When the Cheltenham Festival comes around, pretty much every trainer, owner and jockey would bite your hand off for a horse under their control to win a race even once. It is one of the most important meetings on the jump racing calendar, with prestigious races to watch left, right and centre. Little wonder, therefore, that the Festival is so beloved of all those who take part in horse racing. The only thing that is better than seeing a horse win a race once is seeing it win the race on multiple occasions.
That’s why the races that have been won several times by the same horse tend to stand out. Names like Tiger Roll, Golden Miller and Quevega have gone down in history thanks to their repeated success at Prestbury Park. Every time a former winner steps onto the turf, there are dreams that it will be able to repeat the success of those incredible horses that have come before it. There are even some races that have been won more than once by more than one horse. This page is all about the horses that make Cheltenham Racecourse their own.
Cheltenham Festival Races Record Horse Wins
|Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle||6||Quevega|
|The Cheltenham Gold Cup||5||Golden Miller|
|The Stayers' Hurdle||4||Big Bucks|
|The Champion Hurdle||3||Multiple (5)|
|Queen Mother Champion Chase||3||Badsworth Boy|
|Cross Country Chase||3||Tiger Roll|
|Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle||3||Willie Wumpkins|
|Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup||2||Chu-The & Glyde Court|
|Foxhunter Challenge Cup||2||Multiple|
|Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase||2||Top Twenty & Dulwich|
|Festival Trophy Handicap Chase||2||Multiple (3)|
|Ryanair Chase||2||Albertas Run|
|Plate Handicap Chase||2||The Tsarevich & Elfast|
It is only a matter of time before the Mares’ Hurdle is renamed the Quevega Mares’ Hurdle given the French bred Irish trained horse has won the race more times than any horse has won any Festival race. Those six wins also came in successive years, making the feat even more impressive.
Golden Miller of course already has a race named after him thanks to his five Gold Cup wins, also consecutively, between 1932-1936. Since that achievement the best any other horse has done is three wins, with Arkle, Best Mate and Cottage Rake all doing that in consecutive years too.
Big Bucks will go down as the greatest Stayer at the Festival with four wins in the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle is the race that has produce the most horses with a record three wins, five of them.
What should really stand out though is that most races at Cheltenham are not dominated by any one horse, which goes to show it is very difficult to win these races and maintain the form needed to win them over multiple years.
The Horses That Have Made Races Their Own
Where else to start but by looking at some of the horses that have, for want of a better phrase, ‘owned’ certain races. We’re not just talking about the ones that one the race once or twice, but instead are looking at the horses that seemingly couldn’t be stopped from winning the race over and over again.
Some of these are genuine household names, cementing their title in the record books and making it virtually impossible for another horse to take over from them in the future. If any do, it will be an incredible achievement.
Quevega – Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle
Other names might be both easier to pronounce and better-known, but no horse in the history of the Cheltenham Festival has won the same race as many times as Quevega. Foaled on the 11th of April 2004, the French-bred horse was trained in Ireland by the man whose name is synonymous with the Festival, Willie Mullins. Even the great man himself would struggle to think of a horse that has been as impressive as Quevega, who won the Mares’ Hurdle six times in succession.
Bred by Pierre Rives and owned by the Hammer & Trowel Syndicate, her sire was successful National Hunt horse Robin des Champs. That means that she was from the same stock as Mill Reef, who raced 14 times, winning 12 of them and coming second in the other two. Quevega’s career began in France winning her first race over 12 furlongs and adding another two wins before she was transferred to the training ground of Willie Mullins. She won her Irish debut by six lengths.
Her first win in the Mares’ Hurdle came in 2009, which was also the debut year of the race itself taking place on the opening day of the Festival. She defended her title the following year, which was also the first time that she won the World Series Hurdle. Quevega won both races again in 2011, 2012 and 2013. When she won the Mares’ Hurdle again in 2014, she became the first horse in history to win at the Festival in six successive seasons. Willie Mullins confirmed her retirement after the race, meaning she bowed out a legend.
Golden Miller – Gold Cup
If there’s a horse that can rival Quevega in terms of an impressive achievement then it is undoubtedly Golden Miller. Though he won his race five times rather than six, the race that he made his own just so happened to be the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Most trainers dream of seeing a horse under their control win the race just once, so for Golden Miller to win it five times is simply incredible. Bred at the yard of Laurence Geraghty, his sire was responsible for two Irish Grand National winners.
Owned by Dorothy Paget, Golden Miller was trained by Basil Briscoe and made his steeplechasing debut in 1931. He won the race at Newbury Racecourse but was then disqualified for carrying the wrong weight. If the experience was disappointing for his connections, it certainly didn’t make any difference to the horse itself. He won the blue riband event at the Cheltenham Festival for the first time in 1932, defending his title a year later. He was made the favourite for the Grand National later in the second season, but fell.
