Cheltenham Festival Winners Revisited

Following on from Christmas and New Year, another edition of Cheltenham Festival appears on the horizon, promising the same level of excitement and drama that we’ve seen at The Festival since the very first race meeting over a hundred years ago. Of all horse racing events, the one that fans of the sport find to be the most enthralling is the Cheltenham Festival, where people across the UK and Ireland will travel any distance to see the many coveted jump and flat races being held over the four-day event.

As many punters have already assembled their own Cheltenham Festival tips in time for March, it’s worth considering past winners and the occasions where substantial value was found from backing outsiders. Although Cheltenham Racecourse has been a stage for the sport’s best horses proving their quality against other worthy opponents, there have been years where race meetings have gone against the script, leaving a dark horse to capitalise and snatch first place. We look back at some of Cheltenham Festival’s biggest winners between the most recent edition and the start of the 1990s in preparation for what we hope is another eventful year at Cheltenham Racecourse.

Lord Windermere in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup

Dating back just four years, the coveted Cheltenham Gold Cup saw an astonishing shock as 2013 RSA Chase w­­­­inner Lord Windermere set an even larger stamp on the festival, winning the Gold Cup despite going into the race with a starting price of 20/1. The favourite was Bobs Worth - trained by highly-rated professional horse trainer Nicky Henderson - who only reached fifth, leaving a place for Lord Windermere to jump to third, surpassing On His Own, The Giant Bolster and Silviniaco Conti in second, third, and fourth respectively, all with shorter prices before the race got underway.

Labaik in the 2017 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

There was enough drama at the festival just two years ago, where a lot of punters’ Cheltenham Festival tips were ruined by a win in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for Labaik. The bookmaker odds closely tied Willie Mullins’ Melon and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Ballyandy - both handed odds of 3/1 to win - but nobody expected Labaik to force through a win, starting the race at 25/1 and bursting to the front of the race after originally being perceived as the joint-third least likely to win.

Western Warhorse in the 2014 Arkle Challenge Trophy

In the same year that the Cheltenham Gold Cup saw a shock, another strange turn of events unfolded in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy, with the race’s second least likely horse finishing first ahead of the other eight in contention. Up against nags trained by Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, everyone expected one of the three key trainers to come away with a win, but Western Warhorse outpaced the favoured alternatives to seal first.

Countrywide Flame in the 2012 Triumph Hurdle

Bookmakers allowed for a lot of big odds on races in the 2012 Cheltenham Festival, and the JCB Triumph Hurdle was no different, with a lot of horse racing tips possessing distinctly hefty prices. Countrywide Flame wouldn’t be likely to feature in a lot of Cheltenham racing tips but whoever did would be clever to, as the John Quinn horse won the 2012 JCB Triumph Hurdle with a starting price of 33/1. Grumeti was the favourite with a 5/1 starting price but he finished second, leaving Countrywide Flame and 20/1 priced Hisaabaat in the places above.

Hardy Eustace in the 2004 Champion Hurdle

The 2004 Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy saw thirteen of fourteen horses keeping their consistence to run the entirety of the race. This provided the level of competition that we like to see from races at Cheltenham Racecourse, and it certainly had a shock in store for the last portion of the race. Professional horse trainer Dessie Hughes was questioned over the decision to enter Hardy Eustace into the Champion Hurdle ahead of The Coral Cup, but the risk paid off, as he jumped off in front, staying in the lead for the rest of the race, winning at odds of 33/1.

Ebaziyan in the 2007 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

It’s strange to take this long before seeing a horse trained by Willie Mullins, but based on his success in the sport, it was inevitable that he’d eventually feature. As with a lot of past encounters, the 2007 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle ended up being a battle between Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson, with Henderson’s Amaretto Rose being the clear favourite. Paul Nicholls also threw his hat into the ring, Granit Jack fighting for first alongside Amaretto Rose and Mullins’ Ebaziyan, but it was Ebaziyan that won the race, resulting first at odds of 40/1 to beat Granit Jack in second and Amaretto Rose in third.

