- Cheltenham Festival
Lord Windermere shocks Gold Cup field on dramatic final day
Jim Culloty joined the esteemed list of former jockey-turned-trainers as his 20/1 shot Lord Windermere powered home to a shock victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup under Davy Russell.
The Willie Mullins-trained On His Own finished strongly in second before a steward's enquiry was called to determine whether there had been interference in the run-in to the line.
Ruby Walsh had been booked to ride On His Own, but the Festival's all-time leading jockey was ruled out of the rest of the meet after he suffered a compound fracture in the Triumph Hurdle.
On a day already steeped in drama, the field had to be recalled after a false start in the Festival's feature race after they went off too quickly. Favourite Bob's Worth went off at 6/4 as he looked to join a list of horses who have won the most prestigious trophy in jump racing more than once and defend his crown.
The field enjoyed a strong gallop by pace-setter On His Own, before Silviniaco Conti - racing for Paul Nicholls - was moved into contention under Noel Fehily. Six fences out, the race suffered its only casualty as Last Instalment fell while challenging for the lead.
Silviniaco Conti was moved into position around the final turn, with last year's winner Bobs Worth chomping at the bit under Barry Geraghty. Silviniaco Conti fell at the third last year, after which it was widely presumed he would have taken Bobs Worth all the way; that race looked in contention with two fences to go, before the favourite ran out of steam on Cleeve Hill.
The second favourite stayed on but found nothing in the final furlong, while Lord Windermere, who Russell admitted had not travelled fluently throughout the three miles and two furlong race, stormed home but drew left. He appeared to impede On His Own, ridden by the replacement David Casey, and third-placed The Giant Bolster, which again ran a superb race around the track he loves, but the result was eventually ruled to be a fair one.
Silviniaco Conti had to settle for fourth, while the champion Bobs Worth was dethroned in fifth.
Earlier on Friday, Walsh was ruled out of the Festival's feature race after he suffered a nasty fall from mount Abbyssial in the Triumph Hurdle. He gingerly rose to his feet before receiving medical attention. With the broken arm confirmed, Walsh was taken to hospital in Gloucester for surgery and his Festival was over.
It completes an up-and-down Festival for Walsh, who won Wednesday's Novice's Hurdle on Faugheen before being embroiled in a row with animal rights campaigners after playing down the death of Our Conor on the opening day.
Tiger Roll, piloted by Russell, went on to win the Triumph Hurdle ahead of Kentucky Hyden and Guitar Pete.
Daryl Jacobs, who finished second in the first race after a leather stirrup snapped while he was leading, won the County Hurdle on Lac Fontana to give Paul Nicholls his first winner of the Festival - but he was forced to pull out of the Albert Bartlett Novice's Hurdle when his mount Port Melon was spooked in the build-up, veered to its right and crashed into a rail.
Jacobs was thrown head first on to a tarmac path and the race was delayed by almost 15 minutes as medics attended to the scene. A cameraman was also hurt in the incident. It caps a rollercoaster week for Jacobs, who was in tears after he was pipped to the post when riding Southfield Theatre in Pertemps Network Final on Thursday.
It was later confirmed by trainer Paul Nicholls that Jacob had broken his knee, leg and elbow in the fall.
In the race, Casey and Briar Hill - the horse that was meant to be ridden by Walsh - fell at the sixth. 33/1 shot Very Wood and Paul Carberry were successful, edging Deputy Dan and Apache Jack.
In the Foxhunter Chase Challenge, Nina Carberry could not match her brother Paul's earlier winner as she steered On The Fringe to a third-placed finish behind 40/1-shot Carsonstown Boy and the triumphant Tammy's Hill. The finish was not quite as dramatic as the race which preceded it, as Tammy's Hill powered to the line with a show of blistering pace.
Don Poli secured Willie Mullins' bid for top trainer as he romped home in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.
The final race of the day provided Davy Russell with the perfect sign-off, as he made it three wins on the day when he rallied on board 16/1 shot Savello to clinch the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup.