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A look back at the Greatest Memories from Last Year’s Cheltenham Festival

Posted on February 20, 2020 by Lucy Waldon

It’s only a couple of weeks before the iconic Cheltenham Roar erupts across Prestbury Park as the famous four-day Cheltenham Festival gets underway. Racing fans up and down the country are already scrambling to find the latest odds on 2020 Cheltenham hopefuls, and anticipating the thrills that are sure to ensue. Ahead of this year’s Festival, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from last year.

Amazing Altior’s jumps record

The Nicky Henderson-trained horse was the favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase and not only did he win, but he hung on to his record for the most consecutive wins in jump racing – this triumph being the 18th, equalling the record set by Big Buck’s.

Altior certainly didn’t make it easy, with a mistake at fence seven (the water jump), but jockey Nico de Boinville spurred him on to find that extra gear. Describing him as “an absolute warrior”, the final 100 yards was where the race was won, and Altior beat Politologue by one-and-three-quarter lengths.

He, of course, went on to break the record in his following race, before finishing second in the Ascot 1965 Chase, last November. But as they say, all good things must come to an end.

Mullins maiden Gold Cup win

Given all of his success in horse racing, particularly at the Cheltenham Festival, it’s hard to believe that prior to 2019, Willie Mullins had never won the Gold Cup. He had finished second six times, but never trained a winning horse. Until Al Boum Photo secured the meeting’s most coveted prize.

It was exactly 20 years since the Irish trainer entered his first horse into the Blue Riband race and it was an afternoon to remember. The seven-year-old jumped clear of the final fence with four other runners in pursuit, but stayed on strongly, finishing two-and-a-half lengths of Anibale Fly. Bookies’ favourite Presenting Percy finished in eighth.

Mullins said afterwards: “I had probably resigned myself to never winning a Gold Cup, so I didn’t really obsess about it or get too disappointed about it. Racing has been very good to me. I have a fantastic life in racing and I resigned myself to thinking, ‘If I never win, so be it.’ You only get one chance to win it each year and, when three of them were gone, I thought it was another year like that and so I probably had all my disappointment out of me early in the race.”

Fantastic Frodon and Frost make history

They go together like salt and vinegar, or Ant and Dec, but Bryony Frost, riding Frodon made history at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, becoming the first female jockey to win a Grade One race. The duo have forged a formidable partnership and all of Prestbury Park were on their feet to cheer them on to victory in the Ryanair Chase.

The pair took a stranglehold early on, but two out, was overtaken. Regaining the lead with 160 yards left, Frodon held on, beating Aso by one-and-a-quarter lengths. After the race, Frost gushed: “He is Pegasus, he has got wings” and “He’s unbelievable. I love you, mate!”

Two years previous, Frost made her name, then as an amateur, winning the Foxhunter Chase while in the saddle of Pacha du Polder. But this win will no doubt, live long in the memory.

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