You’ve never heard of the Mascot Gold Cup?
It’s only the biggest event in the racing calendar… so long as you don’t count all of the other horse races run that year of course.
It has been going since 2005 on behalf of Sue Ryder, the palliative, neurological and bereavement support charity formed in 1953, although it has had a few missed years since that time.
It’s a great bit of fun among nestled in amongst an otherwise regular day of racing, but while it may be a bit of a giggle to watch, it exists for a very serious reason – the raise money for many brilliant charities.
In fact, it has raised over £175,000 for charity since it first started.
It has been sponsored by the likes of Forresters and Poundland in the past, which accounts for some of that money, but all of the runners take part on behalf of different charities too.
It’s even a record breaking racing event, with an official entry in the Guiness Book of Records; the Largest Mascot Race, which they achieved in 2015 with 125 mascots taking part.
This is everything you never knew you needed to know about the Mascot Gold Cup.
How Does the Mascot Gold Cup Work?
It’s a lot more structured than just letting some people in silly outfits loose on the straight for a few minutes, they even use proper photo finish technology where necessary.
Entrants must pay a £40 entry fee which goes to Sue Ryder, and the race takes place in between the first and second real horse races of the day, so it’s nice and early.
The mascots all do a lap of the parade ring during which punters can size them up and place their bets – yep, the on-course bookies give odds on the Mascot Gold Cup – and then there is a brief warm up before the race begins.
There are usually at least 70 odd mascots running in the race, so individual odds are probably only given to those who have run before, such as in the case of Danger Mouse in 2019 who was priced at 5/6 and won.
The race is over a set distance of 1 furlong (or 220 yards). It used to be longer but it was taking the slower mascots like Mr and Mrs Sausage too long to complete the ‘course’, so it was shortened.
The runners – if you can call some of them runners, the most they can manage in the more difficult outfits is a shuffle or a waddle – are even given a handicap.
It seems to be based on how easy the costume is to move in or see out of, because those in trickier costumes start before those who can move more freely.
This creates a staggered start, with just a handful of mascots struggling their way up the field for 5 or 10 seconds before the main horde of turtles, bunnies, foxes, giraffes and cartoon characters hurtle past them.
There are six obstacles to jump along the way which causes much hilarity and those who can’t see their feet fall over and their fake heads roll away etc.
It’s utter chaos, but it’s organised chaos.
Where is it Run?
The Mascot Gold Cup has been run at Wetherby since its inception, so a lot of the mascots are those of local business or community clubs.
They even had a local Conservative MP take part once, but he fell at the second and had to be helped up by the stewards. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.
While it may attract more local businesses and good causes than those from afar, there is no maximum distance rule or anything if that nature.
In fact, the Mascot Gold Cup has welcomed mascots from as far afield as Germany, so it’s not just a local affair.
Another interesting bit of trivia is that ex Leeds United winger and Scotland international, Gary McAllister won the thing in 2015, dressed as a horse called the Red Marauder. He fought off stiff competition from Harris the Hound, but ultimately claimed victory.
Speaking of Scotland, there has also been a Scottish Mascot Gold Cup which was run in 2011 at Musselburgh, but this isn’t something that seems to have established itself long term.
A shame really, as we would love to see a haggis with legs tearing past the winner’s post.
One of the really funny things about this race is the fact that the commentators work it as though it were serious.
You can hear them having fun with it, but they aren’t sending the race up or laughing at it, rather they are giving it a style all its own, and this only makes it more enjoyable.
There have been some fantastic one liners over the years:
“The sausages start first. They’re regulars here. They try very hard but it takes them a while to finish.”
“The Horny Cow is still going! The Horny Cow has passed the hedgehog!”
“He’s down at the last, he’s lost his head!” (the mascot’s head had literally fallen off)
“Eddie the Hedgehog wins by a short spike!”
“Danger Mouse is in front! He’s the strongest, he’s the quickest, he’s the best.”
“Snappy the Alligator is back on his feet, but he loses his bearings and runs straight into our stewards.”
“Mr and Mrs Sausage are running at either end of the field, the full width of the track between them. They usually run together. Maybe they have had a row?”
“Wok on Noodle Box may have jumped his official handicap start there but he’s going to be over the line first.”
“The Wine Maker is behind, but he’s going to improve with age.”
There are many many more but we would be here all day if we listed every one.
You can find replays online if you want a bit of a giggle, and we promise it will be worth your time, just to see Benedict Cumberland fall at the first and then trip Cliffe the Castle from Keighly.
Where else are you going to see that sort of entertainment?