chance to colour in their own silks and to learn

valuable information about horsing heroes, racing definitions and useful jargon busters.

Each season at Cheltenham, we host two Family Fun Racedays – at the November Meeting and on New Year’s Day. There are also additional Family Fun Days across the southwest region.

Both days at Cheltenham will see covered spaces full to the brim with

free family fun. November Sunday will include live stage entertainment from Tweedy the Clown, Hey Duggee and Party Peeps Kids Party Disco. Tweedy the Clown is a must-see comedy slapstick legend and star of Giffords Circus and the Cheltenham Everyman Pantomime. He comes to the races with his fun-packed, suitcase-circus show!

And there’s much more, including inflatables, face painting and a Junior Jumpers stand with arts and crafts where you can get your next stamp or sign up if your child is not already a member. Visit our website to find out more about the entertainment at our Family Fun Racedays. This year at Cheltenham, it will be the first time that Father Christmas and his magical grotto will be at the racecourse at The Christmas Meeting on Saturday 16 December. Santa’s Grotto will also have Christmas arts and crafts and letters to Santa, offering the chance to leave a magical Christmas wish and design snowflakes. This experience will be completely free of charge and children will be able to come racing for free with a paying adult.

To find out more about Junior Jumpers, head to thejockeyclub.co.uk/cheltenham/membership-and-offers/ junior-jumpers/ where you can sign up to become a Junior Jumper and experience more events and exclusive content. Don’t miss out on our Family Fun Days on Sunday 19 November and Monday 1 January, when there will be plenty of free activities to enjoy.

FEATURE JUNIOR JUMPERS thejockeyclub.co.uk 89


Developing an integrated approach to aftercare

“There is a growing demand for these versatile athletes and they are more popular than ever before”

The Horse Welfare Board’s Aftercare Funding Review (AFR) released in March 2021 made seven key recommendations to help provide more assurance around aftercare: Funding, Focus, Integration, Traceability, Accreditation, Community, Education and Communication.

In order to make the shift necessary to step up and meet this new challenge, Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) has recently reviewed its Vision and Mission and is now actively implementing a number of the AFR recommendations with exciting plans to deliver many more.

RoR’s Vision is for all former racehorses to enjoy a good life, with its new Mission articulating the key areas where it will focus its efforts.

Working with a cohort of trainers, RoR is currently exploring some of the challenges faced by trainers as they look to rehome horses after retirement from the track. It is clear that the vast majority of horses are catered for well, but we also heard that trainers would value some guidance on the

assessment and pathways available to provide a more consistent and structured approach to support the potentially more difficult horses. How those horses on their ‘first step out of racing’ are funded is also a key part of the project, as there are reputational risks related to reliance on charity funding for these horses

In parallel, a Retraining Centre Accreditation scheme is being developed so that owners and trainers have more assurance around where best to refer horses for retraining.

In addition, RoR is establishing an Aftercare Grant Assessment Panel to help coordinate the distribution of grant funding to the sector. This will help to reduce the complexity for those applying for funding and also give confidence to those who provide such generous support toward aftercare that their funds will have the most impact.

Since RoR was founded, it has made a significant contribution to the lives of thousands of former racehorses by providing retraining and welfare advice for new owners, many of whom go on to enjoy lifelong partnerships with their horses. This year alone there have been around 1,000 attendees at RoR clinics and events as part of our educational programmes. RoR also provides a wide range of opportunities for former racehorses to compete on a level playing field in disciplines such as dressage and showing, as well as bespoke series and classes in another dozen activities. This has resulted in a growing demand for these versatile athletes and they are now more popular than ever before. The RoR ‘Source a Horse’ website evidences an increase in average price paid of over 400 per cent in the last five years. A

far cry from the situation not so very long ago when former racehorses were either given away or sold for very little money regardless of their pedigree or value as yearlings.

David Catlow, Managing Director of RoR, added: “Each year, approximately 2,000 horses leave racing with a nonracing agreement and the vast majority of them go on to lead long and happy lives. However, not every story is a success story and there is more that needs to be done to help provide more assurance around aftercare. The external narrative is changing with concerns about the use of horses in sport and its ‘social licence to operate’.

