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27th Feb 2023

7 Cheltenham moments that will never be forgotten

Niall McIntyre

Brought to you by BoyleSports

What’s another year?

There is magic at the Cheltenham festival. Year after year, the Pretsbury Park showpiece provides its spectators with these moments. Moments that will live long. Moments that they’ll never forget.

Some moments are remembered for all the right reasons and, such is life, some are remembered for all the wrong reasons. The March madness is only around the corner – excitement is high ahead of another epic renewal – but before looking forward, it’s often said that you must look back.

So let’s look back at some of the best moments we’ve witnessed over the years.

Rachael Blackmore wins Champion jockey in 2021

2021 was a festival of firsts for Tipperary jockey Rachael Blackmore as, to put it simply, she just couldn’t stop winning. She had won in previous years, aboard A Plus Tard and Honeysuckle, but 2021 was her magnum opus as she ended her week with a phenomenal six wins.

Her triumphs on the mare Honeysuckle are up there, and that first Champion Hurdle win in 2021 shook Gloucestershire track to its core.

Annie Power’s final fence fall in 2015

This was the final leg of the dead-cert accumulator that included Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen. Running as she was in the mares’ hurdle, Annie Power was seen as the surest thing of all.

By now, we all know that there are no sure things in horse-racing because, as it turned out, Annie Power’s final fence fall was the €50 million bullet the bookmakers dodged.

It was the fall that stopped the world. Jockey Ruby Walsh has taken some flak for it over the years but if you want the thrills, in horse-racing, you also must take the spills.

Ruby Walsh’s final festival win 2019

A happier time for the legendary Kildare jockey in 2019 as, in the first race of the festival, Walsh rode his 59th and final Cheltenham winner.

It was the Supreme Novice’s Hurdle and Walsh gave Klassical Dream a typically classy ride, taking the lead up the hill and storming around the bend to eventually win with tonnes in hand.

We didn’t know it at the time, but this was to be Walsh’s final time in the Cheltenham winners’ enclosure.

It’s true that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

Tiger Roll reduces Michael O’Leary to tears in 2022

It was supposed to be the crowning glory, the fairytale win before the long walk into the sunset. Tiger Roll was as good as ever in the 2022 Cross Country Chase, the only problem was that the brilliant Delta Work was a little bit better.

Gigginstown’s other horse in the race defied Davy Russell and Tiger Roll and while it was emotional when both horses were cheered into the parade ring together, you couldn’t escape the emotion around the racecourse that day.

Understandably, owner Michael O’Leary couldn’t hold back the tears on his beloved Tiger’s final run.

Flooring Porter sends the parade ring wild in 2021

There’s a place in everyone’s heart for the underdog that wins big. Flooring Porter is a true star of that genre. Purchased by the four-man syndicate of Edward Hogarty, Kerrill Creaven, Alan and Tommy Sweeney for just €5000, it has since become their horse of a life-time.

Two Stayers’ Hurdle wins in a row won’t be forgotten in a hurry but it was the second of those, when the parade ring went wild for horse and jockey Danny Mullins, that stands out.

Olé Olé Olé rang around Cheltenham that day. It’s what all horse-racing people dream of.

Sprinter Sacre’s comeback champion chase win in 2016

Sprinter Sacre was on top of the world in 2013, having won the two mile chase at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown. The horse was soon written off, however, having been diagnosed with a heart condition.

His trainer Nicky Henderson didn’t give up though and it was the culmination of an emotional journey in 2016, when the horse completed one of the greatest comebacks of all to win the Queen Mother.

Fairytales rarely come true in sport, but this was most certainly written in the stars.

Paisley Park wins for Andrew Gemmell

Paisley Park’s in the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle was iconic. The horse beat Sam Spinner and Faugheen to take the crown but it was the story of its owner, Andrew Gemmell, that really captured the hearts and minds of the public.

Blind since birth, Gemmell purchased Paisley Park in 2015 and having had many great days with the horse trained by Emma Lavelle, this 2019 one was the greatest.

Fittingly, the Cheltenham crowd rose the roof on the horse’s return to the parade ring.

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