The bet365 Gold Cup card at Sandown should have been the finale to the 2019-20 jumps season. However, with racing on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, there will be no last hurrah in Esher this weekend. Nevertheless, we pick out seven memorable moments from the curtailed British season.
One of the headline clashes of the season took place in November as Cyrname ended Altior’s unbeaten streak over fences in the 1965 Chase at Ascot. A seemingly primed Cyrname put Altior to the sword with his usual bold-jumping, front-running display, but the race on heavy ground appeared take plenty out of both, with Cyrname out of luck in two subsequent runs and Nicky Henderson later admitting he wished he had not let Altior take his chance.
Eleven-year-old Un De Sceaux went toe-to-toe with a rival just over half his age in the Tingle Creek and made him pull out all the stops. Plenty in the Sandown stands were willing the veteran to get back up, but he eventually conceded defeat by a neck in a thrilling finish.
Kempton King Clan
Clan Des Obeaux successfully defended his King George VI Chase title, and gave trainer Paul Nicholls an incredible 11th win in the race, when powering home by 21 lengths from stablemate Cyrname. Nicholls has already set his sights on a hat-trick bid at Christmas with this one.
Potters Corner sparked jubilant scenes at Chepstow as he secured a home-trained win the Welsh National. Trained by Christian Williams in the Vale of Glamorgan and part-owned by Wales rugby star Jonathan Davies, Potters Corner also made it a day to remember for teenage rider Jack Tudor, who gave him a perfect spin round the marathon trip. Aintree would have been his spring aim, but with the fixture cancelled, the Williams team had to make do with a win in the Virtual Grand National instead.
Named after AP McCoy, Champ produced a finish reminiscent of the great man’s Lazarus-like effort on Wichita Lineman back in 2009 as he sprouted wings up the Cheltenham hill to win the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase. Eight lengths down at the last, Champ found plenty for Barry Geraghty’s encouragement to collar Minella Indo and Allaho in the shadow of the post.
Al Boum Photo evoked memories of the great Best Mate as he became the first back-to-back winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in nearly 20 years. Willie Mullins had endured quite the wait for a first Gold Cup before Al Boum Photo triumphed last year, but now he has two and every chance of a third next year.
Hughes the man
Brian Hughes became the first name other than McCoy or Richard Johnson on the champion jockey trophy in 25 years as he struck a blow for the north in foiling Johnson’s title defence. It had looked all set to be a battle that went right to the wire, but a broken arm for Johnson at Exeter in January effectively ended his hopes. Nevertheless, Hughes’ victory was just reward for a consistent campaign and he will hopefully enjoy receiving his trophy when racing resumes.
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