Four legendary Cheltenham Festival moments that drove the crowd crazy | Horse racing news

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Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

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Sprinter Scare and Nico de Boinville soak up the public adulation after the 2016 Champion Chase

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

By Sam Hendry

The Cheltenham Festival has hosted some of the most memorable moments in sporting history, and there’s nothing quite like it for a winning jockey or trainer than being propelled into the winner’s enclosure from the crowded stands. . Winning Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle or Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle would bring the house down, but before that, here’s a look at five other legendary festival moments that drove the crowd crazy. . .


Sprinter Sacre finds the Champion Chase, 2016

The background: Unquestionably one of the greatest two-mile chasers of all time, Sprinter Sacre swept it all before him over the fences, winning the Arkle and the Champion Chase in a scintillating seven-year streak of first year in 2012 and 2013 before irregular heartbeat issues started playing out. havoc in his career.

After making just four racetrack appearances and recording no wins in two and a half years from April 2013 to November 2015, he shrugged off retirement rumors in a successful comeback by winning the Shloer Chase and the Desert Orchid Chase in the pre-festival 2016.

But was he still at his electrifying best and would it be too much to ask for him to regain the Champion Chase crown he first won three years prior?

What happened: Un De Sceaux, who had won 14 times in 16 starts and was unbeaten at the end of his run, was a formidable favorite against the now ten-year-old Sprinter Sacre, who apparently had everything to do.

But in an emotional occasion that will long be remembered, the Nicky Henderson-trained star stunned his rivals by propelling himself forward on his way home and galloping to clear the hill. The impossible dream had come true and as tears flowed and raucous cheers echoed through the Cotswolds, Sprinter Sacre returned to the winner’s enclosure a new champion.

Watch the replay here


Kauto Star becomes the first horse to win back the Gold Cup, 2009

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

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Ruby Walsh celebrates aboard Kauto Star as the duo return to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2009

Ruby Walsh celebrates aboard Kauto Star as the duo return to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2009

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

The background: The seemingly unstoppable Kauto Star had his Gold Cup crown snatched away in 2008 by stablemate Denman, but, much like Michael Jordan, the five-time King George winner seemed to take it personally.

Victories in the Down Royal Champion Chase and the King George, either side of an unfortunate knockdown in the Betfair Chase, confirmed he had retained all his abilities in preparation for a much-anticipated rematch with Denman and an attempt at history, as no horse had ever regained the Gold Cup after losing it.

What happened: In one of the greatest jump racing exhibitions of all time, Ruby Walsh maintained a prime position throughout Kauto Star as he trailed the leaders.

Having barely set foot on his fences, Walsh got his shot three times and impressively built an impressive advantage over a not-quite-at-his-best Denman in a few strides to create a special piece of Cheltenham history. in front of a beloved fanbase.


Dessie does it in the Gold Cup, 1989

The background: Desert Orchid, the people’s champion and perhaps the most beloved British racehorse in history, had accomplished just about everything on all sorts of journeys and obstacles, but had yet to taste victory. at the Cheltenham Festival, which was not helped by his propensity to jump on his right.

After finishing runner-up in the Champion Chase in 1988, Desert Orchid arrived at Prestbury Park a year later at the peak of his powers after notching seven straight wins, including a second King George and a string of high-profile handicaps on the weight the higher.

What happened: On terrain he hated, on a track that was not his favorite and going in a direction where he could lose up to half a length at every obstacle, nothing stopped the magnificent gray yet.

Yahoo looked to have David Elsworth’s charge struggling and he had the advantage of jumping the last two fences, only for Desert Orchid – fueled by the roar of the Cheltenham faithful – to smash his rival up the hill and prevail in a epic contest, further cementing his legendary status.


Istabraq ties legends with third straight Champion Hurdle, 2000

The background: Managed first by John Gosden and then by legendary flat trainer Aidan O’Brien, Istabraq’s rise to the top of jump racing was not typical, nor was the monstrous talent he possessed on the hedges.

Istabraq had won 20 of his 23 hurdle starts, including 12 Grade 1s before arriving at Cheltenham in March 2000 in search of a record third Champion Hurdle and a festival win for the fourth consecutive year.

What happened: With Charlie Swan sporting JP McManus’ famous green and gold hoops, he and Istabraq were kicked out of the 8-15 favorite to match the feat of See You Then, Persian War, Sir Ken and Hatton’s Grace.

After taking the shortest route from all around the inside, victory was never in doubt after Istabraq effortlessly accelerated as he jumped into the lead at the end, allowing the crowd to savor their returning champion as he waltzed up the hill.

Unfortunately, the foot-and-mouth disease crisis robbed Istabraq of the chance to claim a historic fourth victory in the race, and he was stopped in the 2002 race at the age of ten before retiring.


Then read them:

Three stories set to take center stage at the Cheltenham Festival

Five unforgettable Cheltenham Festival races that changed in an instant


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FIRST PUBLICATION AT 7:00 AM, MARCH 14, 2022

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