The Cheltenham Gold Cup was first run, as a steeplechase, in 1924 but, surprisingly, the winner of what is, nowadays, the most prestigious race in the British National Hunt calendar has been disqualified just once. The unfortunate horse in question was Tied Cottage, trained by Dan Moore and ridden by Tommy Carberry, who made all the running to beat Master Smudge by eight lengths in the 1980 renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. However, a post-race urine test revealed a minute trace of theobromine, a prohibited substance that has physiological effects similar to caffeine, believed to have come from a batch of contaminated foodstuff, and Tied Cottage was disqualified in favour of the runner-up at a subsequent enquiry. The disqualification was a ‘double whammy’ for connections, who had seen Tied Cottage fall at the final fence the previous year, handing the Cheltenham Gold Cup to Alverton.
In more recent years, controversy reigned when Lord Windermere, trained by Jim Culloty and ridden by Davy Russell, won the 2014 renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup by a short head from On His Own, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by David Casey. In the closing stages, Russell delivered Lord Windermere with a determined challenge but, in so doing, drifted sharply to the right, carrying On His Own with him. The stewards enquired into the result and, although they admitted that On His Own was impeded on his run to the line, they ruled that he suffered only ‘minor interference’, which did not, in their opinion, affect the result.