The Cheltenham Festival is renowned for creating historic scenes that will be etched in the minds of racing fans for years to come. With the four-day showcase just around the corner (15-18 March), H&H takes a trip down memory lane to look at the triumphs that have pulled at the heartstrings over the past 20 years…
The Irish-bred gelding provided 20-time Champion jockey AP McCoy with his first Gold Cup victory in 1997 when trained by Noel Chance. It would take 15 years before AP bagged his next triumph in the prestigious race — aboard Synchronised in 2012.
Trained by top Irish handler Aidan O’Brien, the gelding — who was bred to race on the Flat — won three consecutive Champion Hurdles in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Charlie Swan wore the famous JP McManus green and gold silks.
Undoubtedly one of the most popular racehorses of his era, the Henrietta Knight-trained gelding became the first horse since the great Arkle to win three successive Gold Cups in 2002, 2003 and 2004. All races were under Irishman Jim Culloty, with whom he built a formidable partnership.
Another equine hero to capture the heart of the racing world, Kauto Star romped home to win the Gold Cup not once but twice, in 2007 and 2009 for his trainer Paul Nicholls — joining the top ranks as one of the most successful chasers of his time.
At just five, the French-bred gelding became the youngest horse to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2008. Again trained by Paul Nicholls, he returned a year later to claim back-to-back triumphs in the race.
Another former stable star from the Paul Nicholls yard to grace Cheltenham with his talent — the eye-catching gelding made history by winning four consecutive World Hurdles in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The heroic gelding claimed dual victory in the Champion Hurdle for top Irish trainer Willie Mullins. He dominated the race in 2011 and then again in 2013 — both times ridden by Ruby Walsh.
The good-looking French-bred gelding is always a crowd favourite at the Gloucestershire track and rewarded his supporters when coming home in front by an impressive 19 lengths during the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Another superstar to emerge from the unstoppable Mullins yard, the gelding took the 2015 Champion Hurdle in emphatic style — beating his stablemates Arctic Fire into second and Hurricane Fly into third.
Last but by no means least, the homebred gelding became the first novice chaser to claim a Gold Cup for more than 40 years. Nico de Boinville — riding in his first Gold Cup — steered the gelding to victory in 2015 and provided the Bradstock family with their greatest triumph to date.