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Eight of the most iconic and dramatic finishes in horseracing

Fantastic Light (leading) denies Galileo in a thrilling Irish Champion Stakes
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Following an unbelievable afternoon of sport on Sunday, featuring a nerve-shredding World Cup win for England's cricket team and Novak Djokovic prevailing in an epic duel with Roger Federer, we look back at racing's most iconic and dramatic finishes. 

Red Rum v Crisp
Grand National, March 1973

For most of the 1973 Grand National it appeared that Australian chaser Crisp would cement his place in the record books with an astounding all-the-way victory.

Jumping like a stag and appearing to take little out of himself, the 1971 Champion Chase hero appeared to be travelling with plenty of zest after leading from the first Canal Turn. Even after the second-last, there was still a significant gap back to the pursuing Red Rum. 

Crisp (far side) comes agonisingly close to Grand National victory but is pipped by Red Rum

However, Crisp tired rapidly after the last and was collared close home by Red Rum, who was receiving 23lb. Red Rum would of course go on to win another two Grand Nationals, but he was so nearly denied by the remarkable Crisp in 1973.

Grundy v Bustino 
King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, July 1975

Often referred to as 'the race of the century', the 1975 King George promised to be an epic renewal with that year's Derby scorer Grundy, a flashy, eyecatching chestnut, facing the previous season's St Leger hero Bustino. 

Grundy and Pat Eddery win from Bustino and Joe Mercer in the race of the century

Grundy, sent off the 4-5 favourite under Pat Eddery, delivered as most expected but the finish is still remembered more than 40 years later as the pair engaged in a thrilling battle. The valiant Bustino gave his all in a race run at a furious gallop but Grundy, who was under maximum pressure, managed to overhaul him to win by half a length.

Monksfield v Night Nurse
Templegate Hurdle, April 1977

Jump racing in the 1970s was defined by a collection of brilliant hurdlers and two of the greatest, Monksfield and Night Nurse, produced one of the outstanding finishes of the century in the 1977 Templegate Hurdle. 

Night Nurse (right) and Monksfield clear the last in the Templegate Hurdle before dead-heating , with Night Nurse conceding 6lb

Night Nurse, a dual Champion Hurdle victor who was conceding 6lb, was renowned for his front-running and brilliant leaps, while Monksfield, still an entire, had two seconds at Cheltenham to his name.

It became apparent from early on that it was a two-horse race and, despite being scrubbed along to keep up with the front-running Night Nurse, the diminutive Monksfield fought all the way, resulting in a pulsating dead-heat.

Special Cargo
Whitbread Gold Cup, April 1984

The 1984 Whitbread Gold Cup produced as brilliant a finish as one could wish to see.

Special Cargo, owned by the Queen Mother, was hard driven from six out and was still only fourth as they jumped the last, but he stayed on powerfully up the Sandown hill to get up on the line, beating Lettoch and Diamond Edge, with two short-heads separating the first three.

Special Cargo and his owner received a tremendous reception from racegoers who were delighted by what had just unfolded.

Dawn Run v Wayward Lad
Cheltenham Gold Cup, March 1986

Dawn Run is one of the greatest mares to have graced the sport and her triumph in the 1986 Gold Cup, following victory in the Champion Hurdle two years earlier, cemented her place in the history books.

However, it was only through gritty determination and sheer courage that the Paddy Mullins-trained mare saw off her challengers to register a historic Gold Cup victory. Sent off at 15-8, the Jonjo O'Neill-ridden eight-year-old looked beaten as Wayward Lad and Forgive 'n Forget surged past before the final fence. 

Dawn Run returns to the winner's enclosure following her Gold Cup victory

Dawn Run, however, would not give up and battled bravely up Prestbury Park's famous hill to deny Wayward Lad in jump racing's most prestigious contest. 

Desert Orchid v Yahoo
Cheltenham Gold Cup, March 1989 

Desert Orchid had never shown a liking for Cheltenham having run in two Champion Hurdles and two Champion Chases without success, but the hugely popular grey finally enjoyed his big day at Prestbury Park when coming out on top in a blockbuster finish to the 1989 Gold Cup.

There was plenty of drama before the race as snow had threatened the meeting, but it went ahead and resulted in one of the most popular results in history as, through sheer guts and bravery, the 5-2 favourite Desert Orchid refused to be beaten.

Yahoo led approaching two out and seemed likely to win but the roar of the crowd galvanised Desert Orchid, who got up close home.

Desert Orchid and Simon Sherwood clear the last en route to Gold Cup victory from Yahoo

Fantastic Light v Galileo
Irish Champion Stakes, September 2001

Superpowers Ballydoyle and Godolphin came head to head in the 2001 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown – a race that will never be forgotten. 

Galileo, unbeaten in six starts including the Derby and Irish Derby, beat the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Fantastic Light by two lengths in the King George at Ascot, but the placings were reversed at Leopardstown after a thrilling tussle.

Galileo, sent off 4-11 favourite, could not overhaul Fantastic Light, who dug deep under pressure to fend off his rival.

Galileo was retired after finishing sixth at the Breeders' Cup on his only subsequent start, but his phenomenal exploits at stud have ensured his legacy lives on. 

High Chaparral v Johar v Falbrav 
Breeders' Cup Turf, October 2003

High Chaparral, a brilliant son of Sadler's Wells, headed to Santa Anita with perhaps a point to prove, having finished third when favourite for the Arc earlier that month, and was sent off an 11-2 chance to add to his illustrious CV.

The five-time Group 1 winner faced a top-class field, with rivals including Storming Home, Sulamani and Falbrav.

Darryll Holland finishing third on Falbrav (right) behind deadheaters High Chaparral (centre) and Johar in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita

Falbrav, beaten by High Chaparral in a controversial finish to the Irish Champion Stakes, struck for home on the bend and opened up an advantage. However, High Chaparral finished strongly along with unconsidered US runner Johar, who forced a three-way photo-finish as they flashed past the post.

The result? The first dead-heat finish in Breeders' Cup history as Johar and High Chaparral could not be split, with Falbrav a head behind.


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Galileo, sent off 4-11 favourite, could not overhaul Fantastic Light, who dug deep under pressure to fend off his rival
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