All the news from day two of The Festival at Cheltenham, Ladies Day

HENDERSON ‘VERY LUCKY’ TO TRAIN INVINCIBLE SPRINTER

New eulogies will need to be created if Sprinter Sacre keeps winning with such authority.

Today he stepped up to his biggest test in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase and sauntered through it with ease, demolishing the best two-miler in Ireland, the former race-winner Sizing Europe, and barely breaking sweat. Trained by Nicky Henderson and owned by Caroline Mould, Sprinter Sacre carried jockey Barry Geraghty to a 19-length victory over the Irish challenger, who was six lengths clear of third-placed Wishfull Thinking.

A near-breathless Henderson said: “You always hope for the best, but there are fences to jump and you can never be sure. He has such an easy way of doing it and today he was fantastic. He loves racing and he does it so easily.

“We’re very lucky to have him. Sometimes the crowd gets something special to watch and I hope today they have enjoyed watching him – although I don’t know if I did!

“He has an aura about him and he knows he’s good. He doesn’t hide it under a bushel – he doesn’t do anything by halves. It’s the way he lives. Barry enjoys it, the horse enjoys it and I hate it, but it’s fun afterwards.

“He’s nearly the perfect racehorse. He looks it and it’s rare to find one that looks so good and is so good. You would have to say that’s his best performance. We were well aware that anything bar very stunning wouldn’t keep people happy, but that was stunning. He was nicely relaxed, maybe a little keen early on. He didn’t want to take on Sizing Europe too early, but there wasn’t much Barry could do about it, and I’ve always said don’t disappoint him if he takes you there. Don’t take him back because that cruising speed is so high.

“We’ll keep the earplugs on him because he’s getting so much attention now and he just needs to concentrate on what he’s doing.

“We’ve talked about Punchestown, but we’ll see. He’s only had three races this season because that’s more or less what the race programme dictates to you. There’s a nice Grade One at Punchestown and that’s possible and then he could have a summer off and come back and defend his title.”

Bloodstock agent David Minton bought Sprinter Sacre as part of a €300,000 dispersal of horses in France. He said: “I had no idea there was a star among them. They were a good, level bunch, but he’s easily the best. I bought Remittance Man [a Racing Post Arkle Chase and Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase winner] but this horse must now be regarded as the best I have bought. We might not have seen the best of him yet.

“It’s great for Nicky Henderson, but he is the greatest trainer at Cheltenham and he’s so right for this horse because he’s so patient. It’s a lovely story and great for Caroline and her husband Raymond.”

LIKE PELE, SPRINTER IS A TALENT APART

As far as Barry Geraghty is concerned, Sprinter Sacre, winner of the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase by 19 lengths, owns the same qualities of excellence that set top-class human sportsmen apart from the rest.

“I’ve never ridden a horse that does it all so easily,” he said of the seven-year-old. “He has such power and scope, and that gives him the time he needs. He’s like a top footballer, like Pele on the ball, who used to do it all easily because his speed and power and skill gave him the time to do it.

“He made a mistake at the ditch, the first he’s ever made, but he knew what he was doing and it wasn’t really a mistake. He was long into it, really long, and he put down on me, but off that ground he was telling me that was the thing to do. And he absolutely winged the next, and winged the last.”

Geraghty has been the partner of the two outstanding two-mile chasers of the modern era, Moscow Flyer being the other. “I’m not saying this lad is better than Moscow Flyer, but the ease with which he does everything sets him apart.”

Sprinter Sacre carries the colours of Caroline Mould, who admitted that watching her champion brings a certain amount of stress, even if pleasurable stress.

“If it doesn’t sound too arrogant,” she said, “last year when he won the Arkle Trophy it was ok because we were pretty confident he’d win that, and he wasn’t really in the public eye. But this time it’s been completely different. Sleepless nights, dry mouth, beating heart, grinding teeth, the lot. Everyone says I should enjoy him and moments like today, and I am. But I’m always relieved when it’s all over and I can enjoy it properly.”

HENDERSON HAILS SACRE

Nicky Henderson described Sprinter Sacre as the best chaser to have passed through his hands during a training career spanning nearly 35 years after the seven-year-old saw off Sizing Europe to take the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase by 19 lengths.

“That was scary, he was so good. I think you’d have to say that he is the best chaser I have had,” said Henderson. “He is just very special and we’ve seen today what we all hoped we would see. He’s beaten the best two-miler in the field there although it’s obviously a shame Finian’s Rainbow couldn’t be here. We know we are looking after something very unique.

“Minty (bloodstock agent David Minton) bought a job lot of 21 horses and Raymond and Caroline Mould took the whole package. They were spread around four trainers and I was just lucky to be allocated him. We knew he was good right from the start – he won his bumper and went through to novice hurdles. He was only third in the Supreme Novices’ but he was never going to be a hurdler.

“It’s not always the good-looking ones that are the good ones but in this case it is. He just has that wow factor. He’s a thorough enthusiast in everything he does at home, you don’t really school him, he just jumps with sheer natural talent. It’s all about his build, balance and brain because he can work it all out. He’s neat on his feet and very intelligent

“He could easily go on to Punchestown because he’s only had three runs this season and it’s the natural place to go. Then I think he’d follow a similar programme next season.”

Henderson admitted that it would be hard to keep Sprinter Sacre and his stablemate, Racing Post Arkle Chase winner Simonsig, apart next season,

“If they meet, they meet and it may well happen as they are both genuine two-milers. I guess Barry (Geraghty) will be the one with the biggest problem as he will have to choose which one to ride. They don’t school together because it would be scary, in fact Sprinter schools alone,” he added.

“But so much can go wrong over 365 days. This horse had a breathing operation years ago and that could backfire one day, anything could happen. In any other year Simonsig would be favourite for the following year’s Queen Mother Chase after yesterday but he won’t be this time.”

THE SPORTINGBET QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE – INITIAL WINNING QUOTES

Nicky Henderson, the winning trainer, said: “Sprinter Sacre is just very, very special. You sort of enjoy it but they still have to do it – there are fences to jump – and he just has that way of doing it.

“You have to be careful because he does find it so ridiculously easy, you would worry complacency could creep into it. He loves to attack it and were are very lucky to have him.

“Sometimes you do get these things that are quite special to watch and I hope the public did enjoy watching him because I’m not sure I did!

“We have talked about Punchestown and I’m sure Richie Galway would like me to think about it some more. Sprinter Sacre is a two-miler and he has only had three races this season because that’s what the programme dictates. There is a nice Grade One in Ireland and maybe we will go.”

Barry Geraghty, who rode the very easy winner, said: “The ground is very dead out there. I met one on a very long stride and gave him a squeeze and I don’t think he has ever put me down on before.

“ It didn’t matter though because he winged the next and hopefully he’ll come up in the Ted Walsh’s estimations now!

“He is a beautiful horse to ride and I have never ridden something so natural. Once he is healthy and well, get him into a nice rhythm and he does the rest.

“He is a pleasure to ride and must be the closest thing to equine perfection around at the moment. I have ridden some brilliant horses over the years but the ease and grace he does it with sets him apart.”

DE BROMHEAD PRAISES HIS ‘HORSE OF A LIFETIME’

Trainer Henry de Bromhead was in a reflective mood after 6/1 second-favourite Sizing Europe was beaten nineteen lengths into second place by the brilliant Sprinter Sacre in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The 2011 Champion Chaser went toe-to-toe with the eventual winner for the majority of the race and seemed to stumble as the field crossed the road coming down the hill but his trainer conceded that the race was probably over when this mishap occurred.

“We’ve had a go and served it up to him but have come out of it second-best,” said de Bromhead.

“The chippings seem quite loose on that covered road and he seemed to stumble on the crossing but the race was over at that point and it’s had no effect on the result. The winner is a phenomenal horse but we’re proud of our man too – we’ve still finished second in a Champion Chase.

“Sizing Europe has been the horse of a lifetime for me and I’ve had many unforgettable moments with him. He’s not getting any younger but he’s won plenty this season and it’s likely we’ll head to the Punchestown Festival with him. We know he gets a bit further so we always have that option with him but he’s still got plenty of speed for a horse his age.”

Third-placed Wishfull Thinking was six lengths behind Sizing Europe in third and trainer Philip Hobbs was quick to praise the winner.

“He’s run a perfectly respectable race but we couldn’t get anywhere near Sprinter Sacre,” said Hobbs.

“The winner is an incredible horse and it was a pleasure watching him.”

3.20pm SPORTINGBET QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE

Class 1, Grade 1, £350,000 guaranteed. For 5yo+ which are allotted a rating of 130 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including March 6th. (Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain, Ireland or France may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including March 6th would merit a minimum rating of 130. The decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final). 2m. Weights 11st 10lb Allowances mares 7lb Entries 17 pay £ 435 Confirmed 10 pay £ 435 Penalty value 1st £208,300.32 2nd £78,162.91 3rd £39,136.32 4th £19,495.01 5th £9,802.37 6th £4,901.18

1) SPRINTER SACRE (FR) (Caroline Mould) Nicky Henderson 7-11-10 Barry Geraghty 1/4 Fav

2) SIZING EUROPE (IRE) (Ann & Alan Potts Partnership) Henry de Bromhead 11-11-10 Andrew Lynch 6/1

3) WISHFULL THINKING (Diana Whateley) Philip Hobbs t10-11-10 Richard Johnson

4) SANCTUAIRE (FR) (Potensis Limited & Chris Giles) Paul Nicholls 7-11-10 Ruby Walsh

5) TATANIANO (FR) (The Stewart Family) Richard Rowe 9-11-10 Andrew Thornton

6) MAIL DE BIEVRE (FR) (P E Atkinson) Tom George 8-11-10 Paddy Brennan

FELL 4TH) SOMERSBY (IRE) (Camilla Radford) Mick Channon p9-11-10 Dominic Elsworth

7 ran

Distances: 19, 6, 3, 14, 72

Breeder: Christophe Masle  Breeding: b/br g Network (GER) – Fatima III (FR) (Bayolidaan (FR ))

Tote        Win: £1.20              Places: £1.10; £1.90               Exacta: £2.20

Winning Trainer: NICHOLAS (NICKY) JOHN HENDERSON Based: Seven Barrows, Lambourn, Hungerford, Berkshire Date of birth: 10/12/50 Background: The son of financier and amateur jockey John Henderson MBE, Nicky attended Eton before working in the City for stockbrokers Cazenoves. Ended up in their Sydney office and rode out each morning prior to work before deciding to study farming at Cirencester. Also spent six years as an amateur, riding 78 winners including the Imperial Cup and the Foxhunters Chase at Liverpool. He was assistant to the legendary Fred Winter from 1974 to 1978. In July 1978 he first took out a trainer’s licence and trained from Windsor House in Lambourn. He moved to Seven Barrows in 1992. Aintree Festival wins: John Smith’s Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2011 Spirit Son, 2012 Simonsig),Tangle Teezer Top Novices’ Hurdle (2010 General Miller, 2012 Darlan), totepool Manifesto Novices’ Chase (2010 Mad Max), John Smith’s Mares Only Open NHF (2008 Carole’s Legacy), John Smith’s 250th Anniversary 4YO Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Binocular), totepool Handicap Chase (2008 Oedipe), John Smith’s Fox Hunter’s Chase (2007 Scots Grey), betafir.com Handicap Chase (1985 Green Bramble, 2004 Lord Of The River), John Smith’s Champion NH Flat Race (1987 Rustle), Citroen C6 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (1988 Rustle), John Smith’s Melling Chase (1992 Remittance Man, 2012 Finian’s Rainbow), John Smith’s Topham Chase (1990 Wont Be Gone Long, 2006 Liberthine), matalan.co.uk Mildmay Novices’ Chase (1991 Sparkling Flame, 2003 Irish Hussar, 2010 Burton Port), John Smith’s Extra Smooth H’cap Hurdle (1995 Thinking Twice), John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase (2012 Sprinter Sacre), John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle (2011 & 2012 Oscar Whisky)  Cheltenham Festival wins (49): Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (2011 Long Run), Coral Cup (2010 Spirit River), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2009 Andytown), County (1997 Barna Boy, 1993 Thumbs Up), Kim Muir (1990 Master Bob, 2002 The Bushkeeper, 2005 Juveigneur), Byrne Group Plate (1985,1986 The Tsarevich, 2005 Liberthine, 2006 Non So), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (1989 Rustle, 2000 Bacchanal), Cathcart (1994 Raymylette, 1990 Brown Windsor, 1999 and 2000 Stormyfairweather), William Hill Supreme Novices H (1986 River Ceiriog, 1992 Flown), Sportingbet Queen Mother (1992 Remittance Man, 2012 Finian’s Rainbow, 2013 Sprinter Sacre), Racing Post Arkle (1991 Remittance Man, 1993 Travado, 2000 Tiutchev, 2012 Sprinter Sacre, 2013 Simonsig), Stan James Champion Hurdle (1985, 1986, 1987 See You Then, 2009 Punjabi, 2010 Binocular),JCB Triumph (1985 First Bout, 1987 Alone Success, 1999 Katarino, 2009 Zaynar, 2010 Soldatino), JLT Specialty H’cap Chase (2000 Marlborough), RSA Chase (2005 Trabolgan, 2012 Bobs Worth), Ryanair Chase (2006 Fondmort), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase (2006 Greenhope, 2012 Bellvano), Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2011 Bobs Worth), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2012 Simonsihg), Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2012 Une Artiste), Ryanair Chase (2012 Riverside Theatre), Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase (2013 Rajdhani Express)  Other major wins include: Adonis Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (1999 Katarino, 2007 Punjabi, 2008 Binocular), Altcar Novices’ Chase (2002 Ifni Du Luc), Amlin 1965 Chase (2008 My Petra), Aon Chase (2002 Bacchanal, 2012 Long Run)), Ascot Chase (2001 Tiutchev, 2011 & 2012 Riverside Theatre), Ascot Hurdle (2008 Chomba Womba, 2009 Zaynar), Berkshire Novices’ Chase (2001 Katarino, 2008 The Market Man, 2009 Punchestowns), Bet365 Gold Cup (1989 Brown Windsor), December Gold Cup (2002 Fondmort, 2003 Iris Royal & 2011 Quantitativeeasing), StanJames.com International Hurdle (2000 Geos, 2008 Binocular), Bristol Novices’ Hurdle (1989 Remittance Man, 2010 Mossley), Champion Hurdle Trial (2007 Afsoun), Champion Irish National Hunt Flat Race (2003 Royal Rosa), Charlie Hall Chase (2002 Marlborough), Christmas Hurdle (2000 Geos, 2001 Landing Light, 2010 & 2011 Binocular, 2013 Darlan), Classic Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Aigle d’Or, 2011 Bobs Worth), Contenders’ Hurdle (2008 Afsoun, 2010 Binocular), December Novices’ Chase (1990 Sparkling Flame, 1997 Fiddling The Facts, 2009 Burton Port), Desert Orchid Chase (2009 Petit Robin & 2011 Finian’s Rainbow), Doncaster Mares’ Hurdle (2008 Chomba Womba), Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (1988 Over The Counter, 1992 Flown, 1996 Kimanicky, 1999 Premier Generation, 2007 Shatabdi), Elite Hurdle (2008 Chomba Womba), Feltham Novices’ Chase (1990 Sparkling Flame, 1991 Mutare, 1997 Fiddling The Facts, 2000 Bacchanal, 2009 Long Run), Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2001 Landing Light, 2008 Punjabi), Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (2000 Mister Banjo), Future Champions Finale Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (1999 Mister Banjo, 2002 Nas Na Riogh, 2005 Blue Shark), Game Spirit Chase (2011 French Opera & 2012 Sprinter Scare), Haldon Gold Cup (1993, 1994 & 1995 Travado), Hennessy Gold Cup (2005 Trabolgan, 2012 Bobs Worth), Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (1990 Acre Hill, 2001 Fondmort), Heroes Handicap Hurdle (2002 Iris Royal), International Hurdle (2000 Geos, 2008 Binocular & 2011 Grandouet) Imperial Cup (2009 Dave’s Dream), Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle (1998 Hidebound, 2003 Perle De Puce & 2011 Molotof), Kerrygold Champion Chase (1998 Big Matt, 2000 Get Real), King George VI Chase (2010 & 2012 Long Run), Kingmaker Novices’ Chase (2010 Long Run, 2011 Finian’s Rainbow), Kingwell Hurdle (2012 Binocular) Lanzarote Hurdle (2003 Non So), Lightning Novices’ Chase (2012 Kid Cassidy) Long Distance Hurdle (1995 Conquering Leader, 2002 Bacchanal, 2008 Duc de Regniere), Long Walk Hurdle (2008 Punchestowns), National Spirit Hurdle (1993 Flown), Newbury Gold Cup Handicap Chase (2004 Isio), November Novices’ Chase (1990 Black Amber), Paddy Power Gold Cup (2003 Fondmort), Pendil Novices’ Chase (1991 Remittance Man, 1992 Tinryland, 1999 Makounji, 2000 Serenus, 2004 Calling Brave), Peterborough Chase (1992 Remittance Man, 1993 & 1995 Travado), Prestbury Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (1998 Katarino, 2001 Greenhope), Punchestown Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (1999 Katarino, 2007 Punjabi, 2011 Grandouet), Punchestown Champion Hurdle (2008 Punjabi), Racing Post Chase (2004 Marlborough), Relkeel Hurdle (2009 Zaynar & Oscar Whisky 2011)), Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (2001 Bacchanal, 2010 Burton Port, 2011 Master Of The Hall), Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle (2000 Dusk Duel, 2004 Mon Villez, 2007 Amaretto Rose), Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (1987 First Bout, 2010 Punchestowns, 2013 Captain Conan), Scottish Champion Hurdle (1986 River Ceiriog), Swordlestown Cup Novice Chase (2000 Tiutchev), Tingle Creek Chase (2012 Sprinter Sacre), Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (1992 New York Rainbow, 2011 Minella Class, 2012 Captain Conan), Totesport Trophy Handicap Hurdle (1998 Sharpical, 2000 & 2004 Geos, 2001 Landing Light), Victor Chandler Clarence House Chase (1996 Big Matt, 2004 Isio, 2006 Tysou, 2013 Sprinter Sacre), Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase (1990 Remittance Man, 2000 Dusk Duel, 2001 Fondmort, 2003 Caracciola, 2006 Jack The Giant, 2009 Riverside Theatre, & 2011 Sprinter Sacre), West Yorkshire Hurdle (1999 Silver Wedge), Winter Bumper (2008 Mad Max, 2011 Ericht), Future Champion Novices’ Chase (2010 French Opera), Swinton Handicap Hurdle (2010 Eradicate), Silver Trophy Handicap Chase (2010 Duc de Regniere), Number of Winners (1982/83-2011/12): 40, 43, 40, 46, 67, 40, 43, 41, 49, 52, 53, 48, 45, 47, 58, 54, 73, 67, 81, 92, 69, 79; 53; 85; 74; 83; 115; 136; 153; 167 Wins this Season: 107

