Cheltenham Festival’s Best and Most Iconic Moments
Some of the best moments at Cheltenham Festival have become the most recognised in racing history. From Arkle’s legendary treble in the Gold Cup, to Big Buck’s successive World Hurdle four-timer and odds breaking horse races.
There’s much to celebrate looking back and even more to look forward to in the future as the Cheltenham Festival 2021 is full speed ahead.
Desert Orchid’s Cheltenham Gold Cup Win in 1989
The 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup, won by Desert Orchid, will forever be a standout race and one of the best Cheltenham Festival moments. Desert Orchid was already a well celebrated figure, often regarded as the best two-miler of his era with a popularity that transcended across the globe.
He had missed out on the Gold Cup Chase the year before due to heavy grounds and 1989 offered no better turf. Thanks to a morning of snow and rain, the conditions were terrible but “Dessie” would still take his chance.
Coming up between the last two, Yahoo and Charter Party, a previous Gold Cup winner were the only horses alongside Desert Orchid still in contention for the race, with the rest of the field miserably behind.
As Dessie and Yahoo pulled away, it looked like the David Elsworth-trained horse was stuck in muddy ground as his rival edged further forward. But looks are deceiving because the famed grey horse stepped it up a gear, producing his signature attacking finish to hammer on home and take the title on Gold Cup Day.
The crowds were roaring both at Cheltenham Racecourse and behind TV screens for the popular figure.
Kauto Star Snatches the Gold Cup Title Back
Bregawn led the pack which was made up of runners Silver Buck, Captain John, Wayward Lad and Ashley House. Readers of the Racing Post later voted Dickinson as having the greatest training performance in Britain. His commitment to his job and harvesting elite horses often left him exhausted.
Dickinson also became the first National Hunt trainer to take home more than £300,000 in a jumps race.
Norton’s Coin at 100/1 caused huge upset
One of the best Cheltenham Festival moments has to be Norton’s Coin’s win in 1990. At 100/1, he was perceived as a “candidate for last, not first” said trainer, Sirrell Griffiths on reflection.
Norton’s Coin wasn’t supposed to run in the Gold Cup but in a handicap race at the meeting. When Griffiths went to enter he realised he had missed the deadline for the chase and having no other option, entered the horse in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
In the build-up, all attention was on Desert Orchid, who had returned to defend his title in the big race and it looked that he’d be victorious too – that was until the last three fences. Norton’s Coin defied all odds, edging closer to the front and under jockey, Graham McCourt, charged forwards to claim victory by three and a half lengths over second-place finisher, Toby Tobias. Bookmaker favourite, Dessie, trailed behind in third.
The 100/1 outsider also broke the course record that year – Cheltenham Festival icon? We think so.
Racegoers weren’t shocked either, as the horse had quickly become a prominent figure in jumps racing and was worshipped by punters across the world.
Bryony Frost extends Ladies Day in 2019
Bryony Frost became the first female jockey to win a Grade One hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last year with victory on Frodon in the Ryanair Chase.
She guided her charge to glory in what can only be labelled an extraordinary day and one of the most momentous in recent racing history. Women everywhere celebrated her success, which is definitely one of the best moments the Cheltenham Festival has produced and her career has continued to spike since.
Frodon had looked to be in trouble two out but he didn’t give up and on releasing the reserved fuel in the tank, the pair soon pulled away. Frost likened the horse to Pegasus, stating “he has wings.”
Cheltenham has created fairy tale moments for all; jockeys, trainers and racegoers. The Festival attracts the world’s best horses and with results often being created in dramatic fashion, there is plenty to celebrate at Cheltenham Racecourse.