Which are the biggest outsiders to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup?
Of course, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is a ‘conditions’ race, run at level weights, with weight-for-age and weight-for-sex allowances. As such, it would be reasonable to assume that winning outsiders are something of a rarity. In fact, for the first three decades of its existence, as a steeplechase, the longest-priced winner was the locally-trained Four Ten, at 100/6, in 1954. However, the very next year, Gay Donald, trained by Jim Ford and ridden by Tony Grantham, sprang the first real surprise when winning, easily, at 33/1.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup was transferred to the New Course at Prestbury Park in 1959, but it was not until 1970 that L’Escargot, trained by Dan Moore and ridden by Tommy Carberry, also popped up at 33/1. To his credit, L’Escargot proved that effort was no fluke by returning to Cheltenham to defend his title in 1971, at rather less ‘shocking’ odds of 7/2.
It was nearly two decades later that the next unlikely winner came along, but when he did, he caused the ‘Shock of the Century’, according to the ‘Racing Post’. The unlikeliest of unlikely winners was Norton’s Coin, a previously unheralded 9-year-old, trained by Carmarthenshire permit-holder ridden by Graham McCourt. Belying odds of 100/1, Norton’s Coin was always going well and led on the run-in to beat Toby Tobias and defending champion Desert Orchid, breaking the course record in the process. Indeed, the Nineties proved a profitable decade for outsiders, with Cool Ground and his near namesake Cool Dawn both winning at 25/1, in 1992 and 1998, respectively.