The 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup featured the defending champion, Bobs Worth, who was sent off 6/4 favourite, ahead of Silviniaco Conti, a seemingly unlucky loser in the 2015 renewal, at 11/4, and the remainder of the 13-strong field available at 15/2 or longer. The start of the race was dramatic enough, with the runners only sent on their way at the third time of asking, but the finish – and the subsequent, televised stewards’ enquiry – was even more so, not to mention deeply controversial in the eyes of some observers.
The market leaders filled the first two places jumping the final fence, but it was all change on the run-in as first Silviniaco Conti and then Bobs Worth – who was, apparently, distracted by a security guard in a yellow, high visibility jacket, causing him to become unbalanced – wandered on the flat. Having been completely outpaced in the early stages, Lord Windermere appeared to be in a hopeless position between the second-last and third-last fences, but made up ground hand over first thereafter and was on the heels of the leaders jumping the final fence. The eight-year-old continued his progress but, while he took the lead inside the final half-a-furlong or so he, too, hung left, carrying the placed horses, On His Own and The Giant Bolster, across the course towards the stands rail.
Lord Windermere, only seventh choice in the betting market at 20/1, passed the post with just a short head and three-quarters of a length in hand of On His Own and The Giant Bolster. A stewards’ enquiry ensued and, after 15 minutes’ deliberation, the result was allowed to stand, despite stewards’ secretary Paul Barton stating afterwards that, ‘There was interference, without a doubt…’ Consequently, winning trainer Jim Culloty – probably still best known as the jockey of Best Mate – became the latest of just five men to ride and saddle a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.