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Master Smudge a Gold Cup winner only by default; THE LIST Worst winners of Cheltenham races.

Byline: John Randall

Gold Cup Master Smudge, 1980 Tied Cottage led all the way in the 1980 Gold Cup and beat Master Smudge on merit by eight lengths but, because of contaminated feed, he failed the drugs test and had to be disqualified.

Master Smudge therefore became the worst Gold Cup winner in the race's history, by virtue of having plodded his way past 15-year-old Mac Vidi on the run-in.

Trained by permit-holder Arthur Barrow, Master Smudge relished a Cheltenham mudbath because it slowed down superior rivals. That explained his Sun Alliance Chase victory the previous year over Silver Buck, the 1982 Gold Cup winner.

Champion Hurdle Royal Gait, 1992 Royal Gait was unjustly disqualified after finishing first in the 1988 Ascot Gold Cup, and was still a novice over hurdles when landing the Champion Hurdle in 1992. Yet if he is judged purely on his hurdling form, his Racing Post Rating of only 160 tells its own story.

After that season's best hurdler, Granville Again, had fallen two out in the Champion, Royal Gait scrambled home from Oh So Risky and Ruling. He never won again.

The worst Champion Hurdle winner ever was Seneca (1941), but among post-war winners the James Fanshawe-trained gelding ranks at the bottom.

Champion Chase Another Dolly, 1980 Another Dolly became the worst Champion Chase winner for the same reason that Master Smudge became the worst Gold Cup winner the same year: he was beaten decisively and on merit, but was awarded the race on a technicality.

Chinrullah outclassed his Champion Chase rivals and strolled home 25 lengths clear of Another Dolly, who caught King Weasel on the line. The very next day Chinrullah finished fifth to Tied Cottage in the Gold Cup, but both horses had eaten contaminated cubes and were disqualified.

The Fred Rimell-trained Another Dolly was, at 33-1, also the longestpriced Champion Chase winner.

World Hurdle Park Ranger, 1968 The World Hurdle still had its original name, the Spa Hurdle, when Park Ranger led all the way under Stan Mellor and scored decisively in 1968.

However, the race had just been relegated to Cheltenham's April meeting (it was restored to the Festival in 1971) and was no more than a conditions event with penalty clauses - though that was also true of all the novice events at jump racing's premier meeting.

Park Ranger, trained by Tom Jones, was beaten only a head in the race in 1970 and became a useful chaser, but he was far removed from top class.

Triumph Hurdle Spectroscope, 2003 The juvenile hurdlers of 2002-03 were a moderate bunch and Spectroscope was not the best of them, even though he just beat Well Chief for the Triumph Hurdle.

Spectroscope, trained by Jonjo O'Neill, was then second to the champion juvenile, Sporazene, at Punchestown. He ran a total of nine times after the Triumph but never won again.

Well Chief became a brilliant two-mile chaser, and disputes with Monksfield the distinction of being the best horse ever to be second in the Triumph Hurdle. But, with a peak Racing Post Rating of only 137, Spectroscope was the worst winner. John Randall

CAPTION(S):

Barry Geraghty was happy enough to land the 2003 Triumph Hurdle on Spectroscope, but the winner was far from an outstanding horse
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 4, 2010
Words:545
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