Cheltenham Festival ups and downs: when a winner becomes a loser
John Randall looks at disqualifications at the meeting
2016 Glenfarclas Chase
Martin Keighley celebrated his first festival winner when Any Currency, runner-up in the cross-country chase for the two previous years, came good at the age of 13 in 2016 by a length from Josies Orders.
However, anti-inflammatory medication given to the gelding well before the race had not cleared his system. The positive test was announced in June, and inevitable disqualification followed in August. As with all previous positive tests at the festival, the horse's performance was not enhanced and the trainer was not to blame.
1994 Stayers' Hurdle
Trained by Maurice Camacho, Avro Anson jumped to the front at the final flight of a sub-standard Stayers' Hurdle but veered sharply left on the run-in. Balasani, a previous Royal Ascot winner, had to be switched and rallied to great effect, but was still a short-head adrift at the line. It was a formality that the first two positions would be reversed.
As it turned out, the only Graded race Avro Anson ever won was the Dipper Novices' Chase in 1996.
1980 Cheltenham Gold Cup
At the age of 12, Tied Cottage led all the way in the 1980 Gold Cup and scored entirely on merit by eight lengths from Master Smudge. But traces of the prohibited substance theobromine were found in his post-race urine sample, probably caused by foodstuffs that had been accidentally contaminated, so disqualification was a formality at an inquiry in May.
This was a big blow to trainer Dan Moore and, particularly, owner Anthony Robinson, who was suffering from terminal cancer. Tied Cottage had won the Sun Alliance (RSA) Chase in 1976.
1980 Queen Mother Champion Chase
The only horse to suffer two disqualifications at the festival, Chinrullah crushed his rivals in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1980, having 25 lengths to spare over Another Dolly, and the very next day he finished fifth to Tied Cottage in the Gold Cup.
However, he tested positive for the same reason as Tied Cottage, and was disqualified from both races. Trained by Mick O'Toole, he had won the Arkle in 1979.
1978 Foxhunter Chase
Contrary to what Wikipedia says, Timmie's Battle was disqualified in the Foxhunter Chase, becoming the first horse at the festival to lose his victory because of a positive test. Trained by Arthur Stephenson and ridden by the present Lord Daresbury, he had caught Mountolive close home and beaten him by half a length in a driving finish.
Mountolive thus became the second consecutive Foxhunter winner for owner-trainer-rider Richard Shepherd, who had triumphed with Long Lane in 1977.
1973 George Duller Hurdle
The most unusual disqualification at the festival was that of Parthenon (Henry Cecil's first Royal Ascot winner) in the 3m George Duller Handicap Hurdle in 1973.
Parthenon – by now trained by Tom Jones – led all the way and beat Silkstone by three lengths, but later that afternoon it became known that the favourite would not keep the race as it had been belatedly realised that he was not qualified to run. A novice, he had not been placed in a staying hurdle by February 14 as the conditions required.
1973 Foxhunter Chase
The day before Parthenon's futile festival run, Bear's Slipper was demoted in the Foxhunter Chase for a more orthodox reason – causing interference to the second finisher.
Bear's Slipper and Bullock's Horn had a battle royal over the last four fences and the former held on by a head, but he had clearly bumped his rival on the run-in and John Oaksey gained the last of his five festival victories in the stewards' room when the first two placings were reversed.
(2nd) 1967 Champion Hurdle
After Aurelius, the 1961 St Leger winner, had proved almost sterile at stud, he was gelded and sent back into training with Ken Cundell, and proved a high-class hurdler.
In the 1967 Champion Hurdle he finished second, beaten four lengths by Saucy Kit, but he had hung badly left on the run-in and hampered the third finisher, the Queen Mother's Makaldar, so he was relegated to last place. He won on the Flat, over hurdles and over fences at Ascot.
1964 Cathcart Chase
The only mare to be disqualified at the festival, Wayward Muse suffered that fate in the Cathcart Chase, the finale of the 1964 meeting on the historic day Arkle won his first Gold Cup.
She took the lead from Panisse at the final fence and just held on by a head, but she had veered left on the run-in and was demoted to second place for crossing her rival. It was a rare setback for three-time champion jockey Stan Mellor.
1923 National Hunt Chase
Before World War II the 4m National Hunt Chase for amateur riders was the biggest race at the meeting, and in 1923 the issue lay between Duke's Walk and Templescoby (both trained by Tom Coulthwaite) from three out.
Duke's Walk asserted himself up the hill and prevailed by a length, but the stewards sustained an objection for “boring and crossing after the last fence” and awarded the race to his stablemate.
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