Horse Racing

Cheltenham Top 5’s: Five of the Best Cheltenham Festival Rides

You will all have your favourite Cheltenham Festival rides, most likely the horses you won  some money on!

But for sheer horsemanship and dogged determination these five incredible riding performances will take some beating…

1. Galas Image & Richard Linley – Linley Shoulders Grief for an Amazing Win

In November 1985 jockey Richard Linley lost his wife in a car crash which almost took his own life. It was 14 months before his long list of injuries were healed enough to allow him to resume riding in January 1987.

His return to the track was no free ride and as he lined up for the 1987 Arkle Chase his win tally for the year was just 4. So his victory aboard 25/1 shot Galas Image in the Arkle was pretty special.

But it was the fact he landed the race with a dislocated shoulder and was unable to properly ride out a finish which made it truly memorable. Linley was not able to ride again until August of that year and quit the saddle by September.

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2. Wichita Lineman & AP McCoy – The Greatest Ride by the Greatest Rider

On April 13 2009 Wichita Lineman was fatally injured at the first fence of the Irish Grand National. In his book: Winner – My Racing Life AP McCoy declared it to be one of his saddest days in the saddle.

A hurdles winner at the 2007 Festival, just one month earlier this JP McManus owned horse had been given an unbelievable ride by the perennial champion jockey to land the William Hill Trophy.

It is regularly described as the greatest of all-time. Watch for yourself, it is hard to disagree.

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3. Pacha Du Polder & Harriet Tucker – Pop Goes Polder for Tucker on Her Second Ride

Pacha Du Polder ridden to victory by Harriet Tucker in the 2018 Christies Foxhunters Chase, a race for amateur jockeys, was a great story and an even better race to watch.

Last of nine horses approaching the final fence his young rider ignored the pain of a partially dislocated shoulder to win this contest on just her second ride under rules.

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4. Champ & Barry Geraghty – Champ by Name and Nature

During no stage of the 2020 RSA Novice Chase was Champ going to prevail. Slow at all his fences, over eight lengths adrift at the last fence and available to back at 399/1 on the Betfair Exchange.

But the now retired Barry Geraghty never gave up and with Rachael Blackmore on Minella Indo (who traded at 1.06 in running) and Paul Townend on Allaho finding their mounts stopping to a walk, the Nicky Henderson trained horse passed them like they were stationary 70yds from home.

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5. Cool Ground & Adrian Maguire – Memorable 1992 Gold Cup

The 1992 Gold Cup was memorable for the tactics employed by the Pitman stable which used 150/1 shot Golden Freeze to ‘spoil’ even-money favourite Carvill’s Hill who was a notoriously poor jumper when pressurised.

But that should not detract from the ride Adrian Maguire gave to the Ultimate winner, Cool Ground.

Saving every piece of ground available and relentless in his urgings, the young Irish rider simply rode Frenchman Adam Kondrat off of the track to prevail in a photo-finish.

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