Winning Jockey: Barry Geraghty Born: September 16, 1979 Background: Barry Geraghty will forever be associated with the great Moscow Flyer who provided him with his first Cheltenham Festival victory in the 2002 Arkle Chase and went on to add the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2003 and 2005, as well as a host of other championship races including the Grade One John Smith’s Melling Chase at Aintree in 2004 and 2005. Geraghty is one of six children from a “horse-mad” family that hails from Drumree in Co Meath. His father ‘Tucker’ was a useful amateur and trains a few horses in addition to his riding school and livery yard while his brother Ross, who won the 2002 Irish National on The Bunny Boiler, and sister Jill, an amateur, are both jockeys. Geraghty has a background in pony racing, riding his last winner in that sphere in September, 1996, before becoming apprenticed to Noel Meade that month and having his first ride in October, 1996. He has twice been champion jump jockey in Ireland in the seasons 1999/2000 and 2003/04. It was for Moscow Flyer’s trainer Jessica Harrington that he first sprang to prominence, partnering her 1998 Midlands National winner Miss Orchestra. He crowned the 2002/03 season with victory in the John Smith’s Grand National aboard Monty’s Pass, something which contributed to him being voted RTE Sports Personality of the year by Irish television viewers. Took up the offer of becoming Nicky Henderson’s number one jockey following the retirement of Mick Fitzgerald at the end of the 2007/08 season, and he now divides his time between Britain and Ireland.  Based: Drumree, County Meath, Ireland First Winner: Stagalier (EBF Mares’ Maiden Hurdle, Down Royal, January 29, 1997) Achievements: Champion jockey in Ireland in 1999/2000 and 2003/04  Cheltenham Festival Wins (27): Stan James Champion Hurdle (2009 Punjabi), Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase (2008 Finger OnThe Pulse), Racing Arkle Post Chase (2002 Moscow Flyer, 2009 Forpadydeplasterer, 2012 Sprinter Sacre, 2013 Simonsig), JLT Speciality Handicap Chase (2003 Youlneverwalkalone), Pertemps Final (2003 Inching Closer), Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (2003, 2005 Moscow Flyer, 2010 Big Zeb, 2012 Finian’s Rainbow, 2013 Sprinter Sacre), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2003 Spectroscope, 2009 Zaynar, 2010 Soldatino), Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2003 Spirit Leader), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (2004 Iris’s Gift), Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (2005 Kicking King), RSA Chase (2006 Star de Mohaison, 2012 Bobs Worth), Coral Cup (2006 Sky’s The Limit, 2010 Spirit River), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (2007 Cork All Star), Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2011 Bobs Worth), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2012 Simonsiog), Ryanair Chase (2012 Riverside Theatre)  Leading Rider at The Festival: 2003 (5); 2012 (5)  Aintree Festival Wins include: John Smith’s Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2011 Spirit Son, 2012 Simonsig), John Smith’s Grand National (2003 Monty’s Pass); John Smith’s Top Novices’ Hurdle (2010 General Miller) totepool Manifesto Novices’ Chase (2010 Mad Max), totesport Bowl (2002 Florida Pearl), Martell Cognac Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (2000 Sackville, 2003 Iris’s Gift), Liverpool Hurdle (2004 Iris’s Gift), John Smith’s Melling Chase (2004 & 2005 Moscow Flyer, 2012 Finian’s Rainbow), John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase (2006 Star de Mohaison, 2010 Burton Port), John Smith’s smithythehorse.com Handicap Hurdle (2011 Battle Group), John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase (2012 Sprinter Sacre), John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle (2011 & 2012 Oscar Whisky)  Other Big Race Wins: AIG Europe Champion Hurdle (2005 Macs Joy), Arkle Perpetual Challenge Cup (2003 Bust Out, 2004 Kicking King), Ascot Chase (2010 Monet’s Garden, 2011 Riverside Theatre), AES Champion 4yo Hurdle (2011 Grandouet), Boylesports.com Champion Chase (2011 Big Zeb), Navan Novices’ Hurdle (2000 Harbour Pilot, 2003 Newmill), Betdaq.com Champion Chase (2004 Moscow Flyer), December Gold Cup (2011 Quantitativeeasing) December Festival Hurdle (2000 Moscow Flyer, 2002 Liss A Paoraigh, 2004 Macs Joy), Evening Herald Champion Novices’ Hurdle (2000 Moscow Flyer), Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2008 Punjabi), Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (2002 Limestone Lad), Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup (Ireland) (2002 Alexander Banquet), John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase (2004 Kicking King, 2006 In Compliance), Kerrygold Champion Chase (2004 Moscow Flyer), King George VI Chase (2004, 2005 Kicking King), Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle (2003 Sacundai, 2004 Emotional Moment), Long Walk Hurdle (2008 Punchestowns), Morgiana Hurdle (1997 Cockney Lad, 2003 Back In Front), Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase (2002 & 2003 Moscow Flyer, 2010 Big Zeb), Paddy Power Gold Cup (2002 Cyfor Malta), Punchestown Champion Hurdle (2001 Moscow Flyer, 2006 MacsJoy, 2008 Punjabi), Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle (2000Moscow Flyer, 2007 Clopf), Punchestown Gold Cup (2001 Moscow Express, 2002 Florida Pearl, 2005 Kicking King, 2012 China Rock), Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (1999 Moscow Flyer, 2012 Jezki), Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (2013 Captain Conan), Tingle Creek Chase (2003, 2004 Moscow Flyer, 2012 Sprinter Sacre), Tolworth Hurdle (2011 Minella Class, 2012 Captain Conan), Totesport Trophy Hurdle (2005 Essex), Ryanair Novice Chase (2012 Lucky William) Victor Chandler Chase (2013 Sprinter Sacre) Wins in Britain (2001/02-2011/12): 4; 26; 13; 10; 8; 1; 1; 65; 78; 61; 63  Wins in Britain this Season: 50

FIRST ‘PROPER’ FESTIVAL WIN FOR MULLINS

Amateur rider Patrick Mullins may have won two Weatherbys Champion Bumpers but he joked that he had enjoyed his first ‘proper’ Festival victory when taking the four-mile John Oaksey National Hunt Chase aboard Back In Focus.

The eight-year-old, trained by his father Willie, ran on up the hill to get up and beat TofinoBay, with Nina Carberry aboard, by half a length. Willie Mullins won the race twice as a jockey with Hazy Dawn (1982) and Macks Friendly (1984).

The rider said: “Jump racing is about jumping and jumping fences is what it is all about so that’s my first proper win here! My father won this race twice and it means a lot for me to put my name beside him. It’s a great day. We have two pictures of him winning the four-miler on the wall at home so to be up there with him is very special.

“The horse was brilliant – he was a little bit keen but I said that, if Nina was in front, then we weren’t going too fast. I just tracked her, which is usually the best plan of action. He made one mistake down the back straight – at the fifth or sixth last – and I had to sit and let him get his rhythm back and his breath back.

“I thought at the home bend that I would be second. Coming down to the last, he started  pricking his ears so I thought that he had a bit left and I hadn’t gone for my stick yet. He is very tough and brave.

“Before the race I thought that the ground had gone for him. I thought that something might just get away from him on the ground, which is what happened, but he was good enough to get back. Heavy ground suits him much better.

“Back In Focus made a bad mistake at the ditch down the back and I had to sit and suffer while the others got away from me. At the third last I asked for a big one and I thought we were booked for second before Derek (O’Connor, rider of Rival D’Estruval) fell but after the last this fella got going again. He is a tough horse and must be a fantastic jumper to get round there like that.

“There is a French girl in the yard and she has done some fantastic work with this horse and without her, I doubt he would even be here.”

Owner Graham Wylie added: “I watched the race in Owners & Trainers and two out I thought our chance had gone. The race looked to be between TofinoBay and Rival D’Estruval.. He’s our first winner at The Festival since 2008 when Inglis Drever won so it just goes to show you how tough it is to win here. He could well make up into a Grand National horse in time as he jumps so well and has proven he stays all day

“It’s good to be back in the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham and you just like to have a horse who is good enough to get here. If a horse is good enough to finish in the first four you are delighted but to win is fantastic.”

Jackie Mullins, mother of the winning rider and wife of the trainer, said: “We knew Back In Focus would do nothing but stay. It looked a though Nina had gone and won it but he tied up and we went on. It’s amazing.

“It’s very scary watching your son ride especially over four miles, but it’s magic when he wins. We thought the horses looked better than last year and we thought they were in better form too. You don’t know until you get here but we were hopeful.”

CARBERRY WHIP BAN

Nina Carberry, rider of the second TofinoBay, was given a seven-day ban after using her whip above the permitted level. The days when the whip ban apply have yet to be decided.

 EMOTIONAL MULLINS SO PROUD AS SON STAYS IN FOCUS

Amicable trainer Willie Mullins saddled his fourth winner at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, but stumbled over his usual informative post-race comments following Back In Focus’s victory in the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase.

Mullins fell victim to a lump in the throat when reflecting that the win was a first over fences at the meeting for his amateur rider son Patrick, whose two previous successes at the meeting had been gained in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper. “I’m delighted for Patrick – he did it in good style. This winner means as much as any to me as any other one I have had here. I am very emotional,” said Mullins, clearly a very proud father. Back In Focus won by half a length from TofinoBay, who was clear at the last fence but grew tired on the run-in.

Mullins added: “Patrick said the horse just stayed and stayed, and when he jumped the last fence so well he reasoned there was a bit left in the tank and so he kept kicking.

“Coming down the hill he made a mistake and Patrick had to get after him, and I thought ‘we’re in trouble’. I didn’t think he would win at any stage until well after the last when he pulled out more. He had a head of steam running although it was close at the finish.

“He’s a Grand National horse for one day. He’s entered in the Irish National, but that might come too soon, while Punchestown is a possibility. I’m also considering the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil over three miles and a furlong [in which his Stan James Champion Hurdle winner Hurricane Fly is a possible runner].”

The trainer has now enjoyed 28 winners at The Festival and is the most successful Irish trainer ever at the meeting.

Winning owner Graham Wylie, whose colours were carried to three Ladbrokes World Hurdle victories with Inglis Drever, said: “It’s great to be back in the winner’s enclosure. You like to have a horse good enough to run at the Festival and you’re delighted to finish in the top four, but to win is fantastic.”

RIVAL’S FALL NO HELP TO BAY

Dessie Hughes was ruing the fall of Rival d’Estruval at the penultimate obstacle after his charge Tofino Bay’s runner-up spot in the opening John Oaksey National Hunt Chase. The 10-year-old was left in front by his rival’s departure and was caught close home by Back In Focus, beaten half a length.

“It was bit unlucky for us that the other horse fell and left him on his own,” said Hughes. “He could have done with a bit of company for longer. He started to pull himself up on her [rider Nina Carberry] and he was there as a target.”

