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So just why was Four Ten’s win in the 1954 Cheltenham Gold Cup so special?

Cheltenham > Sport > Horse Racing

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Saturday, 10th March 2018, 09:00

The first race of this year’s Cheltenham Festival is on Tuesday at 1.30pm The first race of this year’s Cheltenham Festival is on Tuesday at 1.30pm

One of the great things about sport is that nothing is ever certain. And that is never more true than in the sport of National Hunt racing.

Horseracing fans both young and old are always looking for that so-called ‘certainty’ of course, particularly at this time of year when all eyes are on the Cheltenham Festival.

The Gold Cup next Friday afternoon is obviously the highlight of the four-day racing spectacular – which gets under way at 1.30pm on Tuesday – and there will be no certainties in that race, that is for sure. How can there be in a field of such quality?

But of one thing we can be certain… the winning horse in the blue riband event will not be trained in Cheltenham.

In fact, only once has a Gold Cup winner ever been trained within what is now the Cheltenham borough boundary.

That was in 1954 when the John Roberts-trained Four Ten pulled clear on the run-in to win by four lengths.

“That’s the only time that a Gold Cup winner was trained within what is now the Cheltenham boundary,” said Mike Edwards, who has been a passionate supporter of all things jump racing for much of his 70-plus years.

He’s been right at the heart of the industry, too, having been head lad with Charles Taylor in Bishop’s Cleeve back in the 1960s and is still involved with the sport today through his family’s ownership of horses.

“John Roberts lived at Morningside Cottage in Mill Lane in Prestbury and that was where the yard was,” said Edwards.

And a pretty good yard it was too because back in the day they had a couple of good apprentice jockeys – Richard Pitman and Johnny Woodall – who went on to do some pretty big things in the sport.

If you liked your racing, there was certainly plenty to keep you interested around Prestbury in those days.

“There was another yard – Frenchie Nicholson’s – just down the road from John Roberts at Sandford Dene which backed onto the racecourse,” explained Edwards.

“I always remember Johnny Roberts’ yard because we used to walk past it on our way up to Cleeve Hill when we were 10 or 11 year olds, and Four Ten was a big part of it.

“In those days you’d always see a string of horses going up the road to Cleeve Hill, there was very little traffic. It doesn’t happen now, even the quiet roads are like motorways!

“These days most yards are in the depths of the countryside so it’s very different. There aren’t any trainers in Cheltenham any more and haven’t been for many years.”

Edwards has certainly seen a lot of changes over the years and he knows his racing because he never missed a Festival race from 1960 to 2013 – except if they were cancelled for any reason.

He can still remember Pas Seul, the first Gold Cup winner he saw in 1960, as if it were yesterday, but ask him who his favourite horse of all time is and he’ll answer without hesitation “Mill House”.

Mill House famously won the Gold Cup in 1963 and Edwards added: “He was the finest looking chaser. When he won the Gold Cup that was my highlight.

“I know Arkle beat him the next two or three years but he was my dream racehorse, he was a magnificent horse. I still rave about Mill House today.”

In more recent times, it was 2008 Gold Cup winner Denman who caught the Edwards eye.

“He was another great big horse,” said Edwards, who lives in Guiting Power. “I like big old-fashioned chasers. They are a different type of horse today. They’re bred differently, much smaller.”

The horses may be smaller but the Gold Cup-winning trainer will certainly be a big noise soon after 3.30pm next Friday. It’s just that he or she won’t be from Cheltenham.

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