Dorothy Paget

Dorothy Paget The Honourable Dorothy Paget, who died from heart failure, at the age of 54, in 1960, had many claims to fame, not least that she was, at one time, the richest unmarried woman in England. However, from a Cheltenham Festival perspective, she owned seven winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, making her the leading owner in the history of the ‘Blue Riband’ event, and four winners of the Champion Hurdle.

In 1931, Paget was persuaded by trainer Basil Briscoe to purchase two geldings, Golden Miller and Insurance, for a reputed £12,000 – over £800,000 by modern standards – from the late Philip Carr. The money proved well spent, with Golden Miller winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup five years running between 1932 and 1936 and Insurance winning the Champion Hurdle in both 1932 and 1933. In 1934, as a seven-year-old, ‘The Miller’ also won the Grand National and remains the only horse to have won the two premier steeplechases in the British National Hunt calendar in the same season.

In 1940, Paget completed the Champion Hurdle – Cheltenham Gold Cup double, courtesy of Solford and Roman Hackle, both of whom were trained by Owen Anthony. In 1946, she won the Champion Hurdle again, with Distel, trained by Charles Rogers and, in 1952, her seventh and final Cheltenham Gold Cup with Mont Tremblant, trained by Fulke Walwyn. Walwyn saddled no fewer than 365 winners for Paget, but even he found the eccentric, richly difficult heiress ‘so trying’; on one famous occasion, after Walwyn had sent out Paget-owned horses to win the first five races on a six-race card at Folkestonem, Paget abused the revered trainer for failing to win the sixth race.

Annie Power

Annie Power

Annie Power, who was retired from racing following a very impressive 18-length victory in the Aintree Hurdle in April, 2016 – which earnt her her highest-ever Timeform rating of 170+ – was an extraordinary racemare who won fifteen of her seventeen starts. She is probably best remembered for being one of just four mares, and the first since Flakey Dove in 1994, to win the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. However, her 4½-length victory over My Tent Or Yours in the 2016 renewal of the two-mile hurdling championship – for which she had been supplemented, at a cost of £20,000 to connections – was her third consecutive appearance at the Cheltenham Festival.

Bred and originally owned by Eamon Cleary, Annie Power was bought by Rich and Susannah Ricci and transferred to Willie Mullins after winning two ‘bumpers’ for her original trainer, Jim Bolger, in August, 2012. She won her first seven starts over hurdles, including the Irish Stallions EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship at Fairyhouse, by a very easy 12 lengths, en route to her first appearance at the Cheltenham Festival. Despite racing over a distance beyond 2 miles 4½ furlongs for the first time in her career, she was sent off 11/8 favourite for the 2014 World Hurdle, but suffered what would be her only defeat in sixteen completed starts.

The following year, Annie Power returned to the Cheltenham Festival for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, in which she boasted far and away the best form and was consequently sent off 1/2 favourite. A flying leap at the second-last flight took her into the lead and she was in command, with the race at her mercy, approaching the final flight. However, Annie Power took off a full stride too soon, clipped the top bar and fell; in so doing, she saved the bookmaking industry an estimated £50 million after victories for Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen – all hot favourites and, like Annie Power, all trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh – in the first three races of the day.