Fourth-placed Buddy Bolero did not return to the unsaddling enclosure, having needed veterinary attention after he pulled up. “He was a bit wobbly afterwards – he’d run his heart out – but he’s had some oxygen and the lads tell me he’s fine now,” said trainer David Pipe.

1.30pm JOHN OAKSEY NATIONAL HUNT CHASE

Class 2, £85,000 guaranteed. For 5yo+, 4m. Weights 5yo.11st 4lb; 6yo+ 11st 6lb. Allowances mares 7lb. Penalty value 1st £50,966.00 2nd £15,920.50 3rd £7,956.00 4th £3,978.00 5th £1,989.00 6th £1,003.00

1) BACK IN FOCUS (IRE) (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 8-11-06 Mr Patrick Mullins 9/4 av

2) TOFINO BAY (IRE) (Gigginstown House Stud) Dessie Hughes IRE p1 10-11-06 Ms Nina Carberry 8/1

3) GODSMEJUDGE (IRE) (Favourites Racing) Alan King 7-11-06 Mr Nico De Boinville 7/1

4) BUDDY BOLERO (IRE) (Malcolm Denmark) David Pipe 7-11-06 Mr Jamie Codd

5) OUR ISLAND (IRE) (Oceans Racing) Tim Vaughan v8-11-06 Mr Bradley Gibbs

6) HIGHLAND LODGE (IRE) (The Unusual Suspects) Emma Lavelle 7-11-06 Mr Barry O’Neill

7) EMPEROR’S CHOICE (IRE) (The Bellamy Partnership) Venetia Williams 6-11-06 Mr Will Biddick

8) PRESENT TO YOU (IRE) (Deauville Daze Partnership) David Bridgwater 8-11-06 Mr Sam Drinkwater

FELL) SCAMPI BOY (IRE) (D G Carrington) Paul Webber 9-11-06 Mr Jack Sherwood

FELL 2 OUT) RIVAL D’ESTRUVAL (FR) (Raymond & Anita Anderson Green) Pauline Robson 8-11-06 Mr Derek O’Connor

FELL 4 OUT) TOP SMART (The Calvera Partnership No 2) Seamus Mullins 7-11-06 Mr Mikey Fogarty

PU) SACRED MOUNTAIN (Messrs F T Walton) James Walton 12-11-06 Miss Catherine Walton

PU) HEATHYARDS FLYER (I Scaramanga) Nick Lampard 10-11-06 Mr Joshua Newman

PU) DRAWN N DRANK (IRE) (W Porter) Enda Bolger IRE 7-11-06 Mr J T McNamara

PU) HAWKES POINT (Graham Roach) Paul Nicholls 8-11-06 Mr Steven Clements

PU) ROSE OF THE MOON (IRE) (Middleham Park Racing XXXIII & Partners) David O’Meara t8-11-06 Mr Tom Greenall

16 ran

Distances: ½, 19, hd, 1½, 25, 48, 13

Breeder: Mrs A Connolly Breeding: ch g Bob Back (USA) – Dun Belle (IRE) (Over The River (FR )

Tote      Win: £2.50         Places: £1.30; £2.40; £2.30        Exacta: £16.80

Winning Trainer: WILLIE MULLINS Date of Birth: 15/9/56 Based: Closutton, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow Background: Willie Mullins was six-times amateur champion rider in Ireland and his major successes in the saddle included the 1983 John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree on Atha Cliath, before taking out a training licence in 1988. He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families, being a son of Paddy Mullins, the now retired outstanding all-round trainer, whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup two years later. Willie Mullins rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Mullins, who began training in 1988, has around 100 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in Co Carlow. He was crowned both Champion and Leading Trainer in Ireland for the first time in the 2007/08 season and followed up with further titles in 2008/09 and 2009/2010. Cheltenham Festival wins (28): Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2010 Thousand Stars, 2011 Final Approach), OLBG Mares Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 ~& 2013 Quevega), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree, 2009 Mikael D’Haguenet), William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1995 Tourist Attraction, 2007 Ebaziyan, 2013 Champagne Fever), RSA Chase (1998 Florida Pearl, 2004 Rule Supreme, 2009 Cooldine), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (1996 Wither Or Which, 1997 Florida Pearl, 1998 Alexander Banquet, 2000 Joe Cullen, 2005 Missed That, 2008 Cousin Vinny, 2012 Champagne Fever), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2002 Scolardy), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2011 Sir Des Champs), Jewson Novices’ Chase (2012 Sir Des Champs), John Oaksey National Hunt Chase (2013 Back In Focius) Aintree Festival wins: John Smith’s Topham Chase (2002 Its Time For A Win), Totesport Bowl (2002 Florida Pearl), John Smith’s Grand National (2005 Hedgehunter) Other Major Wins Include: Arkle Perpetual Challenge Cup (2002 Assessed, 2006 Missed That, 2009 Golden Silver), Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree), Barry & Sandra Kelly Memorial Hurdle (2008 Mikael D’Haguenet), Bobbyjo Chase (2005 Hedgehunter, 2007 Homer Wells, 2011 The Midnight Club), Champion Irish National Hunt Flat Race (2008 Cousin Vinny, 2011 Lovethehigherlaw, 2012 Champagne Fever), December Festival Hurdle (2010 Hurricane Fly, 2012 Hurricane Fly), Deloitte Novice Hurdle (1999 Alexander Banquet, Champagne Fever), Drinmore Novice Chase (1999 Alexander Banquet, 2012 Arvika Ligeonniere), Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase (1998 Florida Pearl), Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase (2008 J’y Vole, 2009 Cooldine, 2010 Citizen Vic), Dunboyne Castle Novice Hurdle (2004 Royal Alphabet, 2009 Kempes), Durkan New Homes Juvenile Hurdle (2005 Clear Riposte, 2005 Missed That), Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (2012 Marasonnien), Fortria Chase (1994 Annfield Lady, 2001 Micko’s Dream), Future Champions Novice Hurdle (2008 Hurricane Fly), Galway Hurdle (1996 Mystical City), Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (2010 Hurricane Fly, 2012 Zaidpour), Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup (Ireland) (1999, 2000, 2001 & 2004 Florida Pearl, 2002 Alexander Banquet, 2005 Rule Supreme, 2011 Kempes, 2012 Quel Espirt, 2013 Sir Des Champs), Growise Champion Novice Chase (2012 Sir Des Champs) Hilly Way Chase (2007 Our Ben, 2008 Scotsirish, 2010 Golden Silver), Irish Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly), JNWine.com Champion Chase (1999 Florida Pearl), John Durkan Memorial Chase (2001 Florida Pearl), Punchestown Champion Chase (2001 Micko’s Dream, 2010 Golden Silver), King George VI Chase (2001 Florida Pearl), Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle (2003 Holy Orders, 2009 Fiveforthree, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Quevega) Land Rover Champion Novice Hurdle (2002 Davenport Millenium, 2003 Nobody Told Me, 2004 Sadlers Wings, 2007 Glencove Marina, 2009 Mikael d’Haguenet), Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle (2010 Mourad), Morgiana Hurdle (1993 Padashpan, 2011 Thousand Stars, 2012 Hurricane Fly), Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (2009 Mikael d’Haguenet, 2011 Gagewell Flyer), Navan Novice Hurdle (2008 Mikael D’Haguenet, 2011 Boston Bob, 2012 Pont Alexandre), Normans Grove Chase (2004 Florida Pearl, 2011 Golden Silver), Paddy Fitzpatrick Novice Chase (2008 Glencove Marina), Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase (2009 Golden Silver), MCR Hurdle (2002 Adamant Approach, 2011 Final Approach), Punchestown Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (2001 Holy Orders, 2006 Quatre Heures), Punchestown Champion Hurdle (1998 Native-Darrig, 2002 Davenport Millenium, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Hurricane Fly), Punchestown Champion Novice Chase (2003 Rule Supreme, 2010 Kempes), Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle (2009 Hurricane Fly, 2010 Blackstairmountain), Punchestown Gold Cup (2002 Florida Pearl), Red Mills Chase (2000 Micko’s Dream), Red Mills Trial Hurdle (2000 Balla Sola), Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (1998 Alexander Banquet, 2008 Hurricane Fly, 2010 Zaidpour, 2011 Sous Les Cieux), Slaney Novice Hurdle (2005 Homer Wells, 2009 Mikael d’Haguenet), Spring Juvenile Hurdle (2006 Mister Hight), Swordlestown Cup Novice Chase (2009 Barker), Tara Hurdle (2008 Shakervilz), Ten Up Novice Chase (2007 Snowy Morning, 2008 Pomme Tiepy), Thurles Chase (2005 Mossy Green), Thyestes Chase (2000 Micko’s Dream, 2004 Hedgehunter, 2007 Homer Wells, 2012 On His Own), Tied Cottage Chase (2011 Golden Silver), Grande Course De Haies D’Auteuil (2011 & 2012 Thousand Stars), Galway Plate (2011 Blazing Tempo) Number of Winners in Britain (2001/02-2011/12): 4; 1; 1; 2; 0; 1; 2; 3; 2; 4; 5  Wins in Britain this season: 5

Winning Jockey: Mr Patrick Mullins Born: December 5, 1989 Background: Son of former top amateur rider and current top National Hunt trainer, Willie Mullins, a nephew of successful National Hunt trainers Tony and Tom Mullins, and a grandson of one of the great National Hunt trainers, Paddy Mullins. In a very short space of time, Patrick has established himself as one of the more promising young riders on the National Hunt scene. He has shown that he has an astute tactical riding brain as well as a power-packed finish. He took his first ride in public on his father’s Screaming Witness in a bumper at Thurles in December 2005, and he rode his first winner at the age of 16 on a horse of his father’s called Diego Garcia in a qualified riders race at Limerick the following June. Understandably, at that time his riding was restricted by him having to attend school, but he increasingly managed to turn up on the race track to take fancied rides. Won the long-established Denny Havasnack amateur riders’ race at Tralee on August 31, 2006, when still a 16-year-old schoolboy. First winner under Rules: Diego Garcia, Ryan’s Events Cleaners (QR) Race, Limerick, June 17,  2006 First Cheltenham Festival Winner: Cousin Vinny, Weatherbys Champion Bumper, March 13, 2008 (for his father Willie) Cheltenham Festival Wins (3): Weatherbys Champion Bumper (2008 Cousin Vinny, 2012 Champagne Fever), John Oaksey National Hunt Chase (2013 Back In Focus) Big Race Wins: Champion INH Flat Race (2008 Cousin Vinny, 2011 Lovethehigherlaw, 2012 Champagne Fever) Wins in Britain (2006/07-2011/12): 0; 1; 0; 0; 0; Wins in Britain This Season: 2

THE NEW ONE A NEW STAR

The New One had Nigel Twiston-Davies dreaming of glory from the first time the gelding began to work at home. And the trainer’s judgement was justified with a four-length romp to victory in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.

“He has always showed magical speed,” said Twiston-Davies, “and took to jumping like a natural. His attitude to everything is almost as if he had already done it all in another life. He was winning only four months after he was broken in. He was the full package right from the start.”

The New One gave Twiston-Davies fine compensation for former Betfred Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander’s late defection from the meeting. “This one was always our best chance of the meeting anyway,” he said, “and having Sam [his son] ride doubles the pleasure.”

The New One, a five-year-old by King’s Theatre, has been beaten only twice, when he was sixth in last year’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper and runner-up to At Fishers Cross over today’s course and distance in January. “We’re still trying to work out how he got beat in the bumper,” said Twiston-Davies, “but he came out and beat My Tent Or Yours next time, so we knew what we thought of him was right. It was simply the heavy ground did for him back in January.

“It’s what we have been waiting for and it worked. I didn’t see the race – I’m afraid that I got gut-ache and I was in the loo. I only saw the last hurdle.

“We knew which horses were right and which were wrong. We knew he was right.

Two subsequent winners of the Champion Hurdle, Istabraq and Hardy Eustace, are among the winners of the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, and the two-mile title may be The New One’s target next year. “He’s got class and a turn of foot,” said Twiston-Davies, saddling his 14th Festival winner “so why ever not?”

‘SPEEDY’ THE NEW ONE DELIGHTS HIS JOCKEY

Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies posted his first Festival victory as a professional as 7/2 second-favourite The New One stormed to a four-length victory in the Neptune Investment Management Hurdle.

Twiston-Davies had ridden Baby Run to victory in the CGA Foxhunter Chase when an amateur back in 2010.

“He was very good today. He showed a very good turn of foot and I am absolutely delighted,” said Twiston-Davies.

“I probably got it wrong last time out as I rode him more of a stayer than a speed horse but you’ve got to learn from your mistakes! He’s actually quite a speedy type so I thought I’d give him that sort of ride and it’s worked out.

“He really picked up coming down the hill and when I asked him to go he just took off. There’s obviously been a fair bit said about our horses but when the likes of Ackertac (second yesterday at 66/1) run like they do, it gives you a bit more confidence. It also helps when Willie Mullins’ horses are running so well – it takes the pressure of you a bit!

“A lot of credit goes to Wayne Jones – he looks after the horse every day, rides him out and he has got him in top form, so fair play to him.

“Riding this horse was a great chance and you have to grab it with both hands. Luckily everything worked out well today.

“He’ll probably jump a fence in time but I would have thought that might be in a couple of years. He’s only five so I’d imagine we’ll have another season over hurdles with him – it’s just a shame there’s not a two-and-a-half mile championship hurdle at The Festival.

Twiston-Davies’ younger brother Willy, an apprentice on the Flat, was delighted for both Sam and his father after the race.

“It’s great to see Dad (Nigel) and Sam have a winner like this after what’s happened over the past couple of weeks,” he said.

“It’s great to be here at Cheltenham but I’m not a great spectator – I probably get more nervous than both of them!

“It’s a massive boost for everyone in the yard.”

The New One’s owner Sarah Such said: “We knew that he was going to do that, just knew it. To all of the doubters – we did it and we have put you right. I had all the faith in Nigel.

“We couldn’t get a name for him and, every time we saw him on the gallops, Nigel would say “this is the new one with no name” and it just stuck. “

BETTER TO COME FROM RULE THE WORLD, SAYS MORRIS

 Horses trained in Ireland made up a strong team for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, but they had to be content with a second and third as victory went to The New One, trained locally by Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Runner-up Rule The World carried the Gigginstown House Stud colours into second at 5/1, four lengths behind the winner, while a further four and a half lengths back in third was the 6/4 favourite Pont Alexandre, representing owner Susannah Ricci and a rare reverse for jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Willie Mullins.

Mouse Morris, who trains Rule The World, said: “He’s run a blinder, but he’s been beaten by a better horse on the day. He’ll be a better horse with another year on his back. You might see him at Punchestown, but we’ll see how he comes out of this race first. He’s a big, lean bugger and still a frame of a horse.”

Mullins said: “Ruby said he wasn’t travelling from a long way out. Maybe soft ground is the key, but I’m disappointed. We’ll probably go to Punchestown.”

