Retired Cheltenham Heroes

Features | 11th March 2022

The greatest Cheltenham champions live long in the memory.

Having jumped into the hearts of racing fans with some sensational performances, they more than earn the right to a happy retirement.

Here we look at how some of the best horses have spent their days since the cheers died down.


Considered by many to be, perhaps, the best two‐mile hurdler of them all.

Istabraq won at four consecutive Cheltenham Festivals and he joined the greats when winning three Champion Hurdles in the famous green‐and‐gold colours of JP McManus with some devastatingly‐ impressive performances.

He was denied a likely record‐breaking fourth Champion Hurdle win when the 2001 Festival was abandoned due to the outbreak of foot‐and‐mouth disease. His legacy was already secured when he was pulled up in the race the following year.

Trained throughout his hurdles career by Aidan O’Brien, he has enjoyed a long and happy retirement at his owner’s Martinstown Stud. He officially turned 30 this year and is still going strong.

Big Buck’s

With four consecutive victories in the Stayers’ Hurdle, Big Buck’s is, without doubt, a Cheltenham legend.

His first trip to the Festival was rather inauspicious and hardly hinted at what was to come.

He finished just seventh in the novices’ handicap chase that used to be run on the opening day and it wasn’t until returning to hurdles the following season that he blossomed. His 18 consecutive wins is a record for a hurdler.

When his racing career was ended by trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Andy Stewart in 2014 he had won a record four Stayers’ Hurdles.

He’s been busy in retirement, having joined Lucy Felton, and he has spent plenty of time in the hunting field.

When there’s parades at big race days he’s always in demand from his adoring fans.


Coneygree became the first novice to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup for 41 years when he lifted the Festival’s top prize in 2015 under Nico de Boinville.

He was an awesome jumper in his pomp but a string of issues meant he was unable to recapture his brilliant best later in his career. His trainer Mark Bradstock announced Coneygree’s retirement in 2019.

Not one to be satisfied with the stable’s pipe and slippers, he has been kept busy with all manner of pursuits, including a successful show career, under the care of trainer’s wife Sara, daughter of Lord Oaksey.

Coneygree even helped deliver a deluxe hamper to one lucky racing fan during last year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Cue Card

There have been few more popular chasers than Cue Card in recent years.

His string of big‐race wins included two Cheltenham Festival victories. Ridden by Joe Tizzard and trained by his dad Colin, Cue Card ran away with the Champion Bumper in 2010.

Three years later he returned to jump racing’s biggest stage to land the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase with an equally‐impressive display.

Time was called on his career as a 12‐year‐old following the 2018 Ryanair Chase but he still had more wins in him.

He went onto the Retraining of Racehorses show circuit and he was an instant hit at the Goff UK National Championships under the guidance of Katie Jerram‐Hunnable.

Sprinter Sacre

Few horses have dazzled the Cheltenham Festival with brilliance like Sprinter Sacre.

He beat Cue Card in the 2012 Arkle Trophy with relative ease and then returned 12 months later with a breath‐taking 19‐length victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

His second win in the Festival’s top two‐mile chase in 2016 was one of the most emotional triumphs to grace jump racing’s biggest stage after trainer Nicky Henderson had skilfully nursed him back from a series of problems.

He bowed out in style as his last run came when destroying Un De Sceaux in Sandown’s end‐of‐ season Celebration Chase little more than a month later.

In retirement, spent in the care of Vicky Roberts, he resides not too far from the scene of his greatest triumphs in the beautiful Cotswolds countryside.