The recent increased support for RoR from BHA and HBLB will help us to increase our ability to lead and coordinate the aftercare sector.

Our Mission is to safeguard the well-being of all former racehorses by:

• Setting and assuring retraining standards. We support racehorses’ successful transition out of racing and provide training and education for their new owners to develop lifetime partnerships.

• Creating an engaged and engaging RoR community.

• Increasing demand for former racehorses by promoting their versatility in a wide variety of equestrian activities and providing opportunities for participation in competitions.

• On behalf of the racing industry, we keep track of former racehorses and support those in need.

We hope that the industry will support RoR to not only build on all that we have done before, but also help us effect the changes necessary to deliver the recommendations of the Aftercare Funding Review.

For more information about the work of RoR, visit ror.org.uk



Celebrate all the best the South West has to offer at this fabulous and fun weekend

The West Country weekend will return in November for its second year. It will be bigger and better than ever and is the perfect occasion to celebrate the best of the South West. With the double-header of the Betway Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter Racecourse on Friday 10 November and the Badger Beers Chase Day at Wincanton on Saturday 11 November, this is a weekend that matters.

The Betway Haldon Gold Cup was run on a Friday for the first time in 2022, having traditionally been run on a Tuesday. It is Devon’s richest race and this year will be worth £80,000 – a new record for Exeter Racecourse. On the track, the quality is sure to hit all the right notes, and off the track, there is plenty of entertainment too. Enjoy music from roaming band The Hip Cats throughout the day before The Wild Murphy’s take to the stage after the racing.

The West Country Weekend roadshow heads up the A303 for Day Two where Wincanton Racecourse hosts the prestigious Badger Beers Chase Day. One of the most competitive handicaps of the season, the Badger Beers Chase has an illustrious roll of honour, topped in 2022 by the famous Frodon. Local

heroes, Frodon and Bryony Frost, gave the knowledgeable crowd something to cheer about last year as they defied the top weight to land the honours in true Somerset style.

As well as the quality action on the track, there is plenty going on away from it. Thanks to long-term partners of Wincanton Racecourse, Hall & Woodhouse, Wincanton will be hosting its first beer festival. With plenty of local produce to sample, racegoers are

going to get to taste the best the West Country has to offer while enjoying quality sporting action. And don’t worry, the party doesn’t end when the racing does. After racing, local favourites, Loose Connections will take to the stage to perform all the classics to ensure your day ends on a winner. Exeter and Wincanton Racecourse race from October through to April 2024, including on Boxing Day (Wincanton) and New Year’s Day (Exeter), so head to thejockeyclub.co.uk for full fixture lists and ticket options.



Nestled in the heart of the community, Warwick Racecourse has been described as “punching above its weight” in terms of the quality of action on offer. With 18 racedays throughout the season, there is a day suitable for every occasion.

For the first time, Warwick will be hosting a Winter Festival with two days of back-to-back racing on Tuesday 7 November and Wednesday 8 November. Featuring the Stan Mellor Memorial Chase, named after the famous jockey and trainer who was the first to ride 1,000 jump winners, it

is a raceday that always attracts a stellar line up. The race’s roll of honour plays host to several Cheltenham Festival winners, including Stage Star who followed up his 2022 win in the race by impressively winning the Turners Novice Chase at the Cheltenham Festival later in the season. The two-day fixture is set to be a key marker in the season for racing fans who are looking ahead to the big Festival in the spring.

New Year’s Eve at Warwick is the perfect place to start your celebrations. With live music from popular band

LAMPA, and an afternoon of sporting action, This raceday traditionally sells out, so racegoers are encouraged to buy their tickets early to avoid disappointment.

The New Year is an exciting time for Warwick with a number of ‘big Saturday’ racedays on the horizon. ITV Racing heads to the Warwickshire course for Classic Chase Day, where racegoers are likely to spot clues for the Randox Grand National, and Kingmaker Chase Day is just a month later where racegoers will almost certainly spot a few clues ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

For all fixtures and ticket options for Warwick Racecourse, head to thejockeyclub.co.uk/warwick

thejockeyclub.co.uk 93 FEATURE RACE MEETINGS


What it means to be an Annual Member at the Home of Jump Racing

Amembership should give you a sense of pride, make you feel like you belong and are part of something special. So, can you imagine what it feels like to be an Annual Member of Cheltenham Racecourse, the Home of Jump Racing?

