All on the news from Champion Day 2017 at The Festival





Early Going News


The going for day one of The Festival 2017, Champion Day, remains:




All race distances are as shown in the racecard.


The forecast for today is for dry conditions, with some sunny spells.


Simon Claisse, Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham, said: “We had a dry night. It was a bit a little bit murky and cloudy this morning. We expect the cloud to rise during the day and hopefully we will have some sunny spells.


“The going on the chase and hurdle courses on the Old Course remains Good to Soft. If the sun comes out and the wind just blows a little bit, it may dry out and we may end up with good in places sometime through the afternoon.”




2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase

21    ANTONY (FR) (Self Certificate, Temperature)


4.10pm OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

4      COLIN’S SISTER (Vet’s Certificate, Bruised Foot)














Media Invitation


Irish Racing Focus Press Conference at Cheltenham

Nina Carberry, Henry de Bromhead, Jack Kennedy, Joseph O’Brien

Hosted by:  Horse Racing Ireland

Time:  11am

Date: Tuesday 14th March

Location: Media Centre and Press Conference area behind the weighing room at Cheltenham

Horse Racing Ireland invites you to our Irish Racing Focus Press Conference at Cheltenham Racecourse on Tuesday morning at 11am.

Richard Forristal, Irish Editor of the Racing Post will discuss the Irish challenge over the four days with our racing panel:

Nina Carberry

Henry de Bromhead

Jack Kennedy

Joseph O’Brien

Horse Racing Ireland will provide detailed profiles of all Irish trainers and jockeys competing at Cheltenham along with an Irish racing information pack. Refreshments will be served on arrival.

For more information, please contact: Barbara White, Marketing and PR Manager, Horse Racing Ireland. Tel: 00353 (0) 872511482. Email:








1.30pm Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (15 runners)

1 Bacardys (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb R. Walsh

2 Bon Papa (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb P. Townend

3 Brelade Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 7lb Jack Kennedy

4 Burbank (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb Jeremiah McGrath

5 Consul de Thaix (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb Mark Walsh

6 De Dollar Man (IRE) Evan Williams 11st 7lb Adam Wedge

7 Keeper Hill (IRE) Warren Greatrex 11st 7lb Gavin Sheehan

8 Kemboy (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb David Mullins

9 Livelovelaugh (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb Daniel Mullins

10 Messire des Obeaux (FR) Alan King 11st 7lb Daryl Jacob

11 Neon Wolf (IRE) Harry Fry 11st 7lb Noel Fehily

12 Poetic Rhythm (IRE) Fergal O’Brien 11st 7lb Paddy Brennan

13 Skipthecuddles (IRE) Graeme McPherson 11st 7lb Kielan Woods

14 Willoughby Court (IRE) Ben Pauling 11st 7lb David Bass

15 Shattered Love (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 0lb B. J. Cooper


2.10pm RSA Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (12 runners)

1 Acapella Bourgeois (FR) Ms Sandra Hughes, Ireland 11st 4lb Roger Loughran

2 Alpha des Obeaux (FR) M. F. Morris, Ireland 11st 4lb B. J. Cooper

3 Aurillac (FR) Rebecca Curtis 11st 4lb Jonathan Moore

4 Bellshill (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 4lb Ruby Walsh

5 Heron Heights (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 4lb Philip Enright

6 Marinero (IRE) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 4lb David Mullins

7 Might Bite (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Nico de Boinville

8 O O Seven (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Aidan Coleman

9 Our Kaempfer (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Charlie Longsdon 11st 4lb Sam Twiston-Davies

10 Royal Vacation (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 4lb Paddy Brennan

11 Whisper (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Davy Russell

12 Briery Belle Henry Daly 10st 11lb Tom O’Brien


2.50pm Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (26 runners)

