After the Festival became an established sporting fixture, the catalyst for further change and added momentum was in the air in the years post World War 2. It was in those years that we first started to see the influence of the Irish at the Festival and one of the greatest Irish trainers of all-time trained the first Irish Gold Cup winner in Cottage Rake.
The Irish will have gained hope and heart from that victory and the subsequent exploits of Cottage Rake but the horse who came to encapsulate a nation was just on the horizon and it was Arkle who was set to define not only his legacy in the pantheon of Cheltenham greats but become the one of the all-time greats. He won three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups and such was his class that he had to give away massive amounts of weight to horses in handicaps. In his 34 races under rules he carried at least 12 stone in 23 of them but still managed to finish his career with 27 victories.
It could be said that Cheltenham made Arkle but equally it was Arkle who made the Cheltenham, certainly in this era, especially in his legendary battles with the top English chaser Mill House, their rivalry became nation vs. nation and that competitive element remains until this day at the Festival.
Of course there were other crucial factors in Cheltenham growing popularity and pre-eminence in the sporting calendar – the course became the property of Racecourse Holding Trust, who invested greatly in the course and its facilities, making the course better for all who visited it. A range of Cheltenham betting offers by on and off course bookmakers also boosted the popularity of the event.
Adding to that popularity was the interest that the BBC were now showing in covering racing with the Cheltenham Festival becoming one of the jewels in the crown. Although the coverage has now long departed BBC it remains as a highlight on Channel 4 and the specialist racing channels and anyone looking to bet on Cheltenham 2011 will be find plenty of coverage at their finger tips. The post-war years enabled Cheltenham to have the basis to move on and become even more popular in the modern era.