Coral Cup Racecard
The Coral Cup is a Grade 3 handicap hurdle race, open to horses aged four and older, which is held on Day Two of the Cheltenham Festival, which is traditionally the Wednesday. The race is run over a distance of just over two miles and five furlongs (2 miles, 5 furlongs and 26 yards), with ten hurdles jumped by those taking part, and is widely considered to be one of the most competitive races at the entire festival.
JOCKEY & TRAINER
Established in 1993, the race has been sponsored by Coral for its entire history, and was upgraded to Grade 3 status in 1999.
The inaugural winner of the race, the Peter Scudamore-trained Olympian , was awarded a £50,000 bonus by the sponsors for winning the Imperial Cup at Sandown, another highly competitive handicap hurdle race, over two miles, the week before.
The bonus is available to any winner of the Imperial Cup who can win at the Festival a week later, and whilst Olympian is the only horse to have won it by following up in the Coral Cup, the Martin Pipe-trained Blowing Wind earned the bonus by winning the County Hurdle in 1998, and Gaspara also achieved the bonus in 2007, by following up in the Fred Winter.
The 2008 renewal of the Coral Cup, won by the Ferdy Murphy-trained Naiad du Misselot , had to be switched to the New Course at Cheltenham due to high winds and as a result was run over half a furlong shorter, over two miles and four and a half furlongs.
The race is one of the most competitive races at the entire Festival, and as such the winner regularly returns at a big price, with just one favourite winning the race this century – the Tony Martin-trained Xenophon , who won the 2003 Coral Cup and returned home the 4/1 favourite, ridden by Mick Fitzgerald.
Perhaps the most prestigious winner of the Coral Cup is Whisper , who won the race when trained by Nicky Henderson in 2014, but is now trained by Sam Thomas.
Whisper went on to win the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree a year later and latterly progressed to become a top-class staying chaser, finishing second to Might Bite in a thrilling renewal of the RSA Chase in 2017.
Dai Walters’ colours were also carried to victory in the 2019 renewal won by William Henry, who flashed home under Nico de Boinville to deny the Willie Mullins-trained Wicklow Brave. That win means that Henderson is now tied with Martin Pipe as the leading trainer in the race (three wins apiece).
The leading jockey in the Coral Cup is Davy Russell , who has won the race three times, with Naiad de Misselot in 2008, Carlito Brigante in 2011 and most recently with Diamond King in 2016.