The first organised Flat race meeting in Cheltenham took place in 1815 on Nottingham Hill, with the first races on Cleeve Hill in August 1818. Racing’s popularity soared over the next decade with crowds of 30,000 visiting the racecourse for its annual two day July meeting featuring the Gold Cup, a 3m flat race.
In 1829, Cheltenham’s Parish Priest, Reverend Francis Close, preached the evils of horseracing and aroused such strong feeling amongst his congregation that the race meeting in 1830 was disrupted. Before the following year’s meeting, the grandstand was burnt to the ground!
To overcome this violent opposition the racecourse was moved to Prestbury Park, its current venue, in 1831. Steeplechasing became established in nearby Andoversford from 1834 and moved to the present course in 1898.
In 1964, Racecourse Holdings Trust (now Jockey Club Racecourses) was formed to secure the future of Cheltenham. The group now owns 14 racecourses - a combination of jump, flat and dual-purpose courses - as well as training grounds in Newmarket, Lambourn and Epsom and the National Stud. The Jockey Club Group reinvest all profits back into British racing to ensure its continued success.
The stands changed little between the 1930s and 1950s when the National Hunt Steeplechase course ran behind the back of the stands.
1924 saw the introduction of The Gold Cup, read all about the history of the Gold Cup and our winners.