Long Run

Long Run  Originally trained in France, by Guillaume Macaire, Long Run began his racing career in Britain on Boxing Day, 2009, when cruising to victory in the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park. Owned by Robert Waley-Cohen, ridden exclusively in Britain and Ireland by his son, Sam, and trained by Nicky Henderson, Long Run would return to Kempton to win the King George VI Chase twice. Nevertheless, as far as the Cheltenham Festival is concerned, Long Run will always be best remembered as the winner of a vintage renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Fresh from an emphatic, 12-length victory over stable companion Riverside Theatre in his first King George VI Chase – delayed until the New Year after the showpiece Christmas meeting was abandoned due to frost – Long Run was sent off 7/2 favourite for the ‘Blue Riband’ event. His rivals included Kauto Star, Denman and Imperial Commander – collectively, the winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup for the previous four years running – but it was the ‘young pretender’, the six-year-old Long Run, who took the accolades, and first place.

Imperial Commander weakened quickly after a blunder at the fourth last fence and, fleetingly, it appeared that the ‘old guard’ of Kauto Star and Denman – both 11-year-olds and veterans of six consecutive Cheltenham Festivals apiece – might once again dominate the finish. However, despite jumping less than fluently on occasions, Long Run headed Denman on the run to the final fence and stayed on strongly up the hill to win by 7 lengths, with a weakening Kauto Star a further 4 lengths behind in third place.

Long Run contested the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice more, finishing third, when favourite, behind Synchronised in 2012 and occupying the same position behind stable companion, and favourite, Bobs Worth in 2013. Even so, his scintillating victory in 2011, completed in course record time, is unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry.

Will Tiger Roll Become a Cheltenham Legend in 2020?

Will Tiger Roll Become a Cheltenham Legend in 2020?

Cheltenham Racecourse” by Nilfanion (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

There are many people out there who would argue that Tiger Roll is already a Cheltenham legend, regardless of what happens in the future. However, talk is mounting that the dual Grand National winner will aim to win his third Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham in 2020, which would be his fifth victory at the festival from six appearances. His only failure was when he was thrown in at the deep end as a five year old in the 2015 Stayers’ Hurdle, since then he has been foot perfect at this famous venue.

To those who are not hugely invested in the sport of racing, they are likely to see this horse as a dual Grand National winner, and nothing else. After all, that is the race that captures the attention of pretty much everyone in the UK, and it is seen as the biggest race of them all to win. However, purists will know and understand what it takes to win at the festival, never mind to win five times across three different races.

His success in the 2019 Cross Country Chase will go down as one of the best moments of the most recent festival, and seeing him come away from the field to win by 22 lengths on the bridle is something that many people will not forget for a long time. The scenes after the race showed just how much this horse means to both those who look after him on a daily basis and the fans who turned up in their thousands to watch him perform.

The one thing that could make next year even more special is retirement. After winning the Grand National in April, owner Michael O’Leary said that he would love for this horse to go and win the Cross Country Chase for a third time, before announcing his retirement in the Cheltenham winners enclosure. Those betting on horse racing at the Cheltenham Festival next year are sure to be placing bets on Tiger Roll to win again, knowing that it could be the last time we see the horse on a race track if O’Leary’s comments are to be believed. This may be a case where there is no strategy required, and people will simply bet with their hearts.

Bowing out at Cheltenham would be fitting for two different reasons. The first is that this horse would go out at a place that was special to him. Win or lose, this horse has won multiple races at the Cheltenham Festival and to retire after running their would be a great farewell for him. The second would be to see him go out at the top, running in a race at the biggest and best horse racing festival over jumps.

We all want to see superstars run for as long as possible, but there is a fine line between going out on top when there is more to give and running them for too long and seeing them decline. After giving us so many happy memories over the years, it would be great to see Tiger Roll do his thing one more time for us, before we allow him to leave for a very happy retirement.