2.05pm NEPTUNE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT NOVICES’ HURDLE

Class 1, Grade 1, £120,000 guaranteed. For 4yo+, 2m 5f. Weights 4yo.10st 12lb; 5yo+ 11st 7lb. Allowances fillies and mares 7lb. Penalty value 1st £68,340.00 2nd £25,644.00 3rd £12,840.00 4th £6,396.00 5th £3,216.00 6th £1,608.00

1) THE NEW ONE (IRE) (Sarah Such) Nigel Twiston-Davies 5-11-07 Sam Twiston-Davies 7/2

2) RULE THE WORLD (Gigginstown House Stud) Mouse Morris IRE 6-11-07 Davy Russell 5/1

3) PONT ALEXANDRE (GER) (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-07 Ruby Walsh 6/4 Fav

4) CHATTERBOX (IRE) (The Not Afraid Partnershp 2) Nicky Henderson 5-11-07 Barry Geraghty

5) MINSK (IRE) (Barry Connell) Dessie Hughes IRE 5-11-07 Danny Mullins

6) TAQUIN DU SEUIL (FR) (Martin Broughton & Friends 1) Jonjo O’Neill 6-11-07 A P McCoy

7) UBAK (FR) (Nick Peacock) Gary Moore 5-11-07 Jamie Moore

8) TWO ROCKERS (IRE) (Masterson Holdings Limited) Alan King 6-11-07 Wayne Hutchinson

8 ran

Non-Runners: Puffin Billy (Self Certificate, Not Eaten Up), Sizing Gold (Vet’s Certificate, Lame)

Distances: 4, 4½, 5, 3½, sh, 8, 5

Breeder: R Brown & Ballylinch Stud        Breeding:  b g King´s Theatre (IRE) – Thuringe (FR) (Turgeon (USA))

Tote      Win: £4.10         Places: £1.40; £1.70; £1.20        Exacta: £21.20

Winning Trainer: NIGEL TWISTON-DAVIES Based: Grange Hill Farm, Naunton, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire Date of birth: 16/5/57 Background: Rode as an amateur for Fred Winter, Fred Rimell and Kim Bailey. The Gloucestershire handler combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests throughout the 1980s, having his first winner with Last Of The Foxes, who he also rode, at Hereford in March, 1982, before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession. He took out a full training licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. Born on May 16, 1957, as an amateur jockey Twiston-Davies rode 17 winners under Rules and gained a further 17 point-to-point victories, and served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell. A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the former champion jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm, Naunton, Gloucestershire, although Scudamore is no longer involved in the venture. Twiston-Davies has adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks. An essentially shy man, he momentarily shocked Des Lynam after Earth Summit’s Grand National success in 1998 by telling the BBC presenter in front of millions of viewers “I don’t do interviews”. Trained his 1,000th winner at Stratford in October 2006. Big Race Wins Include: Albert Bartlett (Bristol) (1998 Bosuns Mate, 1999 Bindaree), Albert Bartlett (River Don) Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Battlecry), Bet365 Gold Cup (2000 Beau), Boylesports.com International (2009 Khyber Kim), Challow Novices’ Hurdle (1999 King’s Road, 1999 Bindaree), Champion Irish National Hunt Flat Race (1998 King’s Road), Charlie Hall Chase (1992 Tipping Tim, 1994 Young Hustler, 2005 & 2007 Ollie Magern), Christmas Hurdle (1997 Kerawi), Classic Chase (2005 Baron Windrush), Cleeve Hurdle (1998 Mistinguett), Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Pigeon Island), Elite Hurdle (2000 Mister Morose), Feltham Novices’ Chase (1992 Dakyns Boy, 2004 Ollie Magern), Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (2010 Baccalaureate), Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (2009 Khyber Kim), Haydock Park Gold Cup (2001 Frantic Tan), Hennessy Gold Cup (2000 King’s Road), Heroes Handicap Hurdle (2000 Rubhahunish), Hyde Novices’ Hurdle (2007 Razor Royale), Kingmaker Novices’ Chase (1996 Arctic Kinsman), Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle (2000 Rubhahunish), Letheby & Christopher Cotswold Chase (2008 Knowhere), Long Walk Hurdle (1993 Sweet Duke, 1996 Ocean Hawk), Neptune Investment Management Leamington Novices’ Hurdle (2012 The New One), November Novices’ Chase (1997 Queen Of Spades, 1998 Mister Morose, 2004 Fundamentalist), Old Roan Handicap Chase (2008 Knowhere), Paddy Power Gold Cup (1992 Tipping Tim, 2008 Imperial Commander, 2010 Little Josh), Persian War Novices’ Hurdle (2003 Champagne Harry, 2004 Knowhere, 2005 Rimsky), Peter Marsh Handicap Chase (1995 Earth Summit), Punchestown Gold Cup (1998 Mahler), Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (1995 Sweet Duke, 2000 Beau), Rising Stars Novices’ Chase (1994 Sweet Duke, 2000 Bindaree), Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (1993 Young Hustler, 1998 Jack Doyle), Scottish Champion Hurdle (1994 Corrouge, 2000 Mister Morose), Scottish Grand National (1992 Captain Dibble, 1994 Earth Summit, 2009 Hello Bud), Servo Computer Services Trophy Handicap Chase (2003 Shardam), totesport.com Becher Chase (1993 Indian Tonic, 1995 Young Hustler, 1998 Earth Summit, 2010 Hello Bud), Towton Novices’ Chase (2005 Ollie Magern), Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase (2007 Mahogany Blaze), Welsh National (1997 Earth Summit, 2003 Bindaree), West Yorkshire Hurdle (2006 Redemption, 2008 Pettifour), Winter Bumper (1998 Frantic Tan), Worcester Novices’ Chase (1991 Captain Dibble, 1998 Ocean Hawk), Betfair Chase (2010 Imperial Commander) Cheltenham Festival wins (14): Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (2010 Imperial Commander), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (2010 Pigeon Island), Christie’s Foxhunter Chase (2010 Baby Run), Ryanair Chase (2009 Imperial Commander), National Hunt Chase (2009 Tricky Trickster), JLT Specialty Chase (1992 Tipping Tim), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (1993 Gaelstrom, 2004 Fundamentalist, 2013 The New One), RSA Chase (1993 Young Hustler), William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1994 Arctic Kinsman), JCB Triumph Hurdle (1998 Upgrade), Pertemps Final H’cap Hurdle (2000 Rubhahunish, 2008 Ballyfitz) Aintree Festival wins: John Smith’s Fox Hunter’s Chase (2011 Baby Run), John Smith’s Topham Chase (2009 Irish Raptor), John Smith’s Liverpool Hurdle (1987 Mrs Muck), betfair.com Handicap Chase (1994 Grange Brake), John Smith’s Topham Chase (1994 Indian Tonic), John Smith’s Red Rum Handicap Chase (1996 Arctic Kinsman), John Smith’s Extra Cold H’cp Hurdle (1998 The Proms), John Smith’s Grand National (1998 Earth Summit, 2002 Bindaree), John Smith’s Champion Standard NH Flat Race (1998 King’s Road, 2005 The Cool Guy, 2012 The New One), Citroen C5 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (1999 King’s Road, 2008 Petitfour), S&N Aintree Hurdle (2000 Mister Morose, 2010 Khyber Kim), John Smith’s Extra Smooth Handicap Hurdle (2001 Docklands Limo) Wins (1982/3-2011/12): 0, 0, 4, 4, 1, 3, 2, 8, 19, 31, 76, 72, 81, 74, 52, 69, 65, 87, 47, 35, 31, 79 ; 69; 59; 60; 87; 83; 70; 97; 70  Wins this Season: 62

Winning Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies Born: October 15, 1992 Background: son of Gold Cup and Grand National-winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies – turned professional on April 17, 2010. Cheltenham Festival Wins (2): Christie’s Foxhunter Chase (2010 Baby Run), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2013 The New One) Other big race wins: Paddy Power Gold Cup (2010 Little Josh), Becher Chase (2010 & 2012 Hello Bud) E.B.F High Sheriff Of Gloucester’s “Junior” Standard Open Juvenile NHF Race (2012 The New One), John Smith’s Champion Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (2012 The New One) First Winner under Rules: Baby Run, Magnus All-croft Memorial Hunters’ Chase, Ludlow, February 18, 2009 Wins (2008/09-2011/12): 2; 15; 59; 81 Wins This Season: 71

WHAT A FESTIVAL WINNER MEANS TO THE JOCKEYS OF THE FIRST TWO WINNERS

 

Sam Twiston-Davies, successful on The New One for his trainer father Nigel in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, spoke of what a winner at The Festival means.

 

He said: “Days like this are why you get up at six in the morning, in the rain and the frost. I can’t explain how good it is to have ridden a Festival winner as a professional.

 

“My father loves this horse and I tell him that he is going to make us look like a couple of pears when he gets carried away. There will be a couple occasions when Nigel is wrong but he is very, very right with this horse.

 

“The New One is only five and he wouldn’t be the biggest in the world. Today was the best he has jumped and he is only just been getting to terms with it recently. Next year, he will probably stay hurdling and then maybe a season’s chasing after that.

 

“The problem is there is no two and a half mile hurdle for him here. He could skip Cheltenham and go to Aintree but he has so much speed and he would have no problem with a fast-run Champion Hurdle.”

 

Patrick Mullins enjoyed his first winner over obstacles at The Festival when Back In Focus won the first race on day two of this year’s Festival, Ladies Day, the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase.

The amateur rider son of champion Irish Jump trainer Willie Mullins said: “You cannot describe the feeling – how do you describe colour to a blind person.”

CULLOTY RETURNS TO CHELTENHAM LIMELIGHT WITH WINDERMERE

Jim Culloty, who as a rider won three Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cups aboard Best Mate, enjoyed his first Festival winner as a trainer when Lord Windermere landed the RSA Chase.

“It was a peach of a ride by Davy (Russell). He wasn’t getting any light and the horse jumped brilliantly – he actually tripped over the road and I thought that it might have cost us,” said Culloty.

“He is a good horse. We took the chance of not running over three miles all season because I didn’t want to tire him out – I wanted a horse with experience but hadn’t been bottomed – and it has worked.

“I knew that he would like Cheltenham. I could have brought him here last year and he would have run a big race in a hurdle but we minded him because we wanted a big chaser, which is what he is now.

“(Owner) Dr Lambe has been waiting a long time for this and, from my point of view, it’s unbelievable. This is what it’s all about.

“It’s very different from riding. As a jockey you get nervous half an hour before the race but as a trainer you are nervous for six months beforehand. You get up and feed the horses at 6am every morning and I always look to see how he is as he is the best horse I have.

“I was a nervous wreck watching that. I was pacing and I went out to walk the course on my own earlier because I didn’t want to talk to anybody.

“I fancied this horse like mad and thought he would love it around here. I thought they would go a right gallop and I told Davy to hang on to him and ride him to get the trip, and if he got it I thought he would take all the beating.

“They went quite steady and that probably suited us, but he was in a pocket and got no light throughout the race. He acted on the course and jumped well. He has the experience and I gave him a good few runs during the winter over shorter distances because I wanted to get the experience into him without bottoming him out.

“Dr Lambe, who owns him, has been a massive supporter. My training career got off to a pretty slow start – it took me a while to get the hang of it – but he has been incredibly loyal and supportive. If I ever go and get a horse, he pays for it and he wanted a Cheltenham winner and we gave him one.

“We’ll celebrate tonight and then we’ll think about the future. Where he’ll start in the autumn I don’t know, I suppose he could go for something like the Hennessy.”

Owner Dr Ronan Lambe added: “It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s my first ever winner here and I am delighted. Jim struggled a little bit to begin with but he has been doing fantastic recently with a small string.

“It was a beautiful ride by Davy – the horse was cantering the whole way – and although he got tightened up rounding the bend, he kept calm and it was a wonderful ride.

“I asked Davy if he was a Gold Cup horse for next year but he didn’t answer. I would think that will be his target next year and Jim has always maintained he is a three-miler.”

Lord Windermere was quoted at 16/1 by Boylesporrts for next year’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

RUSSELL QUICK TO PRAISE CULLOTY AFTER WINDERMERE WIN

Jockey Davy Russell took his tally at The Festival to double-figures after he guided 8/1 shot Lord Windermere to victory in the RSA Steeple Chase.

Russell had to switch to the outside turning for home after being briefly boxed in but his horse responded well following the fall of Boston Bob to record a length and three quarters victory.

“All credit to Jim Culloty and the lads. They have done a marvellous job with this horse and I only had to steer him today – he was in super order,” said Russell.

“I had loads of horse left under me and he just idled in front a bit as the line approached. I was almost upsides Boston Bob when he fell and I’m pretty sure we would have got past him. The race panned out fine but I had a couple of scary moments as he took a false step over the road out the back and then I was behind Tom (Scudamore) a bit longer than I would have liked turning for home.

“I only sat on him for the first time last week and he schooled excellently. I didn’t know his ability but Jim kept building me with confidence. Even this morning we had a little chat and he gave me free rein – he just felt that the horse was spot on.

“Jim is a confidence guy. I have only ridden two horses for him on the racecourse and he has been spot on with both on them. His horses are in good health, he has wonderful facilities and he knows what it takes to win round here. He has a good way of thinking about things, which is a plus.”

Owner Dr Ronan Lambe was celebrating after his first ever Festival winner and could not praise his jockey enough.

“It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s my first ever winner here and I am delighted. Jim struggled a little bit to begin with but he has been doing fantastic recently with a small string.

“It was a beautiful ride by Davy – the horse was cantering the whole way – and although he got tightened up rounding the bend, he kept calm and it was a wonderful ride.

“I asked Davy if he was a Gold Cup horse for next year but he didn’t answer. I would think that will be his target next year and Jim has always maintained he is a three-miler.”

LYREEN A FUTURE LEGEND

Lyreen Legend’s length and a three-quarters defeat in the RSA Chase by Lord Windermere put trainer Dessie Hughes in the runner-up spot for the second time in the afternoon. But though there were thoughts of what might have been for TofinoBay in the opener, there were no regrets over Lyreen Legend’s performance.

“No excuses,” said Hughes of the six-year-old. “We were beaten by a better horse on the day this time and we were absolutely delighted with ours. He’s one of the youngest in the field and its all in front of him next year. In the shorter term we’ll see how he comes out of today and maybe go to Punchestown.”

Rider Bryan Cooper was equally pleased with the son of Saint Des Saints. “He jumped and travelled great,” he said, “and was just outstayed up the hill. But he’s only a baby and he’ll be better with another year on him.”

NICHOLLS PHILOSOPHICAL AFTER UNIONISTE TAKES FOURTH IN RSA

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is still awaiting his first victory at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, and while he saddled 5/2 favourite Unioniste in the RSA Chase the novice could do no better than fourth.

Still only five-years-old, and the youngest horse in the field, Unioniste was beaten a total of nine lengths by winner Lord Windermere, leaving Nicholls hoping that his grey could improve with age.

