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)

Buy your tickets now

Latest News

23-01-2021 20:15:01 in General by Peter McNeile
Until 7.30 this evening, today was becoming a rare ray of sunshine in an otherwise grey and long January. A crisp sunny day after the wet and grey of the week's weather, Graded winners for two Andoversford trainers and Cheltenham Town going one up in the FA Cup 4th round against Manchester City looked like a day made in Heaven.  But as anyone in racing will tell you, triumph and disaster are...

Read more...

19-01-2021 14:08:58 in General by Peter McNeile
Imperial Aura became the pride of Andoversford in 2020. Two Listed wins and a Grade 2 success later, he is the apple of trainer Kim Bailey’s eye and undisputed star of the yard at Thorndale Farm.  In 2021, the goal is simple – repeat winning up the road from his stable at the Cheltenham Festival, though not in novice handicap company. The prize Imperial Aura is aiming...

Read more...

14-01-2021 19:43:03 in General by Peter McNeile
January is a bleak month at the best of times, and racing in spectator-free courses is ebbing away the enthisiasm of all byt the most ardent fan and some professionals too. However, at lowly Bangor today, three of our lesser lights found the opportunity to shine. Evesham's Tony Carroll is largely focused on the Flat nowadays, but opened his account for the National Hunt season belatedly when Man ...

Read more...

09-01-2021 19:28:33 in General by Peter McNeile
Gloucestershire handlers filled the top 4 berths in Kempton Park's 3m Handicap Chase this afternoon, but had mixed fortunes in the day's feature event, the Silviniaco Conti Chase later the same afternoon.  Whilst there have been some notable highlights in top drawer races, the Slad stable of Tom George has not been making headlines in the bread and butter races of mid week fixtures, but it b...

Read more...

Our Sponsors