Cheltenham Festival: 50-1 Lisnagar wins Stayers' Hurdle

Adam Wedge on Lisnagar Oscar
Lisnagar Oscar finished third behind Paisley Park at Cheltenham in January

The 50-1 shot Lisnagar Oscar caused the biggest shock of this year's Cheltenham Festival with victory in the Stayers' Hurdle on day three.

Ridden by Adam Wedge, who claimed his first Festival winner, Lisnagar Oscar was two lengths clear of Ronald Pump (20-1), with Bacardys (33-1) third.

Last year's winner Paisley Park, the 4-6 favourite and in superb form this season, was never a threat and fell off the pace with three hurdles to go.

"Unbelievable, fantastic," said Wedge.

"The little horse has tried his heart out. I couldn't believe it when I hit the front.

"I was just praying he'd keep galloping. He fought like a little lion up that hill."

Apple's Jade had set a decent gallop and opened up a big led until she came back to the field after the third-last flight.

The runners bunched up, with several horses in with a chance two out, but Lisnagar Oscar took the lead in the run-in to the last to claim victory for Rebecca Curtis.

Paul Townend on Min
Min had never previously won at the Cheltenham Festival

Marvellous Min

Earlier, 2-1 shot Min, ridden by Paul Townend, won the Ryanair Chase after leading for most of the race.

Saint Calvados (16-1) and Gavin Sheehan mounted a late challenge to finish second, while 7-4 favourite A Plus Tard was third.

Last year's winner Frodon and Bryony Frost finished well down the field in fourth.

It was a second victory of the week for trainer Willie Mullins and his 67th in total at the Festival, going some way to making amends for Min's disappointing fifth-place finish in last year's Queen Mother Champion Chase.

"It was a good performance from Min and he likes to race from the front," said Mullins.

"We got the tactics wrong on him last year and it didn't work out. We changed things up this year and learnt our lesson. Here he is now back at the top table.

"Watching him jump today, he was just fantastic through the air and, when he needed a jump, he got them. He put the others under pressure."

Elliott maintains his dominance

There was a treble for Gordon Elliott to move him to the top of the trainers' standings on six wins from the meeting.

First, Samcro (4-1) edged out Melon - and Faugheen - in a thrilling race for the Marsh Novices' Chase.

The 2018 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle winner has had a chequered career since that Festival highlight - but was back to his best under Davy Russell.

"Samcro is the forgotten horse. He is one of the favourites in the yard and we love him," said Elliott.

"He was in the doldrums for a while and had lost his way, so it means a lot to get him back to win another Grade One at Cheltenham."

Davy Russell on Samcro battles with Melon and Patrick Mullins
Samcro (left) underwent wind surgery after his last start in December

Then, Sire du Berlais (10-1) made it back-to-back wins in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle, leading home stablemate The Storyteller by half a length

It was a fourth win of the week for Barry Geraghty, who remains top of the riders' standings.

And in the final race of the day, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup for amateur riders, jockey Robert James guided the 9-1 chance Milan Native to victory.

Analysis

BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

A creditable win for Lisnagar Oscar and a hard-working trainer/jockey combination that's not as used to the spotlight as others are; the winner powered up the run-in to see off two other outsiders in a bookies benefit of a race.

Paisley Park had looked the stand-out of the week, let alone the day, but things didn't quite work out - on official ratings he should have been able to defeat the winner comfortably, but instead we had a shock that was even bigger than the loss suffered by Defi Du Seuil on day two.