History of racing at Andoversford

There has been racing in and around Cheltenham for 200 years. In fact, the first Cheltenham Gold Cup was a 3 mile flat race on Nottingham Hill overlooking the Vale of Evesham, in 1819. But the 1820s were a period of puritan preaching against the ills of gambling at the races, by none other than Dean Francis Close, after whom the school in Cheltenham is named. Francis Close was at that time vicar of Prestbury. After what had looked a propitious start for racing in Gloucestershire, it was only the emergence of Andoversford, and of one of Steeplechasing’s most enduring races that kept the show afloat in the area.

Despite flat racing having died a quiet death at Prestbury Park in the 1840s, Steeplechasing flourished a little further out of town on the present site of Andoversford Races, and here in 1834, the race known as the Grand Annual, was inaugurated. The Grand Annual, now one of the most fiercely competitive handicaps of the Festival, is a fixture of the Friday that also features the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

One of the most prominent riders of that era was Tom Oliver, a Sussex born lad with a strong streak of gypsy blood. His dark looks gave him a nickname of Black Tom, but it could just as easily have been attributed to his financial dealings, which made Barney Curley look positively saintly. George Stevens, a one-time pupil of Oliver’s, also made Cheltenham his home, and contrived to win 5 Grand Nationals between 1856 and 1870. And together, they rode against a founder pupil of Cheltenham College, Adam Lindsay-Gordon, who imbued the school with its Corinthian sporting attitude. After the current Cheltenham course was established in 1898, racing under Rules effectively ceased at Andoversford, and it wasn’t until the re-introduction of Point-to-Point racing that it began to flourish again. The fixture was traditionally run on a Wednesday evening, but this was altered after Cheltenham foreshortened its calendar by staging the popular Hunters’ Evening two weeks earlier than hitherto, at the end of April. A new date had to be found.

Under the able direction of Ken Dodwell, fence building by George Excel and Ted Nugent, and subsequent efforts by Bob Hartop, George Dowty and Kim Bailey, the course achieved a reputation for stoutly made fences that command respect, and stamina for that long uphill finish. We look forward to many a further year in the history of Andoversford Races.

Event details

When?

 

Sunday April 7th 2019

First Steeplechase 2pm, Gates open 1030 am

Where?

6m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)

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Latest News

22-03-2019 10:16:59 in General by Admin
Owners of Point-to-Point horses have long acknowledged that they are not running for the money, given the ceiling on prize money set by the British Horseracing Board for this most amateur of amateur sports. However, entrants for the sport’s most valuable fixture of the Spring look set to pick up on a host of other benefits and initiatives that will help offset the cost of training and runni...

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07-03-2019 12:00:00 in General by Admin
Tally ho all budding photographers! There’s a chance to win terrific prizes and recognition among some of horseracing’s best known faces at this year’s Andoversford Races on Sunday April 7th. The racecourse has teamed up with Cheltenham Camera Club to stage an exhibition of the best images to describe the Cotswolds, together with a competition for the best image which will grace...

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27-02-2019 12:41:42 in General by Admin
The Cheltenham Festival, the Mecca for National Hunt racing fans is almost upon us. Local trainers Kim Bailey, Tom George, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Fergal O'Brien, and Jonjo O'Neill will all have aspirations of bringing home a winner. Kim Bailey’s yard looks to be in extremely good form, the yard turned out three consecutive winners on three individual days at three meetings during this last w...

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07-01-2019 17:38:34 in General by Admin
Eurobot, easy winner of last season's GX Land Rovers Open Maiden at Andoversford, opened his account under Rules at Cork on Sunday in a Maiden Hurdle for trainer Nole Meade and jockey Sean Flanagan.  Showing good stamina in soft ground over the extended 3m, Eurobot was always handy, took it up 2 out and kept on well to beat the one-paced Getaday and Invincible Cave.  Eurobot has earned...

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