Nicholls said: “He was always struggling a bit and didn’t jump as well as we know he can. When he won here in December he carried just 9st 9lb [with Harry Derham’s weight allowance], and as I just said to John [Hales, Unioniste’s owner], that race just dropped right for him.

“Things were happening all a bit quick for him today. Maybe he’s not quick enough, maybe he’s an out-and-out stayer. He could be the type to take to the Hennessy [Gold Cup at Newbury], because he will get stronger, and when he does we’ll be able to ride him differently. We didn’t want to make too much use of him today because he’s still young. It will make life easier when he’s that bit stronger.

“I cannot make them any quicker, but I’m sure in time he’s got more to give. We’ll probably give him a break now.”

2.40pm RSA CHASE

Class 1, Grade 1, £150,000 guaranteed. For 5yo+ which are allotted a rating of 110 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including March 6th. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain, Ireland or France may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including March 5th would merit a minimum rating of 110. The decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final. 3m. 110yds. Weights 5yo.11st 2lb; 6yo+ 11st 4lb Allowances mares 7lb Entries 49 pay £ 185 Confirmed 21 pay £ 185 Penalty value 1st £85,425.00 2nd £32,055.00 3rd £16,050.00 4th £7,995.00 5th £4,020.00 6th £2,010.00

1) LORD WINDERMERE (IRE) (Dr Ronan Lambe) Jim Culloty IRE 7-11-04 Davy Russell 8/1

2) LYREEN LEGEND (IRE) (Lyreen Syndicate) Dessie Hughes IRE 6-11-04 Bryan Cooper 10/1

3) HADRIAN’S APPROACH (IRE) (Richard & Lizzie Kelvin Hughes) Nicky Henderson 6-11-04 Barry Geraghty 7/1

4) UNIONISTE (FR) (John & Lisa Hales) Paul Nicholls 5-11-02 Ruby Walsh 5/2 Fav

5) TERMINAL (FR) (Favourites Racing) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-04 David Casey

6) GOULANES (IRE) (Roger Brookhouse) David Pipe 7-11-04 Tom Scudamore

7) HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (FR) (Mrs Julian Blackwell) Venetia Williams 6-11-04 Aidan Coleman

8) REAL MILAN (IRE) (Diana Whateley) Donald McCain 8-11-04 Jason Maguire

FELL LAST) BOSTON BOB (IRE) (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 8-11-04 Paul Townend

PU) VINTAGE STAR (IRE) (Trevor Hemmings) Sue Smith 7-11-04 Ryan Mania

PU) THEATRICAL STAR (Brocade Racing) Colin Tizzard 7-11-04 Joe Tizzard

11 ran

Distances: 1¾, 6, 1¼, 1, sh, ½, 59

Breeder: Edmond Coleman        Breeding: b g Oscar (IRE) – Satellite Dancer (IRE) (Satco (FR))

Tote      Win: £11.60       Places: £2.50; £2.60; £2.40        Exacta: £95.70

Winning Trainer JIM CULLOTY Based: Churchtown, Mallow, Co. Cork Background: Born on  December 18, 1973, Jim enjoyed a highly successful career as a jockey before retiring from the saddle in July 2005. He will forever be remembered for his association with Best Mate, whom he partnered to three successive Cheltenham Gold Cups between 2002-2004. Jim saddled his first racecourse runner on 12th February 2006. Ironically, that first runner was Lord Noelie who had provided Culloty with his first Cheltenham Festival winner as a jockey in the 2000 Royal & Sun Alliance Chase. His first winner came on November 30, 2006, when Braun Star won a handicap chase at Thurles. Wins (Ireland) (2005/06-2011/12): 0; 2; 3; 0; 3; 1; 8 Big Race Wins: INH Stallion Breeders Fund Novice Hurdle (2011 Lord Windermere) Cheltenham Festival Wins (1): RSA Chase (2013 Lord Windermere) Wins in Britain this season: 2

Winning Jockey: Davy Russell Born: June 27, 1979 Background: David Niall Russell hails – like fellow National jockey Denis O’Regan – from Youghal in Co. Cork and progressed from pony racing to become one of Ireland’s leading point-to-point riders in recent years winning the championship in 2001 and 2002, when sharing the title with J T McNamara. The retirement of another one-time Irish point-to-point star, Adrian Maguire, saw him travel over to Britain in 2002 as stable jockey to Ferdy Murphy and he turned professional on November 12. He enjoyed his first big success when Truckers Tavern won the 2003 Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock and went on to be second to Best Mate in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Russell lost his job after 14 months as number one jockey to Murphy in January, 2004, as he also wanted to continue riding in Ireland at weekends.  Aintree Festival Wins: John Smith’s Mildmay novices’ Chase (2011 Quito De La Roque), John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle (2009 Solwhit), Martell Champion Standard N.H. Flat Race (2000 Quadco) (First Winner in Britain); John Smith’s Topham Trophy (2005 Cregg House) Cheltenham Festival Wins (10):RSA Chase (2010 Weapon’s Amnesty, 2013 Lord Windermere), Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2009 Weapon’s Amnesty), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase (2008 Tiger Cry), Coral Cup (2008 Naiad Du Misselot, 2011 Carlito Brigante), Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (2006 Native Jack), JLT Specialty Chase (2007 Joe’s Edge), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2011 First Lieutenant), Jewson Novices’ Chase (2012 Sir Des Champs) First Cheltenham Festival Ride: Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir, Toni’s Tip (6th), March 14, 2000 Other Big Race Wins: Arkle Perpetual Challenge Cup (2008 Thyne Again), December Festival Hurdle (2009 Solwhit), Cathal Ryan Memorial Novice Hurdle (2012 Dedigout) Deloitte Novice Hurdle (2008 Forpadydeplasterer), Dobbins & Madigans at Punchestown Hurdle (2009 Solwhit), Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase (2006 The Railway Man), Drinmore Novice Chase (2006 Cailin Alainn), Growise Champion Novice Chase (2012 Sir Des Champs),  Future Champions Novice Hurdle (2010 First Lieutenant), Kerrygold Champion Chase (2007 Mansony), Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (2009 Oscar Dan Dan), Irish Champion Hurdle (2010 Solwhit), JN Wince Champion Chase (2011 Quito De La Roque),Knight Frank Novice Chase (2006 Cailin Alainn), Morgiana Hurdle (2009 & 2010 Solwhit), Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase (2007 Mansony), Punchestown Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (2008 Won In The Dark), Punchestown Champion Hurdle (2009 Solwhit), Spring Juvenile Hurdle (2010 Pittoni) Wins in Britain (2002/3-2011/12): 22; 28; 2; 2; 2; 4; 3; 2; 3; 1 Wins in Britain This Season: 5

WAYNE/KING TEAM UP TO LAND CORAL CUP

Alan King admitted he was ‘surprised’ to see Medinas spring a surprise and give the trainer a one-two in the Coral Cup after Wayne Hutchinson’s mount got the better of stablemate Meister Eckhart by two lengths.

The winner was the outsider of the King-trained pair but stable jockey Hutchinson had the choice and decided to ride the 33/1 shot instead of the 14/1 runner-up and his faith was justified as the six-year-old stormed up the hill to record his second successive victory.

“It has been a long time coming. I have forgotten how it feels to have a winner here but it’s marvellous to have the first and second,” said King.

“We fancied the runner-up a bit more but to be fair to Wayne (Hutchinson), he was adamant he wanted to be on this one but I thought he’d gone up a bit too much in the handicap following his last win.

“I have been complaining at the handicapper all season for putting Medinas up and up but he incredibly tough and I am thrilled with the pair of them.

“He’s such a tough horse and it was great to see him run up the hill like that. He genuinely doesn’t know when he’s beaten and it’s nice to see a horse progress like this and land a decent prize.

“I always thought they were going too quick up front and full marks to Meister Eckhart because he has kept on nicely after always being prominent. He’s going to be a really exciting prospect next year so we’re looking forward to that.

“We’ve not had the greatest season – I have made no secret of that – and I’ve had a few blanks at The Festival over the years so this win will give the whole yard a massive boost. Most of my big guns have gone wrong and if I do have a winner here, it tends to be in the novice hurdles or chases.

“The stable staff work so hard throughout the year and it’s onwards and upwards.”

Medinas was King’s 13th winner at The Festival.

WAYNE’S FAITH IS JUSTIFIED

Medinas gave jockey Wayne Hutchinson his second Cheltenham Festival winner, after Oh Crick in the Grand Annual Chase four years ago. The six-year-old, a 33/1 shot, beat his better-fancied  Alan King stablemate Meister Eckhart, 14/1, by two lengths in the Coral Cup.

One of the first to congratulate Hutchinson was the stable’s injured number one rider, Robert Thornton. “It’s gutting for him to miss the Festival,” said Hutchinson, “but he’d have been on the second in this race, so he didn’t mind too much this time.”

Hutchinson chose to stick to Medinas, on whom he had won the Welsh Champion Hurdle last month. “I thought he had all the qualities for a Cheltenham handicap,” he said. “He’s tough and he stays. They went off hard enough in front and that played to his strengths. He jumped well  all the way, and though coming down the hill I thought he’d finish third at best – I thought at that stage our other one would win – once mine turned in and hit the rising ground he found plenty, as I’d hoped he might. He battled great all the way to the line.”

French-bred Medinas is owned by retired businessman Frank Bell and his wife Hilda, both from Northern Ireland. “It’s great for the yard, and everyone who works there to have first and second,” said Bell. “But I’m thrilled it was us who was first. Medinas has given us such fun. He has such tenacity and he deserves this.”

RUGBY CLUB SO HAPPY WITH FIVEFORTHREE

Willie Mullins is not winning every race at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, but even in defeat it is hard not to compliment him on a fine piece of training.

Witness Fiveforthree, who finished third in the Coral Cup after an absence of no less than 727 days. Ridden by Paul Townend, the lightly-raced and fragile 11-year-old was beaten a nose by runner-up Meister Eckhart, and with a bit more match practice you suspect that result may have been reversed.

Fiveforthree races for the Olde Crowbars Syndicate, a seven-strong group that takes its name from a Dublin-based rugby club.

Spokesman Michael Hilary said: “After an absence of two years that was fabulous. The last time he ran was here in the 2011 [Ladbrokes] World Hurdle and he could have done with a run today, because he just showed that little lack of match practice.

“We’re so excited because he’s back, and still a young-at-heart horse, and now we’ll look forward to Punchestown. We hope he stays sound over the next six weeks.

“He drifted out to 20/1 today and we backed him and have a good bit of prize money, too, so we have to be happy. When we bought him they said he could go right to the top, but he proved rather fragile.

“He gets his name from a score in golf, while the Crowbars is a Dublin rugby club that was formed from the Wanderers. They weren’t allowed to play on a Sunday being a protestant club, so a guy set up a club within a club and that was the Crowbars.”

Mullins said: “He jumped fantastic, and the handicapper gave him a great chance. It nearly came off.”

4.00pm CORAL CUP

Class 1, Grade 3, £80,000 guaranteed. For 4yo+, 2m 5f.  Minimum weight 10-0. Penalties after February 24th, a winner of a hurdle 5lb (No penalty to increase a horse’s weight above 11st 12lb). Any Given Day’s Handicap Mark 150. Penalty value 1st £45,560.00 2nd £17,096.00 3rd £8,560.00 4th £4,264.00 5th £2,144.00 6th £1,072.00

1) MEDINAS (FR) (Mr & Mrs F D Bell) Alan King 6-11-10 Wayne Hutchinson 33/1

2) MEISTER ECKHART (IRE) (Atlantic Equine) Alan King 7-11-05 Aidan Coleman 14/1

3) FIVEFORTHREE (IRE) (Olde Crowbars Syndicate) Willie Mullins IRE 11-11-11 Paul Townend 20/1

4) MASTER OF THE SEA (IRE) (R J Rexton) Nigel Twiston-Davies 6-11-04 Sam Twiston-Davies 10/1

5) ERICHT (IRE) (Bridget Hanbury) Nicky Henderson 7-10-00 Gary Derwin (10)

6) BIG EASY (GER) (Terry Warner) Philip Hobbs 6-10-07 Michael Nolan (5)

7) BARBATOS (FR) (Power Panels Electrical Systems Ltd) Ian Williams 7-11-00 Paddy Brennan

8) OWEGA STAR (IRE) (Anthony & Siobhan Callan) Peter Fahey IRE 6-11-02 A D Leigh

9) URBAIN DE SIVOLA (FR) (Potensis Limited & Chris Giles) Nick Williams t1 5-10-11 Nick Scholfield

10) SAPHIRRIVER (FR) (Sandy Seymour) Lucinda Russell 7-10-10 Peter Buchanan

11) HOLLOW TREE (Brannon Dick Holden) Doanld McCain 5-11-01 Jason Maguire

12) CRACK AWAY JACK (GDM Partnership) Tom George t9-11-11 David Casey

13) BUCK MAGIC (IRE) (Brian Derrick) Neil Mulholland b7-10-07 Michael Byrne (3)

14) WYSE HILL TEABAGS (Mr & Mrs Philip Smith) Jim Goldie 8-10-10 Richie McGrath

15) ORSIPPUS (USA) (Sandra Smith) Michael Smith 7-10-10 Danny Cook

16) CASH AND GO (IRE) (Robin Geffen) Nicky Henderson 6-11-06 Barry Geraghty

17) PENDRA (IRE) (J P McManus) Charlie Longsdon 5-11-01 A P McCoy 6/1 Fav

18) ABBEY LANE (IRE) (Martin Lynch) Willie Mullins IRE 8-11-01 Ruby Walsh

19) TOUR D’ARGENT (FR) (Michael Buckley) Nicky Henderson h1 6-10-13 David Bass

20) RATTAN (USA) (J A Coleman) Willie Mullins IRE 8-11-03 Danny Mullins

21) BONDAGE (IRE) (Bodhran Makers Syndicate) Gordon Elliott IRE t6-11-07 Davy Condon

22) TIMESAWASTIN (IRE) (Mrs C A Waters & R E R Williams) Evan Williams h1 7-10-11 Paul Moloney

23) LOOSE CHIPS (Barrels Of Courage) Charlie Longsdon b7-11-02 Noel Fehily

24) ANY GIVEN DAY (IRE) (Tim Leslie) Donald McCain p1 8-11-05 Mr Nick Slatter (7)

FELL 2 OUT) BLACK THUNDER (FR) (Donlon, MacDonald, Fulton & Webb) Paul Nicholls 6-11-07 Daryl Jacob

FELL LAST) UN BEAU MATIN (IRE) (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 5-11-04 Davy Russell

PU) MR WATSON (IRE) (Gay Smith) Jonjo O’Neill h6-11-01 Richie McLernon

PU) SADLER’S RISK (IRE) (Roger Brookhouse) Philip Hobbs t5-11-12 Richard Johnson

28 ran

Distances: 2, nose, 3, ½, 3¼, nose, 1¼, 2½, ½, 4½, ¾, 1¾, 1¾, nk, 3¼, 9, 10, 4, 3¾, 66, 1½, 2, 20

