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 11th 2021 (to be confirmed)

Gates open 1030. Pony racing 12 noon, Steeplechases from 2pm

Where?

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

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Latest News

03-06-2020 13:05:47 in General by Admin
Ilona Barnett, raceday steward at Andoversford and a mainstay of the raceday team that delivers the annual Andoversford Races, has been elected Chair of the Point-to-Point Secretaries Association, and joins the Point-to-Point Authority board to represent the interests of the 170 or so fixtures across the UK. With a solid background in farming, Pointing and racing, Ilona should be able to make her...

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07-05-2020 16:37:42 in General by Admin
During lockdown, most businesses have focused on trying to keep afloat, whilst applauding the efforts of the medical professionals keeping us healthy. But one racing business has used its expertise to support the collective national effort.  The leading racing silks maker in Europe, Allertons, has changed course during the coronavirus crisis to support local hospitals and provide hundreds of...

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06-05-2020 17:59:38 in General by Admin
Did you get up in time to watch the Grand Annual in Australia on Tuesday, in the absence of being able to watch our own here at Andoversford? If so, you were rewarded with a  great race in the Warnnambool sunshine, fought out by previous winners Gold Medals and Zed Em, who were outpointed by young challenger Ablaze, trained bu Cieran Maher. It looks like our own version would sit very well a...

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03-05-2020 19:53:18 in General by Admin
Andoversford takes great pride in being the first site of the Grand Annual Chase in 1834, but our colonial cousins have adopted the rasce and then some. They are still racing in Australia and Tuesday's Waterfront by Lyndoch Living Grand Annual at Warrnambool is the most valuable running of the Grand Annual anywhere at AUS $315,000, (£161,000), and part of a breathtaking 8 race card worth Aus...

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