The pinnacle of the National Hunt season, the four-day horse racing extravaganza centers on the marquee event: the Cheltenham Gold Cup, so-named for the 23-ounce, 644-gram, 9-karat solid-gold cup awarded to the winner of the grueling, 3-mile, 2.5-furlong, 22-jump Grade 1 steeplechase.
This year, the race falls on St. Patrick’s Day (Friday, March 17). Perhaps the luck of the Irish will prevail again for nine-year-old bay gelding A Plus Tard and racing’s golden girl, Co. Tipperary-born Rachael Blackmore—who made history last year as the first woman jockey to win the race.
In honor of the festival, Luxury Defined spotlights six equestrian estates for horses and riders of all stripes. In the lineup are an equitation center in the Dutch Province of Gelderland, dedicated to dressage and show jumping at the international level; a horse farm within hacking distance of the Wellington International; and a 100-acre riding resort in Mallorca, Spain.
Back at Cheltenham, the colorful cavalcade of horses and jockeys are under starters orders, the tape goes up, the famous “Cheltenham Roar” resounds across the course … and they’re off!
1. Equitation Center and Rider’s Retreat in Gelderland, Netherlands
The main barn has 44 oversized stalls, a 20 x 40 m indoor arena with high- and low-tide floor system, a washing and grooming area, solarium, tack room, blanket room, and feed storage shed. The upper level offers a cozy canteen with arena-viewing space, and a groom’s apartment.
Nearby is an Olympic-sized outdoor arena, lunging arena, six-horse walker, two barns, and more than 11 acres of fenced pastures.
Riders can retreat to the luxuriously appointed thatched farmhouse with seven bedrooms and a separate wing with six additional stables for mares and foals or other four-legged friends. The gardens are a delight with fruit and nut orchards, lawned picnic grounds, and terraces for alfresco entertaining.
2. Moyaliffe House in Ballycahill, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
The manor house has been conscientiously restored to preserve its fine period details, principally Georgian in character with an elegant Victorian façade.
The grandly proportioned six-bedroom residence offers luxurious accommodations, including a ground-floor apartment, currently used as a boutique B&B. A museum, library, gym, and wine cellar are among the amenities.
The elevated 12-acre grounds are laid out in formal gardens, woodlands, paddocks, stable yards, and several heritage buildings, including a coach house. Of particular note is the two-acre walled garden and the estate’s centuries-old woodlands, a habitat for wildlife.
A hard tennis court, beech walk, formal parterre, Victorian three-tier cast iron fountain, and a restored well dating from the Norman period add to the allure.
3. Equestrian Resort in Palma de Mallorca, Spain
The licensed hotel offers 22 luxurious garden suites in contemporary style and finish, housed in traditional ranch buildings. They adjoin the elegant glass-walled restaurant, which seats 117, and a pool terrace with Jacuzzi.
Creature comforts aside, the estate takes its training seriously: There are two 20 x 60 m dressage arenas, a 50 x 70 m show-jumping arena and a 20 x 60 m, fully insulated indoor riding arena, and a horse walker with an integrated lunging circle.
The facility accommodates 50 horses in five U-shaped stables, each with ten boxes, two tack rooms, grooming and washing areas. The surrounding agricultural lands include storage buildings for equipment and supplies.
4. Turnkey Equestrian Operation in Gurnee, Illinois, United States
The current owner has hosted numerous USEF, NIHJA, IDCTA, and PTS competitions over the years given the outstanding facilities: two heated indoor arenas, four all-weather outdoor arenas, a Grand Prix show-jumping field, spectator-viewing areas, a surround-sound system, clubrooms, vendor and hospitality areas.
There are 117 permanent stalls, 323 temporary stalls, and another 4 stalls in the silo barn. Additional features include a staff house, offices, tack rooms and wash bays, 12.5 acres of pastures and 10 smaller paddocks (all with 6-foot lanes between fences), and 12 miles of double-fenced bridle trails leading through the 600-acre Hunt Club Farms development.
5. Elegant Equestrian Estate in Vaud, Switzerland
The stately, 18th-century manor house offers 10,764 square feet of beautifully appointed interiors across four levels, including a lower-level spa with resistance pool, hammam, and lounge. The main level opens to a beautiful arcade and out to a terrace with an infinity pool.
The wider grounds include a lake, fenced pastures, and stable yard with five loose boxes and a tack room, a separate guest house, and a staff apartment. Located just outside the charming village of Marnand, the property is 30 minutes from Lausanne and an hour from Geneva International Airport.
6. Premier Horse Barn in Grand Prix Village South, Wellington, Florida
The expandable 16,800-square-foot indoor arena affords year-round training. The lower level of the barn houses a spacious riders’ lounge, two air-conditioned tack rooms, feed room, two half bathrooms, a large laundry, and sprinkler and fly-spray systems.
An elevator rises to the luxurious owner’s lounge, with a fully equipped chef’s kitchen and full bathroom. A screened-in lanai makes an ideal spot for entertaining. Just beyond are immaculate fenced paddocks and a two-bedroom groom’s house.