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

Gates open 1030. Pony racing 12 noon, Steeplechases from 2.15pm

Where?

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

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Latest News

28-11-2020 20:00:55 in General by Admin
You can always rely on the team at Jackdaws Castle to prep up a big handicap winner in the season, and they don't come much larger than the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury. This £200k staying chase is one of just 3 of that value during the entire season, the others being the Aintree and Scottish Nationals.  Running off bottom weight in a perfect piece of placing, the Trevor Hemmings' owned...

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21-11-2020 20:36:56 in General by Admin
It's been a great Saturday for our professional trainers here in Gloucestershire, taking the headlines at both ends of the country in some very valuable races.  The National Hunt season is more and more concentric around the big fixtures at weekends, notably Saturday, to the effect that big race horses are referred to as Saturday horses. With the exception of Boxing Day, New Year's Day, and ...

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19-11-2020 18:32:36 in General by Admin
The closing Open Maiden at Andoversford each year is generally not a race for which you'd delay departure from Andoversford, but it is taking higher ranking on the back of a second Rules graduate in as many years, following the win this week of Eurobot, winner of the race under Gina Andrews for Tom Ellis in Spring 2018.  Eurobot is exactly the type of horse British Pointing is trying to nu...

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14-11-2020 17:20:52 in General by Admin
Today’s 25th anniversary of the first cross country chase at Cheltenham brought back a host of memories about a race that is unique in Britain at any rate to Cheltenham. And given the state of racing’s finances now, I doubt the idea would have got off the drawing board now. I’m pleased to say I was closely involved throughout the race’s development. Back in the early ninet...

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