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 5th 2020

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

28-03-2020 12:55:39 in General by Admin
With the news that Ireland’s attempt at closed doors racing has become a short-lived attempt to outwit the virus, western Europe is a wasteland for sporting endeavour, with no nation permitting organised sport at any level. Even the Olympics has capitulated in the path of the all-conquering Coronavirus. The shutdown serves as a reminder that enjoying racing need not be limited to the Britis...

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23-03-2020 10:51:04 in General by Admin
With the news that all racing in the UK been cancelled due to Coronavirus, Peter Watton from OddsMonkey explains what this could mean for the sport — and the people that rely on it to earn their living. You'd have to be a hermit to have missed the news about the recent spread of COVID-19. The virus is set to cause huge damage to the world's economy and the health of the world's population. ...

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17-03-2020 12:21:36 in General by Admin
The Point-to-Point Authority, the sport's governing body, has cencelled the rest of the season with immediate effect. This follows the government briefing last night that recommended reducing social contact to minimise the spread of the Corona virus.  A great deal of work goes into Andoversford Races by many folk, so our thanks are to them, to you our customers, fans and spectators, and all ...

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14-03-2020 16:49:31 in General by Admin
The annual fixture at Andoversford on Sunday April 5 remains on course, despite many sports halting or postponing over the past few days.  The race meeting is under the overall jurisdiction of the British Horseracing Authority, whose COVID-19 steering group met on Friday to issue the following statement, "British racing continues to be in close contact with the UK government and has been fol...

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