• Racing/
  • Lord Rules In Dramatic Gold Cup

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) 3m 2f 110y

  • (5yo+, 3m 2f 110y, Class 1, 13 runners)
  • Winner £327,326 2nd £122,826 3rd £61,499 4th £30,635 5th £15,404 6th £7,702
  • Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 6m 44.50s
  • Off time: 15:35:40
  • Stewards Inquiry - Result Stands
  • Last Updated: March 14 2014, 19:20 GMT

Life has certainly been turbulent for Davy Russell since this time exactly a year ago but one of Ireland's most popular riders enjoyed glorious vindication in a Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup which hung on a knife edge.

Lord Windermere comes out on top in a dramatic and controversial Gold Cup
Lord Windermere comes out on top in a dramatic and controversial Gold Cup

On this very day in 2013, Russell was in hospital with a punctured lung and missed the prestige ride on eventual runner-up Sir Des Champs, but his career was to suffer another dramatic twist when finding out on New Year's Eve his contract as number one jockey for the powerful Gigginstown Stud operation was to be terminated.

In Jim Culloty, he found a supportive shoulder, and the man who rode his third consecutive Gold Cup on Best Mate a decade earlier provided him with the Festival salvation of Lord Windermere, who survived a long stewards' inquiry for getting close to the short-headed runner-up On His Own.

There cannot have been many more dramatic afternoons on even National Hunt racing's hallowed turf, with Ruby Walsh already removed from the equation with a broken arm following a fall in the first race, and Willie Mullins not even able to use second jockey Paul Townend as he had been stood down.

David Casey was legged up on Mullins' reformed handicapper On His Own to make an early bid for the lead and was going far better than 20/1 chance Lord Windermere, who was anchored at the back of the field.

Defending champion and Bobs Worth rarely seemed to have Barry Geraghty's confidence either, with the 6/4 favourite frequently needed to be harried along but stubbornly remaining in contention.

There were six holding a valid chance turning for home but the entire shape of the race changed after the last fence, with King George hero Silviniaco Conti suddenly losing his grip on the slight lead he had established as he wandered into the centre of the track and Bobs Worth veering to the left.

A cavalcade of three swept down the stands side, with Lord Windermere rattling up the hill as he did in last year's RSA Chase, edging right but just containing On His Own and The Giant Bolster (third), who suffered interference himself at the penultimate fence but placing in a tremendous third consecutive Gold Cup.

"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. From the top of the hill I started to think I had a squeak," said Russell.

"I saw Silviniaco Conti coming across and he shied away a little but ran the whole way to the line. David Casey thought he was intimidated a bit but he was never going to get by. I think the stewards thought the best horse won on the day."

Russell has remained dignified through his troubles, was gaining a first victory in a Cheltenham feature and eventually rode two more for Gigginstown.

He said: "What I've said all along is 'that's life'. You shut your mouth and move on. I spoke to a number of people but it's happened, it's done. It's over.

"I think I was with Jim the day after (losing the job), and he and Dr Lambe (owner) have been great supporters.

"I couldn't ride a winner for Jim all year, but he kept saying to me wait for Cheltenham.

"Regardless of what's happened I had three falls this week and rode very poorly on some occasions. All of a sudden I ride a nice horse in the first (Triumph Hurdle winner Tiger Roll), I've a good horse in the Gold Cup and he wins."

Culloty is only the fourth man to ride and train a Gold Cup winner.

Jim Culloty "To be fair halfway round Davy Russell was getting the sack! He was beaten 26 lengths at Leopardstown last month, but Davy said take no notice, it will be a different ball game at Cheltenham."
Jim Culloty

"To be fair halfway round Davy Russell was getting the sack!" he said after an inquiry which took 15 minutes.

"Those were the worst few minutes of my life. This is so unbelievable I almost expected to lose the race.

"I knew he'd take his time but that was waiting tactics exaggerated."

Culloty had not trained a winner until August but now has a Festival double after the success of Spring Heeled on Wednesday.

He said: "The horses just weren't right this season, but God they have come right at the right time. I've 25 horses but only four mature enough to go to war with, and two have won at Cheltenham this week.

"I have been in the doldrums. You start to wonder 'Why am I doing this job?' but it's only for the support of Dr Lambe I continued. I was relaxed today as I knew my work was done."

Connections of the supplemented On His Own were entitled to feel aggrieved and Casey, who was given a seven-day whip ban, said: "I'm sick as a parrot. I got a great ride through and I just got done.

"I thought when I landed at the last, even though Davy jumped past me, I still had a chance and he picked up again - the rest is history.

"It could be worse, I was fortunate enough to get the ride as two other lads got injured and I was next in line."

