There are certain horse races that all jockeys dream of winning, and the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival is undoubtedly one of them. Run over a distance of three miles, two furlongs and 70 yards, the Gold Cup is a major test of the credentials of both horse and jockey.
For most riders, winning the Gold Cup just once represents something of a dream, but there is an elite group of jockeys who have won the famous race on more than one occasion. With the 2020 race fast approaching, and as those who place a Gold Cup bet on Cheltenham Festival try and determine who might win, we look at five jockeys who have enjoyed multiple victories in the famous Cheltenham showpiece.
You have to go all the way back to the 1970s for Tommy Carberry’s Gold Cup triumphs. Riding the famous L’Escargot, Carberry won the race two years running in 1970 and 1971. The horse, trained by Richard R. Guest, was a 33/1 outsider going into the 1970 edition, but Carberry produced a fine performance to get the win.
Not content with just two Gold Cup triumphs, the Irish jockey would go on to win it once again in 1975, this time on Ten Up, completing a hat-trick of victories in the famous race.
One of the most recognisable names in horse racing, Anthony Peter ‘Tony’ McCoy is another who has enjoyed Gold Cup glory more than once. His first success came in 1997, riding the 20/1 shot Mr Mulligan to victory, but he would have to wait 15 years to double his Gold Cup titles. In 2012, he guided Synchronised to a first-place finish, to the delight of racing fans across Britain and Ireland.
McCoy is a much-loved figure in the sport, and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2010, becoming the first jockey to get their hands on the famous sporting prize – after winning the Grand National on Don’t Push It..
Richard Johnson is widely regarded as the finest jockey in jump racing at the moment and has won the Champion Jockey title four years running. His first taste of glory in the Gold Cup came in 2000 on Looks Like Trouble, but like McCoy, Johnson would have to wait a long time for his second triumph. It came 18 years after he won the race for the first time, as he guided the Colin Tizzard-trained Native River to victory in 2018.
Sadly, Native River has been ruled out of the 2020 race, and so won’t have the chance to emulate the great Kauto Star by reclaiming the Gold Cup.
Jim Culloty is one of only three jockeys to have won the Gold Cup on three successive occasions, as he steered Best Mate to victory in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The Henriette Knight-trained horse was 7/1 to win the race in 2002, and was the odds-on favourite by the time the 2004 race came around – proof of the dominance Best Mate and Culloty showed in those years.
Culloty achieved the rare feat of winning both the Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same year in 2002, before retiring in 2005 as one of the Gold Cup’s most successful riders.
Another famous name in horse racing, Ruby Walsh won the Gold Cup in 2007 and 2009, riding the much loved Kauto Star. Clive D. Smith’s horse was the favourite ahead of both races, proof of Walsh’s reputation and expert performances in the saddle on both occasions.
Kauto Star is the only horse to have regained the Gold Cup. Having lost the title to stablemate Denman in 2008, Walsh and Kauto Star came back stronger to win it back a year later, etching their names in Gold Cup folklore.