Four Of The Best Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the biggest race in National Hunt horse racing, and those that are successful are added to the history books immediately. This race has a rich history that dates all the way back to 1819 when it was actually first run as a flat contest.

With the event fast approaching, we’ve decided to look back at the four best and most-loved horses to ever to win the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Golden Miller

With five Gold Cups to his name, Golden Miller is arguably the best horse to ever win the prestigious National Hunt contest. The chaser was first successful in 1932 and went on to prevail in the next four renewals of the race.

His most famous success was in 1934 when he made history that season to become the first horse to win the Gold Cup and Grand National in the same year. Given how close they are to each other on the calendar, success in both of the big staying contests has proved too far for so many horses over the years, but the bay gelding not only landed the Aintree showpiece race, he broke the course record in doing so.

Golden Miller proved to be a natural over fences early in his career. Like Altior today, who remains unbeaten in his chase career, he cleared obstacles so well that he made ground on his rivals at every fence.

When he retired in 1939, Golden Miller had won 29 of his 52 races. A statue was erected near the parade ring of Cheltenham Racecourse to honour one of the greatest steeplechasers of all time. It is very difficult to see any horse coming close to even threatening his record in the biggest race of the Festival.

Arkle

The 1964 Gold Cup was dubbed as Great Britain vs Ireland as Mill House took on Arkle in a fantastic showdown that captured so much attention outside of racing. Arkle, a hero back in Ireland, won that contest in impressive fashion to establish himself as the new star of the sport on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Success in the Blue Riband contest did not end there for Arkle as he returned in 1965 to defend his crown, while a hat-trick of wins followed in 1966 to help him cement his legacy as one of the best to ever appear in the race.

Four Of The Best Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners

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Unfortunately, injury cut short Arkle’s career in National Hunt racing, but even to this day, his memory lives on in the form of the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, which was won in 2018 by Footpad. At his peak in Ireland, the horse would receive thousands of letters each year, and so often the envelopes would be addressed to ‘Himself, Ireland’, such was his status.

Desert Orchid

Desert Orchid, or Dessie as he was commonly known by his army of fans, was one of the most popular horses of his generation. The grey had lots of success in the sport, most notably though at Kempton, which was considered his favourite racecourse since he won the King George VI Chase four times.

The 3 mile 2 furlong-trip in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham was thought to be a little outside of Dessie’s stamina range, and when it rained on the day of the 1989 renewal of the race his participation seemed to be in doubt. Connections opted to take their chance even though his odds were on the drift, and they were rewarded as their horse showed how big his heart was by winning the race for the first time.

His success in the 1989 Gold Cup is often voted as one of the greatest ever moments in the sport and is played back each year before the big race. As a former winner of the Tingle Creek Chase over 2 miles, Dessie had a fantastic versatility about him. Kempton will always be seen as his home, but he produced his finest moment at Cheltenham in the Gold Cup.

Best Mate

The closest any horse has come to getting anywhere near to Golden Miller’s record in the Gold Cup is Best Mate, who many consider a little unlucky not to have won more than his impressive feat of three successes in the race.

Best Mate was first successful in the Gold Cup in 2002. He returned in 2003 and 2004 to win at those renewals of the contest. Unfortunately, he was denied the chance to win the race in 2001 as the meeting was abandoned due to the foot and mouth crisis, while in 2005 he was forced to withdraw from the race as he broke a blood vessel on the gallops just before the meeting.

Four Of The Best Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners

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To be able to match Arkle’s three Gold Cups though was a great achievement, and it is no surprise that that horse was so well loved with the racing public. In his 22 racecourse starts, he did not fall once over hurdles or fences, while winning 14 of those outings and racking up over £1 million in prize money.

When he died in 2005, Best Mate’s ashes were buried beside the winning post at Cheltenham Racecourse, where he had his greatest moments on the track.

This year’s Gold Cup takes place on March 15th, where Native River will be bidding to become the first horse to retain his crown in the race since Best Mate in 2004.