In what was clearly the best race on the best day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival – and not just because we sponsored it – the Stayers’ Hurdle was won in style by Adam Wedge on board Lisnagar Oscar, the 7-year-old trained by Rebecca Curtis.
The result was considered a major surprise, with the 50/1-rated horse outlasting, among others, one of the most hotly favoured runners of the entire week in Paisley Park, who could only manage a 7th-place for Emma Lavelle.
A shock in the Stayers' Hurdle as 50-1 Lisnagar Oscar takes the win ??
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 12, 2020
It’s a big result for both jockey and trainer, and we were lucky enough to hear from the unsurprisingly elated pair after the race.
“It’s been a fantastic season for me and this is the cherry on top. It’s fantastic,” beamed Wedge, the man we truly hope is nicknamed “Sandy”.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. My legs are still like jelly but it’s brilliant…
“They went hard early and for the first circuit I was struggling to just travel, but I was happy to sit on him because I thought he would finish. Coming down the hill for the last time he came alive underneath me and took me to the front turning in and wore his heart on his sleeve. He was fantastic.
“[In the closing stages] I was just praying to God that I’d keep galloping and the horse fought like a lion to get up that hill.
“[Rebecca Curtis] has a small team but she does very good with what she’s got. She’s done a fantastic job with this fella to get him here in A1 condition.
“We all work hard every day. There’s not one person in that weighing room that won’t work hard. We get up at 5am every day to go and ride out. To come here and get a winner makes it all worthwhile, it’s what we work for every day.
LISNAGAR OSCAR WINS THE PADDY POWER STAYERS' HURDLE!
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) March 12, 2020
“We tried fences early in the season but it all went wrong,” said Curtis of her winning horse. “Whether that made put him off racing a bit, I don’t know, but just wasn’t quite right for him earlier in the season. He did get treated well, that may have made a difference too. But he just sprung into form six months ago. He just came to life, everything he did was easy from then.
“Coming here, I was hopeful we’d be in the first five. In the race I thought he was always in a lovely position, he was travelling and jumping well. He came down the hill well too and I was thinking ‘just please, please don’t stop going’ because they always get caught at the top, don’t they?
“But it all went right for him, and I’m so delighted for Adam as well, it’s his first festival winner and he’s such a good solid jockey and he’s had a good season too.
“It’s brilliant to be back winning here, it’s just what I’ve needed. We’re trying to rebuild the yard and get some nice young horses in, which I’m desperate to work with at the moment. I hope I’ve proved I can do the job a bit and it’d be nice to get sent a few more. We’re really looking forward to building things back up now.”