As the focus turns to Newbury racecourse this week (26-28 November) for the bet365 Festival — featuring the Hennessy Gold Cup — where some of the country’s top jump horses will battle it out, we take a look at the race’s most interesting facts:
1. This year will be the 59th running of the Hennessy Gold Cup.
2. The sponsorship by Hennessy has been passed down through eight generations of the Hennessy family.
3. This year’s three-day Festival has seen an £85,000 increase in total prize-money — the Hennessy Gold Cup is now valued at £200,000.
With around 120 horses in residence at Manor Farm Stables in Somerset, it’s a 24-7 job for Champion National Hunt
4. Six new chase fences have been re-built around the course.
5. Newbury racecourse, where the Hennessy is run, is undergoing a facelift next year — to include a new parade ring, saddling-up boxes and a new owners and trainers facility.
6. The Hennessy was first run at Cheltenham in 1957, it moved to Newbury three years later.
7. Hennessy has been associated with the race since it began making it the longest running commercial sponsorship in British racing.
8. There have been three dual winners of the prestigious race — Mandarin (1957 and 1961), Arkle (1964 and 1965) and Denman (2007 and 2009).
9. The most successful trainer of the Hennessy is the late Fulke Walwyn, who notched up seven victories.
10. The late Lord Oaksey has been the only amateur jockey to ever win the race — aboard Taxidermist in 1958.
11. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has both trained and ridden Hennessy winners. He triumphed riding Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), and then went on to train Strong Flow (2003) and Denman (2007 and 2009) to victory.
12. There have been 23 seven-year-old winners, 11 six-year-olds and 11 eight-year-olds.
13. Five greys have been triumphant — Stalbridge Colonist (1966), One Man (1994), Suny Bay (1997), Teeton Mill (1998) and What’s Up Boys (2001).
14. The biggest field came in 1962 when there were 27 runners.
15. The longest-priced winner was Sibton Abbey in 1992 — he was a 40/1 outsider.
16. A total of 30 winners have carried 11-stone or more to victory.
17. Four horses have made the impressive feat of winning both the Hennessy Gold Cup and Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season — Arkle, Bregawn, Denman and Bobs Worth.
18. Last year’s victor, Many Clouds, is the only horse to have won both the Hennessy and the Grand National in the same season. His owner, Trevor Hemmings, also took the honours in 2005 with Trabolgan.