With excitement and preparations already gathering momentum, everyone is buzzing to see what this year’s Kentucky Derby has in store for its supporters all around the world.
As we edge closer to the ‘greatest two-minutes in sport’ return, we’re putting together some of the greatest moments in a likewise sport, the Cheltenham Festival of horse racing. There are far too many moments to choose from this 162-year-old sports history, but we’ve managed to handpick Kentucky Derby Betting‘s favorites of recent times.
2021: Rachael Blackmore’s year
Rachael Blackmore, a jockey from Tipperary, had a festival of firsts in 2021 because she kept winning. She had experienced triumph on A Plus Tard and Honeysuckle in prior seasons, but 2021 was the year that made it very tough for bettors to wager against her because she rode an astonishing six winners over the course of the four days. Her victories on the mare Honeysuckle were among the best, and her first Champion Hurdle victory in 2021 was a work of art that left thousands of spectators speechless to this day.
2019: Paisley Park’s brilliant triumph in Stayers’ Hurdle
Everyone will always remember seeing Paisley Park win the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle, two months after winning the Cleeve Hurdle at the festival trials day. Sam Spinner and Faugheen were defeated by the Emma Lavelle-trained horse to win the race, but it was Andrew Gemmell’s inspirational tale that captured the public’s imagination. Gemmell, who was born blind, bought Paisley Park in 2015, and despite having many wonderful days with Lavelle, this one was by far the best.
Champ’s stunning final-lap push to win the 2020 RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase
When Champ, a horse ridden by Barry Geraghty, miraculously won the race for trainer Nicky Henderson in 2020, it was one of the most thrilling finishes in Cheltenham history. At the last fence, Champ was behind Minella Indo and Allaho by nine lengths, with the illustrious uphill finish still to come. Before suddenly coming flying into the shot at pace and powering his way in between them to win the race in dramatic fashion, you thought the finish between the two would be close. The chills ran down my spine.
2004’s historic Best Mate Gold Cup victory
Best Mate captured the hearts of the entire nation in 2004 when he won the Gold Cup for a third time in a row after winning it once in 2002 and defending it in 2003, matching the famous Arkle. The moment Best Mate veered off from the leading pair as it approached the penultimate fence may have been the loudest the famed Cheltenham roar has ever been. The triple accomplishment has not since been surpassed. At the Gloucestershire racecourse, Best Mate has a permanent place of honor with one of the enclosures reportedly bearing his name.
Sam Waley-Cohen’s Unimaginable Gold Cup win in the year 2011
Sam Waley-Cohen, being a part-time jockey, was also the founder of a dental practice. Waley-Cohen lived out an unbelievable lifestyle prior to clinching the Cheltenham Gold Cup victory in 2011 when he rode with Long Run. Not only did the dentist win the sport’s biggest honors, but while racing, Waley-Cohen and his horse raced against some of the biggest horse-racing legends along the way, in the likes of AP McCoy, Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty to gazump the festival’s most prestigious award. Waley-Cohen went ahead before ending his career in 2022 to win the Grand National racing event riding Noble Yeats, a horse owned by his father, Robert. For a horse racing starter to don two of the racing’s biggest prizes, this is truly unimaginable.
Annie Power’s £50 million fall at the final fence in 2015
To this day, there are still many controversies surrounding the Mare’s Hurdle in the 2015 Champions Hurdle. Successfully starting off the day with wins, Un De Sceaux, Douvan and Faugheen had left many bookies both in the UK and around the world feeling the heat on a cold afternoon. Thousands and if not a million of punters were anticipating a big boom day via a combo four-fold bet on Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins, with Annie Power on many of their bet accumulators and/or slips left to go. However, all the hope was shattered when Walsh, well ahead of others and on a clear path to final glory, fell at the final hurdle. This last-minute disaster from Walsh, according to reports, saved horse racing bookies around a mouth-watering £50m. Despite Annie being okay and going on to win the Champions Hurdle the following year, the fall in the previous event has been tagged to be the ‘most expensive horse racing fall in racing history’.