1 Modus (Hood) Paul Nicholls 11st 12lb Stan Sheppard (5)

2 Old Guard Paul Nicholls 11st 6lb Sam Twiston-Davies

3 The Romford Pele (IRE) (Blinkers) Rebecca Curtis 11st 5lb Jonathan Moore (3)

4 Mister Miyagi (IRE) Dan Skelton 11st 5lb Harry Skelton

5 Tombstone (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 5lb B. J. Cooper

6 Supasundae Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland 11st 4lb Robbie Power

7 Taquin du Seuil (FR) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 4lb Aidan Coleman

8 Monksland (IRE) (Hood) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 3lb Donagh Meyler (3)

9 Kalondra (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Neil Mulholland 11st 3lb Noel Fehily

10 Waxies Dargle (Tongue Strap) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 2lb

11 Who Dares Wins (IRE) Alan King 11st 2lb Wayne Hutchinson

12 Thomas Hobson W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 1lb

13 River Frost Alan King 10st 13lb Tom Cannon

14 Automated Gordon Elliott, Ireland 10st 12lb Jack Kennedy

15 Peregrine Run (IRE) Peter Fahey, Ireland 10st 12lb Roger Loughran

16 Hawk High (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Tim Easterby 10st 10lb Brian Hughes

17 Allblak des Places (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 10st 10lb

18 Morello Royale (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 10st 10lb Tom O’Brien

19 Tin Soldier (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 10st 10lb Ruby Walsh

20 Hargam (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 10st 10lb Mark Walsh

21 Leoncavallo (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Ben Pauling 10st 10lb Mr Alex Ferguson (7)

22 Robinshill (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Nigel Twiston-Davies 10st 9lb William Twiston-Davies

23 Scoir Mear (IRE) Thomas Mullins, Ireland 10st 8lb David Mullins

24 Bravissimo (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 10st 6lb

25 Sure Reef (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 10st 6lb

26 Carrig Cathal Gordon Elliott, Ireland 10st 6lb

Eliminations: Kayf Blanco, Verni (FR), Duke Street (IRE), Laser Light (IRE), Ruacana, Catamaran du Seuil (FR), KK Lexion (IRE), Jaleo (GER), Allee Bleue (IRE), Mister Fizz, Sleep Easy, Solomn Grundy (IRE), Grand Partner (IRE), Ice Cold Soul (IRE), Keep In Line (GER), Solatentif (FR), Cyrname (FR), Discours d’Un Roi (FR), Crimson Ark (IRE), Bloody Mary (FR), Dream Berry (FR), Shaama Grise (FR), Valhalla (IRE), Magie du Ma (FR), Cottersrock (IRE), Hunters Call (IRE), Chesterfield (IRE), Okotoks (IRE), Sumkindofking (IRE), Eamon An Cnoic (IRE), Poetic Rhythm (IRE), Nathans Pride (IRE), Minella Awards (IRE), Max Do Brazil (FR), Woodford Island (IRE), Fortunate George (IRE), Novalis (GER), Jack The Wire (IRE), Shwaiman (IRE), Boyhood (IRE), The Wallace Line (IRE), Moores Road (IRE), Justification, Krugermac (IRE)



















3.30pm Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) (10 runners)

1 Douvan (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb R. Walsh

2 Fox Norton (FR) (Hood) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Aidan Coleman

3 Garde La Victoire (FR) Philip Hobbs 11st 10lb Richard Johnson

4 God’s Own (IRE) Tom George 11st 10lb A. P. Heskin

5 Simply Ned (IRE) Nicky Richards 11st 10lb Brian Harding

6 Sir Valentino (FR) (Tongue Strap) Tom George 11st 10lb Paddy Brennan

7 Sizing Granite (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Tom O’Brien

8 Special Tiara Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb Noel Fehily

9 Top Gamble (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Kerry Lee 11st 10lb Davy Russell

10 Traffic Fluide (FR) Gary Moore 11st 10lb Joshua Moore


4.10pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (16 runners)

1 Alelchi Inois (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 4lb

2 Amazing Comedy (FR) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Phillippe Cottin, France 11st 4lb David Cottin

3 Any Currency (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Martin Keighley 11st 4lb Aidan Coleman

4 Auvergnat (FR) Enda Bolger, Ireland 11st 4lb A. P. Heskin

5 Ballyboker Bridge (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Peter Maher, Ireland 11st 4lb A. E. Lynch

6 Bless The Wings (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 4lb Davy Russell

7 Cantlow (IRE) Enda Bolger, Ireland 11st 4lb Mark Walsh

8 Cause of Causes (USA) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 4lb Mr J. J. Codd

9 Colour Squadron (IRE) Enda Bolger, Ireland 11st 4lb Mr Derek O’Connor

10 First Lieutenant (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) M. F. Morris, Ireland 11st 4lb Mark Enright 11 Kingswell Theatre (Sheepskin C/P) Michael Scudamore 11st 4lb Tom Scudamore

12 Quantitativeeasing (IRE) Enda Bolger, Ireland 11st 4lb Niall Madden

13 Sausalito Sunrise (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Philip Hobbs 11st 4lb Richard Johnson

14 Third Intention (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 4lb Tom O’Brien

15 Usuel Smurfer (FR) Alan Fleming, Ireland 11st 4lb Denis O’Regan

16 Valadom (FR) (Tongue Strap) Richard Hobson 11st 4lb Jamie Bargary

Eliminations: Adam du Breteau (FR), Bertie Boru (IRE), Buddy Bolero (IRE), Federici, Love Rory (IRE), Peckhamecho (IRE)


4.50pm Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (22 runners)

1 Divin Bere (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Noel Fehily

2 Project Bluebook (FR) John Quinn 11st 9lb Brian Hughes

3 Fidux (FR) Alan King 11st 6lb Tom Bellamy

4 Long Call (Tongue Strap) A. J. Martin, Ireland 11st 6lb Davy Russell

5 Dolos (FR) (Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 5lb Sam Twiston-Davies

6 Flying Tiger (IRE) Nick Williams 11st 5lb Richard Johnson

7 Prospectus Gavin Cromwell, Ireland 11st 4lb R. Walsh

8 Poker Play (FR) (Tongue Strap) David Pipe 11st 4lb Tom Scudamore

9 Domperignon du Lys (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Daryl Jacob

10 Rainbow Dreamer (Visor) Alan King 11st 3lb Tom Cannon

11 Diable de Sivola (FR) Nick Williams 11st 3lb Lizzie Kelly (3)

12 Linger (IRE) John Joseph Hanlon, Ireland 11st 3lb Rachael Blackmore (3)

13 Dreamcatching (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 2lb Stan Sheppard (5)

14 Dakota Moirette (FR) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 2lb B. J. Cooper

15 Nietzsche (Hood) Brian Ellison 11st 1lb Danny Cook

16 Zig Zag (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Joseph Patrick O’Brien, Ireland 10st 12lb Jody McGarvey (3)

17 Icario (FR) (Hood) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 10st 11lb Jack Kennedy

18 Fadas (FR) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Dan Skelton 10st 10lb Harry Skelton

19 Dino Velvet (FR) Alan King 10st 10lb Wayne Hutchinson

20 Dodgybingo (IRE) (Blinkers) Noel Meade, Ireland 10st 10lb Sean Flanagan

21 Percy Street Nicky Henderson 10st 9lb Nico de Boinville

22 Candy Burg (FR) (Tongue Strap) Venetia Williams 10st 9lb Liam Treadwell

Eliminations: Volpone Jelois (FR), Silver Streak (IRE), Zalvados (FR), Dinsdale, East Indies, Royal Reserve, Masonbrook Lady (IRE), Ronnie Baird, Boethius, King Julien (IRE)


