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

04-08-2020 17:51:57 in General by Admin
Withington trainer Fergal O'Brien, who more than doubled the stable strength of National Hunt yards within close proximity of Andoversford with his move to new premises last year, has started the season in fine style. The new yard has sent out more winners than any other British trainer in July, recording 10 winners from 35 runners at a strike rate of 29%. One could be forgiven for thinking yard ...

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24-07-2020 17:43:28 in General by Admin
Gloucestershire trainer Christian Leech, whose wife Sophie holds the licence for their growing operation in Newnham, raised the thorny issue of comparative prize money again this week in an article in the Guardian.  Leech, whose stable enjoyed 9 winners from 100 runners last season, has had as many runners in France as in the UK since the resumption of racing on July 1st, with 60% running in...

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14-07-2020 18:31:41 in General by Admin
After a fortnight of behind closed doors Jump racing in the UK, trainers based in Gloucestershire are outperforming their peers in making up for lost time on the winners' chalkboard. After 7 fixtures, and a splendid 64 races, 11 have returned successfully to the county.  Jump racing during the summer can rarely be described as of the highest quality, but owners' patience in retaining horses ...

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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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