Lord Windermere stormed through the field in the final stretch to win the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup in a photo finish before a sellout crowd of 67,500 March 14 on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.
After two false starts and a tight finish, Lord Windermere, trained by Jim Culloty and ridden by Davy Russell, snatched the race by a short head from On His Own.
A stewards' inquiry was held following the race because Lord Windermere had drifted into On His Own after they cleared the last fence. Although officials concluded there was a clear interference, they ruled it was not sufficient to amend the placings.
Lord Windermere, an Irish-bred 8-year-old Oscar gelding owned by Dr. Ronan Lambe, finished the about 3 1/4-mile trip over 22 fences in 6:43.88 on good turf. Entering off a sixth-place finish in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown Feb. 9, his record improved to 6-3-1 from 16 career starts.
"I'm obviously delighted and relieved. It was nerve-wracking," Russell said after the results were confirmed. "I knew I was under no pressure and I just took a chance of going down the inside and he's done it."
Stewards' secretary Paul Barton said that ''on balance we did not think the minor interference had cost the second the race.''
"If we have any doubt, the doubt goes to the horse in front," Barton said.
Culloty has now won the Gold Cup both as a trainer and a jockey after guiding Best Mate to three successive Gold Cups triumphs between 2002 and 2004. Lord Windermere won the RSA Novices Chase last year at Cheltenham, providing Culloty his first festival winner as a trainer.
The Giant Bolster finished third while favorite Bobs Worth checked in fifth.
"I thought I would win it going over the last," said Tom Scudamore, who rode The Giant Bolster. "I didn't think it would be Lord Windermere, but you have to give credit; it was a wonderful effort."
Bobs Worth's perfect record at Cheltenham came to an end as he failed in a bid to become the first horse to win successive Gold Cups since Best Mate. He never looked in contention.
Lord Windermere was bred by Edmond Coleman out of the Satco mare Satellite Dancer. Culloty bought him for £75,000 ($118,245) at the 2010 Brightwells December sale at Cheltenham.