The Cheltenham Festival is the scene of some of the most competitive, hotly-contested horse races staged anywhere in the world. Consequently, long-priced winners, while not exactly ten-a-penny, are to be expected from time to time, especially in the handicap races. The Pertemps Network Final, for example, produced two winners at 50/1 in the early Noughties.
More surprising, though, are rank outsiders in the highest calibre, Grade One races, which are run at level weights and, at least on paper, are supposed to represent a test of class. The Triumph Hurdle, for example, produced three winners at 66/1 during the Eighties.
Even the ‘championship’ races, such as the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, are not immune to the odd shock. Kirriemuir, in 1965, and Beech Road, in 1989, both won the two-mile hurdling championship at odds of 50/1, but the ‘daddy of them all’ remains Norton’s Coin, trained by Carmarthenshire permit-holder Sirrell Griffiths. Not only did he bely odds of 100/1 to win the 1990 Cheltenham Gold Cup, but did so in style, beating reigning champion Desert Orchid and breaking the course record in the process. The ‘Racing Post’ rightly called it the ‘Shock of the Century’.