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  Friday, 15 March, 2002, 07:08 GMT
A Festival to remember
BBC Sport's racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght looks back at the Cheltenham Festival
BBC Sport's racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght looks back at an emotionally-charged Cheltenham Festival.

After the cancellation of last year's meeting the 2002 Cheltenham Festival had to be a success, whatever happened.

And it has been a huge success.

It has been full of drama - some good dramas with some fantastic races out on the course and other sad dramas, with some horses dying and some getting injured.

The first time I ever came to Cheltenham in the late 1970s, someone told me that during the course of the Festival you often go from tremendous lows to terrific highs.

Jim Culloty and Best Mate on their way to victory in the Gold Cup
The Gold Cup provided a fitting climax
That person was right - and it was certainly the case this year.

On the first day, we had Valiramix having to be put down in the Champion Hurdle and we also said goodbye to Istabraq - it was very sad.

But then things rose and rose and we had a great crescendo on the final day with some cracking races and, of course, the victory of Best Mate in the Gold Cup.

It had to be a good Festival otherwise people would have forgotten what it was like, and it was.

Cheltenham has delivered the goods again.

Tony McCoy had a terrible time for much of the meeting and what happened there was fascinating.

A similar thing happened with Richard Dunwoody in the mid-1990s.

He went through the whole meeting with fancied rides and didn't ride a winner until he eventually won the County Hurdle - the last race of the meeting - on Thumbs Up.

McCoy went through to the penultimate race of the Festival before grabbing a win on Royal Auclair.

This racecourse, which is the home of steeplechasing, is the greatest jumps racecourse on earth.

And McCoy's struggle to find a winner proves that no-one is bigger than the Cheltenham Festival.

Cheltenham stages its big jump race meeting from 12-14 March

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Links to more Cheltenham Festival stories are at the foot of the page.


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