When it comes to racing, one of the biggest attractions for fans is that you can’t tell what’s going to happen until a race unfolds before your eyes. Races are always open to change and unexpected outcomes, and over the years there have been many surprising winners that fans would never have seen coming. These are some of the biggest miracles to have ever occurred on the race track.
In 2011, jockey John Velazquez was set to ride the favorite, Uncle Mo, but having been struck down with an infection, he instead jumped onto Animal Kingdom. At odds of 21/1 according to Timeform, he wound up winning the race by almost three lengths. Animal Kingdom had actually never raced on a dirt track before, hence the long odds on him, and had raced just four races prior to his big win.
Mine that Bird
In a more shocking result than Animal Kingdom, in 2009, Calvin Borel rode Mine that Bird who was bought for a shockingly low $9,500. The odds on Mine that Bird were 50/1 when the gates opened – he had won four races in Canada beforehand and had just achieved a fourth-place spot in the Sunland Derby in New Mexico. He ended up blowing the minds of spectators with a 6 ½-length shocking win in the Kentucky Derby that no-one saw on the radar.
In the 1990 Gold Cup, Norton’s Coin became a 100/1 winner at Cheltenham, despite being virtually unheard of beforehand. The horse’s trainer only trained horses as a hobby and at the time of Norton’s Coin’s win, he had just two horse sin training. Against the odds, he timed the perfect run to the finish and went on to claim the winning title.
Cue Card was a wide-margin winner on his debut at Fontwell, but he blew any doubters away when he shot through the track to win by eight lengths. Cue Card’s trainer, Colin Tizzard, stated that he never thought the horse would win in the way that he did, suggesting that even those who had faith in him were surprised.
The 2013 RSA Chase winner, Lord Windermere, finished eighth, seventh and sixth in his three previous races, leading to odds of 33/1 when he took part in the 2014 Gold Cup. He was last for much of the race but he stayed in contention towards the final stages of the race, leading to a mammoth battle between him, On His Own and The Giant Bolster. It was a three-way fight for the finish that no-one saw coming. There was an inquiry into the finish, but Lord Windermere was awarded the win.
As a 100/1 longshot, Foinavon remains one of the biggest shocking wins in the Grand National’s history. He defied the odds to win, despite three jockeys turning down the opportunity to ride him in the event. The performance that Foinavon and jockey John Buckingham turned in is a historic one that fans remember to this day.