| 8.2°C Dublin

Oscar-winning display by 50/1 dark horse puts smile on bookies' faces

Close

Lisnagar Oscar ridden by jockey Adam Wedge celebrates winning the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle during day three of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.

Lisnagar Oscar ridden by jockey Adam Wedge celebrates winning the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle during day three of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.

PA Images

Lisnagar Oscar ridden by jockey Adam Wedge celebrates winning the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle during day three of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.

It was business as usual at the track as the Cheltenham festival entered its final hurdle after a busy week of racing and socialising.

Despite speculation that today's Gold Cup finale may be cancelled after the British government called an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss the coronavirus, they have decided to allow large-scale gatherings to continue.

Day three of the annual festival saw huge crowds continuing to gather at the Cotswolds course for the annual blow-out.

There was no end to the thrilling racing on the track after a 50/1 long shot caused a massive upset in the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle as it was first past the post as onlookers watched in shock.

Trained by Rebecca Curtis, winning entry Lisnagar Oscar was superbly piloted to victory by jockey Adam Wedge.

Willie Mullins also scored a big win after Min was finally a winner in his fourth Cheltenham festival, after flying to victory in the Ryanair Chase under Paul Townend.

"He's been a super horse for us and it's great he's had his day here," Mull-ins said.

There was no shortage of nail-biting finishes for punters either.

Top jockey Davy Russell and Samcro (4/1) held off strong rival Melon in a photo finish to win the Grade One Marsh Novices' Chase in the opening race.

Afterwards, delighted trainer Gordon Elliott said that to "win a Grade One in Cheltenham is something else".

Speaking about the day's racing, Nicola McGready of Ladbrokes said they "couldn't have asked for a better result in the Stayers' Hurdle with 50/1 shot Lisnagar Oscar causing a huge upset".

"Wins for Samcro and Min were also great results, but with the Gold Cup still to come, we're not getting ahead of ourselves," she added.

Meanwhile, thousands of racing-mad Irish people who attended the Cheltenham Festival will begin pouring home through the country's major airports today and tomorrow, with no thermal screening currently in place.

Cancelled

While travel agents say that a "small number" of people cancelled their packages to attend the Gloucestershire event in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, huge numbers still pushed ahead.

Some of them opted to attend for just two days, but a huge number went for the whole week while Ireland bans events attracting crowds of more than 500 people.

An estimated 15,000 people from these shores travel over to Cheltenham every year, and there was a noticeable and noisy Irish contingent in place this year.

Around 250,000 racing fans were expected to attend over the week.

The HSE told the Herald that while Cheltenham is a large gathering, the risk remains low, and anyone infected should be in containment phase in a hospital at this point.

The health authorities added that anyone who has come in contact with someone showing signs of Covid-19 should ring their GP immediately.