The best finishes of the 2016 / 2017 Jumps season
There have been so many epic finishes to choose from during the 2016/17 Jumps season, almost certainly too many to condense into a single article!
The big festivals showcased racing drama to millions, while the more everyday fixtures certainly played host to their fair share of surprises too.
Below we list our top six to make the hairs stand on the back of your neck!
Might Bite – RSA Novices Chase, Cheltenham
ICYMI: Might Bite rallies to overhaul Whisper in RSA thriller pic.twitter.com/07nlNf38J3
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 15, 2017
Might Bite confirmed himself as one of the biggest mavericks on the National Hunt scene after this utterly mad performance at the Cheltenham Festival.
Coming to the last he looked home and hosed; all Might Bite had to do was pop over and canter towards the line. However, the favourite had other ideas and after a less than fluent bunny-hop over the last, he veered right dramatically to try to head back down the shoot to the winners enclosure early.
Just as his chances were going up in smoke, a loose horse went passed him and gave him a reason to keep galloping towards the line, eventually beating stablemate Whisper by a nose.
“Might Bite might just have snatched defeat and then victory from the jaws of both!” called Richard Hoiles.
Label Des Obeaux – Weatherby Hamilton Novices’ Handicap Steeple Chase, Ayr
Label Des Obeaux won a photo finish in our first race of the day! pic.twitter.com/MbAqS8sRQK
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) April 22, 2017
Alan King’s Label Des Obeaux looked totally cooked coming towards the second last at Ayr as a wall of four horses preceded him, all seemingly travelling with much more energy. But a good leap at the second last saw him move into a second, before he then he set his sights on the sweet-travelling leader Calett Mad.
A terrible peck on landing at the last looked like it might have taken the wind out of his sails but the five-year-old showed true grit to go again and collar the leader 10 yards from the line.
King was extremely happy to win on Scottish Grand National Day, he said “I was thinking he was running really well and would be second or third as he nodded at the last and I didn’t think we’d get there. Obviously I’m delighted!”
Tea For Two – Betway Bowl Chase, Aintree
The backstory added to what was an already pulsating race in its own right; Tea For Two, ridden by Lizzie Kelly, previous run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup had ended at the second fence, while Cue Card, ridden by Paddy Brennan, had also suffered a fall in the same race too.
So as the two hit the front after the second last fence at Aintree both were desperate to win and achieve redemption. Despite both leading at various points in the home straight it was Tea For Two who came out the victor by a neck. In the process, Lizzie Kelly became a double Grade One winner and the first female jockey to win a Grade One in non-Novice company.
Kelly said: “That was fantastic. We were quietly confident going into the Gold Cup when our dreams were taken away from us. He’s a horse that has produced time and time again for me and my family. He was a dream ride.”
Willoughby Court – Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, Cheltenham
Watch the full race here!
The greatest Jumps festival in the world never stops providing unmissable and breath-taking action.
Much like the Tea For Two and Cue Card dual, Willoughby Court managed to hold off the favourite Neon Wolf. A stewards enquiry was needed after a gigantic tussle up the home straight, with the Ben Pauling-trained horse hanging on by a head.
Winning jockey David Bass said “I thought I was always holding him off, this lad (Willoughby Court) stays well and it’s fantastic for Ben, who is a really good trainer.”
Royal Battalion – Yeomans Honda Handicap Hurdle, Fontwell Park
The pair of Royal Battalion and jockey Jamie Moore were at the back of the leading pack swinging around the turn in for home at Fontwell. The lead exchanged hands a couple of times down the straight with Royal Battalion looking outpaced for much of the way.
However, a relentless ride from Moore and true grit from the five-year-old Royal Battalion meant they crossed the line a length clear.
Charity Sprint (for the GAA club), Limerick
This certainly makes the top finishes of the 2016 / 2017 season on entertainment and hilarity alone! The 2016 Irish Gold Cup commentary from Des Scahill adds plenty to the mix.