Cue Card in the 2010 Champion Bumper

Lots of big prices were floating around in the 2010 Champion Bumper but it was hard to imagine how the race would end. Cue Card was a massive outsider at 40/1, coming into the race after beating highly-regarded Caught By Witness by six lengths at Fontwell, but the price was enough to establish how unlikely he was to win at Cheltenham. The race saw immense dominance for Cue Card, prompting a win by eight lengths, kick-starting a career that continues to this day.

Domesday Book in the 2017 Challenge Cup

Peculiar to see a non-British or Irish horse winning at Cheltenham, Domesday Book did more than enough to surprise the onlooking crowd in 2017. Despite technically being an American horse, Domesday Book was one of the many horses trained by The Queen’s racing team, but even that wasn’t enough to make him a favourite, racking up a price as high as 40/1. Although Domesday Book was one of the horses with the largest starting price, he went on to finish first ahead of four Nicky Henderson horses.

Anzum in the 1999 Stayers’ Hurdle

In the final Cheltenham Festival before the new millennium, there was a shock in store in the Stayers’ Hurdle, with Anzum winning the race at 40/1. Joint-favourite Deano’s Beeno petered out to only get as far as ninth, but Anzum wasn’t handed the victory, instead defeating another joint-favourite in Le Coudray - as well as second favourite Lady Rebecca - to win the race.

Joes Edge in the 2007 Festival Trophy Handicap Chase

Going into the race with the joint-second biggest price after 80/1-priced St Matthew, there were several horses that stood a far more likely chance of winning the 2007 Festival Trophy Handicap Chase. Joes Edge didn’t even look likely to make an impact after the race had started, ruining a lot of people’s Cheltenham Festival tips late on through leading in the final stride of the race to beat two 7/1 shots in Juveigneur and Distant Thunder, winning the race at odds of 50/1.

Kadoun in the 2006 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

Jonjo O’Neill is a trustworthy man to rely on when it comes to adding his horses to your horse racing tips. This has been seen in many instances but there needed to be an extra ounce of faith in the 2006 Pertemps Final, where Kadoun won at a 50/1 starting price. Admittedly, Kadoun’s chances were boosted through favourite Oulart only making it to eighth, but four of the five horses he beat after Oulart had a shorter price than his own, so he still had to put a shift in to finish the job.

Creon in the 2004 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

What better way to finish off a career as a professional racehorse than by winning a recognised race at Cheltenham Festival; that’s exactly what Creon did in 2004, winning the Pertemps final as the fourth least likely to horse out of a possible twenty-four in contention. This was another stellar success story from Jonjo O’Neill, and it was yet another example of the value you can get from putting faith into Jonjo O’Neill horses, even if the odds suggest otherwise.

Arctic Kinsman in the 1994 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Priced joint-second highest to win the 1994 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, only 200/1 shot Kenmore-Speed was given a larger price. The price ended up being in no way an indication of how the race would play out, all of the top seven going into the race with a starting price at 10/1 or higher, and Arctic Kinsman winning the race with a starting price of 50/1. Arctic Kinsman’s win was one of many for Nigel Twiston-Davies, and it was enough to get a larger number of punters building horse racing tips around his future entries.

Norton’s Coin in the 1990 Gold Cup

Easily ranking as one of the biggest shocks in the history of Cheltenham Festival, this horse barely squeezed onto our list as we attempted to remain within the last two decades, but the win itself was unforgettable. Qualifying for the Cheltenham Gold Cup through winning two chases at Cheltenham and Lambourn, Sirrell Griffiths was happy to see Norton’s Coin taking part in the race, knowing that the odds were very much against his horse.

Even Griffiths himself labelled his own horse as being a ‘plain looking horse’ that didn’t have much about him, and there was less chance of getting anything from the race with being up against the formidable Desert Orchid, who held a total record of thirteen wins and three seconds from twenty-three recognised races. Going into the race with the second largest price, bookmakers provided odds only as low as 100/1 for Norton’s Coin, with the same bookies feeling foolish at the end of the race when he looked consistent throughout, winning the race convincingly.

What do you think of our shortlist? If you have any other outsiders that you think are worth mentioning, let us know on Twitter at @TWEnclosure!

Keep checking back on our dedicated Cheltenham racing tips page in the build-up to the four-day event, where you’ll find Cheltenham Festival tips as soon as we identify what we fancy for each race.

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