I changed the name of this feature, from a road to Cheltenham to a postcard from Cheltenham as I post some of my favorite photos from previous years.
My photos are certainly not award winners. I’m a guy with a camera, that’s all. My photos are untouched, as is, but they signify a moment in time, a moment of sport at a place which I adore.
I remember this when it happened, I shrieked, actually twisted in appreciation as the great Thistlecrack leapt over the fence in front of our friend Adrian Coleman’s box after one circuit of the 2019 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup. Nobody around me saw it, the horse too deep in the field and viewers too deep in their drink to actually take notice. Oh, I saw it, the sheer freedom of a good chaser seeing his spot.
The 12-1 shot, in the midst of a seven-race losing streak, a shadow of the freight train who won the Stayers’ Hurdle and King George in 2017, was a fringe player in that year’s Gold Cup. Because of injuries and layoffs, the once keynote player had slipped to part of the chorus. But, he nailed that note, frames behind Native River and Might Bite, lengths off eventual winner Al Boum Photo and in the slipstream of Presenting Percy.
Measuring it from outside the wings, the 11-year-old launched, jockey Tom Scudamore tucked and the Gateway Arch formed and flowed right there in the Cotswolds. Yeah, I shrieked.
That was it, Thistlecrack stumbled at the next one, tailed off and pulled up before the 17th. He ran once more, a second behind Paisley Park in the 2019 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury. The 13-time winner and choreographer of that perfect leap two years ago retired Monday, sadly, overshadowed by the travesty in Ireland.
Thanks for the memories.
Thanks for that jump.