The Cheltenham Festival is the holy grail to jump racing fans around the globe. One of the biggest race meetings of the year, punters from far and wide come to watch as the top horses, jockeys and trainers battle it out.
Held at Cheltenham racecourse, the festival includes races such as the Champion Hurdle, Arkle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Gold Cup among many others.
The festival itself has created some historic moments in horse racing history and has also had some incredible winners. Here we look at a handful of the meeting’s most memorable victors.
We couldn’t make a Cheltenham Festival winners list and leave out the great Kauto Star. The Paul Nicholls-trained superstar has been ridden by Ruby Walsh and A.P McCoy in his time and has won the Gold Cup twice.
He first won the Gold Cup in 2007 beating Exotic Dancer to post, but then was beaten by Denman the year after. But, in a spectacular show of resilience, Kauto Star returned to win the race in 2009, beating Denman and Exotic Dancer.
Nicky Henderson’s stable star hasn’t been without controversy this season in the build-up to this year’s Cheltenham Festival. After losing to Cyrname at Ascot, then being pulled out of the Silvianco Conti Chase by Henderson, Altior seemed to be a shadow of his former self until he romped home at Newbury recently.
Altior has thrived at Cheltenham, winning the Champion Chase twice, the Arkle and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He looks to make it a three Queen Mothers on the bounce and is currently priced up as the 2/1 joint-favourite to win this year’s race.
Fan-favourite Native River romped home to Gold Cup glory in 2018, beating favourite Might Bite. The two went head-to-head at the front of the pack throughout the race with no other horse really challenging for the lead.
They started to take off together around the halfway mark, at the top of the hill. They continued to stay out in front and as they came onto the home straight, they were jumping side by side.
Going up the hill, Native River held on and made every yard to win under Richard Johnson. A spectacular race and one that is etched into everyone’s memory. A more than a noteworthy festival winner.
Unfortunately, Native River has been ruled out of this year’s Gold Cup due to injury.
One of the most famous horses in recent history, Sprinter Sacre had a near-perfect record and was a multiple festival winner. In the 2012 Arkle, Sprinter Sacre romped home to beat Cue Card with relative ease.
From there he went on to beat Sizing Europe in the Queen Mother and to beat Un De Sceaux in the same race. An incredible horse and one which will go down in Cheltenham history.
Another Gold Cup hero, Sizing John won the race back in 2017. This 10-year-old son of Midnight Legend became the first horse since Imperial Call in 1996 to win both the Irish and English Gold Cups. An incredible achievement and he instantly became a fan favourite.
Sizing John hasn’t had a great time recently with numerous injury set-backs. He was out for 733 days and then fell on his reappearance after.
It was later confirmed that he would be out for the season yet again. Trainer Jessica Harrington stated that the horse was not 100% after a workout at the Curragh.
Hopefully we’ll be able to see Sizing John back to his best. Even if we don’t, the memory of him storming up the hill will be enough for racing fans.