5.30pm Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) (23 runners)

1 And The New (IRE) Johnny Farrelly 11st 5lb Brendan Powell

2 Bakmaj (FR) Alan Fleming, Ireland 11st 5lb Denis O’Regan

3 Better Getalong (IRE) Nicky Richards 11st 5lb Brian Harding

4 Carter McKay W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb Ruby Walsh

5 Cause Toujours (FR) Dan Skelton 11st 5lb Harry Skelton

6 Claimantakinforgan (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 5lb Nico de Boinville

7 Copernicus (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Charlie Longsdon 11st 5lb Richard Johnson

8 Fisherman Frank Michael Blake 11st 5lb Tom Scudamore

9 Imperial Eloquence (IRE) Fergal O’Brien 11st 5lb Paddy Brennan

10 Mountain Rock (IRE) A. P. Keatley, Ireland 11st 5lb Jack Kennedy

11 Next Destination (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb

12 Perfect Harmony (IRE) Alan King 11st 5lb Ian Popham

13 Quick Grabim (IRE) R. P. McNamara, Ireland 11st 5lb Noel Fehily

14 Robin The Raven (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Kim Bailey 11st 5lb David Bass

15 Someday Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland 11st 5lb Miss Kate Harrington

16 West Coast Time (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Joseph Patrick O’Brien, Ireland 11st 5lb Davy Russell

17 Western Ryder (IRE) Warren Greatrex 11st 5lb Gavin Sheehan

18 Fayonagh (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 10st 12lb Mr J. J. Codd

19 Irish Roe (IRE) Peter Atkinson 10st 12lb Henry Brooke

20 Dans Le Vent (FR) Jamie Snowden 10st 11lb Aidan Coleman

21 Debuchet (FR) Ms Margaret Mullins, Ireland 10st 11lb Daniel Mullins

22 My Mate Mark Martin Smith 10st 11lb Tom Cannon

23 Nelson’s Touch Denis Coakley 10st 11lb Nick Scholfield









2.50pm £300,000 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1)

(8 runners) 2m 4f 166y 


1 Alary (FR) (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Tom O’Brien

2 Aso (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) Venetia Williams 11st 10lb Charlie Deutsch

3 Empire of Dirt (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Bryan Cooper

4 Josses Hill (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Nico de Boinville

5 Sub Lieutenant (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb David Mullins

6 Un de Sceaux (FR) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ruby Walsh

7 Uxizandre (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) Alan King 11st 10lb Mark Walsh

8 Vaniteux (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Noel Fehily


3.30pm £300,000 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (16 runners) 2m 7f 213y


1 Agrapart (FR) Nick Williams 11st 10lb Lizzie Kelly

2 Ballyoptic (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies

3 Clondaw Warrior (IRE) (Hood) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb

4 Cole Harden (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Warren Greatrex 11st 10lb Gavin Sheehan

5 Dedigout (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Bryan Cooper

6 Jezki (IRE) (Hood) Jessica Harrington, Ireland 11st 10lb Mark Walsh

7 Lil Rockerfeller (USA) (Sheepskin C/P) Neil King 11st 10lb Trevor Whelan

8 Nichols Canyon Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ruby Walsh

9 Shaneshill (IRE) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb

10 Snow Falcon (IRE) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 10lb Sean Flanagan

11 The New One (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb William Twiston-Davies

12 Unowhatimeanharry (Tongue Strap) Harry Fry 11st 10lb Noel Fehily

13 Un Temps Pour Tout (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) David Pipe 11st 10lb

14 West Approach Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Tom Scudamore

15 Yanworth (Sheepskin C/P) Alan King 11st 10lb Mark Walsh

16 Zarkandar (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Harry Cobden













2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase

21    ANTONY (FR) (Self Certificate, Temperature)


3.30pm Stan James Champion Hurdle

3      CH’TIBELLO (FR) (Self Certificate, Infected Foot)


4.10pm OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

4      COLIN’S SISTER (Vet’s Certificate, Bruised Foot)




































Sir A P McCoy took pity on the statue of himself which was unveiled today at Cheltenham.


“Unfortunately, it looks like me,” quipped the 20-time champion Jump jockey, after unveiling the statue which had been draped in the yellow and green colours of racehorse owner J P McManus, for whom Sir Anthony rode in the second half of his illustrious career.


Robert Waley-Cohen, chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, had opened the unveiling ceremony by speaking of Sir A P’s “astonishing record in taking 20 consecutive championships”, and reminding a large gathering of fans and media that the statue was the first depiction of a human, rather than a horse, at the home of Jump racing. It joins statues of Arkle, Golden Miller, Dawn Run and Best Mate.


Sir A P, who retired in April 2015, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to Cheltenham – I never thought at any stage that there would be a statue of me, and I feel very proud and honoured. I would like to say thank you also to Paul Ferriter, who has sculpted this bronze.”


Dublin-based Ferriter is no stranger to famous subjects, for he has also sculpted Michael Cusack for Croke Park Stadium, Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, Sevvy Ballesteros and Barack Obama, in addition to Michael O’Leary’s Timico Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition – he is currently working on Don Cossack, also for O’Leary.


Asked about the nuances of attempting to depict the most famous Jump jockey, Ferriter, who was joined by his daughter, Ava, said: “His cheekbones, his jaw, his chin and hair are very distinctive, and I just wanted to capture the essence, the spirit of the man. He’s full of angles, and I loved doing it. I wanted to capture his steely determination.”


McManus was present for the occasion, and said: “It’s a wonderful job and it’s marvellous that he’s honoured here with the great horses. It’s very special and you don’t do it lightly.”


