Unforgettable moments: a ride of the century, a rogue and a really lucky escape
The opening day of the Cheltenham Festival has provided a plethora of unforgettable moments down the years. Here are three never-to-be-forgotten incidents this century. . .
Annie Power (2015)
The bookmakers were resigned to defeat and the punters delirious as Annie Power majestically strode clear on the approach to the final flight in the Mares' Hurdle, seemingly set to deliver a final costly blow to the layers by bringing up a Mullins and Walsh four-timer after Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen had already triumphed.
Then it all swung in one sickening split-second. She was down, she had fallen at the last. Gasps and then stunned silence enveloped the racecourse as the bookmaking industry dodged a £50 million payout.
Wichita Lineman (2009)
Wichita Lineman was lazy. Fortunately for his many backers in the 3m handicap chase, his rider was anything but.
Tony McCoy had no peers when it came to brute strength and he also had a never-say-die attitude which came in very handy aboard Wichita Lineman, who was intent on giving up at a very early stage.
Off the bridle passing the stands, McCoy was hard at work on Wichita Lineman, who gradually, but unenthusiastically, picked off toiling rivals from an unpromising position on the run downhill.
Even at the last Maljimar looked to have the race in safe-keeping, but McCoy would not be denied, asking for absolutely everything and sending the disbelieving crowd absolutely wild with a ride for the ages.
Hardy Eustace was the victor, but 2005 will forever be remembered as Harchibald's Champion Hurdle. Even now Paul Carberry's ice-cool – but ultimately unsuccessful – ride on the talented but enigmatic Harchibald draws great debate.
Should he have kicked sooner? Or did he give one of racing's great rogues every possible chance?
Whichever way you look at it, a horse failing to win despite being hard on the bridle after the final flight, absolutely cruising with a championship race seemingly at his mercy, is a difficult memory to shake.
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