A year later, he returned to Aintree Racecourse for the ‘World’s Greatest Steeplechase’ with an unbelievable three consecutive Gold Cup wins under his belt. This time he not only defeated the Grand National course, but did so in a record time of nine minutes and 20.4 seconds, which was a new record. Even then he wasn’t done, winning another two Gold Cups to secure his place in jump racing history and earning a statue at the parade ring there. He retired in 1939, having won 29 times out of 52 starts.
Big Buck’s – Stayers’ Hurdle
Foaled on the 16th of April 2003, Big Buck’s is the progeny of Cadoudal and Buck’s. It is the horse’s dam that is the reason for the appalling grammar of his name, with a stray apostrophe thrown in to annoy English teachers the world over. Trained by Paul Nicholls, he was a hurdling specialise in his racing days and notched up his first win of note in the Prix Amadou in 2007. The Mildmay Novices’ Chase the following year gave him his first taste of success at Aintree Racecourse, which would prove portentous.
The success of Big Buck’s during the Cheltenham Festival is obviously why we’re writing about him here, but his achievement wasn’t limited to just Prestbury Park. Instead, he dominated three races in three different locations over a four year period, not letting any other horses get a look in. He not only won the Stayers’ Hurdle, which was known as the World Hurdle at the time, but was also a four-time winner of the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree Racecourse and the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.
As if that wasn’t enough, he also won the Long Walk Hurdle in 2009, 2010 and 2011, meaning that 2012 was the only year that he didn’t win all four events during the same year. Little wonder he’s thought of as being one of the best hurdlers of all time. When he won the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2009, he defeated future Grand National winner Don’t Push It in order to do so. When he lost in the Cleeve Hurdle in 2014, it was his first defeat in more than five years. He was retired in March of 2014.
Badsworth Boy – Queen Mother Champion Chase
Foaled on the 19th of October in 1975, Badsworth Boy made history between 1983 and 1985 when he won the Queen Mother Champion Chase three times in succession. Not only that, but he was trained by a different member of the Dickinson family for one of his wins. Tony, Michael and Monica all trained him at one point or another, meaning that his success really was kept in the family. Badsworth Boy also became just the 12th horse in the history of jump racing to earn more than £100,000.
Sold for 2,800 guineas as a yearling, Badsworth Boy entered the training yard of snowy Wainwright. He ran eight times in 1977 as a two-year-old, winning events at Beverley Racecourse to get a solid grounding in success. He won at Sedgefield Racecourse during his first season over obstacles, then got a taste of the Cheltenham Festival when he came third in the Triumph Hurdle. Despite being a fast racer that would sometimes lead to errors, he won right times over hurdles and on 18 occasions over fences.
His first win in the Queen Mother Champion Chase came in 1983, leaving his stablemate, and the favourite for the race, Rathgorman well behind. A year later and he finished ten lengths ahead of Little Bay, finishing the same distance away from Far Bridge the following year. At the time of writing, he is the only horse to win the race on three occasions, with the fact that they came successively making it even more impressive. He died of a heart attack at the age of 27 in October of 2002.
Tiger Roll – Cross Country Chase
Ask people to name a horse that has won a race more than once and there’s a very good chance that they’ll come up with the name of Tiger Roll. Whilst that will likely be because of his Grand National exploits, it’s also worth pointing out that the one-time flat racing horse has also won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase on three separate occasions. Two of those came in the same year that he enjoyed his Grand National success and the third might well have been too, had his owners not withdrawn him from the Aintree race.
Foaled on the 14th of March in 2010 by Authorized out of Swiss Roll, the bay gelding was bred in Ireland and bought by Godolphin for 70,000 guineas. He didn’t race for them, however, and was sold a few years later for £10,000. Ge won his first race, which caught the attention of Michael O’Leary, who bought him for £80,000 for his Gigginstown Stud. That proved to be an inspired move, with Tiger Roll going on to become the first horse since Red Rum to win the Grand National twice in succession.
He got his first taste of Cheltenham success when he won the Triumph Hurdle in 2014, then three years later he was successful at the racecourse once again, this time in the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup. It is the Cross Country Chase that he’ll forever be associated with at Prestbury Park, however. He won it for the first time in 2018, defending his title the following year. Easysland won the race in 2020, but Tiger Roll was back in 2021 to win it for a record third time, one ahead of Garde Champetre and Balthazar King.
