Lord Windermere, ridden by Davy Russell for trainer Jim Culloty, won a dramatic Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival on Friday but only after a nerve-shredding stewards’ inquiry.
The 20-1 surprise winner prevailed in a photo finish, a short head in front of On His Own (16-1) with The Giant Bolster (14-1) third to hand Culloty his first Gold Cup success as a trainer after he triumphed three times on Best Mate during his riding career.
There was a 10-minute delay before the result was confirmed and the places remained unaltered after stewards had looked into possible interference between the winner and runner-up.
Lord Windermere, who had appeared to have been out of contention for a large part of the race, had drifted right after the final fence as the protagonists battled it out on the run-in up the Cheltenham hill.
“Halfway round I was going to sack the jockey. He’s not moved a muscle and he’s come from nowhere. It’s a dream – I’ll wake up a in minute,” said Culloty.
Russell added: “I’m obviously delighted and relieved. It was nerve-wracking. I knew I was under no pressure and I just took a chance of going down the inside and he’s done it.
“I was on the best horse in the race. Throughout the race I probably wasn’t in the best position from where Jim wanted me to be.
“I couldn’t ride a winner for Jim all year but he kept saying, ‘Wait for Cheltenham, wait for Cheltenham’ and how right he was.”
Earlier, jockey Ruby Walsh, the all-time leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival, suffered a broken right arm after a heavy fall in the opening race on the Gold Cup day programme.