The Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park

Goffs Thyestes Chase Day at Gowran Park Racecourse is a huge tradition for race fans across Ireland. Taking place on a Thursday in late January just adds to aura as people take a day off work and children get time off school, indeed for years many local schools close as they know attendance will be so limited anyway!

A few points of note:

  • First run in 1954
  • Race Distance is 3 mile 1 furlong (5,029 metres).
  • Maximum field is 18 runners.
  • Winning most trainer is Willie Mullins with 7 – his first was Micko’s Dream in 2000
  • Prize Fund is €100,000
  • Race has been sponsored by Goffs for 9 years
  • Competitors face 17 fences.
  • Takes place on a Thursday in late January.
  • TW Dreaper won the race as a trainer three years in a row 1964-1966 with Arkle

So what does the word Thyestes mean?

In Greek mythology Thyestes was the King of Olympia. Thyestes and his brother, Atreus, were exiled by their father for having murdered their half-brother, Chrysippus, in their desire for the throne of Olympia.

So how or when did the Thyestes Chase tradition begin?

The race takes its name from the racehorse, Thyestes, by The Tetrarch (out of Tetratema), was bred by Major Victor McCalmont of Mount Juliet and trained by Atty Persse at Stockbridge, Wiltshire. Thyestes was rated the third-best two-year-old of 1930 as a result of his winning his only two races, the National Breeders Produce Stakes over 5 furlongs at Sandown Park and the Rous Memorial Stakes over 6 furlongs at Goodwood. Thyestes never ran again due to injury and was retired to stud in Yorkshire. The Thyestes trophy was presented to the Kilkenny Show by Major Dermot McCalmont for a 5-year-old likely to make a good hunter. The trophy was won by a horse owned by Mr John McEnery of Rossenarra Stud, Kells, County Kilkenny and ridden by his son Martin. The McEnery family then presented it to Gowran Park for the first running of the Thyestes Chase in 1954

The race is usually contested by horses who go on to run in the Grand National and has been won in recent years by two horses who have gone on to win the Grand National, in Hedgehunter and Numbersixvalverde. In recent years horses who have won the Goffs Thyestes Chase have gone very close in the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Djakadam & On His Own both finishing being just pipped at the post.

Famous winners:

The Thyestes Chase was won by Arkle in 1964 and led into the winners enclosure by the Duchess of Westminister, this was the same year Arkle won the first of his three Cheltenham Gold Cups. Another notable winner was FlyingBolt in 1966 who also won the Irish Grand National & Queen Mother Champion Chase. In recent times Aintree Grand National winners Hedgehunter (2005) and Numbersixvalverde (2006) had previously won the Thyestes Chase.


As one would expect there have been a number of famous sponsors of the Thyestes Chase. Goffs are the current sponsors and have been doing so for 8 years and they will continue for another 3 years. Previous sponsors include Cusine de France and Duggan Steel.

You can purchase tickets for this years Goffs Thyestes Chase here.

Thyestes Chase Winners 1960 to present day

YearWinning HorseTrainerJockeyS.P.
2020Total RecallWillie MullinsDanny Mullins16/1
2019Invitation OnlyWillie Mullins 7th winRuby Walsh4/1f
2018Monbeg NotoriousGordon ElliottJack Kennedy7/2fav
2017Champagne WestHenry DeBromheadDavid Mullins7/1
2016My MurphyW.J.BurkeR.M. Power16/1
2015DjakadamW.P. Mullins 6th winR. Walsh (1st win)9/2
2014On His OwnW.P. MullinsP. Townend12/1
2013JadanliPaul John GilliganA.E. Lynch25/1
2012On His OwnW.P. MullinsD.J. Casey10/1
2011SiegemasterD.T. HughesD.N. Russell16/1
2010Whinstone BoyJ.J. ManganS.W. Flanagan5/1
2009Preists LeapThomas O'LearyP.T. Enright20/1
2008Preists LeapThomas O'LearyP.T. Enright20/1
2007Homer WellsW.P. MullinsD.J. Condon16/1
2006Dun DoireA.J. MartinP. Carberry9/4 fav
2005NumbersixvalverdeMartin BrassilMr. N.P. Madden8/1
2004HedgehunterW.P. MullinsD.J. Casey100/30 fav
2003Be My BelleS.J. TreacyT.J. Murphy4/1
2002This Is SeriousC.F. SwanD.J. Casey10/1
2001Bob TreacyM.W. HickeyJ.L. Cullen12/1
2000Micko's DreamW.P. MullinsJ.F. Titley7/1
1999Bob TreacyM.W. HickeyN. Williamson8/1
1998LetterleeT. CahillJ.R. Barry11/1
1997Couldn’t Be BetterC. Brooks (in GB)G. Bradley7/1
1996Wylde HideA.L.T. MooreF. Woods3/1 fav
1995Wylde HideA.L.T. MooreF. Woods13/8 fav
1994NuaffeP. FahyS.H. O'Donovan10/1
1993Zeta's LadJ.R. Upson (in GB)R.J. Supple11/2
1992Grand HabitH deBromheadJ.F. Titley16/1
1991Roc De PrinceT.M. WalshB. Sheridan16/1
1990MweenishJ. Webber (in GB)P. Gill20/1
1989Olan LadP.F. LehaneM. Flynn4/1
1988Feltrim Hill LadP. GriffinP.G. Connell9/4 fav
1987LucisisF. FloodF. Berry100/30
1986MonanoreW. HarneyT. Morgan5/1
1985Seskin BridgeP.D. McCreeryM.M. Lynch11/2
1984Luck DaughterMs. C. PurcellR. O'Donovan20/1
1983TacroyF. FloodF. Berry5/1
1982Felicitys PetJ.G. MurphyP. Gill25/1
1981June's FriendP. ManganJohn Cullen25/1
1980Secret ProgressJ. HeelanM. Cummins8/1
1979TarthistleE.J. O'GradyT.J. Ryan25/1
1978KintaiP. WoodsT. Kinane10/1
1977Bannow RamblerP.M. BerryM.J. Furlong3/1
1976Brown LadJ.T. DreaperT. Carberry7/2
1975Southern QuestW.E. FletcherS. Shields50/1
1974The GodfatherJ.T. DreaperS. Barker14/1
1973VeuveD.L. MooreA.L.T. Moore5/1
1972Dim WitP. MullinsM. Curran5/2 fav
1971Money BoatF. FloodT. Carberry9/2
1970Smooth DealerW.T. O'GradyF. Shortt5/1
1969Greek VulganT. TaaffeB. Hannon8/1
1968Great LarkW.T. O'GradyT.S. Murphy8/1
1967Greek VulganT. TaaffeB. Hannon4/1
1966FlyingboltT.W. DreaperP. Taaffe2/5 fav
1965Fort LeneyT.W. DreaperL. McLoughlin5/4 fav
1964ArkleT.W. DreaperP. Taaffe4/6 fav
1963My BabyP. MurphyF. Shortt6/1
1962KerforoT.W. DreaperL. McLoughlin6/1
1961Hunter's BreezeA.C. Bryce-SmithF. Carroll4/1
1960Blue MothP. SleatorF. Carroll10/1