Last updated Nov 13, 7:23pm     sportingsamcan on Horse Racing    5 Comments    1220 Views

The Cheltenham Festival has given us some sensational moments over the years, we take a look at five of the most iconic moments ever seen at Prestbury Park.

Make sure you also take a moment to check out our five golden rules to follow at the Cheltenham Festival here

Annie Power makes Champion return

The OLBG mares race has seen plenty of drama over the years, no moment is ever likely to match when Annie Power fell with the race at her mercy. That fall prevented bookmakers paying out an estimated £50 million after earlier results had been in favour of punters that had multiple bets riding onto the star mare. Whilst much was made about her fall that day the iconic moment for me has to be her return to the course 12 months later to win the Champion Hurdle in empathic style. With stablemate Faugheen out injured, the path was clear for Willie Mullins to send the eight year old to the top hurdle race at the Festival. She went off the 5/2 joint favourite and used her seven pound allowance against the geldings to great effect. Sadly, we only ever saw her on the racecourse once more before injury ended her days on the track.

Currently in foal to star flat horse Camelot breeders will hope she can pass on her ability to a new generation.

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Masterminded jumps them silly in the Champion Chase

Clive Smith’s silks tend to be more attached to Kauto Star by racing fans but his stablemate Master Minded was a true great in his own right having won two fantastic Champion Chases and was an electrifying watch over his fences. Brought from France after eight runs, he was transformed in the care of Paul Nicholls and he won thirteen times for Nicholls at a time when he seemed to dominate every big race at the Festival with the likes of Big Bucks, Denamn and Kauto Star. While we have been treated to many special Champion Chase winners, Masterminded was arguably one of the best and this effort lives long in the memory of racing fans.

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Vautour makes it three Festival wins

To win once at the festival you have to be a good horse, to win twice a special horse, to win three times you have to be exceptional. Vautour was just that when he visited Prestbury Park. Sadly, he was lost far too early in his career to ever see him return to add to his perfect record. His highlights at the Festival were beyond brilliant. The Supreme won in 2014 was a real emergence of a top talent, under a great front running ride from Ruby Walsh he eased to victory. It seems almost madness that given his connections he went off at an SP of 4/1.

Bookies certainly knew plenty about him as he arrived a hot favourite to win the JLT novice chase, again the result was the same a carbon copy of his Supreme win but this time he was hopping over fences for fun. His final win was arguably his most brilliant. Sadly, the race is tainted by the late switch to the Ryanair from his longterm target on the Gold Cup. Plenty of fans of the sport reacted badly to the change of target which was only announced at the last possible moment. Burnt ante-post fingers aside, his brilliance was once again on show as he won in great style. It is with huge regret we never saw him tackle the Gold Cup trip.

Denman powers up the hill to Gold Cup glory

As Gold Cup winners go, Denman was probably one of the toughest to ever set foot on a racecourse. Plenty recall his Hennessy win off top weight at Newbury, but his Gold cup win was stunning. Going into the race it was a straight shootout between him and his stablemate Kauto Star. His trainer Paul Nicholls achieved a 1,2,3 that day but his admiration was reserved for his winner: "that was brilliant. What a great performance and good for the whole team. Going out on the second circuit he was going really well. He's just good,: he said.

He gave National Hunt fans some great thrills over the years but that Gold Cup was truly magical, pulverising his opponents with a relentless gallop he really did provide us with a stunning winner of chasing blue ribbon event.

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Sprinter Sacre regains his crown

The comeback of all comebacks. This, to me, is one of the greatest stories ever told in racing as Sprinter Sacre burst onto the scene when he went novice chasing. A fair hurdler, it was his bold style that captured the public’s imagination. His Arkle win over Cue Card as a novice is often forgotten in his tale but it was the following season that he became a legend. His five wins in the 2012/2013 season took in grade one wins at all the top tracks including at the Festival where he won his first grade Queen Mother Champion Chase. What followed was the problem period for Nicky Henderson’s star, an Irregular heart beat was discovered after a run at Kempton, a back issue was later also detected in the 2014/15 season where he just didn't look near the horse of old.

The comeback trail started with a good win over Somersby at the November meeting held at Cheltenham, fans and enthusiasts of the sport started to believe the spark had returned in their hero. A hard fought win over Sire De Grugy followed at Christmas time and was his final run before he would face off with Un De Sceaux at the Festival. The bookies made Willie Mullins horse the 4/6 favourite whilst Sprinter would go off a massive 5/1. The win that day was not his cleanest of runs or in the style of his previous Cheltenham Festival wins he showed his huge heart and under a good ride from Nico de Boinville served it up to his younger opponent to complete a sensational story by regaining his Champion Chase crown.

You can read our stable tour for Sprinter Sacre's trainer Nicky Henderson right here

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Comments (5)

The Executioner

 Mar 3rd, 2018 at 16:56

All good ones but would all of them feature in an all time list if it went to a vote ? The likes of Desert Orchid winning the Gold Cup and Dawn Run becoming the only horse to date to complete the Champion Hurdle & Gold Cup Double are truly iconic moments along with the mighty Arkle. Enjoyable read nonetheless we all have our own personal favourites. Interesting too that you included Denman and not Kauto Star.


 Mar 3rd, 2018 at 19:42

Age probably plays a big part! Denman really captured my heart when I was just getting into the sport.


 Mar 3rd, 2018 at 21:03

Desert Orchid is by far my favourite stand out Cheltenham moment followed by a motionless Charlie Swan on Istabraq approaching the last you could easily do a top 20 and leave out some great performances.Wichita Lineman and AP was another fantastic ride hard ridden with still over a circuit to go

The Executioner

 Mar 3rd, 2018 at 22:32

Age certainly plays a part in matters Sam - you don't even look old enough to bet LOL ! I'm not quite old enough to remember Arkle while he was racing but I did get in to racing while still in short pants and remember the golden age on the 1970's hurdlers - with Night Nurse a firm favourite of mine there have been many top class & memorable performances since it's not always the ones that line your pockets but performances on the track that tug on your heart strings and etch vivid memories for you to relive over the years...... I spent some time this afternoon looking back on some of the Gold Cups from the 1990's ...... they only seem like yesterday.


 Mar 12th, 2018 at 23:17

Desert Orchid would be my favourite followed by Dawn Runi was there that day cheering her home.Third place would be Sea Pigeon winning his second Champion HurdleJohn Francome waiting till half way up the hill before pulling the trigger-what a ride!

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