Lord Windermere survived a lengthy stewards’ inquiry to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in dramatic fashion on the final day of the jumps festival.
The eight-year-old came from last to first, pipping On His Own at the finish to snatch a famous victory for trainer Jim Culloty, who won three Gold Cups on Best Mate as a jockey.
Silviniaco Conti led over the last, but he was collared by Davy Russell on Lord Windermere (20-1), who just held the Willie Mullins-trained On his Own (16-1) by a short head.
The Giant Bolster (14-1) stayed on strongly to finish third, three-quarters of a length back.
After two false starts, Knockara Beau was quickly away, although On His Own soon took it up while Lord Windermere was a few lengths last after a few fences.
Teaforthree and Lyreen Legend were others to join in with pace-making duties and then Last Instalment unseated his rider at the fifth-last fence.
Silviniaco Conti led three out and last year’s winner Bobs Worth was also in with a chance as the pack closed in a wide-open race.
Lord Windermere joined in the fight late, but he veered right on the punishing dash to the line, resulting in an inquiry, as he just kept On His Own at bay.
An anxious wait followed before the stewards announced the placings would remain unaltered.
“I can’t believe it, I was never on the bridle,” Russell said.
“I was never in the race, the whole field was in front of me for the whole race, I had to sit and suffer the whole way.”
A delighted Culloty admitted he feared he was in for a disappointing day after his horse’s slow start.
“To be fair halfway round Davy Russell was getting the sack,” Culloty said.
“He was beaten 26 lengths at Leopardstown last month, but Davy said take no notice, it will be a different ball game at Cheltenham.
“I knew he’d take his time but that was waiting tactics exaggerated.”
On His Own’s trainer Mullins was unhappy with the frenetic conclusion to the race and he hinted an appeal against the stewards’ verdict was possible.
“I thought he (On His Own) was interfered with and he was beaten a short head and was in front after the line,” Mullins said.
“The stewards felt he didn’t deserve to get it and what more can I do at this stage.
“I’ll have a chat with the owners and see what they want to do. I’ll have a chat with David and then speak to people who are more experienced than me on appeals in England.”