The 10 Biggest Betting Shocks in Horse Racing

When it comes to big horse racing meetings such as the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National, Royal Ascot, Epsom Derby Festival and Glorious Goodwood, punters will firstly start by considering a bet on the favourite to win their respective race.

After all, the horse trading at the shortest racing betting odds is deemed to be the runner with the most likely chance of triumphing according to the bookies, although things don’t always turn out like that and we look at ten big UK races where we’ve seen a huge betting upset on the cards.

  1. Norton’s Coin, Cheltenham Gold Cup, 1990
  2. Desert Orchid is one of the most famous National Hunt horses of all time, although the legendary grey was usurped in 1990 by a runner which was only given the faintest of chances by the bookies, with Norton’s Coin running a blinder to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup at mammoth odds of 100/1.

    Ridden by Graham McCourt in 1990, the horse was sent off at a massive price in a twelve-runner field although it immediately became clear that he was going to run a race far bigger than his betting odds. Owner Sirrell Griffiths only had two horses and actually wanted to run the horse in another Festival race but missed the deadline.

  3. Labaik, Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, 2017
  4. Although Labaik was only priced at 25/1 to win the Supreme in 2017, it was a result that certainly stunned the majority of the crowd at Prestbury Park on that particular day, with the bookies celebrating a horse described as the “Liam Gallagher of Horse Racing”.

    It was often the case that the Gordon Elliott-trained charge refused to start a race, let alone compete, although Labaik was fast away in this race and was an impressive performer, seeing off joint-favourite Melon for the spoils.

  5. Mon Mome, Grand National, 2009
  6. Venetia Williams has been regarded as a top-class National Hunt trainer for decades, although never in her wildest dreams did she expect Mon Mome to claim a victory in the 2009 Grand National, with the horse outrunning his odds of 100/1 under Liam Treadwell to claim the spoils.

    This wasn’t just a result that the bookies wanted but it was also an impressive twelve-length victory and the first time in a century that a French-bred horse had managed to win the biggest steeplechase in the world.

  7. Foinavon, Grand National, 1967
  8. Before Mon Mome won the National in 2009, you have to go back to 1967 to find the last time that a horse won the big Aintree spectacular at 100/1. Ultimately, this Foinavon victory was achieved thanks to the runner being able to avoid the huge pile-up at the 23rd fence and this obstacle was duly named after the victory.

  9. Lord Windermere, Gold Cup, 2014
  10. The 2014 Gold Cup featured thirteen runners and there weren’t many trading at a bigger price than 20/1 chance Lord Windermere, with trainer Jim Culloty having previously ridden Best Mate to three consecutive victories in this horse race. The horse saw off 6/4 favourite Bob’s Worth among others.

  11. Cue Card, Champion Bumper, 2010
  12. It seems incredible that Cue Card was ever sent off at 40/1 to win a horse race considering the glittering career that the Joe Tizzard-trained charge would go on to enjoy, although this was his price for the Champion Bumper in 2010, with the horse showing a brilliant turn of foot to win this Cheltenham Festival flat race.

  13. Wings of Eagles, Epsom Derby, 2017
  14. Aidan O’Brien has utterly dominated the Epsom Derby landscape in recent years, although the Irishman has often obliged with a second string or even a third string horse and that was certainly the case when Wings of Eagles duly obliged with the goods in 2017 by storming home to beat stablemate Cliffs of Moher and race favourite Cracksman.

  15. Hardy Eustace, Champion Hurdle, 2004
  16. Rooster Booster romped to victory in the 2003 Champion Hurdle and the grey was expected to reclaim his title in 2004, although the race favourite was beaten by rank outsider Hardy Eustace, with the Dessie Hughes-trained seven-year-old announcing himself on a huge stage at betting odds of 33/1. The horse proved himself as a brilliant front runner and claimed a victory in 2005.

  17. Cool Dawn, Cheltenham Gold Cup, 1998
  18. At the age of 10, it appeared as though Cool Dawn’s chances of winning a Gold Cup has passed, with Robert Alner taking his horse to the Cheltenham Festival more in hope than expectation. However, maybe a sub-par performance at Sandown altered the odds and the horse was sent off at 25/1 before fending off Strong Promise and Doran’s Pride.

  19. Snow Knight, Epsom Derby, 1974
  20. You don’t tend to get many Epsom Derby winners at odds of 50/1, although Snow Knight obliged at this price in 1974, with the runner perhaps meriting more respect after finishing second in the Classic Trials Stakes at Sandown before landing third in a Derby Trial at Lingfield. Despite throwing off his jockey in the parade ring, it was a memorable victory.