Thursday 10 August 2017

Cheltenham Festival 1997 – A Look Back

Sir Anthony Peter McCoy, commonly known as A.P. McCoy, may have won the jump jockeys’ championship for 20 years in a row, but was leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival just twice, in 1997 and 1998. On the first occasion, McCoy rode just three winners, but they included Make A Stand, who made all to win the Champion Hurdle by 5 lengths, unchallenged, and Mr Mulligan, who was always prominent and went clear three out to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup by 9 lengths. McCoy also won the Arkle Chase on Or Royal, although his task was made considerably easier by the departure of the hot favourite, Mulligan, at the fourth last fence.

Other notable winners at the Cheltenham Festival that year included Martha’s Son, trained by the late Captain Tim Forster and ridden by Rodney Farrant, in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Florida Pearl, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Richard Dunwoody, in the Champion Bumper. And, of course, there was 5-year-old Istabraq, who was all out to win the Royal & Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle by a length from Mighty Moss, but would return to the Festival to win the Champion Hurdle for the next three years running for Aidan O’Brien and Charlie Swan.

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