  • A rare moment of quiet before the racegoers invade Prestbury Park in their thousands...
  • It doesn't matter which method you use in order to find those winners
  • It will be somewhat busier around 3 o'clock this afternoon
  • Lily Allen is without a smile for the cameras...
  • and on that bombshell here's Jeremy Clarkson arriving at the course
  • They do say imitation is the greatest form of flattery...
  • Kirsty Gallacher brings a touch of glamour to proceedings
  • The Princess Royal arrives at Prestbury Park
  • Let's hope he's investing wisely...
  • The sun shines off the statue of Dawn Run
  • Zara Tindall shares a joke with leading owner Trevor Hemmings
  • The field for the JCB Triumph Hurdle are in full flight...
  • Ruby Walsh and Abbyssial come to grief in the JCB Triumph Hurdle
  • Ruby Walsh feels the agony of injury and his Festival being brought to a premature close
  • Tiger Roll stays on stoutly up the rail...
  • as the crowd roar the Gigginstown horse home
  • Davy Russell has his head down as he pushes out to victory...
  • and it's hands up to a worthy winner of the prize
  • Jimmy Carr and Richard Bacon watch the action from the stands
  • The field begin their charge in the County Hurdle
  • and it's a rare moment of joy for Paul Nicholls as Lac Fontana stays on stoutly up the hill...
  • Daryl Jacob is all smiles on his return
  • and Clifford Baker joins in the fun with Lac Fontana in the winners enclosure
  • But Port Melon was to unseat Jacob ahead of the Albert Bartlett and cause serious injury to the rider
  • Deputy Dan bravely tries to see out the trip in the Albert Bartlett...
  • but Leighton Aspell begins to fear the worst as Very Wood makes his move...
  • and it's the old firm of Paul Carberry and Noel Meade that taste victory with Very Wood
  • Tom Scudamore and David Pipe return after Kings Palace took a spill at the last
  • Knockara Beau takes them along in the early stages of the Cheltenham Gold Cup
  • Triolo D'Alene (Tony McCoy) enjoys a cut at his fences along with The Giant Bolster (Tom Scudamore)
  • Lord Windermere negotiates the early fences smartly under Davy Russell
  • Silviniaco Conti and Bobs Worth are committed for home early...
  • but the tiring pair have no answer as the closers deliver their challenges...
  • On His Own and Lord WIndermere bring the race to a thrilling climax....
  • and it's Davy Russell who can toast a famous victory on the 20/1 chance
  • Davy Russell and Lord Windermere calmly return to the winners enclosure...
  • while Jim Culloty has his arms aloft having won the race as both trainer and jockey
  • Davy Russell and Jim Culloty embrace after the result is confirmed
  • Davy Russell with the Cheltenham Gold Cup
  • Jim Culloty and Davy Russell receive their presentation along with owner Ronan Lambe
  • It's not hard to guess which horse Lily Allen had on her ticket!
  • Tammys Hill picks up Carsonstowns Boy in a scintillating renewal of the Foxhunter Chase
  • Connections of Tammys Hill celebrate their win in style
  • Don Poli adds to a brilliant day for Gigginstown Stud in the Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle...
  • and Mikey Fogarty becomes the latest Irish rider to don the tricolour
  • Claret Cloak (13) makes a bold bid under Noel Fehily in the Grand Annual Chase...
  • though he has no answers to the late surge of Savello...
  • and Davy Russell completes a fine day for Gigginstown and himself
All the best images from Gold Cup day at Cheltenham.

Mullins said: "I thought he was interfered with and he was beaten a short head and was in front after the line.

"The stewards felt he didn't deserve to get it and what more can I do at this stage."

Mullins said he would speak to owner Graham Wylie and take further advice before deciding whether to lodge an appeal.

Paul Nicholls was still thrilled with Silvinaco Conti's fourth place, while Geraghty said of eventual fifth Bobs Worth: "Silviniaco Conti jinked across and Bobs saw a yellow jacket and ducked across, but it cost us nothing.

"He has run a great race, but we were outpaced the whole way. I was all-out but you can't expect to win every year. He's still a young horse."

Last Instalment eventually unseated his rider and was retired after the race due to a recurrence of his leg problems.

Numerous bans emerged in the aftermath of the race, with Russell picking up a one-day (March 28) suspension for careless riding on the winner.

Casey was hit with seven days for using his whip above the permitted level, and will sit out March 28, 29, 30 and 31 and April 1, 2 and 3. He was also fined £1,300.

Noel Fehily on Silviniaco Conti was also found to have used his whip above the permitted level and was banned on March 28 and 29.

The stewards inquired into the apparent improvement in form of the winner from his last run, noting Culloty's explanation that the stable had been out of form and Lord Windermere had been unsuited by the slow pace at Leopardstown.

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