Breeder: Mme Laurence Gagneux

Breeding: b/br g Malinas (GER) – Medicis (FR) (Sicyos (USA))

Tote        Win: £42.20          Places: £8.40; £4.50; £5.20; £2.40  Exacta: £569.60

Winning Trainer: ALAN KING Born: December 13, 1966 Based: Barbury Castle Stables, Wroughton, Wiltshire Background: Born into a farming family in Lanarkshire on December 13, 1966, Alan King was a member of a local pony club and also competed on the show jumping circuit before joining David Nicholson as an amateur jockey in 1985, having previously worked for John Wilson in his native Scotland. Alan managed to finish third in a couple of hunter chases, but soon realised that race riding was not for him and served as long-time assistant to Nicholson, from whom he took over the licence at Jackdaws Castle stables near Temple Guiting in Gloucestershire on December 3, 1999. He only had to wait until the following day for Mini Moo Min to provide him with a first success at Towcester. In that rookie season, Alan also saddled Relkeel to take a third totesport Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham a week after breaking his duck, and the following weekend captured the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot with Anzum, one part of a four-timer. He also sent out Go Ballistic to finish second to See More Business in the Stan James King George VI Chase at Kempton. Alan was only based at Jackdaws Castle, then owned by Colin Smith, until the end of the 1999/2000 season, as there was only a year by year lease available. At that juncture, he moved to the Barbury Castle estate near Marlborough, Wiltshire, which was bought by one of his principal owners, Nigel Bunter, and the trainer has since gone from strength to strength. Aintree Festival Wins: John Smith’s Melling Chase (2008 Voy Por Ustedes), Liverpool Hurdle (2008 Blazing Bailey), Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle (2010 Sir Harry Ormesher), Anniversary 4-Y-0 Hurdle (2007 Katchit, 2009 Walkon, 2012 Grumeti), Citroen C6 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (2002 Stromness), John Smith’s Liverpool Hurdle (2002 Spendid), John Smith’s HBLB TBA Mares’ Only NH (2005 Senorita Rumbalita), John Smith’s Champion Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (2006 Pangbourne) John Smith’s Red Rum Handicap Chase (2009 Oh Crick), John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (2012 Lovcen) Cheltenham Festival Wins (13): Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (2009 Oh Crick), Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Nenuphar Collonges), National Hunt Chase (2008 Old Benny), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2008 Katchit), JLT Specialty Handicap Chase (2004 Fork Lightning, 2011 Bensalem), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2005 Penzance, 2007 Katchit), Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy (2006 Voy Por Ustedes, 2007 My Way De Solzen), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (2006 My Way De Solzen), Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (2007 Voy Por Ustedes), Coral Cup (2013 Medinas) Big Race Wins: Adonis Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (2004 Trouble At Bay, 2005 Penzance), Albert Bartlett (Bristol) (2007 Nenuphar Collonges), Albert Bartlett (Classic) Novices’ Hurdle (2012 Batonnier), Altcar Novices’ Chase (2000 Toto Toscato, 2007 My Way De Solzen), Amlin 1965 Chase (2007 Howle Hill), Ascot Chase (2009 Voy Por Ustedes), Becher Chase (2011 West End Rocker) Boylesports.com International Hurdle (1999 Relkeel), Champion Hurdle Trial (2010 Medermit), Classic Chase (2008 D’Argent),  Cleeve Hurdle (2004 Crystal d’Ainay, 2007 Blazing Bailey), Desert Orchid Chase (2006 & 2007 Voy Por Ustedes), Dipper Novices’ Chase (2007 My Way De Solzen), Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (2006 Senorita Rumbalita, 2009 Trenchant, 2012 Grumeti), Finesse Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (2007 Katchit, 2008 Franchoek, 2009 Walkon, 2012 Grumeti), Future Champions Finale Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (2007 Franchoek, 2008 Walkon), Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (2008 Araldur), Holloways Hurdle (2012 Smad Place) Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Medermit), Kingmaker Novices’ Chase (2005 Kadount, 2006 Voy Por Ustedes), Kingwell Hurdle (2008 Katchit, 2011 Mille Chief), Ladbroke Hurdle (2011 Raya Star) Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle (2008 Blazing Bailey), Long Walk Hurdle (1999 Anzum), Long Walk Hurdle (2005 My Way De Solzen), National Spirit Hurdle (2006 My Way De Solzen), Noel Novices’ Chase (1999 Toto Toascato), Prestbury Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (2006Katchit, 2007 Franchoek), Relkeel Hurdle (2003 Crystal d’Ainay, 2007 Pouvoir, 2010 Karabak), Rendlesham Hurdle (2005 Crystal d’Ainay), Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (2012 Invictus), Rising Stars Novices’ Chase (2001 Gola Cher),Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (2011 Medermit), Scottish Champion Hurdle (2012 Raya Star) Towton Novices’ Chase (2006 Halcon Genelardais), Welsh National (2006 Halcon Genelardais), Winter Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Junior, 2009 Manyriverstocross), Haldon Gold Cup (2011 Medermit), Betfred Becher Handicap Chase (2011 West End Rocker) Number of Winners (1999/2000-2011/12): 27; 18; 34; 39; 47; 66; 63; 92; 128; 136; 76; 84; 82 Wins this Season: 46

Winning Jokey: Wayne Hutchinson Born: February 25, 1981 Based: c/o Alan King, Barbury Castle Stables, Wroughton, Wilts Background: Son of a postman, Wayne started off riding out for Stan Mellor and Jeff King before moving to Barbury Castle in mid 2002. Also rides for Jim Old and Ian Williams. Cheltenham Festival Winners (2): Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase (2009 Oh Crick), Coral Cup (2013 Medinas)  Riding Weight: 9st 11lb  First Winner: Whatever’s Right (Axminster 100 Apprentice Handicap, Salisbury, August 7, 1998) First treble: Warwick, November 22, 205 (Petwick, Romany Dream, Siberian Highness). Big Race Wins: Coral Welsh National (2006 Halcon Genelardais) Classic Novices’ Hurdle (2012 Batonnier), Towton Novices’ Chase (2006 Halcon Genelardais), totesport.com Classic Chase (2011 West End Rocker), Betfred Becher Handicap Chase (2011 West End Rocker) Holloway’s Hurdle (2012 Smad Place), Finesse Juvenile Hurdle (2012 Grumeti) Number of Wins (2001/02-2011/12): 4; 31; 20; 38; 43; 59; 26; 33; 50; 41; 43 Wins This Season:s14  24

FLAXEN FLARES BRIGHTLY AS CONDON WINS FOR SLOAN AND ELLIOTT

Bought in October for 105,000gns, Flaxen Flare rewarded owner Pat Sloan when burning off his rivals in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

The Gordon Elliott-trained four-year-old was a useful Flat performer who joined his current trainer when going through the ring at Tattersalls’ Horses-in-Training Sale last autumn. He won his first hurdle start, but was beaten in two subsequent runs. However, in first-time blinkers today he scooted clear of runner-up Caid Du Berlais to win by four and a half lengths, with Ptit Zig another length and three-quarters back in third.

Elliott said: “We bought him as a dual-purpose horse who could run on the Flat and over Jumps on the big days for a bit of craic. If he never wins again it doesn’t matter – his job is done.

“He ran very well the first time over hurdles, then we felt the ground was too soft for him on his second outing. It didn’t work out on the third occasion, but that left him with a nice handicap mark and this became the plan. He travelled so well that I was afraid Davy [Condon] hit the front too soon, but it all worked out okay.

“We put blinkers on because he had become a bit lairy – he was like that on his last couple of runs on the Flat so we stuck them on and he was fine. Now we’ll have a few days out on the Flat.

“This is great for me and for the Sloans, who have been very supportive of my yard. Every race at the Festival is hard to win, but we’ll have a drink or two tonight.”

CONSOLATION PRIZES FOR NICHOLLS

Paul Nicholls had the disappointment of his stable’s first string Saphir Du Rheu finishing only  20th as 6/1 joint favourite in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle, but had the slight consolation of picking up second and third places with his other two runners, Caid Du Berlais at 20/1 and Ptit Zig at 22/1.

“They’ve both run really good races,” he said. “They’re different types. Caid Du Berlais had some of the best form going into the race and now we’ve learned how to ride him he’ll win a nice hurdle race somewhere along the line. Ptit Zig is a big baby, a chaser in the making for next year.

“Saphir Du Rheu made a bad mistake, and that was that.”

4.40pm FRED WINTER JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE

Class 1, Grade 3, £75,000 guaranteed. For 4yo, 2m 110yds. Weights highest weight 11st 10lb Minimum weight 10-0 Penalties after February 24th, a winner of a hurdle 5lb (No penalty to increase a horse’s weight above 11st 10lb) Blood Cotil’s Handicap Mark 144. Penalty value 1st £42,712.50 2nd £16,027.50 3rd £8,025.00 4th £3,997.50 5th £2,010.00 6th £1,005.00

1) FLAXEN FLARE (IRE) (Pat Sloan) Gordon Elliott IRE b1 4-10-07 Davy Condon 25/1

2) CAID DU BERLAIS (FR) (Donlon, MacDonald, C Barber & P Nicholls) Paul Nicholls 4-10-12 Harry Derham (5) 20/1

3) PTIT ZIG (FR) (Chris Giles, Potensis Limited & Webb) Paul Nicholls 4-10-10 Daryl Jacob 22/1

4) MILORD (GER) (Kim Bailey Racing Partnership VII) Kim Bailey 4-10-06 Nick Scholfield 16/1

5) TOTALIZE (D Gilbert, M Lawrence, A Bruce) Brian Ellison h4-10-11 Danny Cook

6) BLOOD COTIL (FR) (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 4-11-10 David Casey

7) RUACANA (Bloomfields) John Ferguson v1 4-11-02 Jack Quinlan (3)

8) KNIGHT OF PLEASURE (The Knights Of Pleasure) Gary Moore 4-10-05 Jamie Moore

9) IBSEN (IRE) (John Murphy) John Murphy IRE 4-9-13 David Splaine (5)

10) SOUTH SOUTH WEST (IRE) (W J Souths Racing Club) Paul Flynn IRE 4-10-11 Andrew McNamara

11) HABESH (IRE) (T Singleton/Christopher & C L Murphy) Eugene O’Sullivan IRE p1 4-10-01 Paddy Kennedy (5)

12) ZAMDY MAN (Muhammad Nadeem Khan) Venetia Williams 4-10-08 Aidan Coleman

13) KALMANN (FR) (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 4-10-13 Paul Townend

14) ANGELOT DU BERLAIS (FR) (C E Stedman) Dr Richard Newland 4-10-05 Sam Twiston-Davies

15) MEGALYPOS (FR) (Simon Munir & Issac Souede) Nicky Henderson 4-11-03 Barry Geraghty

16) MCVICAR (Bob & Pauline Scott) Alan King 4-10-09 Wayne Hutchinson

17) THREE KINGDOMS (IRE) (Bloomfields) John Ferguson 4-9-13 Joseph Akehurst (7)

18) FATCATINTHEHAT (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 4-11-05 Emmet Mullins

19) HILALI (IRE) (J P McManus) Gary Brown 4-10-13 Noel Fehily

20) SAPHIR DU RHEU (FR) (The Stewart Family) Paul Nicholls 4-10-10 Ruby Walsh 6/1 Jt Fav

21) ANOTHER SENSATION (FR) (J P McManus) Jonjo O’Neill 4-10-08 A P McCoy

22) COUNSEL (IRE) (Tim Leslie) Donald McCain t4-10-10 Jason Maguire

23) BORDONI (USA) (Bloomfields) John Ferguson 4-11-00 Denis O’Regan 6/1 Jt Fav

PU) PISTOL (IRE) (Clark, Devlin, Knox & Wells & Morrice) Philip Hobbs p1 4-11-01 Richard Johnson

24 ran

Distances: 4½, 1¾, 7, ½, 1¾, 3½, nose, 2½, ½, 1¾, 3¼, 3½, ¾, 3, 2¾, 1½, nk, 12, 4, 16, 2¾, 11

Breeder: Denis And Mrs Teresa Bergin   Breeding: ch g Windsor Knot (IRE) – Golden Angel (USA) (Slew O´Gold (USA)

Tote      Win: £34.50       Places: £6.50; £5.20; £5.90; £4.90          Exacta: £750.10

Winning Trainer: GORDON ELLIOTT Based: Capranny, Trim, Co Meath, Ireland Background: Former point-to-point rider. Started out at Tony Martin’s Meath stables. Moved to Martin Pipe in 2002 and rode one winner from six amateur rides. Began training in 2006 at Capranny Stables, owned by Barry Callaghan, head of the Dun Doire Syndicate. Won the John Smith’s Grand National in 2007, despite not having recorded a victory in Ireland. Is an avid follower of Australian daytime soap Home And Away. Cheltenham Festival Wins (3): National Hunt Chase (2011 Chicago Grey); Coral Cup (2011 Carlito Brigante), Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Chase (2013 Flaxen Flare) Aintree Festival Wins: John Smith’s Grand National (2007 Silver Birch), Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle (2011 Russian War) Big Race Wins Include: Tipperary Hurdle (2007 Salford City), totesport Ebor (2010 Dirar), Betfair iphone & Android App Hurdle (2010 Carlito Brigante), Bobbyjo Chase (2013 Roi du Mee) Drinmore Novice Chase (2010 Jessies Dream – his first Grade One victory), Ladbroke Hurdle (2012 Cause Of Causes), Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase (2011 Roi du Mee), Red Mills Trial Chase (2013 Chicago Grey) Wins in Britain (2006/07-2011/12): 4; 8; 24; 36; 35; 32 Wins in Britain This Season: 17

Winning Jockey: Condon, Davy Background: Father Mick was a top-class point to point rider. Former Flat jockey who endured problems with his weight and successfully switched to jump racing, having ridden around 100 winners on the level. Second jockey to Willie Mullins behind Ruby Walsh before becoming Nicky Richards’ number one after the retirement of Tony Dobbin in May 2008. Back in Ireland for the 2009/10 season riding mainly for Noel Meade. His cousin is Paul Townend. Aintree Festival Wins: Matalan Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle (2010 Orsippus) Cheltenham Festival Wins (2): William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2007 Ebaziyan); Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2013 Flaxen Flare) First Win over Hurdles: Markason (Clonee Handicap Hurdle, Fairyhouse, November 19, 2004) First Ride over Fences: Adamant Approach (PU, Clonmel Oil Chase, Clonmel November 18, 2004) Big Race Wins: At The Races Bobbyjo Chase (2007 Homer Wells), Christmas Hurdle (2009 Go Native), Cork Stayers Novices’ Hurdle (2011 Corbally Ghost); Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2009 Go Native); Flying Bolt Novices’ Chase (2012 Donnas Palm), Ladbroke Hurdle (2012 Cause Of Causes); Peterborough Chase (2008 Monet’s Garden), Scottish Champion Hurdle (2009 Noble Alan), Thyestes Chase (2007 Homer Wells), Craddockstown Novice Chase (2010 Realt Dubh), Monksfield Novice Hurdle (2010 Fully Funded, 2011 Mount Benbulben) Woodlands Park 100 Novice Chase (2012 Medical Card) Wins in Britain (2006/07-2011/12): 1; 0; 24; 3; 0; 1 Wins in Britain This Season: 3

BRIAR GIVES MULLINS HIS EIGHTH CHAMPION BUMPER SUCCESS

Willie Mullins expressed his surprise after Briar Hill destroyed a competitive-looking field by seven lengths to land the Weatherbys Champion Bumper and give the trainer his fifth winner of The Festival.

