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Racing Post Ranks Top 10 Moments

After 10,000 issues the Racing Post has reported on plenty of big stories - here are a few since our very first edition

1) Frankie's Magnificent Seven
September 28, 1996
 - When he went to the Ascot festival on that Saturday in September 1996, the 25-year-old Frankie Dettori was already racing's most popular figure. By the end of an extraordinary day in which he achieved the unprecedented feat of riding all seven winners on a major showpiece card, he was a household name well beyond the narrow confines of the sport. When top-weight Fujiyama Crest sealed Dettori's place in the history books with an unlikely success in the seventh race, the accumulator paid 25,051-1 and cost the betting industry a reported £30 million. Never has the flying dismount been more justified.



2) The race that never was

April 3, 1993 - 
In front of a worldwide audience of 300 million with £75 million in bets riding on the result, racing embarrassed itself on its biggest stage, turning the sport into a laughing stock and leaving a blank space in the Grand National record books. Hapless Aintree starter Keith Brown was soon christened ‘Captain Cock-Up' as the false-start system failed and chaos ensued as half the field continued on to a second circuit. They were led home by jockey John White and Esha Ness, the Grand National winner that never was; the void race has gone down in infamy.

3) Desert Orchid wins Gold Cup

March 16, 1989
 - The most popular chaser in the history of the Racing Post, Desert Orchid would have earned a place in the pantheon for his four King George triumphs alone. Cheltenham, though, was never his favourite venue and he had been beaten five times there before the 1989 Gold Cup that assured him of legendary status. In atrocious heavy ground, Dessie demonstrated courage to match his brilliance as he fought back to overhaul Yahoo, taking the roof off the stands as the great roar reached a rare climax. Not for nothing was this triumph over adversity voted number one in a Racing Post readers' poll of 100 Greatest Races.



4) Aintree bomb scare and subsequent re-run

April 5 and 7, 1997
 - Two years after the disaster of the race that never was came a triumph writ equally large in the rich folklore of the Grand National. The world's most famous steeplechase was less than an hour away when the first coded bomb warning was received from the IRA. After a second such warning there was a mass evacuation that left about a third of the 60,000 crowd stranded, with cars and coaches locked inside the racecourse, as bomb disposal experts carried out a pair of controlled explosions. After a defiant show of community spirit, the race was re-run two days later and won by Lord Gyllene.



5) Dancing Brave's Derby defeat
June 4, 1986
 - Although Dancing Brave was one of the true greats of the modern era, his name will always be synonymous with his Epsom defeat by Shahrastani. Although perhaps not as synonymous as that of his jockey Greville Starkey, who had declared the 2,000 Guineas winner to be "bombproof" only to pay the price for over-confidence as the 2-1 favourite was left with an impossible amount to do before charging down the straight to get within a half-length of the winner. Dancing Brave's subsequent exploits, notably his breathtaking Arc success under Pat Eddery, served to render the Derby an even bigger debacle.

6) Frankel's 2,000 Guineas

April 30, 2011
 - While much was expected when Frankel lined up as 2,000 Guineas favourite as odds of 1-2, surely no-one could have foreseen the spectacular tour de force delivered by the unbeaten colt on the Rowley Mile. A legend was born as Frankel shot straight to the front. Travelling at July Cup pace, he was 15 lengths to the good by halfway as he bulldozed towards the stands. So fast had he gone that it seemed impossible he could last home: that he did, scoring by six lengths in the biggest winning margin since Tudor Minstrel was a testament to his greatness. Here indeed was a monster, the horse of a lifetime, one destined to join the immortals.



7) Arazi the astonishing

November 2, 1991 - 
The passing of the years has done little to extinguish the memory of an explosive performance in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in Kentucky as Arazi treated America's top juveniles with absolute contempt on their own patch, on the dirt at Churchill Downs. Entering the back straight he was still 15 lengths adrift of the leaders, having passed just one horse, but what happened next beggared belief, adding a new compound adjective to the racing lexicon in the epithet ‘Arazilike'. The little chestnut launched a dramatic move, passing rivals inside and outside as if they were treading water. He powered down the stretch to score by five. Truly astounding.

8) Lester Piggott and Royal Academy

October 27, 1990
 - Only 12 days after coming back from five years of retirement
- among them a year in prison - a 54-year-old Lester Piggott drove home the Vincent O'Brien-trained Royal Academy in a fairytale finish to the Breeders' Cup Mile. There were seven horses in front of Royal Academy as they hit the final furlong, but the favourite cut them down with an irresistible charge out wide under a vintage Piggott drive. Cue bedlam at Belmont after what must rank as one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time. Dayjur jumped a shadow on the same never-to-be-forgotten night in New York.



9) Shock of the century

March 15, 1990
 - The Racing Post front page the day after the 1990 Cheltenham Gold Cup said it all. Norton's Coin, trained by dairy farmer Sirrell Griffiths, scored at 100-1: this indeed was the "shock of the century". Norton's Coin was one of only three horses owned and trained by Griffiths as a sideline to his main business. Before he left for Cheltenham on the morning of the Gold Cup, Griffiths milked the cows on his farm near Carmarthen; a few hours later he was welcoming back the most improbable winner in the history of the race after Norton's Coin surged to victory by three-quarters of a length.



10) Ile De Chypre and the ‘stun gun'

June 16, 1988
 - On the same day Royal Gait was disqualified from the Gold Cup, Royal Ascot was marked by an even more notorious incident. Greville Starkey went clear on Ile De Chypre inside the final furlong of the King George V Handicap, only for the horse to veer badly left and unseat him yards from the line. Bizarre in itself but not outlandish - except that in a court case the following year, car dealer James Laming claimed he had caused Ile De Chypre to fall by using a high-frequency ‘stun gun' disguised as binoculars. Although such claims were rubbished, the memory lives on.

-by Nicholas Godfrey, The Racing Post

 

 

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