Cheltenham drama - five great day one memories

Power cut saves bookmakers

The bookmakers were on the ropes in 2015, with Willie Mullins delivering a series of knockout blows.

Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen had already obliged for Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh, and the bookies were staring at a
multi-million payout if Annie Power could win the mares' hurdle.

She had gone four lengths clear before the last, but then the unthinkable happened, and Annie Power fell.

Between £40 and £50 million was estimated to have stayed in the satchels of the bookies, but Mullins did still win the race with Glens Melody.

Damp squib Dunguib

In 2010, running the Supreme Novices' Hurdle seemed a cosmetic exercise, as Dunguib had already won it.

All through the winter the hype train surrounding Philip Fenton's novice had been thundering along the tracks, with the previous season's Champion Bumper winner proving just as adept over hurdles.

Some bookmakers had already settled ante-post bets, and Dunguib was sent off at odds-on to win a fifth straight race.

But then the hype train was derailed as Dunguib, the 4-5 favourite, could only finish third behind Menorah and Get Me Out Of Here.

That McCoy ride

Sir Anthony McCoy's refusal to give up in the saddle meant he lifted home a horse that was seemingly beaten on several occasions.

Enter Wichita Lineman. The 5-1 favourite was in touch in the 2009 William Hill Trophy, but mistakes at the ninth and tenth fences look to have put paid to his chances.

Another error at the third-last was seemingly the final nail in the coffin, but somehow McCoy managed to get Wichita Lineman back into contention, and the pair grabbed Maljimar in the final strides for an improbable and famous victory.

Harchibald the heartbreaker

A five-time Grade 1 winner, but ask a racing fan what springs to mind when they think of Harchibald and it is likely to be the finish of the 2005 Champion Hurdle.

Talented, yes. Mercurial, definitely. Harchibald had strolled into contention under Paul Carberry and joined Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca on the bit after the last flight.

It looked like a question of how far Carberry would win by, but when he pressed go, Harchibald found next to nothing and went down by a neck.

If that finish had played out in today's in-running era, Betfair would have likely exploded.

Farewell Istabraq

Cheltenham remembers its own. Between 1998 and 2000 there was only one champion hurdler, Istabraq.

Trained by Aidan O'Brien for JP McManus, Istabraq was a quick and accurate jumper and his trio of wins made him one of only five horses to win the Champion Hurdle three times.

The outbreak of foot and mouth disease meant the 2001 Cheltenham Festival was cancelled, but Istabraq was back in 2002 to try and create history.

Sadly it was not meant to be, as pulled muscles in his back meant Istabraq was pulled up by Charlie Swan early in the race.

Applause rang out from the packed stands while the Champion Hurdle was still taking place as the fans recognised Istabraq's brilliance would not be happening this time, and it proved to be his last start as he was retired.

Article Source : David Baxter Racing Post 

Photograph : John Grossick (

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