Arkle Trophy History

The race has been run since the end of the Second World War and is one of the features of the Cheltenham Festival. The first race in 1946 was won by Bright Penny and ridden by Glen Kelly. At that time it was known as the Cotswold Chase, but the race had its name changed in 1969 to the Arkle Trophy in honour of the legendary steeplechaser, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1965, 66 and 67 and who was trained by the great Tom Dreaper. The first winner in its new name was Chatam, who was a 10/1 shot, ridden by Terry Biddlecombe and trained by the National Hunt legend, Fred Rimell. At the time the prize money for the race was a very healthy �1,365. This year the prize money is in excess of �175,000.

The first sponsored running took place in 1991 and was sponsored by Waterford Castle. They relinquished the role in 1994 and Guinness stepped in to sponsor the race until 1999. Since then the race has been sponsored by Irish Independent.

The race has built up a tradition over the years of it being contested by only good quality horses who good novice chasers. It has been a sound evolvement as there are very few freak winners and fewer jumping mistakes. The lowest number of runners was just 8 in 1979, 1984 and 1993. The largest field was 19 in 1987 and 2005, but there was 25 runners in the 1960 chase, when it was the Cotswold Chase.

The fastest time ever recorded for the two mile race was the 3m 46.5s by the Nicky Henderson trained Tiutchev in 2000, beating the previous best of 3m 52.5s set by Tony McCoy on Martin Pipe’s Or Royal in 1997.