With the excitement building for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival in just a matter of few weeks, it’s a great time to look at back at some of the biggest shock wins and losses over the course of the event’s history.

Punters and bookies are continuously providing great Cheltenham Gold Cup tips for the festival; and while these tips can be helpful, there are always some surprises lurking about during the races. That is, of course, what makes the sport so exciting.With so much ahead, we’ve covered the top 5 most shocking moments from Cheltenham Festival.

Une Artiste — 2012

There were a number of big shocks at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival; but the biggest has to be the one that secured Nicky Henderson’s legacy as one of the best sports trainers in the world. Three of Henderson’s horses had already won that day. The fourth, Une Artiste was an underdog priced 40/1 by bookmakers.

With challengers like Kazlian and Edeymi in the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle it seemed like Une Artiste, an outsider, was bound to face a loss. But he came up from behind as the major runners began to face exhaustion — and got Henderson his massive four wins of the day.

Cue Card — 2010

Cue Card won with ease by more than eight lengths
Cue Card won with ease by more than eight lengths

Now a Cheltenham mainstay, Cue Card was an unknown horse back in 2010. Trained by Colin Tizzard, he made his debut at just four-years-old at the Champion Bumper. Against a strong field, many horses trained by the likes of Nicky Henderson, Cue Card won with ease by more than eight lengths.

He’s now a 9-time Grade One winner, and has earned himself an outstanding record as part of the festival.


Hardy Eustace — 2004

Racing the Cheltenham’s famous Champion Hurdle, in 2004 Hardy Eustace was an outsider that had some pretty average results. Coming in at the 33/1 mark, Hardy Eustace was raced by jockey Conor O’Dwyer, who made the early decision to go out in front early — and despite early predictions, didn’t wear away as the race continued.

It was an amazing result and a big shock to those watching. He’s now a lauded horse and has done well ever since.

Norton’s Coin — 1990

There’s nothing like a 100/1 Winner. And in 1990, one lucky crowd got to witness it. With an incredibly strong field including Desert Orchid it looked like Norton’s Coin didn’t have a chance.

Trained by Sirrel Griffiths a farmer, who wasn’t even full-time as a trainer, didn’t seem to have much hope for his horse himself. But Norton’s Coin won in big style — with one of the most memorable of Gold Cup wins of all time. It was a result that shocked the audience — and the horse racing world.

Richard Johnson — 1999

Like Cue Card, Richard Johnson had a stunning debut, with a 40/1 victory in the Stayers Hurdle. Back then, Richard Johnson was just starting out his career, and wasn’t even expected first.

He was in eighth place with three hurdles to go when he started his incredible streak forward, passing big names like Le Courdray and beating Lady Rebecca by a nose. It was a defining moment for the Cheltenham festival, and a big shock for all who were there, including bookies, punters, trainers and other jockeys

What’s next?

There already some big predictions being made for the most exciting four days in March. But the truth is, no one can really know where the big shocks will come from — and what horse and jockey pairing might seize a particular moment. This is what makes the sport so exciting; and Cheltenham Festival one of the best events of its kind.