Following on from Tuesday’s blog, here are my four other favourite jump races.
2009 Hennessy Gold Cup. Stabled in adjacent boxes, Paul Nicholls’ stars Kauto Star and Denman lit up the jumping scene in the first decade of the new century. Denman beat Kauto Star in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup but finished second to him the next year. Known as ‘The Tank’, Denman had won the 2007 Hennessy under 11st 12lb and now, two years later, would do so again. Taking the lead soon after halfway, he saw off the challenge of stablemate What A Friend, who was receiving 22lb, and battled on to win by three and a half lengths. All heart. Oh, how they cheered. That proved to be the last win of Denman’s career, although he finished second in two more Cheltenham Gold Cups.
1967 Whitbread Gold Cup. From ‘The Tank’ to ‘The Big Horse’. So long in Arkle’s shadow, Mill House gave us one last hurrah. On ground reckoned too firm for his fragile legs, he gained two lengths at every fence. Though weary, he battled up the Sandown hill to hold off two late challenges. Two yards past the post he’d stopped to a walk. The reception he received on returning to the winner’s enclosure spoke volumes.
My two other favourite jump races
My last two are far less well known but both hold special memories.
1969 Cheltenham Gold Cup. It wasn’t a vintage year and it wasn’t a great race. But it was my first time at Cheltenham, going there with a school friend and his dad. Twelve-year-old What A Myth won it by a length and a half, helped by runner-up Domacorn’s blunder two out. Heavy ground and a slow-motion finish. But who can forget their first ‘live’ Gold Cup?
1974 Horse and Hound Cup. Even fewer will recall this one. It was Credit Call’s third successive Horse and Hound Cup but, boy, Lord Fortune made him fight for it. The lead changed four or five times on the Stratford run-in before Credit Call shaded it by a short head from the rallying Lord Fortune. Just a great race fought out by two brave horses.
Those, then, are my four other favourite jump races, added to those in Tuesday’s blog.