Cheltenham Gold Cup 2012

The 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup was another in a long line of special races, pitting past champions against up and coming stars. This year’s stars included 2 time winner Kauto Star, again partnered by Ruby Walsh and 2011 champion and 7-4 favourite, Long Run.

Early Running

Habitual front runner, Midnight Chase, ridden by Dougie Costello, led the field for the first circuit of Prestbury Park in exactly the same fashion as he had in the 2011 Gold Cup. Kauto Star, 3-1 2nd favourite, made heavy running of the early stages, a fact that was clearly concerning Ruby Walsh and which eventually led him to pull the gelding up at the 10th fence, ending his race.

What a friend, part owned by Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson and ridden by Daryl Jacob had been the first casualty of the race, falling at the 2nd fence.

2nd Circuit

After the initial jostling, the field settled with a clear group of 7 horses vying for the title. At this stage, it could have been any of them. The lead was shared between Midnight Chase and the Irish horse, Time for Rupert, ridden by Paul Webber, with Synchronised at the back of the pack, but still within striking distance.

Over the Last Fence

Giant Bolster, the 50-1 outsider took the lead over the last and was looking well placed for a shock Gold Cup win until Synchronised rallied strongly to take the title by 2 and a quarter lengths.

The Cheltenham crowd had a new champion to cheer and the dream pairing of AP McCoy and trainer Jonjo O’neill were celebrating a famous win ahead of Tom Scudamore on Giant Bolster and last year’s winner, Long Run.

O’Neill added:

He’s an amazing horse and it was an amazing performance. He’s really delivered. He flowered in the last few days and it was spot-on timing. It’s fantastic to win it as a trainer”.

The race marked Tony McCoy’s 2nd Cheltenham Gold Cup triumph and unfortunately, the last time Kauto Star would grace Prestbury Park, as owner Clive Smith admitted that it was “90% certain” that the amazing gelding would be retired.

Another great Cheltenham Festival had had a fitting end with a thrilling finale and another great Irish winner.

 

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Cheltenham Gold Cup 2011

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2011Robert Waley-Cohen’s King George VI chase winning gelding, Long Run, was the 7-2 favourite heading into the 83rd running of this famous face. The horse and his jockey, Robert’s son, Sam Waley-Cohen managed to lived up to this billing in style, beating a stellar field by 7 lengths.

Tough Competition

A field of 13 that contained no fewer than three previous Gold Cup winners stood waiting for the off with the always-feverish Prestbury Park baying for the action to start.

And They’re Off

From the off, it was 9-1 shot Midnight Chase ridden by Tom Scudamore that made the pace with the assembled field all vying for position in behind. Midnight Chase led for the whole of the first circuit as the mounts of Ruby Walsh, Paddy Brennan and Sam Thomas, back riding Denman again, all jostled for the best position from which to strike.

Final Stages

Even as late as the 3rd fence from home, all of the major threats were still in with a shout of winning the race, as 2010 winner Imperial Commander, Ruby Walsh on double-winner 5-1, 3rd favourite Kauto Star and stablemate Denman, the 2008 winner were all neck and neck.

Heading to the last, fierce rivals Denman and Kauto Star threatened to turn it into a 2 horse race for the line, but Sam Waley-Cohen on Long Run was having none of it. Jumping the last fence the better of the three contenders, the way was clear for Robert Waley-Cohen’s young horse to take the £270k prize.

A Brace of Records

In claiming the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup, two new records were set. The first was being the youngest gelding to win the prestigious race since Mill House in 1963 and the second was Sam Waley-Cohen becoming the first amateur jockey to become Gold Cup champion since Jim Wilson on Little Owl in 1981.

Jockey Waley-Cohen was ecstatic in the winners’ enclosure:

That’s a very special feeling and he’s a very special horse. He’s a whole lot better than I thought he was. I want to say thank you to everyone for believing in me and the horse.”

Champion Trainer

It was also a momentous day for the winning trainer, Nicky Henderson, who enjoyed his first Gold Cup win and his 39th festival success in total, making him the all-time leading trainer at the meeting.

Friday March 18, 2011 had witnessed one of the most exciting Cheltenham Gold Cup chases in history and it was won in style by the 7-2 favourite, much to the joy of trainer, owner, jockey and the huge 65,000 Cheltenham crowd.

It would be remembered for some years to come.

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