Who was the last jockey to complete the Champion Hurdle – Cheltenham Gold Cup double?
Along with the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Stayers’ Hurdle, the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup are ‘championship’ races in their respective divisions of National Hunt racing, run during at the Cheltenham Festival in March each year. Obviously, winning one race or the other is a notable achievement for any jockey no matter the cheltenham betting odds, but winning both races in the same season is an extraordinary accomplishment.
Indeed, the last jockey to complete the Champion Hurdle – Cheltenham Gold Cup double was Sir Anthony McCoy who, having won the National Hunt Jockeys’ Championship twenty years running and broken just about every record in National Hunt racing, was no stranger to ‘extraordinary’ accomplishments. At the 1997 Cheltenham Festival, McCoy, who was, at the time, stable jockey to Martin Pipe, won the Champion Hurdle on Make A Stand, trained by Pipe, who made all the running to win, unchallenged, by 5 lengths. In the Cheltenham Gold Cup, McCoy rode Mr. Mulligan, trained by Noel Chance, in preference to two, shorter-priced, Pipe-trained entries; his decision proved correcr and he was rewarded with a comprehensive 9-length win n the largely unconsidered 20/1 chance.