Cheltenham Racecourse has a rich history, from iconic sporting moments to the participation of the Royal Family, and for many Cheltenham Racecourse is an amphitheatre of dreams. Being an Annual Member allows you to experience and be part of moments that will go down in history.

We strive to make members proud of Jump racing’s greatest stage, strive to provide exclusive facilities and benefits and to give members the best experience possible. To achieve this, the voice of members is so important – we listen and we take action.

Previously, on racedays when members could bring a guest, those guests only had access to the Insurance Bar. Now members’ guests have access to all the exclusive member areas, giving guests the full membership experience. Our members spoke, we listened, we took action.

At Cheltenham Racecourse, we understand that one membership does not fit all. Membership at Cheltenham is exclusive, but it is also diverse, so for that reason we have created four tiers of membership, providing a suitable option for every Jump racing fan:

Full membership – 16 days of unparalleled racing action. Full membership excluding the Cheltenham Festival – 12 days of thrilling sport.

18-28 membership – a great value option for anyone in this age group; 16 days exhilarating racing including the Cheltenham Festival. Senior membership – a great value option for anyone over 65; 16 days of superb sport.

Each membership option has its own unique selling point, and if you are planning on attending the Home of Jump Racing multiple times throughout the season, Annual Membership is the way forward. As a member you can enjoy:

• Great value

• Exclusive areas including bars and lounges

• Free parking at each fixture excluding the Cheltenham Festival

• Opportunity to purchase a reserved seat

• Reserved viewing areas including the Princess Royal Stand steps

• Exclusive members only offers

• Frequent newsletters and updates

Not only do our valued members enjoy all these benefits, but there is also a huge range of events including other race meetings and events to get the spine of any jump racing fan tingling. In 2023, highlights included an exclusive trip to the Dublin Racing

Festival, including hospitality, plus the Official Cheltenham Festival Preview, with a pre-Cheltenham panel that most can only dream of. The panel included the Cheltenham Festival’s most crowned jockey, Ruby Walsh, 20-time champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy and prolific Cheltenham Festival jockey Barry Geraghty and was hosted by ITV supremo Oli Bell. It was a night to remember, as the panel bantered and gave valuable insight into the four days of extraordinary that were about to come.

The fantastic events did not stop there – the reciprocal with Punchestown Spring Festival was hugely popular amongst members and provided two days at the renowned Irish event, a bucket-list destination for many a jump racing fan. The craic was mighty, the racing was outstanding, and the Irish hospitality was unrivalled. Every season, our membership team works hard to secure and arrange as many opportunities as possible for our members.

All that remains is to decide which membership suits you and become a Cheltenham Racecourse Annual Member, to be part of something truly special and truly extraordinary. It’s no wonder that Annual Membership sells out every season, so hurry and secure your place at the Jump racing’s

To find out more about becoming a Cheltenham Racecourse Annual Member, email Cheltenham.membership@thejockeyclub.co.uk



As we embark on the second season of The Cheltenham and South West Racing Club, we look at the exciting opportunities ahead for our members…

We enjoyed a wonderful 22/23 season, with no fewer than 14 fantastic days on the racecourse, resulting in seven visits to the winners’ enclosure, with our trainers, Fergal O’Brien, Emma Lavelle and Joe Tizzard.

Charles St gave the club their first day out of the season at Warwick. Trained by popular local trainer Fergal O’Brien, he finished second on debut, giving the club a superb introduction and a great thrill. In fact, the son of

Outstrip recorded a staggering five seconds out of six runs! He brought Racing Club members up and down the country, with runs spanning from Kempton to Perth.

He looks to have a fighting chance to get into the number one spot this season – he has been there before when winning on the flat for Newmarket trainer George Boughey.