Sent off at odds of 25/1, the five-year-old made a mockery of his odds and punters will surely wonder how they allowed the Ruby Walsh-ridden gelding to go off at such a big price.

Briar Hill’s victory completed a 83.5/1 double for both Mullins and owner Graham Wylie on the second day of The Festival. It also gives Mullins his eighth winner in the race.

“I thought one of the others might win it because I had four horses aimed for the bumper and this was the fourth of four,” said Mullins.

“I wasn’t particularly pushed about bringing him but we did know he had a bit of ability after his debut despite showing nothing at home. I like horses like that though as they tend to surprise you.

“I said to Mr Wylie there is no pressure and we are only here to find out how good he is. Even if he had finished 10th, we would have been happy so it’s a big surprise.

“Ruby wanted to drop him out because of the early pace and then get him on an even keel. I think a combination of the hill, better ground and a bit of a stamina test have brought out the best in him. The others have all run a bit too free but we’ll see how they are when we get home and make plans from there.

“We might have a look at Punchestown for the winner now but he’s a stayer in the making. He’s closely related to Boston Bob so you’d imagine he’ll get a trip. He’ll be given a typical novice hurdle campaign next season which will probably end up back here in the Albert Bartlett.”

BRIAR HILL SURPRISES RUBY IN BUMPER

Jockey Ruby Walsh admitted that Briar Hill’s runaway success in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper had come as a welcome surprise,

“It’s a bit of a shock as I had a couple of good rides earlier in the day and I wasn’t really counting on this guy,” said Walsh. “It didn’t go to plan because I missed the break and had to change plan but it worked out and when I gave him a smack he took off. He was very impressive.

“He is no flash harry at home but you don’t mind that if they do it at the racecourse and I think he could be a top horse for the future. He is related to Boston Bob and we have always classed him as a chaser in the making.

“He’s workmanlike at home and we saw the best of him here, I was really impressed by his turn of foot after the bend.”

Briar Hill was Walsh’s fourth winner of the 2013 Festival.

Owner Graham Wylie, who had won the opening race with Back In Focus, added: “I’m so surprised because it was only yesterday that I realised he’d be running. I knew he was entered but Willie rang yesterday and said he’d put him in the box to come over and that Ruby would be riding, which I thought was interesting. He came from last to first, it was a great effort.”

HONEYBALL KEEPS SENSE OF HUMOUR AS MULLINS AND WALSH TRIUMPH AGAIN

Dorset trainer Anthony Honeyball enjoyed his best result at The Festival when Regal Encore finished second of 23 in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

Five-year-old Regal Encore – who is owned by J P McManus and was ridden by A P McCoy – was no match for runaway winner Briar Hill, a 25/1 shot who scooted home by seven lengths for the irrepressible pair of Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins. This was Mullins’ fifth winner of the meeting, and Walsh’s fourth, and Honeyball showed a dry wit when saying: “I’m pleased for Willie and Ruby – they really needed that!”

He added: “The pressure is off now, because they [the McManus family] are very good winners and losers. We’re delighted he’s run such a good race and done himself justice. I did think that if we could get him here in good order that on form he would run well. It’s hard to evaluate bumper form, but the way he won at Chepstow made me confident he would do well if he got a good run through the race.

“He’s still a bit keen and A P has to drop him out a bit as a result. Hopefully with time he’ll settle down and we’ll be able to ride him a bit handier, but A P gave him a cracking ride, and it was pleasing to see the horse gallop right to the line. When three of them pulled clear I felt relief that we would be there or thereabouts, and while I was  was worried he might fade he didn’t. It’s not a disastrous day

“We’ve no plan – we’ll probably school him over hurdles, and if the owner wants to see him again this season then so be it.

HAPPY MEMORIES FOR AIDAN

Aidan O’Brien paid his first visit to Cheltenham since 2002, when Istabraq was pulled up in the  Champion Hurdle, to saddle Shield, 17th of 23 in the day’s finale, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

“Being here brings back a lot of good memories,” he said. “It’s a great place to be.”

Shield was O’Brien’s first runner at a Jump meeting in Britain since Istabraq, and when he won at Leopardstown 10 days ago he was his trainer’s first bumper winner since The Alamo won  at Galway in August, 2004. But, with daughter Sara now riding as an amateur, he will be further renewing his acquaintance with the branch of the sport in which he honed his skills with such as triple Champion Hurdle winner Istabraq before switching to the Flat.

O’Brien reported the Ballydoyle stars, last year’s dual Classic hero Camelot and this year’s 2,000 Guineas prospects Cristoforo Colombo and Kingsbarns, in good health and form after the winter. “They’re going nicely,” he said. “I don’t know if the two Guineas horses will run before Newmarket, but I would say maybe they won’t.”

Shield was a first Cheltenham experience for O’Brien’s son Joseph, the Irish Flat champion. “It was a grand spin round,” he said, “but it was all a bit of a shock to the system for the horse. He’s only a baby yet.”

SEVENTH RACE RESULT – 5.15pm WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER

Class 1, Grade 1, £60,000 guaranteed. For 4-6yo, which have not run under any recognised Rules of Racing, except NH or INH Flat races or French AQPS Flat races (horses are not to have run in more than four races and, before February 26th, 2013, must have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a race) Weights 4yo 10st 11lb; 5-6yo 11st 5lb. 2m 110yds.  Allowances fillies and mares 7lb. Penalty value 1st £34,170.00 2nd £12,822.00 3rd £6,420.00 4th £3,198.00 5th £1,608.00 6th £804.00

1) BRIAR HILL (IRE) (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-05 Ruby Walsh 25/1

2) REGAL ENCORE (IRE) (J P McManus) Anthony Honeyball 5-11-05 A P McCoy 7/1 Jt Fav

3) GOLANTILLA (IRE) (Barry Connell) Tony Martin IRE 5-11-05 Danny Mullins 9/1

4) THE LIQUIDATOR (Roger Brookhouse) David Pipe 5-11-05 Tom Scudamore

5) PURPLE BAY (IRE) (Bloomfields) John Ferguson 4-10-11 Denis O’Regan

6) PURE SCIENCE (IRE) (Raymond Mould) Nigel Twiston-Davies 5-11-05 Sam Twiston-Davies

7) LE VENT D’ANTAN (FR) (Goliath Syndicate) Liz Doyle IRE 4-10-11 Mr Mikey Fogarty 7/1 Jt Fav

8) UNION DUES (FR) (Allan McLuckie) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-05 Mr Patrick Mullins

9) POSIDENSEA (FR) (Thistle Bloodstock Limited) Dessie Hughes IRE 5-11-05 Bryan Cooper

10) CALEDONIA (Lorimer Racing) Jim Goldie 6-11-05 Graham Lee

11) VIEUX LION ROUGE (FR) (Prof Caroline Tisdall & John Gent) David Pipe 4-10-11 Richard Johnson

12) DOCTOR HARPER (IRE) (David Johnson) David Pipe 5-11-05 Timmy Murphy

13) SGT RECKLESS (Camilla Radford) Mick Channon 6-11-05 Richard Hughes

14) HELLORBOSTON (IRE) (Thomson Fyffe Racing) Donald McCain 5-11-05 Jason Maguire

15) BLACKMAIL (FR) (John Breslin) Tony Martin IRE 5-11-05 Barry Geraghty

16) FASCINO RUSTICO (John & Lisa Hales) Paul Nicholls t1 5-11-05 Daryl Jacob

17) SHIELD (IRE) (Ann Marie O’Brien) Aidan O’Brien IRE 4-10-11 Jospeph O’Brien

18) KAYF MOSS (L H & Mrs T Evans) John Flint 5-11-05 Rhys Flint

19) MILO MAN (IRE) (William & Angela Rucker) Evan Williams 5-11-05 Paul Moloney

20) I’M FRAAM GOVAN (Sir Slex Ferguson, George Baker) George Baker t1 5-11-05 Andrew Tinkler

21) SIZING TENNESSEE (IRE) (Ann & Alan Potts Partnership) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-05 Andrew Lynch

22) THE CLOCK LEARY (IRE) (Brooks, Vanderson, Pummell & Martin) Venetia Williams 5-11-05 Aidan Coleman

23) DRUMLEE (IRE) (J P McManus) Charlie Swan IRE 5-11-05 David Casey

23 ran       Non-Runner: Johnny Og (Self-Cert, Lame)

Distances: 7, 2¼, sh, ½, ¾, 7, 1½, nk, 1¼, 3½, 9, nk, sh, 1¾, 4, ½, 6, 15, 5, 1¾, 6, 40

Breeder:  Victor Connolly             Breeding:  b g Shantou (USA) – Backaway (IRE) (Bob Back (USA))

Tote          Win: £23.20               Places: £7.70; £3.00; £4.20          Exacta: £271.30

Winning Trainer: WILLIE MULLINS Date of Birth: 15/9/56 Based: Closutton, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow Background: Willie Mullins was six-times amateur champion rider in Ireland and his major successes in the saddle included the 1983 John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree on Atha Cliath, before taking out a training licence in 1988. He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families, being a son of Paddy Mullins, the now retired outstanding all-round trainer, whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup two years later. Willie Mullins rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Mullins, who began training in 1988, has around 100 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in Co Carlow. He was crowned both Champion and Leading Trainer in Ireland for the first time in the 2007/08 season and followed up with further titles in 2008/09 and 2009/2010. Cheltenham Festival wins (29): Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2010 Thousand Stars, 2011 Final Approach), OLBG Mares Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 ~& 2013 Quevega), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree, 2009 Mikael D’Haguenet), William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1995 Tourist Attraction, 2007 Ebaziyan, 2013 Champagne Fever), RSA Chase (1998 Florida Pearl, 2004 Rule Supreme, 2009 Cooldine), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (1996 Wither Or Which, 1997 Florida Pearl, 1998 Alexander Banquet, 2000 Joe Cullen, 2005 Missed That, 2008 Cousin Vinny, 2012 Champagne Fever, 2013 Briar Hill), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2002 Scolardy), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2011 Sir Des Champs), Jewson Novices’ Chase (2012 Sir Des Champs), John Oaksey National Hunt Chase (2013 Back In Focius) Aintree Festival wins: John Smith’s Topham Chase (2002 Its Time For A Win), Totesport Bowl (2002 Florida Pearl), John Smith’s Grand National (2005 Hedgehunter) Other Major Wins Include: Arkle Perpetual Challenge Cup (2002 Assessed, 2006 Missed That, 2009 Golden Silver), Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree), Barry & Sandra Kelly Memorial Hurdle (2008 Mikael D’Haguenet), Bobbyjo Chase (2005 Hedgehunter, 2007 Homer Wells, 2011 The Midnight Club), Champion Irish National Hunt Flat Race (2008 Cousin Vinny, 2011 Lovethehigherlaw, 2012 Champagne Fever), December Festival Hurdle (2010 Hurricane Fly, 2012 Hurricane Fly), Deloitte Novice Hurdle (1999 Alexander Banquet, Champagne Fever), Drinmore Novice Chase (1999 Alexander Banquet, 2012 Arvika Ligeonniere), Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase (1998 Florida Pearl), Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase (2008 J’y Vole, 2009 Cooldine, 2010 Citizen Vic), Dunboyne Castle Novice Hurdle (2004 Royal Alphabet, 2009 Kempes), Durkan New Homes Juvenile Hurdle (2005 Clear Riposte, 2005 Missed That), Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (2012 Marasonnien), Fortria Chase (1994 Annfield Lady, 2001 Micko’s Dream), Future Champions Novice Hurdle (2008 Hurricane Fly), Galway Hurdle (1996 Mystical City), Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (2010 Hurricane Fly, 2012 Zaidpour), Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup (Ireland) (1999, 2000, 2001 & 2004 Florida Pearl, 2002 Alexander Banquet, 2005 Rule Supreme, 2011 Kempes, 2012 Quel Espirt, 2013 Sir Des Champs), Growise Champion Novice Chase (2012 Sir Des Champs) Hilly Way Chase (2007 Our Ben, 2008 Scotsirish, 2010 Golden Silver), Irish Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly), JNWine.com Champion Chase (1999 Florida Pearl), John Durkan Memorial Chase (2001 Florida Pearl), Punchestown Champion Chase (2001 Micko’s Dream, 2010 Golden Silver), King George VI Chase (2001 Florida Pearl), Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle (2003 Holy Orders, 2009 Fiveforthree, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Quevega) Land Rover Champion Novice Hurdle (2002 Davenport Millenium, 2003 Nobody Told Me, 2004 Sadlers Wings, 2007 Glencove Marina, 2009 Mikael d’Haguenet), Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle (2010 Mourad), Morgiana Hurdle (1993 Padashpan, 2011 Thousand Stars, 2012 Hurricane Fly), Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (2009 Mikael d’Haguenet, 2011 Gagewell Flyer), Navan Novice Hurdle (2008 Mikael D’Haguenet, 2011 Boston Bob, 2012 Pont Alexandre), Normans Grove Chase (2004 Florida Pearl, 2011 Golden Silver), Paddy Fitzpatrick Novice Chase (2008 Glencove Marina), Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase (2009 Golden Silver), MCR Hurdle (2002 Adamant Approach, 2011 Final Approach), Punchestown Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (2001 Holy Orders, 2006 Quatre Heures), Punchestown Champion Hurdle (1998 Native-Darrig, 2002 Davenport Millenium, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Hurricane Fly), Punchestown Champion Novice Chase (2003 Rule Supreme, 2010 Kempes), Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle (2009 Hurricane Fly, 2010 Blackstairmountain), Punchestown Gold Cup (2002 Florida Pearl), Red Mills Chase (2000 Micko’s Dream), Red Mills Trial Hurdle (2000 Balla Sola), Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (1998 Alexander Banquet, 2008 Hurricane Fly, 2010 Zaidpour, 2011 Sous Les Cieux), Slaney Novice Hurdle (2005 Homer Wells, 2009 Mikael d’Haguenet), Spring Juvenile Hurdle (2006 Mister Hight), Swordlestown Cup Novice Chase (2009 Barker), Tara Hurdle (2008 Shakervilz), Ten Up Novice Chase (2007 Snowy Morning, 2008 Pomme Tiepy), Thurles Chase (2005 Mossy Green), Thyestes Chase (2000 Micko’s Dream, 2004 Hedgehunter, 2007 Homer Wells, 2012 On His Own), Tied Cottage Chase (2011 Golden Silver), Grande Course De Haies D’Auteuil (2011 & 2012 Thousand Stars), Galway Plate (2011 Blazing Tempo) Number of Winners in Britain (2001/02-2011/12): 4; 1; 1; 2; 0; 1; 2; 3; 2; 4; 5  Wins in Britain this season: 6