The life-size statue of McCoy can be found in the area below the paddock, and no doubt thousands of fans will touch it and take selfies with it this week, as they fondly remember the man who was the punters’ pal. In that respect it is perfectly placed, just a few metres from Best Mate.


Sir A P McCoy unveils a statue of himself before racing on Champion Day of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire. Editorial Use only, commercial use is subject to prior permission from The Jockey Club/Cheltenham Racecourse.









Jockey Robbie Power issued a positive bulletin on Jessica Harrington’s stable star Sizing John, whom he partners in Jump racing’s Blue Riband event, the Grade One Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 17, 3.30pm) on the fourth and final day of The Festival.


The seven-year-old was the three quarters of a length winner of the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last month and the Irish rider, who has had one winner at the Festival, courtesy of Bostons Angel in the 2011 RSA Chase, is confident that the son of Midnight Legend will be suited by the step up in trip in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (3m 2f 70y).


Power said: “I’ve got no worries about his stamina over the Gold Cup trip. He is in great form, we’re really happy with him, he looks in great nick and the ground will suit him.”


The Irishman has two rides at Prestbury Park today, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 14. He partners Jessica Harrington’s Rock On The Moor in the Grade One OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (4.10pm) and Three Stars, trained by Henry de Bromhead, in the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase (2:10pm).


Commenting on the duo, Power continued: “Rock On The Moor ran well to finish second in this race last year (when a 66/1 chance). The Mares’ Hurdle this time around looks a much a stronger race but I’m still hoping she can run a big race. She will love the ground and she should run well.


“Three Stars goes in the Arkle. There’s only nine runners in that race, it’s a novice chase and there should be plenty of pace on in it so anything could happen. If you’re not in it, you can’t win.”


Power is also looking forward to riding Forge Meadow in the Grade Two Trull House Stud Mares’ Novice Hurdle (4.50pm) on St Patrick’s Thursday at the Festival.


An impressive eight-length victor of a Grade Two event at Naas last time, the five-year-old is among the leading fancies for the extended two-mile event, with Power confident of a good performance from Harrington’s charge.


He remarked: “Forge Meadow runs in the Mares’ Novice and she arrived over last night. She is in good form and I would say the drying ground will definitely suit her as well.”


Reflecting on the start of another Cheltenham Festival, Power added: “I’ve been here plenty of times now and you’re always looking forward to the Festival starting so I’m ready for it to begin.”




The Fethard trainer Mouse Morris’ runners at The Festival 2017 are led by Alpha Des Obeaux tomorrow, Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 15.


The seven-year-old son of Saddler Maker, owned by Gigginstown House Stud, was pulled up last time out at Leopardstown (December 29) on yielding ground, but Morris has high hopes of the winner at Cork and Thurles earlier in the season in the RSA Novices’ Chase.


He said this morning: “Alpha des Obeaux in the RSA would be my best chance.


“We came over last night and the track is in great condition and the weather is going to be super by the sound of it – we will just hope for a bit of luck.


“The ground should suit any horse in fairness, I would hate to be using the going as an excuse.


“I have been out on the course and it is just on the soft side of good, it may even be good. There is a bit of growth [of grass].


“Buckers Bridge (who runs in the St James’s Place Foxhunter on Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 17) is another I like, if he produces. He is coming back to form and, if it stays dry, he would have an outside chance.







Champion Day opens the best four days of racing on the planet, although the first-up feature captures the open-natured element of the Cheltenham Festival.


Having made it to the greatest Jump racing stage, each runner has shown a level of ability that makes backing winners additionally difficult. The Stan James Champion Hurdle is a case in point, with 11 evenly-matched contenders.


The Sun’s racing coverage conveys the conundrum for punters, with Templegate siding with Yanworth, and Tom Pepper picking Buveur D’Air, also the selection of the I’s Michael Cooper. Brain Power is the choice of Newsboy of the Daily Mirror, but Yanworth is ‘Well worth a punt’, according to the Daily Express, a view shared by Rob Wright of The Times and the Daily Star’s Patrick Weaver. ‘Yan’s the man’ for the Racing Post’s Richard Birch.


Melissa Jones of the Gloucestershire Echo keeps faith with the Cotswolds-trained The New One, while Marcus Armytage, writing in The Daily Telegraph, believes Nicky Henderson will win the big race for the sixth time with Brain Power, adding that stablemate Altior is the week’s first ‘banker’ in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy. Nick Robson, Value Plus of the Racing Plus, swerves the Stan James Champion Hurdle (probably wise) and names Apple’s Jade in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle as the “best bet of the opening day”.


When it comes to observation of sport The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Hayward is Gold Cup and Grand National in one, and his musings on this week’s meeting are another wonderful journey through the mind of a great writer – he calls The Festival, “an addiction, with no known cure”. The Racing Post’s Alastair Down, similarly endowed with thoughtful phrases, describes the occasion as “our great annual uplift”.


‘It’s England v Ireland part one’, according to The Times, which adds, ‘The rugby [on Saturday between the two nations] can wait’. However, the photo montage that depicts The Festival encounter suggests the Emerald Isle has the heavier pack. It shows Ireland’s Petit Mouchoir leaping alongside the trained-in-Britain Yanworth, owned and ridden by Irishmen.


On the day Sir A P McCoy was immortalised in bronze at Cheltenham Racecourse, The Times quotes reigning champion Jump jockey Richard Johnson under the headline, ‘I miss riding against A P – but it’s great for me that he retired’.


Local paper the Western Daily Press courts disaster with a headline that reads, ‘Met Office says it is a good bet that it will stay dry’. Its West Country Times pullout is dominated by a photo of Arkle and Mill House – they don’t make ‘em like that too often.