Willie Wumpkins – Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle
Would we have written about Willie Wumpkins even if he hadn’t won the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle three times, just because of his amazing name? It’s difficult to tell, but probably. When a horse’s name is Willie Wumpkins is deserves to be a winner, which is exactly what happened in 1979, 1980 and 1981. Ridden by Jim Wilson, Willie Wumkpins was successful in the race as an 11-year-old just six years after it had been inaugurated for the first time at the Festival.
He carried ten stone and four pounds in that first year, which was increased to ten stone and seven pounds when he returned to defend his title. The extra weight wasn’t enough to stop him being victorious once again, handing Jane Pilkington two wins in succession. When he returned to the race in 1981, aiming for an unlikely hat-trick, the weight he was asked to carry had again been increased, this time to ten stone and eight pounds. Again, though, it wasn’t enough to stop him from romping to victory.
When he won the race for the third time, when it was known as the Coral Golden Hurdle, he wasn’t sent off as the favourite. That might well have something to do with the fact that he was 13-years-old at that point, going off with odds of 10/1. Even so, that was an improved on the 25/1 odds he was given when he took part in the race for the first time. The fact he won the Staying Novices’ Hurdle in 1973 means that he joined an exclusive club of horses that had managed to win during the Cheltenham Festival on four occasions.
Races With Several Multiple Winners
There are some races that have been won by the same horse more than once a number of times. A good example of this is the Champion Hurdle, which has seen five horses win it three times but none able to clock up a record fourth success. Why is it that some races seem to lend themselves to horses enjoying success more than once? In the case of the Champion Hurdle, even the winning jockey honour is shared, with three having won it four times apiece.
Run over two miles and 87 yards, the Champion Hurdle is a Grade 1 race that is open to horses aged four and over. Run on the Old Course, it is hurdling’s most prestigious events and some of the best in the business have won it over the years. The ones that stand out the most are Hatton’s Grace, Sir Ken, Persian War, See You Then and Istabraq, each of whom won it three times during their career. They all won it in successive years, but what is it about the event that means some horses can win it multiple times?
The answer to that question is akin to ‘how long is a piece of string?’ There’s no real way of identifying why it is that all of those horses have been able to get themselves into the winner’s enclosure so many times, with no other race that is run during the Cheltenham Festival having as many multi-time winners. It’s not even as if the age tells us anything, given that Hatton’s Grace won it for the first time as a nine-year-old, whilst Sir Ken and Persian War were both five when they initially won it.
As always, it’s likely to be a multitude of factors that has seen the horses win the race several times. Two miles and half a furlong is a nice distance, whilst eight hurdles means that they don’t have to jump too much during the course of it. When some horses get a feel for how a race will work, they can get into the rhythm quickly when it starts. On top of that, the fact that it is hurdling’s most prestigious event means that they’re not necessarily going to graduate onto other events in the future.
Foxhunter Challenge Cup
This ungraded race was run for the first time in 1904 and takes place over three miles, two furlongs and 70 yards. It is contested over the same distance as the Gold Cup, leading many to refer to it as the amateur version of that event, seeing as though only amateur riders can take part in it. At the time of writing, nine different horses have won it on two occasions, with the following being the full list:
- The Callant (1956, 1957)
- Whinstone Hill (1958, 1960)
- College Master (1961, 1962)
- Double Silk (1993, 1994)
- Fantus (1995, 1997)
- Earthmover (1998, 2004)
- Salsify (2012, 2013)
- On The Fringe (2015, 2016)
- Pacha du Polder (2017, 2018)
The fact that this is a race for amateur riders might offer us a sneak peak into the reason that certain horses are able to win it more often than others. Those that have a less-experienced rider are likely to struggle, especially given the fact that there are 22 fences for them to deal with. A combination of an experienced amateur jockey and a horse that knows the course will likely mean that there’s an increased chance of multiple victories when compared to other events.
Festival Trophy Handicap Chase
A Grade 3 event that is run over three miles and one furlong, the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase lends itself to being won more than once on account of the fact that horses that can handle their handicap are more likely to enjoy success over ones that struggle to adapt to the weight that they’re asked to carry. When you add in the fact that there are 20 fences to jump during the course of the event, you can see that talented horses will know how to cope with the demands that are asked of them.
The first horse to win it for a second time was Sentina, who did so in 1958 after having won it the year before. It took nearly 30 years for another horse to repeat the trick, with Scot Lane managing it in 1982 and 1983. At the time of writing, the most recent horse to pull it off is Un Temps Pour Tout, who won it in 2016 and then again in 2017. Because it is open to horses aged five and over and is a steeplechase, horses that have won it are unlikely to move on and enter different races until they’re a few years older, leaving them open to winning this one more than once.