The Cheltenham Gold Cup, run over 3 miles, 2 furlongs and 70 yards, and 22 notoriously stiff fences, at Prestbury Park in Gloucestershire, is the highlight of the Cheltenham Festival, staged annually in March. The race was first staged, in its current guise, in 1924 and, while it is not the most valuable steeplechase run in Britain – that distinction belongs, by a fair margin, to the Grand National – it is, in fact, the most valuable conditions, or non-handicap, steeplechase. In 2019, total prize money for the Cheltenham Gold Cup was £625,000, with the winner receiving £351,688.
The Gold Cup, run over 2 miles, 3 furlongs and 210 yards, and no obstacles at all, at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, is similarly the highlight of Royal Ascot week, staged annually in June. The Gold Cup is, far and away, the older of the two races, having been staged for the first time, in the presence of King George III – he of ‘madness’ fame – in 1807. Nowadays, the race is the most prestigious event in Britain and, arguably, in the world, for horses that specialise in racing over long distances, otherwise known as ‘stayers’. Prestigious though it may be, in 2018, total prize money for the Gold Cup was ‘just’ £500,000, with the winning receiving £283,550; when compared with the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Gold Cup is actually one race that gives lie to the often-repeated claim that National Hunt racing is the ‘poor relation’ of Flat racing.