Lizzie Kelly has pushed her way into top-10 racing personalities this week by virtue of a Timico Gold Cup ride on Tea For Two, and the Daily Mail has snapped her up for daily comment – she makes a memorable entrance in a photo that shows her floating across the paper’s racing pullout in ball gown and green wellies. She is the paper’s frock star, who tips Brain Power for the Stan James Champion Hurdle, but she has also found her way into the centre of the Daily Mirror’s coverage, where she tells David Yates, “I’ve had big successes and not very much from it.” A Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup victory might make the difference.


The Guardian’s coverage includes an excellent interview with jockey Paddy Brennan, almost 12 months on from the most valuable fall in Jump history. Brennan was riding Cue Card in last year’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, when the pair fell three out, a £1m bonus that looked theirs for the taking crumpling to the turf in unison. Donald McRae’s article unfurls Brennan’s thoughts, quoting the straight talker, saying, “I wanted to die,” and “Broken bones get fixed, but the scar of the emotional side is always there.” Redemption awaits in four days’ time.


The paper’s racing correspondent, Greg Wood, interviews ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin, who is clearly feeling the pressure as the broadcaster makes its Festival debut, although the same presenter tells David Yates of the Daily Mirror, “I’ve found my vocation – I absolutely love it.”




Ruby Walsh, the most successful jockey ever at The Festival with 52 victories, is looking forward to partnering an array of well-fancied runners at this year’s four-day meeting which begins today at Cheltenham.


Walsh, stable jockey to Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins, has taken the Boodles Leading Jockey Award at The Festival 10 times in the last 13 years and his rides today are headed today by Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm) fancy Melon and OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (4.10pm) favourite Limini.


Walsh, speaking on ITV’s The Opening Show, said: “The track looks in great nick and fingers crossed, it will be a good week. At this stage of my career, I’m excited more than nervous. We have a lot of horses this year and I can’t wait to ride them.


“If you get one winner on the board it takes the pressure off. Whatever happens after that is a bonus but, if I ride a winner, that’ll do for me. All the jockeys are excited. There is a good atmosphere in the weighing room today as everyone is optimistic. Cheltenham is full-on, it is high-tempo racing every step of the way and generally the best horse wins.”


Regarding Melon, a winner of his first start for Mullins in a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown in January, Walsh commented: “He is in great form. He has taken to the surroundings really well. He lacks a bit of experience but we are hoping he can overcome that and we have to ask is he good enough? We hope he is; we’re taking in on trust from his homework. His form on the racecourse wouldn’t set the world alight. His first race was run at a decent tempo. He clipped the top bar at the final hurdle that day but I was impressed with the way he went to the line and how long it took me to pull him up. Willie kept talking about Melon and the way he was talking as well as the fact I’d seen him do things in the autumn and last spring which always had him in my mind so that’s what swung me.”


Melon bids to emulate Flowing who in 1992, was the last horse to win the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle having had just one start over hurdles. However, Walsh believes the son of Medicean is capable of landing the spoils, remarking: “You’d love to have more runs but he has had a lot of schooling done. It’s been done before and it will be done again, I hope Melon is the first horse to do that since 1992.”


Walsh also had a difficult choice to make in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, in which Mullins saddles the first and second favourites, Limini and the 2016 winner (Walsh on board) Vroum Vroum Mag, with Walsh partnering the former. Reflecting on the decision, the Irish rider said: “I don’t know why I’ve sided with Limini ever since I made the decision. I suppose I went for form, her last run was the best one of her career.


“Her form is red-hot and I liked the way she picked up last time, whereas Vroum Vroum Mag’s last run was probably one of her worst runs. I could be wrong. The obvious choice was Vroum Vroum Mag and the brave choice was Limini. I think she is improving at six and Vroum Vroum Mag might have stagnated. Limini is in great form but these are tough decisions and if I can walk out of here on Friday, having got most of those big decisions right, I’d be doing well.”


Walsh also attempts to become the most successful jockey of all time in the Stan James Champion Hurdle (3.30pm). He currently has four wins to his name in the two-mile hurdling showpiece and rides Footpad in this year’s renewal of the hurdling championship.


He said: “Footpad has to improve in the Champion Hurdle but you have to be in it to win it. People say it’s a weak Champion Hurdle, but I don’t agree. I think it’s a good race. There are a lot of improving horses in the race this year.”




Seven Barrows maestro Nicky Henderson launches a three-pronged attack on today’s Stan James Champion Hurdle (3.30pm), as he attempts to become the championship race’s most successful trainer.


Boasting five Champion Hurdle victories to his name (the same as Peter Easterby) among his record total of 55 winners at The Festival, Henderson saddles Buveur D’Air, Brain Power and My Tent Or Yours in this year’s renewal of the two-mile hurdling showpiece.


Buveur D’Air (Noel Fehily), third in the 2016 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, originally started the season with two victories over fences but reverted back to hurdles with an easy success in the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown in February.


Henderson would prefer softer ground for the J P McManus-owned gelding but still thinks his charge has a good chance, commenting: “It’s not a weak Champion Hurdle but a very open one. I don’t think the ground is necessarily too dry for Buveur D’Air. I was pleasantly surprised for him that the ground, when I walked round on Sunday morning, was quite slow in places.


“In very soft ground, he has an advantage. He can handle that ground very well and that gives him an edge. On this sort of ground, he can handle it but he does lose that edge you have as a lot of horses can’t go in that softer ground. Buveur D’Air is a very solid horse – there are no chinks in him.”


Stablemate Brain Power (Danny Mullins), another six-year-old, has improved with every start this season and has taken     the spoils in two valuable handicap hurdles at Sandown and Ascot in December.


The Lambourn handler has been impressed with the son of Kalanisi’s improvement this year and said: “Brain Power has been a little bit of a revelation. He was a very immature, naïve horse last season. His jumping wasn’t very clever and he was getting beaten because of it – it was disappointing.


