A trip down Memory Lane with Architect Tips
Our Hot Topic this week gives us a trip down memory lane as we sit down with Architect and chat about one of THE races that sticks in the mind, one of THE classics, one race that gave him goosebumps.
You can watch the full race also alongside our blog
Friday 18th March – 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup
A fantastic renewal of the 83rd running of the Cheltenham Gold Cup with three past winners lining up against each other, Imperial Commander (2010 winner) coming back to defend his title, Denman (2008 winner) and Kauto Star (2007 & 2009) winner. Whilst we couldn’t discount the rising star Long Run, who won the King George chase beforehand and was bidding to become the first 6-year-old to win the race since Mill House in 1963.
Post time arrived, Long Run was the well-backed favourite (7/2 SP), having won King George chase that season impressively. Whereas, Kauto Star (5/1) was running off the back of a heavy defeat to that rival in King George, Denman (8/1) was a gallant 3rd off top weight in the Hennessy Gold Cup and Imperial Commander (4/1) won the Betfair Chase and was kept fresh for a repeat success.
The race was off! The roar of the crowd was exceptional, never have I ever had Goosebumps so much before a race, with three past champions and a rising star all finally crossing swords. The race was expected to live up to huge expectations and it did not disappoint.
The Early Stages
Kauto Star was ridden positively by Ruby Walsh, up with the pace, tracking Midnight Chase. Whilst Denman, Imperial Commander, and Long Run were held up towards midfield or near the back of the field. Every one of the big guns jumped well the whole way around and it was on the final circuit the race began to hot up.
Kauto Star took to the front under Ruby Walsh, Imperial Commander began to take closer order along with Long Run and Denman was creeping into the race under Sam Thomas to keep tabs on the leaders. Kauto Star was still out in front jumping boldly with the others in behind also jumping well. The open ditch loomed at the top of the hill, Kauto Star landed half-a-length in front with last year’s Champion Imperial Commander joining him at the head of affairs, Long Run was tracking both just behind the pair and Denman was behind those travelling sweetly.
I took a deep breath and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, all of the stars still well in contention. Running down the hill to the four fences from home, Kauto Star and Imperial Commander head to head, Long Run was pushed along to get closer whilst Denman was driven for a few strides by Sam Thomas to get on terms. Kauto Star jumped the fence well, Paddy Brennan asked Imperial Commander for a big leap but he didn’t deliver and made a mess of the fence and knocked all momentum out of the horse and was soon under pressure. Denman was landing a blow on the outside whilst Long Run was just in behind.
The Old Guard leading the way
Racing UK commentator Richard Hoiles was at his best – “as they turn downhill and race down towards the third last in the Cheltenham Gold Cup it’s the old guard that show the way, Imperial Commander, Kauto Star, and Denman are a who’s who of Gold Cup History”. All three great horses are in a line, Imperial Commander is just weakening, leaving Denman and Kauto Star neck and neck, Sam Thomas asks Denman for a big leap, he delivers in great style leading for a stride whilst Kauto Star jumps it well and is back on terms whilst Long Run is tracking both in 3rd but being driven along.
Hoiles again on form – “they turn back towards home, Denman and Kauto Star rolling back the years”. My hairs stood up on my neck I was shouting both great horses on the home bend both battling away neck and neck, neither horse was giving up the lead, Long Run was still battling away just behind the pair.
Two from home, Kauto Star was fighting back for Ruby Walsh and Denman wasn’t lying down for Sam Thomas urgings. Both jumped it well but the younger horse Long Run was eating up the ground and jumped upsides the pair of them and down to the last fence, Long Run moved to the lead and jumped the final fence well and his younger legs proved decisive and he powered away to win the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup by 7 lengths under Sam Waley-Cohen.
Denman and Kauto Star were both valiant in defeat finishing respectable 2nd and 3rd. Denman at 11-years-old was runner-up for the third year running under great partner Sam Thomas, a real warrior. Kauto Star at the age 11-years-old also ran his heart out to finish in the frame under his beloved Ruby Walsh. However, Long Run become the first horse for 48 years to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup at 6-years-old and made history.
This 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup goes down as one of my most memorable races of all time. Long Run defeating both Denman and Kauto Star, two giants of the National Hunt racing for many years and I doubt we will ever see a Cheltenham Gold Cup race as good as this one for many years to come. A race that still gives me Goosebumps to this day now.
2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup result.
1st: Long Run (7/2)
2nd: Denman (8/1)
3rd: Kauto Star (5/1)
Do you have a memorable race that gave you Goosebumps? Drop your thoughts in the comment box to share with us and others.