Biggest Cheltenham Festival Shocks in the Past Ten Years


The Cheltenham Festival always delivers in terms of excitement, with punters enjoying the chance to bet on four days of high quality racing at Prestbury Park. There are always a number of favourites who are able to reward backers by landing the spoils, although we do sometimes get a surprise result instead.

In this article, we look at some of the biggest shocks that have taken place at the Festival in the past ten years. There’s sometimes a case for going for one of the outsiders and they often feature in the frame even if they don’t end up winning their actual race.

It’s worth noting that many of the horses that oblige at big betting odds are actually decent quality and their price is down to the competitiveness of the race. We would always recommend to look out for price changes in the lead-up to the off and also look out for non-runners as some horses do have a multiple entry at the Festival.

Labaik Land Supreme Novices Hurdle Success in 2017

Some of you will remember Labaik who had a reputation for not actually starting many of his races. It probably explains why the horse was sent off at 25/1 to win the Festival opener in 2017, with Melon and Ballyandy the 3/1 joint-favourites for a race where the shorter-priced contenders often have plenty of success.

Melon looked the likeliest winner in this race although Labaik was travelling well in the rear and started making headway with two hurdles to jump. The runner was then able to quicken to land a big success for the bookies who will always want an outsider to triumph.

Lord Windermere Lands 20/1 Gold Cup Victory

Recent Gold Cups have been won by short-priced contenders, with Galopin Des Champs, A Plus Tard and Al Boum Photo among the favourites who have triumphed in the past few years. However, the 2014 renewal saw a surprise result.

Lord Windermere was sent off at 20/1 before the eight-year-old was able to land a success under Davy Russell, with a clean round of jumping allowing the charge to finish first.

The first three home were all sent off at double figure odds, with On His Own finishing a narrow second at odds of 16/1, while The Giant Bolster was third at 14/1.

Annie Power Hits the Deck in 2015

One of the most dramatic Cheltenham Festival moments of all time took place in 2015 when Annie Power was a last-fence faller in the Mares’ Hurdle. The bookmakers stood to lose £50 million if she had stayed on her feet when going clear of the field, with this the latest favourite that looked like it was going to win on Day One of the meeting.

For weeks and months, the punters had identified that Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh could have a field day on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival. There had been countless accumulators and multiple bets which featured Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen, the horses that were able to oblige with a victory.

Therefore, there was a huge amount riding on whether Annie Power could land a victory and she was able to perform brilliantly before inexplicably jumping a shadow at the last fence which allowed punters to breathe a big sigh of relief.

2020 Stayers Hurdle Won by a 50/1 Shot

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic called all sporting events off in the United Kingdom, there was just enough time to run the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. The crowds still turned out in force for a meeting where there were several favourites who did the honours, although not in the Stayers’ Hurdle.

The blue riband event on Day Three of the meeting went the way of Lisnagar Oscar, with the horse obliging at massive odds of 50/1. The Rebecca Curtis-trained seven-year-old wasn’t given much of a chance before the off, although this was the horse that demonstrated the most staying power out of anything in the race.

The winner actually opened at 66/1 before delivering the goods and there were further surprises in the race. Ronald Pump was able to finish second at odds of 20/1, with Bacardys a 33/1 poke who was also able to produce some place money. Odds-on favourite Paisley Park could only finish seventh in the end.

Benie Des Dieux Falls in 2019 Mares Hurdle

Some four years after Annie Power’s dramatic fall in the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham came another blunder from a Willie Mullins-trained runner in the same race. The money had been coming for Benie Des Dieux who was expected to deliver at odds-on against her counterparts although the fall allowed Roksana to steal the prize instead.

Benie Des Dieux had been many people’s idea of a Cheltenham banker although the horse wasn’t able to finish the job after travelling sweetly all the way around. Those brave enough to oppose the jolly were able to benefit, with 10/1 about Roksana, while the third placed Good Thyne Tara was a 25/1 chance.

Espoir D'Allen Produces Champion Hurdle Upset

While names such as Buveur D’Air, Honeysuckle and Constitution Hill trip off the tongue when talking about Cheltenham Festival winners in the Champion Hurdle, it might be that a lot of punters have forgotten about Espoir D'Allen.

After all, this is the only horse that has obliged at a big price over the past few years. Since 2015, the favourites have an excellent record in this event, although 2019 saw Espoir D'Allen land an unlikely victory at 16/1.

Fatefully, it would prove to be the five-year-old’s last ever run, with horses of this age not renowned for having a particularly good record in the race. Perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering that the JP McManus-owned charge had won his previous three encounters.

Apple’s Jade was sent off as the 7/4 favourite to win this race and there was a thought that the mare would benefit from a favourable weight allowance to claim a victory in this race. There was also the presence of champion Buveur D’Air in the race, although it was the outsiders who instead shone.

There had been money for Melon despite the horse’s starting price of 20/1, although it was Espoir D'Allen who was not only able to oblige with a victory but actually claim a victory by fifteen lengths over his rivals. We will never know whether this was just a flash in the pan or instead a bona fide victory.

Put The Kettle On Wins Arkle Challenge Trophy in 2020

The 2020 Cheltenham Festival yielded several big-priced winners on tacky ground and one of these came in Arkle Chase. Put The Kettle On was a 16/1 chance before claiming a chasing victory and the Henry de Bromhead-trained charge actually opened at 20/1 and touched 25/1 before going off at a shorter price.

The beauty of the horse’s victory was the fact that it largely led from the front in a race where 3/1 chance Fakir D’oudairies was able to finish second, although nearly half the field either fell or were unable to finish the race. Race favourite Notebook could only finish a distant sixth place.

Sire Du Berlais Takes 2023 Honours in Stayers’ Hurdle

When you bet at the Cheltenham Festival, always be aware that a big-priced winner could end up landing you an overall profit on the meeting. Sire Du Berlais was actually tipped up in several quarters before the 2023 Stayers’ Hurdle, although the horse was still given a starting price of 33/1 before obliging with a victory.

It was the Gordon Elliott-trained Teahupoo who was sent off as the 9/4 favourite in this race, with Davy Russell on board a horse that looked likely to win as the race went on. However, the eleven-year-old veteran of the race was instead able to press the leaders and be ridden on strongly to land a victory.

If a 33/1 winner wasn’t sensational enough, there was also a 40/1 second placed horse in the form of Dashel Drasher. The forecast would have therefore paid out hundreds for those who could correctly predict the first two home.

So there you have it. Some of the biggest shocks at the Cheltenham Festival to have taken place in the past few years. It always pays to look beyond the favourites and that applies to the handicap races which regularly yield winners at big prices.