Cheltenham launches security review after interloper gatecrashes Gold Cup
Sunday 19 March 2017
By Racinguk.com staff
Officials at Cheltenham have launched an investigation after an intruder led Timico Gold Cup hero Sizing John into the famous winner's enclosure.
There were scenes of wild celebration in the parade ring on Friday as popular trainer Jessica Harrington claimed Gold Cup glory with her first ever runner in the blue riband.
A sizeable entourage joined the winning connections as Sizing John returned triumphant, but photos later revealed an unnamed man who was not part of the successful team had gatecrashed the party.
Sizing John returns to the winners's enclosure at Cheltenham with Melia, to his right in light blue shirt with no tie, at his side (Racingfotos.com)
Ian Renton, the racecourse's managing director, said: "On the whole we have greatly improved our security in the paddock and we've reduced the number of intruders who have no right to be there.
"Unfortunately, from time to time one does slip through the net, as has been the case on this occasion.
"I believe the man in question has been identified and we are currently looking into the circumstances of how he came to be there."
It is not the first time the man, identified by the Racing Post as Richard Melia, 56, from Colchester in Essex, has gatecrashed major sporting moments.
He has led in some of the most famous names in the sport, including Frankel, Camelot and Auroras Encore, and has also made "guest" appearances on various other top sporting stages, starting at the Valderrama Golf Club in Spain during the 1997 Ryder Cup, when he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Tiger Woods and the former US president George Bush.
Melia told the Racing Post: "You just have to be confident. If someone stops me, then that's it, I don't go in and as soon as anyone says anything, I walk away.
"I know it's naughty but I've done it at loads of place. It's only for a laugh – it's nothing serious. I'm not trying to hurt anyone or cause any trouble and I always keep out the way once the owners and trainers are all together."