“This year has been a different ball game. His work has been absolutely excellent. We were going chasing but he didn’t know enough about the game to be honest with you to go down that route. He has been working so well.”


Henderson’s trio are completed by My Tent Or Yours (Aidan Coleman). The J P McManus-owned gelding was second in the Grade One event in 2014 and 2016 with Henderson expecting another good performance from the 10-year-old.


He said: “My Tent Or Yours has been there and done it. He was second in two Champion Hurdles and his form is good enough. He used to pull very hard but he has learnt to settle much better this year.”








Labaik was a surprise winner of the opening race of The Festival 2017, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, at 25/1.


The Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old has refused to race four times in the past 12 months, and nearly did so on his previous start at Naas in February, trailing the field for the entire race.


But today Labaik swept through to beat 3/1 joint-favourite Melon into second place by two and a quarter lengths, with River Wylde a further eight lengths back in third.


He was ridden by 17-year-old Jack Kennedy, for whom it was a first Festival winner.


A delighted Elliott said: “Jack gave him a great ride. Keith Donoghue was supposed to ride this horse and has done a lot of work with him, so a lot of thanks go to him. He’s hunted him a lot. This should have been Keith’s day.


“We never made a secret about how good we thought the horse was. But I was wanting to go to Naas on Sunday, rather than here and face the embarrassment of not jumping off! I’m glad the owners were keen enough to come here.


“He’s got an engine. We haven’t a horse to work with him in the yard; he’s a machine of a horse. Where we will go from here I don’t know. If he never jumps off again, it doesn’t matter!”


Asked why he thinks Labaik deigned to start today, Elliott replied: “You can use a long whip here [to crack behind the horses at the start] whereas you can’t in Ireland, and I think he heard the crack of it and just went.”


1.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

1 LABAIK (A J O’Ryan) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-07 Jack Kennedy 25/1

2 Melon (Mrs J Donnelly) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-07 Ruby Walsh 3/1 Jt Fav

3 River Wylde (Grech & Parkin) Nicky Henderson 6-11-07 Nico de Boinville 8/1


3/1 Jt Fav Ballyandy (4th)


Distances: 2¼, 8

Time: 4m 06.86s

Tote Win: £36.20 Places: £7.70; £1.80; £2.10 Exacta: £226.30


Gordon Elliott – 9th winner at The Festival

Jack Kennedy – 1st winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings after 1 race

Great Britain 0

Ireland 1





The Gordon Elliott-trained Labaik caused a 25/1 shock in the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival, the Grade One Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and provided young Irish rider Jack Kennedy with his first success at the Festival.


The six-year-old grey was settled towards the rear of the field by Kennedy early on in the two-mile contest but made stealthy progress approaching the home turn to tackle the leaders.


The son of Montmartre took the lead approaching the final flight and kept on gamely up the hill to score by a decisive two and a quarter-lengths. 3/1 joint-favourite Melon, trained by Willie Mullins, was second, with Nicky Henderson’s River Wylde (8/1) a further eight lengths back in third.


17-year-old Kennedy has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the saddle and gained his first Grade One success aboard Outlander in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. However, the jockey was elated to register his first victory at the Festival, commenting: “It is absolutely amazing. Words cannot describe what it is like [first Cheltenham winner]. There are too many people to thank. I have dreamt about this day for as long as I can remember. Today was the main day and it was great that it came right today.”


A quirky horse, Labaik has refused to race in four races in the last 12 months. However, Kennedy was always happy with the imposing grey in today’s contest. He continued: “I would just like to thank the owners for keeping faith in me when Labaik didn’t jump off at Naas the last day, and for keeping faith in the horse.
“It all went brilliant. He was grand, just walking out onto the track he half had a think about things but I gave him a kick in the belly and everything was straightforward from there.


“He jumped and travelled great and it couldn’t have gone any better. I was probably a little bit far back but we went a good gallop. Labaik travelled away, although he jumped a little bit careful.


“I had one or two behind me early on but he jumped brilliant throughout. He travelled into the race well and I got a clear run. He got to the last and pricked his ears but to be fair he dug deep up the hill – he is a fair horse.


“I can’t believe it – it’s just a dream come true. I’ll be going home a very happy lad now at the end of the week.”




Trainer Nicky Henderson may have felt a sense of sinking as River Wylde threatened then folded in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but being placed brought its own comfort.


River Wylde, an 8/1 shot who eventually finished third, loomed like a winner on the home turn, but from that point he could not go the pace of runner-up Melon, nor the fast-finishing Labaik, who swooped to win by two and a quarter lengths and eight lengths. Melon, who was sent off the 3/1 joint-favourite with fourth-placed Ballyandy, was a first arrow at the meeting for Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh.


Henderson, who won the race 12 months ago with Altior, said in the winners’ enclosure: “He’s run a super race, and if you think of all the horses we’ve had that have stood here [in the spot for placed horses] after the Supreme down the years, it’s not such a bad place to be. They include Buveur D’Air last year, Sprinter Sacre a few years before that – it’s quite a good place to launch your career.


“I know Altior won it last year, but we’ve had a lot of good placed horses in the race. I don’t mind – anything that stands here is okay.”


Of River Wylde he said: “He doesn’t have to go chasing next season, but we’ll see.”




Ruby Walsh, jockey of second-placed 3/1 joint favourite Melon, said: “I’d say it was dead.”


Nico de Boinville, on board the third, River Wylde, said: “It is on the slow side of good – lovely ground.”


Sam Twiston-Davies, partner of fourth home Ballyandy, said: “It is good to soft, and a bit dead.”


Noel Fehily, rider of Beyond Conceit, said: “Good to soft and dead.”