Fergal O’Brien has made a flying start to the 23/24 season and is currently in the number one spot in the Trainers

Championship. With his horses in great form, the native Irishman is looking upon the season with even more vigour and excitement than ever, which can only be a positive for Charles St’s chances this season and we hope to see his hooves grace the hallowed turf of the Home of Jump Racing very soon. The Emma Lavelle-trained Flight Of Freedom was purchased in Ireland by renowned bloodstock agent Gerry Hogan and ran a cracker when finishing second first time out at Ludlow under


regular jockey Tom Bellamy. The form was franked when the winner Dysart Enos followed up to win a Listed bumper next time out at Market Rasen and then went on to score in the prolific Grade 2 Aintree Mares bumper at the Randox Grand National Festival.

Flight Of Freedom gave members a day out at Cheltenham’s April Meeting, where she finished a very respectable fifth. The mare, by leading sire Getaway, will run in Novice Hurdles next season and we are hopeful she will provide a lot more fun and great days out for the club.

Moonlight Artist was purchased by the formidable team of bloodstock agent Ross Doyle and trainer Joe Tizzard at the Goffs UK store sale in 2021. He is from a winning family, steeped in black type and started his campaign for The Cheltenham and South West Racing Club in bumpers, finishing third second time out. He has shown promise in Novice Hurdles and will be campaigned in Handicap Hurdles this season.

As Joe Tizzard goes into his second season with his name above the door at Venn Farm, previously famed by his father Colin, who trained the likes of Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Native River and the nation’s favourite Cue Card, The Cheltenham and South West Racing Club are excited about what this season has in store for both Joe and Moonlight Artist.

There is so much to look forward to for the 2023/24 season, stable visits providing the opportunity to see your horses on the gallops, meet the people who are responsible for them and see behind the scenes of three of the best Jump racing yards in the country.

Membership includes Cheltenham Racecourse Annual Membership, allowing you to enjoy the Cheltenham Festival from the exclusive Cheltenham and South West Racing Club Members Lounge, with special guest visitors, and full membership at Wincanton, Exeter and Warwick, making this a fantastic club to join for any racing fan.

Cheltenham and South West Racing Club members can enjoy unparalleled access to all the thrills of the Jump racing season


The most exclusive membership at Cheltenham Racecourse

The Cheltenham Club offers an exclusive membership and hospitality experience at Cheltenham Racecourse. The Cheltenham Club Restaurant stretches across the top floor of the Princess Royal Stand. It boasts amazing views of the racecourse and features a glass rotunda overlooking the famous Cheltenham Parade Ring and Winners’ Enclosure. Being a member of the Cheltenham Club is special and the team in the Cheltenham Club restaurant is passionate about the Club and deliver an unparalleled experience to members in terms of both dining and atmosphere. The restaurant offers a fine dining experience, with carefully curated menus that champion The Jockey Club’s local and sustainable ethos. Members enjoyed a delicious range of locally sourced produce last year, from the award-winning smoked salmon of the Severn and Wye Valley Smokery to the

Cotswold Gold rapeseed oil produced in Broadway. The Jockey Club catering team are continually working to make sure the food served at Cheltenham is not only of the highest quality, but it is also as local as possible.

Those with Full Membership of The Cheltenham Club can use the facility throughout the season. They have their own table for 16 race days from where they enjoy a sumptuous four-course à la carte lunch while taking in the surroundings and the top-quality racing. For those unable to attend every Cheltenham Raceday, there are two other membership options: Chase Membership and Hurdle Membership. These options enable the use of The Cheltenham Club eight days of the season, including two days at the Cheltenham Festival in Cheltenham Club and two days in days in Chez Roux Restaurant, a facility that also overlooks the course and is hosted by

the famous chef Michel Albert Roux. A Cheltenham Club Membership offers additional hosted Club events. Last year, members were treated to a stay and three-course dinner in the world-famous and historic Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket, followed by a tour of the gallops and National Stud. Another event is the exclusive Cheltenham Festival Preview Night, which takes place in the Ellenborough Park Hotel. The 2023 panel included former Champion and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Richard Johnson, multiple Festival-winning jockey Tom Scudamore and former jockey and ITV Racing presenter Luke Harvey, and was hosted by BBC 5 Live’s Gina Bryce.

With the superb sporting action, fantastic Cheltenham Club atmosphere and delicious food, The Cheltenham Club is the pinnacle of sporting hospitality.

To find out more about Cheltenham Club, or to become a Member, email Emily-Rose.Hodson@thejockeyclub.co.uk

The Spencer Twins wear Barcelona
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.