Belfast Telegraph

Lord Windermere sneaks Gold Cup win

Lord Windermere came from last to first to snatch victory in the Gold Cup as the Irish continued their winning streak at Cheltenham.

Davy Russell's 20-1 mount pipped 16-1 On His Own in a photo finish after an amazing run to the line at Prestbury Park.

Ruby Walsh - the Festival's most successful ever jockey with 41 career wins - was forced to miss the Gold Cup after fracturing his right arm during an earlier race.

After the stunning victory County Cork-based Russell praised Irish trainer Jim Culloty, who himself won three Gold Cups on Best Mate as a jockey.

Russell, 34, said: "I can't believe it. I was never in the race, the whole field was in front of me for the whole race, I had to sit and suffer the whole way.

"I didn't use any petrol, I went around the inside and he jumped great. The whole way round I was hunting, I thought the race had gone - the credit has to go to Jim Culloty, what a man."

The result stood after being the subject of a stewards' enquiry after alleged interference.

Around six horses could have won approaching the final fence but Russell took Lord Windermere home in front of a capacity 67,000 crowd, which included the Princess Royal, her daughter Zara Phillips, TV presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Kirsty Gallacher and Jeremy Kyle and musician Lily Allen.

Silviniaco Conti led over the last but he was collared by Russell, who just held the Willie Mullins-trained On His Own by a short head. The Giant Bolster, at 14-1, stayed on strongly to finish third, three-quarters of a length back.

Bobs Worth was bidding to follow in the footsteps of Kauto Star and Best Mate by winning two Gold Cups but never really got going despite being heavily backed by punters at 6-4 and finished fifth.

Also injured on the final day of the four-day festival was Daryl Jacob when his ride, the Paul Nicholls-trained Port Melon, crashed into a rail before the race.

Jacob was thrown to the ground in a spectator area and the crash sent a Channel 4 camera flying. The jockey was taken to hospital in Cheltenham for assessment for a suspected leg injury.

Dense fog which had caused problems on the roads for people travelling to the Festival had cleared by mid-morning.

Around 235,000 people are expected to attend the four-day race meeting, which is one of the highlights of the national hunt season.

The Irish have always been an integral part of the prestigious National Hunt Festival, which sees the best of Britain and Ireland's thoroughbred horses pitted against each other like no other meeting in the racing calendar.

Around 15,000 Irish racegoers attend the four-day meeting each day, almost equally divided between ex-pats living in the UK and people crossing the Irish Sea. Punters are expected to wager £250 million during the week.

Police said that nearly 250,000 people attended the festival during the four days and there were just 10 arrests made in total.

Superintendent Jim McCarthy, of Gloucestershire Police, said: "Hundreds of thousands of people have visited the town to enjoy this year's festivities.

"Cheltenham Festival has always been a relatively peaceful event and this year has been no exception.

"We've had a number of reports of counterfeit money on site and the usual incidents of pick-pocketing, but as a whole, reports of crime on the site were once again low."

Police said there was one report of a theft of a jacket, an incident of touting, four cases of pick-pocketing and theft from a motor vehicle.

"The atmosphere amongst members of the public at the festival has been a positive one," Mr McCarthy said.

"That feeling has been replicated amongst emergency services and racecourse staff as we've worked together to keep people safe and deal with any incidents quickly and efficiently and with minimal disruption to law abiding people."

Jockey Club regional director Ian Renton said: "It has been a fantastic festival with some heart-warming results and over 232,000 race-goers enjoying four terrific days of action.

"The next chapter of Cheltenham Racecourse starts in just 10 days' time with the site handed over to the contractors Kier for the build of our new £45 million grandstand."

The new stand is planned to be completed in time for the 2016 festival.


From Belfast Telegraph