The Grand Military Gold Cup At Sandown Park
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The Grand Tradition Of Military Horse Racing

For nearly two thousand years horses have been involved in military campaigns in Britain and by the British Forces.

The Grand Military Gold Cup At Sandown Park

For nearly two thousand years horses have been involved in military campaigns in Britain and by the British Forces. Indeed even in 2016 the British Army has more horses than tanks.

It's maybe no surprise then that the 'sport of kings' has been and remains an integral part of military life.

The two biggest races in the calendar being the annual Grand Military Gold Cup held in April, and the Royal Artillery Gold Cup in February, both at the famous Sandown Park.

Both have a long heritage with the Grand Military Gold Cup having been run since 1841. 

The race is restricted to (currently serving) Military Amateur Riders. Ownership of the horses in the race is also limited to serving or ex-serving members of the armed forces.

But if you needed a sign that this is all highly competative and taken seriously you need to look no further than the trainers.

Nicky Henderson, the British jump racing Champion Trainer on three occasions, has trained two Grand Military winners. Paul Nicholls, widely acknowledged as the National Hunt trainer of his generation, has had no less than 5 winners in the race since 1999.

This year's race was remarkable for a number of reasons, not least the success of winning jockey Lt Col Erica Bridge after 12 years of trying.

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Pic: 2014 Grand Military Gold Cup, second place Kastani Beach ridden by Lt Col Erica Bridge

In 2007 the then Major became the first woman to command The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery in the Household Division's 350 year history. 

2016 was also the first time the same horse has won both the Grand Military and Royal Artillery Gold Cups, albeit with different riders. 

Eight year old mare Jennys Surprise, trained by Fergal O'Brien taking her winning total to four out of eleven races and steered successfully round the Sandown track in February by Brodie Hampson. 

Brodie herself riding at Aintree this Grand National weekend in the Foxhunters' Chase. Open only to amateur riders she'll be one of 30 runners tackling eighteen of the Grand National fences over a 2 mile 5 furlong distance.

Don't forget if you're one of the 30,000 British Armed Forces personnel serving overseas you can watch the Grand National itself this Saturday on BFBS Sport (Channel 07). Full coverage begins at 1430 with the race itself underway at 1715 UK time.

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