Paul Townend, jockey of Bunk Off Early, said: “On the slow side of good.”


Davy Russell, rider of Capital Force, said: “Good to soft.”


David Mullins, on board Cilaos Emery, said: “Good to soft and a bit tacky.”


Wayne Hutchinson, rider of Elgin, said: “Good to soft.”


Mr Alex Ferguson, on board High Bridge, said: “Good and a bit tacky.”


Rachael Blackmore, partner of Magna Cartor, said: “It is lovely ground.”


Aidan Coleman, rider of Pingshou, said: “It is only just good.”




Stan James Champion Hurdle (3.30pm) favourite Yanworth has proved popular in the betting markets ahead of the first day, Champion Day of The Festival 2017.


Backed into 9/4 from 11/4 this morning with the race’s sponsors, Alan King’s seven-year-old gelding is unbeaten in three starts this term, which included the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at KemptonPark on Boxing Day.


In the opening race of the Festival, Willie Mullins’ Melon has shortened into around 11/4 from 3/1 with Betfred. He now heads favouritism for the two-mile event and bids to become the first horse since Flowing in 1992, to win the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle having had just one Jump start.


Whilst the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase (2.10pm) looks a formality for 2/7 favourite Altior, Royal Caviar, trained by Willie Mullins has attracted solid each-way support in the Grade One event. He is now 10/1 from 14/1 with Ladbrokes.


Tom George’s Singlefarmpayment is a solid favourite for the ultra-competitive Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50pm). A winner at Prestbury Park in December, the seven-year-old gelding is 5/1 from 8/1 with Coral for the three mile and one furlong race.


Limini is a strong favourite for the Grade One OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (4.10pm). An impressive winner at Punchestown last time out, Willie Mullins’ mare is 11/8 from 13/8 with Sky Bet.


In the final race of the day, the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, Dan Skelton’s Two Taffs is the general 9/1 second-favourite, after being backed down from 12/1 this morning with Stan James.


1.30pm – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – 9/4 from 11/4 – Melon (Betfred)


2.10pm – Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase – 14/1 from 10/1 – Royal Caviar (Ladbrokes)


2.50pm – Ultima Handicap Chase – 5/1 from 8/1 – Singlefarmpayment (Coral)


3.30pm – Stan James Champion Hurdle – 9/4 from 11/4 – Yanworth (Stan James)


4.10pm – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle – 11/8 from 13/8 – Limini (Sky Bet)


5.30 – Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase – 9/1 from 12/1 – Two Taffs (Stan James)




The Retraining of Racehorses parade annually gives racegoers at The Festival a special treat before racing on the first day, the aptly named Champions Day.


Today 12 former racehorses returned to Cheltenham to parade and a packed crowd on the steppings and balconies witnessed their heroes go round. The atmosphere was as enthusiastic as the greetings for the equine warriors in their pomp, with clapping and cheering as each was introduced to the crowd by Martin Kelly and Luke Harvey.


The former racehorses included Long Run, winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2012, who looked as if he were warming up for another tilt at the Cheltenham birch with a light sheen showing beneath his saddle cloth and across his shoulder as the adrenaline flowed. He was ridden this year by Becky Young.


Big Buck’s, the four-time winner of the Grade One Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle and partnered today by Lucy Tucker, is enjoying his hunting with the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt and looked a picture in the ring. Up on his toes with ears pricked, he too appeared ready to run.


Denman, the 2008 Gold Cup hero, led up this year by Charlotte Alexander, has enjoyed hunting and team chasing since his retirement in 2011. He is now about enter another phase of his well-earned retirement as he heads back to his owner Paul Barber’s farm. He received a specially-loud round of applause.


Well-known Irish raider Forpaddytheplasterer showed great presence and elegance as he was ridden round side saddle by Joanne Quirke, who has looked after him since his retirement. Quirke said: “He has enjoyed his hunting and, for the last two years, I have showed him in side saddle classes.”


Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) is British Horseracing’s official charity for helping horses who have retired from racing.


The charity raises funds from within the racing industry for the retraining and rehoming of former racehorses, provides a safety net for vulnerable former racehorses, promotes the adaptability and versatility of racehorses to other equestrian activities, runs and funds a well established programme of competitions and educational events across the country.


The RoR also provides information for owners and trainers in both the racing and equine Industries to assist with the rehoming and retraining of their former racehorses. The ultimate goal is to maintain a balance between the number of horses leaving racing and the number of enthusiastic, and suitable, new homes.








Altior’s triumph in the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase takes trainer Nicky Henderson’s tally of Festival wins to 56. The 1/4 favourite jumped and galloped strongly to pass the post six lengths ahead of second-placed Cloudy Dream.


It was Henderson’s sixth win in the Racing Post Arkle, and takes him ahead of Tom Dreaper to become the most successful trainer in the race’s history.


“That was the one that we had to win – it’s good to get that over with,” he said. “Just to have one [winner] on the first day takes an awful lot of pressure off us all, to be honest with you.


“I feel sorry for Kim Bailey’s horse [Charbel, who fell at the second-last fence] and hope he’s ok – he was running a great race and we were upsides him at the time. We’ve met before – he led us over the last at Sandown and Altior did what he did then [Altior beat Charbel by six lengths in the Racing Post Henry VIII Novices’ Chase], but Charbel was running a mighty race today. But Altior’s done nothing wrong himself.


“Altior is lovely, a hugely talented horse. He has been pretty perfect all year. Again his jumping there was accurate. He has got such scope and, at times, it was getting exuberant. You have to be careful around here doing that. He was great.


“His life is still in front of him – it is only his first season over fences and hopefully Douvan will do his job [and win the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase tomorrow] and then we can all meet up next year. There is so much to look forward to.


