Cheltenham Gold Cup 2002

cheltenham festival 2002After the disappointment of the cancellation of the 2001 Cheltenham Gold Cup due to the well documented outbreak of foot and mouth disease, race fans were eagerly anticipating the 2002 running of this famous race.

The going was ‘Good’ as previous winners See More Business and Looks Like Trouble were part of an 18 strong field that started the race, which all in attendance hoped would live up to all expectation.

Early Running

At the beginning of the 2002 Tote sponsored Cheltenham Gold Cup, the field was bunched together, with the early running being made by former winners: the Noel Chance trained Looks Like Trouble, the 9/4 favourite, ridden by Richard Johnson and the much less-fancied 40-1 shot, See More Business, ridden by Joe Tizzard.

The Race for Home

Coming to the 3rd fence from home, the field, which had been stretched, began to bunch up with the leaders being swallowed up by the chasing pack. Despite still leading the race, the field, which included the 25-1 Ruby Walsh mount Commanche Court, Marlborough ridden by Dean Gallagher and Jim Culloty on Best Mate, were breathing down their necks.

At this critical point, coming around the final turn, 2000 winner Looks Like Trouble faded badly to leave the Best Mate, Commanche Court and See More Business to fight it out over the final furlongs.

Over the Last

All three horses looked strong coming to the last, but it was Best Mate who took the initiative and ran strongly up Cheltenham hill with Commanche Court in close attendance. Try as he might though, Ruby Walsh couldn’t quite get enough out of the horse trained by his father Ted Walsh, as Best Mate strode home a couple of lengths clear to take the Cheltenham Gold Cup crown and the £174,000 in prize money.

Best Mate, this Irish-bred, english trained racehorse had played its part in restoring the magic and excitement that had been so sorely lacking after the race was cancelled the year before. Cheltenham was back with a bang as jubilant owner, Jim Lewis enthused:

“”I’ve had some good fun in my day but to win a Gold Cup with a horse so young – I could cry.”

There was certain to be celebration into the small hours after this momentous occasion for all associated with Best Mate…and who could blame them?

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Cheltenham Gold Cup 2000

Irish trainer, Noel Chance celebrated his first Cheltenham Gold Cup success since 1997 on March 16th, when Looks Like Trouble, with englishman Richard Johnson in the saddle, romped home 6 lengths clear of the field to take the prize for 2000. This, the 73rd running of this great race lived up to its reputation for the dramatic, as the winner came from behind in sensational fashion.

The 9/2 joint 2nd favourite, Looks like trouble was looking laboured at the turn with 4 fences to jump, but found a second wind to charge through the field, taking the lead at the last to then sprint strongly to victory. He did so in a new record time of 6 mins 30.3 seconds, narrowly beating the previous record set some 10 years earlier by Graham McCourt on 100-1 shot Norton’s Coin.


Chance had always rated Looks Like Trouble as an exceptional talent, a glimpse of which the gelding showed by winning a novice chase at Doncaster, 14 months previous to this momentous triumph. Steadily climbing to the highest chase levels since that point, he reached his pinnacle on Thursday to prove his trainer’s rating to be right on the money.

6 Finished

Only half of the 12 strong field finished this arduous Good to Firm Cheltenham circuit, as most notably Ruby Walsh was unseated by Rince Ri and Tony McCoy fell at the 2nd last, whilst looking promising, if a little pressured, on Gloria Victis.

In behind Looks Like Trouble came Florida Pearl, the 8 year old ridden by Paul Carberry and trained by Willie Mullins, in 2nd, Strong Promise, the 8 year old partnered by Robert Thornton in 3rd and 9/4 favourite and the 1999 winner of this race, See More Business ridden to 4th by Paul Nicholls.

Winner Almost Didn’t Finish

A great day for Richard Johnson, Noel Chance and owners Michael and Gerry Worcester then, but it nearly didn’t turn out this way. Despite looking confident and well-placed throughout this race, a blunder at the 10th by the gelding left nerves jangling as he almost lost his rider.

Johnson remained seated however, and went on to claim the prestigious prize of Cheltenham Gold Cup Winning jockey for 2000.

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Cheltenham Gold Cup 2013

barry geraghtyThe Cheltenham Gold Cup 2013 came to a thrilling climax, as the 11-4 bookies’ favourite, Bobs Worth romped home 7 lengths ahead of the field to give trainer Nicky Henderson a truly memorable victory. Jockey Barry Geraghty brought home the newly crowned Gold Cup winner with room to spare, in front of Sir Des Champs in 2nd and Long Run in Third.

Speaking to the BBC after the race, Geraghty enthused:

It was brilliant. He’s such a great little horse, who loves the Job. We had faith in the horse. Nicky Henderson knew he would have him fit enough – he knows how to get them ready for Cheltenham”.

The going was soft and good-to-soft in places and coming to the 2nd fence from home, it wasn’t clear who was going to take the prize, as Sir Des Champs, ridden by Champion jockey A P McCoy, and amateur Sam Waley-Cohen on 2011 Gold Cup winner, Long Run were neck and neck, with Geraghty tucked in behind.

It was Bobs Worth though, one of 9 who started the race, who rallied and hit the front after the last fence and struck for home, leaving the others behind for a win that brought up a 50th Festival win for Lambourn trainer, Henderson.

A beaming Nicky Henderson recalled:

It has been a long old week. Both boys gave them great rides and both horses were brave to the line. It is a dream, isn’t it? Barry Geraghty gave that a lovely pace. He is such an honest horse. He always gallops up the hill”.
Despite riding the winner of the Albert Bartlett Hurdle, the race directly before the Gold Cup on At Fishers Cross, McCoy was downbeat after coming in 2nd:

It’s hard to be happy on a day like today”.

McCoy, a late draft in for Sir Des Champs, a Willie Mullins trained mount, looked to be in pole position as he jockeyed for position in a real pro versus amateur tussle against Waley-Cohen. Neither however, would prove to be the winner, as Bobs Worth charged up hill, passing them both.

A New Era for Steeplechasing”

Nicky Henderson went on to extol the virtues of current and burgeoning steeplechasing talent:

“The Gold Cup has engendered a real feeling of a new era for steeplechasing. There is masses of talented youth at the top of the tree, perhaps yet to reach their peak. The first two home, Bobs Worth and Sir Des Champs, are the most significant, having been the top novice chasers at the 2012 Festival, and now they have neatly progressed”.

It was Bobs Worth who ultimately won out though, to delight owners “The Not Afraid Partnership” and breeder, Mrs L Eadie and take the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup and the £313,225 in prize money.

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Hey all!

Welcome to . Our mission here is to provide a comprehensive guide to all things Cheltenham. The Cheltenham Festival is one of the jewels in the crown of UK racing, and over the months I intend to highlight some of the magic moments of the festival, the gold cup, and horses and jockeys that have added to the magic of this event over the years. Stay tuned!

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