The Haldon Gold Cup is a Grade 2 steeplechase run over 2 miles, 1 furlong and 109 yards at Exeter in early November. Open to horses aged four years and upwards, the race takes its name from the Haldon Hills, also known simply as Haldon, on which Exeter Racecourse stands, at a height of 850 feet above sea level. Inaugurated in 1969, the Haldon Gold Cup was promoted to Grade 2 status in 1990, having previously been run as a Listed contest and became a limited handicap, which it remains to this day, in 1996.
Not altogether surprisingly, West Country trainer Paul Nicholls is the leading handler in the history of the Haldon Gold Cup with eight wins, courtesy of Lake Kariba (1998), Flagship Uberalles (1999), Azertyuiop (2004), Tchico Polos (2010), Vibrato Valtat (2015), Politologue (2017) and Greaneteen (2020 & 2022). Travado, trained by Nicky Henderson, completed a hat-trick of wins in 1993, 1994 and 1995 and remains the most successful horse so far. Other notable winners down the years include Best Mate (2001), Edredon Bleu (2002 & 2003) and Cue Card (2012). Sadly, triple Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate also contested the 2005 renewal of the Haldon Gold Cup, but collapsed and died from a suspected heart attack after being pulled up three fences from home.
The Haldon Gold Cup is another race that routinely attracts single-figure fields. Four of the last ten runnings have been won by the starting-price favourite, but all ten have been won by horses returning from absences of at least three months and, more often than not, over six months. Typical winners are aged six or seven years, officially rated 151, or higher, and have at least one Grade 1 or Grade 2 win to their name.