Elsewhere on the site you’ll be able to read about cup races, with examples such as the Gold Cup being high on the list. Trophy races are, unsurprisingly, similar to them in the sense that they can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The only things that link the races is that a trophy will be lifted at the end of them.
That’s not to do the race type down at all. Trophy races are often well-loved in the industry because a prize in addition to money is always welcome. Having something tangible to represent your success is no bad thing, as anyone that has ever seen a trophy cabinet can attest to. Winning is good, but winning a shiny thing is better.
Trophy Races At The Cheltenham Festival
The Festival Trophy
|2m 4f 127y||Grade 1||£345,000|
|Festival Trophy Handicap Chase||3m 1f||Grade 3||£102,500|
|Arkle Challenge Trophy||1m 7f 199y||Grade 1||£172,500|
Trophy Races At Other Cheltenham Meetings
|Silver Trophy Chase||2m 4f 127y||Grade 2||£60,000|
|Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase||1m 7f 199y||Grade 2||£30,000|
|Trophy Handicap Chase||2m 4f 127y||Grade 3||£69,000|
Trophy Races Explained
There can be many reasons why a race has had a trophy attached to it. Sometimes it will have been there from the first moment that a race was run, being the reason that it took place originally as owners battled to win the prize. Other times a trophy may be added afterwards, perhaps donated to the race by a rich benefactor.
In many cases, the main thing that links the races is that they’re for a trophy. A race doesn’t have to be only over hurdles or just for horses of a particular age in order to have a trophy attached to it. The simple truth is that trophy races will be respected in the horse racing industry because they offer winners that little bit of extra glory.
The British Horseracing Authority doesn’t have specific rules in place for trophy races that set them apart from other race types. They will often be older events that have a trophy attached for a specific reason, but even that isn’t set in stone. Instead there will be unique, interesting stories behind the presence of most trophies.
Biggest Trophy Races
As with other articles on this site, the best way of demonstrating what we mean is by taking a look at specific examples. You’re encouraged to look out for the length of race, the age of horses that take part in them and the type of race being run. Where possible, we’ll tell you the story of why a trophy is attached to the race.
Arkle Challenge Trophy
A Grade 1 event that takes place during the Cheltenham Festival, the Arkle Challenge Trophy is for horses aged 5 and over. Run left-handed on the Old Course, the weight is 11 stone 4 pounds and mares receive a 7 pound allowance. 1 mile, 7 furlongs and 199 yards in length, there are 13 fences to be jumped.
Considered to be the National Hunt’s leading minimum-distance race for novices, it was originally introduced to the Festival line-up in 1969. It is named in honour of Arkle, the horse that won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times during the 1960s. Horses that do well here will often go on to perform in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Silver Trophy Chase
After the Cheltenham Festival, eyes tend to turn towards the Grand National at Aintree. That doesn’t mean that Cheltenham Racecourse has nothing left to offer, however, as evidenced by the Silver Trophy Chase taking place in mid-April. It was first run in 1986 and takes place over 2 miles, 4 furlongs and 127 yards, with 17 fences to jump.
The race was made into a Grade 2 offering in 1991 and was a conditions race for a time, becoming a limited handicap in 2003. It has been run at its present length since 1993 and is open to horses aged 5 and over. Norton’s Coin is probably the most famous horse to have won the race, doing so in 1989 and 1991 – either side of a Cheltenham Gold Cup win.
Run over 3 miles, 1 furlong and 214 yards, the Ladbrokes Trophy was inaugurated in 1957. It’s a Grade 3 race for horses aged 4 and over and is a handicap offering. There are 21 fences that need to be jumped during the course of the chase, which usually takes place at Newbury Racecourse in late November or early December.
When it was originally run it took place at Cheltenham and was known as the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup. It made the move to Newbury in 1960, only taking on its current name in 2017 when Hennessey finally moved away from sponsorship duties and decided to make it a trophy rather than a cup.
Successful horses go on to compete in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with Arkle, Denman and Native River being examples of horses that have won both.
Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle
A Grade 3 race that takes place at Chepstow each October, the Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle is for horses aged 4 and over. It is run over 2 miles, 3 furlongs and 100 yards, boasting 9 hurdles during that distance. It was run for the first time in 1988 and was given its Grade 3 status in 2011.
Arguably the most famous horse to win it is Don’t Push It, a gelding trained by Jonjo O’Neill that went on to win the Grand National in 2010, three years after victory here. Run left-handed, the race is a handicap offering. It is, in some ways, the exception that proves the rule in terms of it being a hurdle race when the rest are chases.
The Robert Mottram Memorial Trophy
This National Hunt race is a Listed event, open to horses aged 4 and over. It’s aimed at novice chasers and takes place at Chepstow every October. Run over 2 miles, 3 furlongs and 98 yards, it was run for the first time in 2010 and got its Listed status in 2017. The race is run on the same day as the Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle.
The title of the race comes from the story of Robert Mottram, who was a former groundsman at Chepstow. He started working there after leaving school in 1975, with his widow Jayne and their two children, Daniel and Sophie, presenting the trophy to the winner at its debut running on the 31st of May 2010.
Badger Beers Silver Trophy
Another Listed National Hunt race that fits into the trophy category is that of the Badger Beers Silver Trophy. First run in 1962, it was made a Listed race in 2003. Prior to 1990 it was run over 2 miles and 5 furlongs, but since the 1990s it has taken place over 3 miles, 1 furlong and 30 yards.
The race is open to horses aged 4 and over and presents competitors with 21 fences that must be jumped. A handicap race, it is run at Wincanton each November. One of the event’s most famous winners was Teeton Mill, who won it in 1998 for Venetia Williams. That was the same year that he won the King George VI Chase.