Top 3 Moments of Controversy at Cheltenham Festival

By | 2nd March 2018

Cheltenham Festival is hugely popular in the UK and Ireland. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is its most popular race while the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle and World Hurdle are also well-known races. It has a long history that goes back to the 1860s when it was called the Grand National Hunt Meeting. Over the years, the festival has had its fair share of controversial moments when injured horses came back to win Championship races and winner horses were disqualified after failing their sample tests.

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1- 2010 Champion Hurdle
Binocular had come in the third place in the 2009 Champion Hurdle when Punjabi had won the title. He had suffered defeats in both the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and the Christmas Hurdle. He had won at Sandown but the Nicky Henderson racehorse was found to have a muscle problem and therefore seemed very likely to be ruled out of the Champion Hurdle.

However, it was a huge surprise when he did not only run the race but went on to win the Champion Hurdle himself. He was having a 999-1 chance for the race a month ago. He brought a huge surprise for all the punters.

2- 2014 Gold Cup
When Lord Windermere won the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup, it was one of the most unlikely victories at the festival. His other major win was the RSA Chase victory in 2013.
He started a 20/1 outsider for the mega race which had other big names like Bobs Worth, Triolo d’Alene and Last Instalment. Due to the injury of several jockeys, the race was started a little later. Then two false starts further delayed the race.

Surprisingly, Lord Windermere remained in the last place for most of the way and only started to make his progress after the 4th last. However, he won over On His Own with a short head margin in what was one of the most exciting finishes in the Gold Cup.

It also became highly controversial as an inquiry was held by the stewards into possible interference. The result came in the favor of the jockey Davy Russell though as the stewards allowed the decision to stand.

3- 1980 Gold Cup and Champion Chase
It does not happen often at the Cheltenham Festival that a horse wins at the racecourse only to lose the race at a later date. However, it happened in the 1980 Cheltenham Festival’s Gold Cup and Champion Chase. Both the Irish winners Chinrullah and Tied Cottage were disqualified after they won the Champion Chase and Gold Cup respectively. Traces of a banned substance were found in their samples.

Chinrullah won the Champion Chase by an incredible 25 lengths. While Tied Cottage won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with great emotion. Tied Cottage’s owner Anthony Robinson had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and therefore Tommy Carberry was riding him. Both his trainer Dan Moore and owner Anthony Robinson had passed away soon. Therefore, the win of Tied Cottage in the Cheltenham Gold Cup was quite an emotional one.