Cheltenham is nearly here – and we all know what this means… excitement, thrills and lots of unexpected results. That’s why we love it so much. Here, we are going to look at some of the most iconic moments in Cheltenham Festival history…
A Very Expensive Fall
Famous jockey, Ruby Walsh looked all set to win. She was riding the stunning runner Annie Power in the Mares’ Hurdle in 2015 and looked fully in control.
Bettors were rubbing their hands together in glee with the idea of a big payday thanks to the exciting Mullins/Walsh combination. Earlier that day, Faugheen, Un De Sceaux and Douvan had all won their races and bookies were nervous. However, a bookmaker never loses right? Well, apparently this is true as some divine intervention stepped in to save the day. There were numerous four-fold accumulators waiting to be paid out with a Walsh victory – but alas, it was not to be.
There was some good news though – Annie are you okay? Well yes, Annie was just fine and ended up winning the Champions Hurdle the following year.
A Different Type of Race for Victoria Pendleton
Victoria Pendleton is well known for her racing prowess… on a bike. However, she seemingly wanted to try something a little different, so she decided to challenge herself by riding at Cheltenham. After the event, even she described the notion as ridiculous..
However, as you would expect from an Olympian, she showed a huge amount of skill and determination… and managed to ride Pacha Du Polder to a respectable 5th place in the StJames’ Palace Foxhunters Chase. She may not have won gold this time, but she did describe it as the greatest achievement of her life… even better than the two gold medals apparently.
An Amateur Gets the Biggest Prize
Well, apparently not. Let us introduce you to Sam Waley-Cohen, the owner of a dental practice who rode horses in his spare time.
In 2011, he rode Long Run and guided him to victory against some huge competition including Barry Geraghty and AP McCoy.
You can also take a look at all the other top British racecourses that jockeys compete in to try and make a name for themselves to make it onto the biggest stages in horse racing.
A Truly Unforgettable Finish
Next, we will look at a horse called Champ, named after Sir Anthony McCoy, who treated us all to a breathtaking win in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase.
He was about nine lengths down as they all reached the final fence – and they were just coming up to the famous uphill finish. No one at that time believed that the Nicky Henderson-trained horse could catch up with and challenge Allaho and Minella Indo.
But no one could have predicted that Minella Indo would go in tight at the last and that Alloho would simply just run out of gas. Through came Champ, rode expertly by Geraghty, and they treated us to a spine-tingling moment that is never going to be forgotten.
Defying the Odds: 100/1
There weren’t many people in possession of a winning betting slip in the 1990 Gold Cup. The 100-1 serious outsider, Norton’s Coin, was believed to have absolutely no chance of winning. However, he did just that for Sirrell Griffiths, the Welsh Farmer, who had only 2 other horses.
But this wasn’t the start of an exciting journey, sadly. It was just a one-off. He won just one more of his following 18 races and then retired.
The Big Three
Best Mate certainly became a few punters’ best mate when he managed to match the legendary Arkle by winning his 3rd Gold Cup back in 2004.
This created one of those iconic and unforgettable moments when a horse manages to capture the hearts and souls of the British public – on one of the biggest horse racing stages in the world.
Hopefully, the big 3 will be repeated for another iconic Cheltenham moment.