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

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Where?

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

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Latest News

30-04-2018 17:13:33 in General by Admin
Book now for the West Midlands Area end of season awards dinner at Cheltenham Racecourse on June 30th.

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17-04-2018 11:10:38 in General by Admin
Top trainer and Master of Jackdaws Castle, Jonjo O'Neill, joined Dubarry's Laura Egan at this year's Andoversford Races to judge a new award for the Outstanding Performance of the day. The panel also included West Midlands PRO and Pointing guru Pete Mansell.  The award for the performance adjudged by the panel to contribute most to the day, went to Sam Jukes for producing Stone to win the Ro...

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13-04-2018 12:20:55 in General by Admin
Four British pointers were offered and sold at Goffs UK’s Aintree Sale yesterday evening, headed by Sunday’s Andoversford winner Eurobot, winner of the GX Land Rovers Open Maiden that concluded the card. The Tom Ellis-trained son of Malinas was led up by the trainer's wife, Gina Andrews, and knocked down for £105,000 to bloodstock agent Mags O'Toole, a frequent buyer for Giggins...

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11-04-2018 09:50:51 in General by Admin
Andoversford Races attracted a good crowd on Sunday afternoon, where there were a host of activities and stalls to keep everyone occupied which meant the wet weather failed to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. Sam Jukes enjoyed a successful day with a double on Stone in the feature Robert Hitchins Group Andoversford Grand Annual and The Well Road in the Rendcomb College Intermediate. As well as t...

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