On the 14th of March, 2014, Prestbury Park witnessed the most exciting Gold Cup chase in years and it was Lord Windermere, ridden by Davy Russell, who won by a nose via a photo finish to claim the 2014 prize.
A Decade on from Best Mate
Jim Culloty was celebrating on the winner’s rostrum, this time as trainer, 10 years on from doing the same as jockey of the legendary Best Mate. How sweet it was for him.
Irish champion jump jockey Davy Russell achieved this feat, a little under 3 months after losing his job as principal rider for Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud. The win came as sweet redemption for Russell, who had been secretly shocked at losing his place.
The passage to the completion of this, the 86th running of the famous race, was far from simple or free from contentious moments. The controversy began even before the race, as Last Instalment was allowed to run, despite his trainer Philip Fenton, being the subject of a drugs enquiry.
It was in vain however, as Last Instalment fell 6 from home.
The race itself had passed uneventfully, at least until the later stages, with eventual winner, Lord Windermere looking like he may be run out of contention, sitting at the rear of the field for as long as he did. It became apparent however, that this was a tactic to stay clear of trouble and when it mattered, the gelding had plenty left to give.
Heading around the final turn, Lord Windermere seemed almost out of it at the back of the leading pack, but shortly after, he started to make his way through the field for a shock 20-1 win a short nose ahead of Willie Mullins’ trained horse, On His Own at 16-1, followed by Silviniaco in third.
Even after winning post had been passed, there was still confusion as to the result, with a steward’s enquiry raised regarding suspected interference. David Casey on On His Own, who finished 2nd, claimed he would have won without the interference from the winner, who was being forced wide by 7-2 2nd favourite Silviniaco Conti in the final moments of the race.
The stewards upheld the result stood however, and a jubilant crowd had seen one of the most eventful and exciting races in living memory.
The 2014 Cheltenham festival had needed a shot in the arm, after Raya Star’s death earlier in the festival and Jockeys Ruby Walsh and Daryl Jacob in hospital nursing broken bones and boy, did they get it.
There will have been few leaving Prestbury Park following this amazing race, that would feel they hadn’t been entertained. The race had everything and more.
Roll on 2015!