The Cheltenham Festival has produced some incredible moments over the years, and will hopefully continue to do so for years to come. Every time the meeting comes around, new heroes are made at the Festival and passionate horse racing fans will know all about some of the best races in the history of the great event. We’ve taken a look at some of the best rides ever at the Cheltenham Festival.
AP McCoy, Wicheta Lineman, 2009 (William Hill Trophy)
This is widely accepted as the best ride in the history of the Cheltenham Festival. This is definitely one of AP McCoy’s best ever efforts. He began to make mistakes from the ninth fence and came off the bridle with a circuit to go as he dropped towards the rear. It wasn’t until he came down the hill on the wide outside that he began to stay on, moving into fifth position at two out and closing all the time after the last with a strong finish to lead near the line. This was s simply breathtaking ride.
Jonjo O'Neill, Dawn Run, 1986 (Gold Cup)
This is still remembered as the most dramatic Gold Cup race ever. Dawn Run remains the only horse to win both the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup. In short, she had everything – speed, stamina and plenty of guts. Dawn Run was narrowly in second place approaching two from home. With 100 yards to go, Wayward Lad hung left and started to empty as his stamina gave way and O’Neill switched Dawn Run outside Michael Dickinson’s charge for one last effort. Dawn Run dug deep to find reserves and stage a late rally to get up and win by 3/4 of a length.
Nico de Boinville, Coneygree, 2015 (Gold Cup)
A brilliant front-running ride from De Boinville who battled with Coneygree at the fences before he bravely repelled the challenge of Djakadam and Road To Riches. To become the first novice since Captain Christy in 1974 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup was a truly remarkable achievement, capped by a fine ride.
Davy Russell, Lord Windermere, 2014 (Gold Cup)
Lord Windermere was the shock winner of the Gold Cup in 2014, delivering an Irish success for the first time in eight years on a day of high drama. The winner had to survive a stewards’ inquiry after veering towards the runner-up, On His Own, in the closing stages, prevailing by a rapidly vanishing short-head.
AP McCoy, Edredon Bleu, 2000 (Queen Mother Champion Chase)
Surprise surprise, AP McCoy makes another appearance on this list! This is possibly the second greatest Jumps ride in history as McCoy was hard at work aboard Henrietta Knight’s son of Grand Tresor a long way from home, but he would simply not be beaten. McCoy roused Jim Lewis’ gelding for one more effort and he duly responded to win by a short-head in one of the greatest finishes ever witnessed at the Festival.
Sam Waley-Cohen, Long Run, 2011 (Gold Cup)
Long Run galloped to the final fence alongside former champions Denman and Kauto Star. The horse, ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen, winged the final fence and stretched clear to beat Denman by seven lengths in a sensational victory.
Jim Culloty, Best Mate, 2004 (Cheltenham Gold Cup)
This was a genius ride from Jim Culloty who steered Best Mate to his third successive Gold Cup success in 2004. Best Mate dug deep for Culloty in the closing stages to repel the sustained challenge of Sir Rembrandt and join Jump racing history. Best Mate was adored by the public and brilliantly trained by Henrietta Knight who primed him perfectly for the Gold Cup three times in a row, a superb effort.
Simon Sherwood, Desert Orchid, 1989 (Cheltenham Gold Cup)
The public’s favourite, Desert Orchid was always doubted about whether he could ever win the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. However, in 1989, Simon Sherwood managed to get him back into contention with Yahoo and the pair had a superb battle all the way to the line. ‘Dessie’ really was the public’s horse.
Ruby Walsh, Champagne Fever, 2013 (Supreme Novices Hurdle)
Walsh set a strong tempo from the start, but never looked as though he was doing too much, and his wonderfully willing attitude told on the run for home, My Tent Or Yours and A.P. McCoy upsides and cruising approaching the last, but Champagne Fever was in no mood to be denied, always finding extra on the run-in to prevail by half a length in a phenomenal finish.
AP McCoy, Binocular, 2010 (Champion Hurdle)
Binocular was a beaten favourite in the race 12 months earlier, but he most certainly brought his A-game this time. AP McCoy never looked in any trouble throughout the race. The style in which Binocular travelled and jumped was a joy to behold.
Davy Russell, Presenting Percy, 2017 (Pertemps Final)
It was hard not to be drawn to Presenting Percy throughout the race under a typically patient and stylish Davy Russell. The six-year-old glided from the rear to the front with an irresistible, sweeping run down the outer in the straight, all without being anything like hard ridden. This was a joy to watch.
Sam Thomas, Denman, 2008 (Gold Cup)
This was a mouth-watering first-time clash between two Paul Nicholls-trained horses Denman and Kauto Star in the 2008 Gold Cup. Denman overcame his rival thanks to two rounds of incredible and precise jumping. He had Kauto Star in trouble going down the hill before going clear four out and staying on well to take his one and only Gold Cup.