The Two Ronnies, bangers and mash, FIFA and corruption allegations – all things that have formed legendary partnerships over the years. Add to that – Cheltenham and Paddy Power.
Yes, New Year’s Day marks the return of Paddy Power sponsoring the Home of Jump Racing as we rekindle our love affair with Prestbury Park after a five-year absence.
During that time Harambe became an internet phenomenon, fidget spinners were all the rage, Jon Snow defeated the Night King and Arsenal were still terrible. Nice to know some things never change…
To mark the return of the special relationship, Paddy Power will be extending our support to three races on New Year’s Day to start 2020 with a bang. So what better time to refresh our memories with our pick of the five best ever Cheltenham moments. You’re welcome!
Best Mate – 2004 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Sublime. Just watching this again has given me goosebumps.
The hugely popular Best Mate justified favouritism to land his third straight Cheltenham Gold Cup success in 2004, having won his first in 2002 and successfully defended it in 2003.
No horse had won back-to-back Cheltenham Gold Cups since Arkle between 1964-66 – and the feat still hasn’t been repeated.
The roar from the crowd when Best Mate pulled wide from the front pair and arrowed over the penultimate fence is simply unforgettable.
Kauto Star – 2009 winning back the crown
The ultimate comeback kid.
Kauto Star, ridden by Ruby Walsh, became the first horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2009 against legendary rival Denman.
Kauto Star had beaten Tony McCoy’s Exotic Dancer in 2007, but was ground into submission by Denman the following year.
Could he regain the crown from his stablemate? Yes, emphatically. The pair cantered into the lead with three to go before Ruby sent Kauto Star 12 lengths clear coming up the hill. Watch it here.
Big Buck’s – 2012 World Hurdle
In 2012, Big Buck’s won his fourth straight World Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.
It’s an accomplishment that had never been done and quite rightly sees him considered the best staying hurdler ever to grace the track.
Paul Nicholls’ 8/11 favourite, ridden by Ruby Walsh, held off mare Voler La Vedette to extend a winning streak that had begun in January 1, 2009. Watch it here.
Sprinter Sacre – 2016 Queen Mother Champion Chase
Another of Horse Racing’s fairy-tale stories.
Trainer Nicky Henderson acknowledged his best day in racing had been when Sprinter Sacre won the Champion Chase in 2016.
And it’s not hard to see why.
Having won all three of the major spring festivals – at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown in 2013 – Sprinter Sacre was diagnosed with a heart condition and written off.
But Henderson kept the faith and was rewarded when the legendary horse beat favourite Un De Sceaux to win the coveted Queen Mother Champion Chase for a second time at the Cheltenham Festival. Watch it here.
Istabraq – 2000 Champion Hurdle
A champion of champions.
Istabraq completed his fourth straight win at the Cheltenham Festival and his third successive Champions Hurdle when blitzing the field in 2000.
If not for cancellation of the 2001 Cheltenham festival because of foot-and-mouth disease, many believe Istabraq would have become the first horse to win four Champion Hurdles.