The Coral (Hennessy) Gold Cup is much more than a race; it’s a celebration of high stakes, thundering hooves, and heart-stopping finishes, and this year marks its 66th running.
This National Hunt steeplechase, held annually in late November or early December at Newbury, is no ordinary race. The gruelling 3 miles and 2 furlong course, punctuated by twenty-one fences, has seen some of the greatest names in British racing etched into its roll of honour.
This great spectacle was birthed in 1957 as the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, initially staged at Cheltenham. The inaugural winner, Mandarin, was owned by Peggy Hennessy, a member of the family which founded the Hennessy Cognac distillery, the race’s sponsoring company.
Mandarin’s legacy is enshrined not only as the first winner but also as a two-time champion, seizing the crown again in 1961 after the event had moved to its now traditional home at Newbury.
The second run was claimed by Taxidermist, guided to victory by amateur rider John Lawrence. Later known as Lord Oaksey, Lawrence became a key figure in British racing and bred and co-owned the 2011 winner, Carruthers. It is such stories that add richness to the tapestry of the Gold Cup’s history.
2023 Race Odds
This illustrious event has a history of winners who have also triumphed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with nine horses achieving this feat. However, in recent times, it has become a playground for contenders more commonly seen in the Grand National.
Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 2, as Newbury gears up to host the Coral Gold Cup. The race is scheduled to commence at 15:00. Heading into this year’s competition, Complete Unknown, Monbeg Genius and Mahler Mission are topping the odds at Betfred. Below you can see a full list of Ante-post runners and their odds.
* odds updated 28/11/23
The countdown to the Coral Gold Cup 2023 has well and truly begun. In the coming days, as the puzzle pieces start to fall into place, the anticipation will only grow, serving as a reminder of why the Coral Gold Cup remains one of the highlights of the British sporting calendar.
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Among the annals of Coral Gold Cup history, two names stand out – Mill House and Arkle, these legendary Hennessy winners have come to define not only this race but also the golden age of steeplechasing.
Mill House is a name that resonates with horse racing enthusiasts. Trained by Fulke Walwyn and ridden by Willie Robinson, this British thoroughbred claimed victory in the 1963 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, beating Arkle into third place.
Their rivalry didn’t stop there. They met again in the Cheltenham Gold Cup a few months later, a race which saw Arkle avenge his previous defeat by beating Mill House (who had won the race the previous year) by five lengths to claim his first Cheltenham Gold Cup at odds of 7/4.
The pair met again in the 1964 Hennessy, Arkle stormed to victory while Mill House was forced to settle for third place. Arkle returned to Newbury in 1965 and landed his second Hennessy, becoming the only horse to win consecutive races.
The rivalry between Mill House and Arkle captured the public’s imagination, and their duels are still considered some of the greatest moments in the history of steeplechasing.
In recent years, the Coral Gold Cup has seen several formidable champions etch their names into its illustrious history. Among them, Many Clouds, Native River, and Denman shine particularly brightly.
Many Clouds, notched his victory in the Gold Cup in 2014. Trained by Oliver Sherwood and ridden by Leighton Aspell, Many Clouds secured his place in history with an impressive performance that showcased his exceptional stamina and determination. However, his crowning achievement came the following year when he went on to win the Grand National in 2015, thereby becoming the first horse to win both prestigious races.
Native River, another formidable champion, claimed the trophy in 2015. Trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Richard Johnson, Native River showcased a remarkable blend of speed and endurance throughout the race. His victory was a testament to his power, grit, and resilience, attributes that would later carry him to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018, underlining his status as one of the best steeplechasers of his generation.
Lastly, we must pay homage to Denman, a legend in his own right. Nicknamed “The Tank” for his robust running style and sheer power, Denman clinched the Gold Cup twice, in 2007 and 2009. Trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sam Thomas and Ruby Walsh, respectively, Denman’s victories were marked by his relentless gallop and his unyielding will to win, traits that also led him to triumph in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008.
As we look forward to the 2023 edition, fans and spectators can only wonder which horse will rise to the occasion and etch their name into this prestigious roll of honour.
The Power of Sponsorship: The Legacy of ‘The Hennessy’
One of the defining aspects of the Gold Cup’s narrative is its long-standing relationships with various sponsors.
The story began with Hennessy, the renowned Cognac-producing company when the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup was established in 1957. This partnership continued for a remarkable 60 years, a record at the time for the longest-running commercial sponsorship in British racing history. This alliance ingrained the race in the hearts of spectators and created a legacy that continues to echo in the present day.
Even after the official sponsorship ended, such is the power of tradition and nostalgia that many still refer to the race as ‘the Hennessy’. This enduring nickname serves as a testament to the impact the original sponsorship had on the racing world.
In February 2017, the sponsorship baton was passed to Ladbrokes, the well-known British betting company. The race took on the name Ladbrokes Trophy until 2021, further reinforcing the event’s status as a premier steeplechase.
From 2022 onwards, the sponsorship reigns were taken up by Coral, another major player in the UK betting scene. With its extensive history in supporting British horse racing, Coral’s stewardship promises to uphold the grand tradition of this prestigious event, marking a new era with its current name – the Coral Gold Cup.
As we anticipate the 2023 Coral Gold Cup, it’s important to reflect on the significant role these sponsors have played in the race’s rich tapestry. Their contribution has shaped the narrative of this racing treasure, ensuring its position as a highlight in the British sporting calendar.
Nestled in the countryside of Berkshire, Newbury Racecourse serves as an idyllic backdrop to the Coral Gold Cup.
This renowned racecourse is not just a place for thrilling horse racing but also stands as a symbol of Britain’s rich equestrian history. Having hosted its first race in 1905, Newbury has grown over the years to become one of the premier racing venues in the UK.
The Coral Gold Cup at Newbury Racecourse offers an unrivalled day of sport and spectacle, and to make sure you don’t miss out, it’s important to secure your tickets early. For the 2023 event, a range of ticket options is available (please check prices with the official Newbury website):
Early Bird Premier at £43.50 – This provides an elevated view of the track, access to the premier suite, and a private bar.
Early Bird Premier Accessible at £43.50 – This includes all the benefits of the Early Bird Premier, with added accessibility arrangements.
Early Bird Grandstand at £30.00 – This offers a great view of the racecourse, access to the parade ring, and plenty of food and drink options.
Early Bird Grandstand Accessible at £30.00 – This includes all the benefits of the Early Bird Grandstand, with additional accessibility features.
For those who want to make the most of the event, 2-day entry tickets are also available:
Premier 2 Day Entry at £70.00 – Two days of action, with full access to all premier facilities.
Grandstand 2 Day Entry at £45.00 – Enjoy two days at the racecourse with all the benefits of the grandstand area.