Winning Jockey: Ruby Walsh Born: May 14, 1979 Background: Ruby (short for Rupert) is associated with the powerful stables of Paul Nicholls in Britain and Willie Mullins in Ireland. He is the son of 11-times Irish amateur champion jockey, Ted Walsh, now a trainer. Ruby is the second of Walsh’s four children and his younger sister Katie is a successful amateur. He followed in his father’s footsteps when capturing the Irish amateur riders’ championship (1996-97) at the age of 19 while still studying for his Leaving Certificate. He was crowned champion Irish National Hunt jockey in his first season as a professional (1998/99) and has taken the title a further five times (2000/2001, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/7 and 2007/08). Walsh has won the John Smith’s Grand National twice. His first success came in 2000 on his first ride in the race aboard Papillon, trained by his father, less than a month after returning from a fractured leg sustained in a fall in October, 1999, in the Czech Republic. The Willie Mullins-trained Hedgehunter provided him with a second success in 2005. He followed Papillon’s Aintree triumph with an Irish Grand National victory aboard his father’s Commanche Court but surpassed that achievement in the 2004/2005 season when his John Smith’s Grand National success aboard Hedgehunter was augmented by wins in the Welsh National (Silver Birch) and Irish Grand National (Numbersixvalverde). He narrowly missed out in that season’s Scottish Grand National when his mount, Cornish Rebel, finished a short-head second to Joes Edge. In the 2008/09 season he was leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival for a fourth time.  First Winner: Siren Song, Gowran Park, July 25, 1995 Aintree Festival Wins include: John Smith’s Melling Chase (2011 Master Minded), totesport Bowl (2010 What A Friend), John Smith’s Mares’ Standard Open NHF (2009 Candy Creek), BGC Partners Liverpool Hurdle (2012, 2011, 2010 & 2009 Big Buck’s), John Smith’s Extra Cold Handicap Hurdle (2008 Forest Pennant) , Top Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Pierrot Lunaire), John Smith’s Topham Chase (2008 Gwanako), John Smith’s Grand National (2000 Papillon (His first National ride), 2005 Hedgehunter), John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase (2008 Big Buck’s, 2012 Silviniaco Conti), John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase (2003 Le Roi Miguel, 2007 Twist Magic, 2010 Tataniano), Baltika Beer Aintree Hurdle (2002 Ilnamar, 2006 Asian Maze), Matalan Anniversary 4-y-o Novices’ Hurdle (2003 Le Duc, 2011 Zarkandar), Citroen C5 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2004 Garde Champetre, 2006 Natal, 2008 Elusive Dream)  Cheltenham Festival Wins (38): Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (2010 Sanctuaire), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Big Buck’s), OLBG Mares Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013 Quevega), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree, 2009 Mikael D’Haguenet), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2008 Celestial Halo), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (1998 Alexander Banquet, 2005 Missed That, 2013 Briar Hill), Byrne Group Plate (2002 Blowing Wind), Racing Post  Arkle (2003 Azertyuiop), Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (2004 Azertyuiop, 2008 & 2009 Master Minded), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (2004 St Pirran), Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2004 Sporazene, 2006 Desert Quest, 2009 American Trilogy, 2011 Final Approach), Ryanair Chase (2005 Thisthatandtother, 2007 Taranis), William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2006 Noland, 2010 Al Ferof, 2013 Champagne Fever), JLT Specialty Chase (2006 Dun Doire), RSA Chase (2007 Denman, 2009 Cooldoine), Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (2007 & 2009 Kauto Star), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly) Number of Wins in Britain (1998/99-2011/12): 1; 1; 5; 13; 77; 62; 81; 69; 73; 69; 69; 69; 26; 55 Wins in Britain This Season: 53

THOMAS PINK LEADING JOCKEY AWARD –

STANDINGS AT THE END OF DAY TWO

 

Jockey     1st  2nd  3rd

Ruby Walsh     4  -  1

Barry Geraghty     2  -  1

Davy Russell     1  1  -

Sam Twiston-Davies    1  1  -

Davy Condon     1  -  -

Wayne Hutchinson    1  -  -

Mr Patrick Mullins    1  -  -

Brendan Powell    1  -  -

Mr Sam Waley-Cohen    1  -  -

A P McCoy     -  2  -

Bryan Cooper     -  1  1

Ms Nina Carberry    -  1  -

David Casey     -  1  -

Aidan Coleman     -  1  -

Harry Derham     -  1  -

Noel Fehily     -  1  -

Andrew Lynch     -  1  -

Jason Maguire     -  1  -

Jonathan Plouganou    -  1  -

Daryl Jacob     -  -  2

Mr Nico De Boinville    -  -  1

Richard Johnson    -  -  1

Danny Mullins     -  -  1

Denis O’Regan     -  -  1

Robbie Power     -  -  1

Tom Scudamore    -  -  1

Joe Tizzard     -  -  1

Paul Townend     -  -  1

THE IRISH INDEPENDENT LEADING TRAINER AWARD -

STANDINGS AT THE END OF DAY TWO

 

Trainer     1st  2nd  3rd

Willie Mullins IRE    5  -  2

Nicky Henderson    3  1  1

Alan King     1  1  1

Nigel Twiston-Davies    1  1  -

Colin Tizzard     1  -  1

Jim Culloty IRE     1  -  -

Gordon Elliott IRE    1  -  -

Dessie Hughes IRE    -  2  1

Mouse Morris IRE    -  2  -

Paul Nicholls     -  1  1

Emmanuel Clayeux FR    -  1  -

Henry de Bromhead IRE   -  1  -

Harry Fry     -  1  -

Anthony Honeyball    -  1  -

Donald McCain     -  1  -

Jessica Harrington IRE    -  -  1

Philip Hobbs     -  -  1

Tony Martin IRE    -  -  1

David Pipe     -  -  1

John Quinn     -  -  1

Nick Williams     -  -  1

THE FESTIVAL 2013 – WINNERS 

Champion Day, Tuesday, March 12 

2.05pm WILLIAM HILL SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE

CHAMPAGNE FEVER (IRE) (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-07 Ruby Walsh 5/1

2.40pm RACING POST ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY CHASE

SIMONSIG (Ronnie Bartlett) Nicky Henderson 7-11-07 Barry Geraghty 8/15 Fav

3.20pm JLT SPECIALITY HANDICAP CHASE

GOLDEN CHIEFTAIN (IRE) (Brocade Racing) Colin Tizzard tp8-10-02 Brendan Powell (3) 28/1

 4.00pm STAN JAMES CHAMPION HURDLE

HURRICANE FLY (IRE) (George Creighton & Rose Boyd) Willie Mullins IRE 9-11-10 Ruby Walsh 13/8 Fav

4.40pm OLBG MARES’ HURDLE (FOR THE DAVID NICHOLSON TROPHY)

QUEVEGA (FR) (Hammer & Trowel Syndicate) Willie Mullins IRE 9-11-05 Ruby Walsh 8/11 Fav

5.15pm REWARDS4RACING NOVICES’ HANDICAP CHASE

RAJDHANI EXPRESS (Robert Waley-Cohen) Nicky Henderson 6-11-07 Mr Sam Waley-Cohen (5) 16/1

NB: The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase has been postponed until Thursday.

 Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 13

 1.30pm JOHN OAKSEY NATIONAL HUNT CHASE

BACK IN FOCUS (IRE) (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 8-11-06 Mr Patrick Mullins 9/4 Fav

2.05pm NEPTUNE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT NOVICES’ HURDLE

THE NEW ONE (IRE) (Sarah Such) Nigel Twiston-Davies 5-11-07 Sam Twiston-Davies 7/2

2.40pm RSA CHASE

LORD WINDERMERE (IRE) (Dr Ronan Lambe) Jim Culloty IRE 7-11-04 Davy Russell 8/1

3.20pm SPORTINGBET QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE

SPRINTER SACRE (FR) (Caroline Mould) Nicky Henderson 7-11-10 Barry Geraghty 1/4

4.00pm CORAL CUP

MEDINAS (FR) (Mr & Mrs F D Bell) Alan King 6-11-10 Wayne Hutchinson 33/1

4.40pm FRED WINTER JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE

FLAXEN FLARE (IRE) (Pat Sloan) Gordon Elliott IRE b1 4-10-07 Davy Condon 25/1

5.15pm WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER

BRIAR HILL (IRE) (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-05 Ruby Walsh 25/1

 ANOTHER RECORD CROWD – HIGHEST LADIES DAY ATTENDANCE SINCE THE FESTIVAL WENT TO FOUR DAYS IN 2005

Today’s attendance came to 53,295, as against 53,015 in 2012 and 50,128 in 2011. The crowd level was the best seen on the second day, Ladies Day, since The Festival went to four days in 2005.

Ian Renton, Regional Director of Jockey Club Racecourses, commented: “We are delighted to have in excess of 53,000 people here at Cheltenham to witness a great day’s racing and the coronation of Sprinter Sacre as the best two-mile chaser for many years.

“We are now looking forward to two more brilliant days, St Patrick’s Thursday and Gold Cup Day on Friday.”

Gold Cup day is sold out but tickets and badges will be available on the gates for all enclosures tomorrow.

TWO INSPECTIONS TOMORROW – ONE PRECAUTIONARY

The racing action switches to the New Course at Cheltenham tomorrow which has been blanketed by frost covers since Sunday.

There will be a precautionary inspection at 8am to see whether racing on the Chase and Hurdle  tracks of the New Course can go ahead. The precautionary inspection is being held as temperatures are forecast to drop to mins5C or minus6C overnight.

There will also be an inspection of the Cross Country course at 11am to see if the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeplechase, postponed from Tuesday, can take place at 5.15pm. The race was postponed as parts of the course were frozen.

SPRINTER SACRE IS THE BEST TWO-MILE CHASER

The official handicappers reflected on today’s two main races.

John de Moraville on the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase: “Sprinter Sacre put up the best two-mile chase performance in the history of the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications, bolting up in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase by 19 lengths, earning a mark of 188. This is 2lb higher than the 186 recorded by Master Minded with his stunning victory in the same race five years ago.

“Unbeaten now in his eight chases and yet to be fully extended, who is to say the seven-year-old won’t go on to better the highest-rated horse in the history of the Classifications, Kauto Star and his rating of 190?”

Martin Greenwood on the Neptune Investments Novices’ Hurdle: “The New One confirmed himself the top staying novice hurdler with an authoritative performance and initial indications suggest he will be rated 155. The way the race was run suited his style and allowed him to use his basic speed which he has in abundance, and the jockey benefited from the knowledge he gained in the last race at Cheltenham.

“Some might say the disappointment of the race wa Pont Alexandre. Maybe heeds a stiffer test at the trip, and/or softer ground. In my opinion he will still make a cracking novice chaser next year.

VIEWS OF OFFICIAL HANDICAPPERS YESTERDAY

David Dickinson on the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle: “Not only is Champagne Fever – on a provisional mark of 158 – the highest-rated winner of the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in the last 10 years, the second home My Tent Or Yours, in running to 156, is also rated higher than all of those previous winners. Jezki, who finished third, is provisionally rated as high as the 2011 winner Al Ferof.”

John de Moraville on the Racing Post Arkle Chase: “Simonsig extended his unbeaten record over fences by landing the odds in the Racing Post Arkle, recording a preliminary rating of 165. Runner–up Baily Green (162) ran the race of his life in second place with His Excellency (third) confirming his mark in the low 150s.”

David Dickinson on the Stan James Champion Hurdle: “Hurricane Fly became the first horse since Comedy Of Errors to regain the Stan James Champion Hurdle when avenging last year’s defeat by Rock on Ruby. In doing so he has provisionally replicated the 173 rating he achieved when winning the race in 2011.”

QUEVEGA’S PLACE IN HISTORY

 The victory of Quevega in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle on Tuesday enabled her to match Golden Miller’s feat of winning the same Cheltenham Festival race five times in a row. But though Quevega has dominated her sex in the modern era, her Timeform rating of 164 makes her neither the highest-rated mare to have run at the Festival, nor the best female hurdler to have done so.

The highest-rated mare to have won at the Festival is 1972 Gold Cup heroine Glencaraig Lady, whose rating of 172 makes her the only one of her sex to have been overall champion chaser of her season. Dawn Run, the only horse of either sex to have won a Gold Cup (1986) and a Champion Hurdle (1984), achieved her rating of 173 over the smaller obstacles.

To have won the same race five times (or more) in a row is not necessarily an indication of top quality. Golden Miller’s five Gold Cups – which he won during a competitive era – puts him in the top 10 chasers of all time. Quevega is outstandingly the best mare of the moment, but she is not a champion outside her own division.

Quevega and Golden Miller are the only horses to have won five editions of a Cheltenham Festival race, but are by no means at the top of the worldwide leaderboard for multiple winners of the same race.

Pride of place goes to lowly performer Leaping Plum, who won the Grasmick Handicap at Fonner Park in Nebraska seven times in a row from 1995 to 2001, finished third in 2002 and added an eighth success in the half-mile dash as a 12-year-old in 2003. The two others to have scored seven successive victories in the same contest are top-class French chaser Al Capone in the Prix La Haye Jousselin at Auteuil from 1993 to 1999, and 19th century stayer Doctor Syntax in the Preston Gold Cup.

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Leaping Plum – Grasmick Handicap 1995-2001, 200

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Doctor Syntax – Preston Gold Cup 1815-1821

Frank Picard – Grand Steeplechase de Dieppe 1853-59, 1861

Redpath – Steeplchase de Flandres unrecorded, but between 1887 and1896

Koral – Homeby Chase 1965-66, 1968-72

Al Capone – Prix La Haye Jousselin 1993-1999

Risk Of Thunder – La Touche Cup 1995-2000, 2002

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Brown Jack – Queen Alexandra Stakes 1929-34

Beeswing – Newcastle Gold Cup 1836-39, 41-42

Gods Solution – Race Around Yorkshire Handicap 1985-89, 1991

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Doctor Syntax – Lancaster Gold Cup 1815-16, 1818-20

Doctor Syntax – Richmond Gold Cup 1818, 1820-23

Golden Miller – Cheltenham Gold Cup 1932-36

Fine Art – Prix du Gros Chêne 1942-46

Kelso – Jockey Club Gold Cup 1960-64

Manikato – William Reid Stakes 1979-83

Manhattan Boy – Peacehaven Selling Handicap Hurdle 1986-87, 1989, 1992-93

Further Flight – Jockey Club Cup 1991-95

Irish Linnet – Yaddo Handicap 1991-95

McDynamo – Breeders’ Cup Grand National 2003-07

Kauto Star – King George VI Chase 2006-2009, 2011

Quevega – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle 2009-13

 

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