“I don’t know whether Altior will run again this season – there’s no reason why he shouldn’t, but maybe the Sandown race. He wouldn’t go to Aintree – it’s two and half miles and I don’t think he needs that.”


Altior has maintained his 100% success rate at The Festival, having won the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the meeting last year.




Altior won his 10th race in succession and maintained his unbeaten record over hurdles and fences –and at The Festival – when running out a ready winner of the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy.


A key danger departed at the second-last when pace-setting Charbel, who had just been joined by Altior, crumpled to the floor, but the winner put his head down and pulled clear, beating Cloudy Dream and Ordinary World by six lengths and nine lengths. The winner started as the 1/4 favourite.


Winning jockey Nico De Boinville was sidelined with a broken arm when Altior won his chasing debut earlier this season under Noel Fehily, who retained the ride for two subsequent successes on the horse. De Boinville was back for the race that counts, however, and said: “You try to keep as cool as you can, but you are aware of the expectation for a wonderful horse. We went a really good gallop, although I felt it rode a bit slower on the chase track.


“It took me a while to get him into gear, but once he did he took off up the hill. The way they lined up the Irish planned to go a good gallop, and we know Charbel runs well here. I had to be aware of him, but he jumped slightly left and right [in front] and I wasn’t too sure where to go.


“My horse travels and jumps and wherever you put him he’s a great horse to ride. Early doors Charbel jumped right, but down the hill he jumped left, and I thought I’ll switch to the outside. Once Altior gets into gear he’s hard to stop, it’s just getting him into gear – once he’s gone through the gears he take off.”


Reflecting on his time out of the saddle while injured, De Boinville said: “It was very hard, but you want to be getting back on winning horses, so you want to see them win, even though sitting on the sofa at home with your arm in bits is not ideal.”




Trainer Malcolm Jefferson was delighted with 12/1 shot Cloudy Dream, who finished an excellent second to Nicky Henderson’s Altior (1/4 favourite) in the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase, the second race on day one, Champion Day, of the Cheltenham Festival 2017.


Settled in midfield early on in the two-mile contest by jockey Brian Hughes, Cloudy Dream travelled strongly into contention approaching the home turn and stuck on gamely in the closing stages to finish sixlengths behind Altior, who found plenty for pressure in the home straight to win. Ordinary World (25/1), trained by Henry de Bromhead, was a further nine lengths back in third.


A delighted Jefferson suggested the ground was an important factor today, commenting: “He is a better horse in the spring with better ground. He won his first two novice chases and then he went a little bit lighter on us. Once January came, he has just turned and really thrived.


“Altior’s a real good two-miler, I think my lad will get two and a half miles quite easily, maybe even three miles one day. I didn’t think we would win but I thought he would run a big race and he has done that.”


As for future plans, Jefferson suggested the Grade One Merseyrail Manifesto Novices’ Chase over two miles and four furlongs at Aintree’s Randox Health Grand National Festival will be next on the gelding’s agenda, adding: “He will either go to Aintree or Ayr but Trevor [Hemmings, owner] will want to go to Aintree so that is where we’ll go.”


Brian Hughes was similarly delighted with the seven-year-old son of Cloudings performance and said: “The winner is obviously a very good horse but our lad has stepped up massively and we thought he would on the better ground.


“Malcolm had him in good form and thought he was in the form of his life coming into this race.


“The winner’s a very good horse and I know Charbel fell at the second last but I would have got by him anyway and my lad galloped to the line so I couldn’t ask for any more.


“He won his first two starts race over fences and then he ran twice on deep ground and I knew he wasn’t 100% in himself the last time he ran at Doncaster so today I’ve got no complaints – he’s run well.”




Ordinary World showed that his progressive form since graduating to fences, after two years hurdling, was no fluke when coming home third at 25/1 in the Grade One Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase today, Champion Day, at The Festival.


Having been placed second in his last two outings over fences at graded level, following a win in a beginners chase, it wasn’t unexpected that the son of Milan should occupy a place in the enclosure on form but which one was the question.


Trainer Henry de Bromhead was nonetheless delighted with his charge’s third-place and said: “Any time you get in here (The Festival winner’s enclosure) you have to be pleased.  I am delighted with the race; he ran really well.”


2.10pm Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

1 ALTIOR (Patricia Pugh) Nicky Henderson 7-11-04 Nico de Boinville 1/4 Fav

2 Cloudy Dream (Trevor Hemnmings) 7-11-04 Brian Hughes 12/1

3 Ordinary World (Chris Jones) 7-11-04 Davy Russell 25/1


Distances: 6, 9

Time: 4m 12.46s

Tote Win: £1.20  Places: £1.02; £2.80; £5.70 Exacta: £6.80


Nicky Henderson – 56th winner at The Festival  

Nico de Boinville – 5th winner at The Festival  


BetBright Cup – standings after 2 races

Great Britain 1

Ireland 1















The David Pipe-trained Un Temps Pour Tout (9/1) became just the third horse to win the Ultima Handicap Chase, the third race on day one, Champion Day, of the Cheltenham Festival, on two occasions, after recording back-to-back successes in the contest with a superb performance under Tom Scudamore.


Successful in the race last year, the eight-year-old had to carry top-weight in this year’s renewal of the three miles and one furlong event. The son of Robin Des Champs kept on gamely in the closing stages to fend off the sustained challenge of Tom George’s Singlefarmpayment, the well-backed 5/1 favourite by a short-head.


Gordon Elliott’s Noble Endeavour (15/2) was three and a half-lengths behind in third, with a further seven lengths back to 33/1 shot Buywise.


Nicholashayne trainer Pipe, recording his 15th winner at the Festival, said: “It’s so good to get a winner. It’s hard enough to get a runner here so it’s great.


“To do it under top-weight is a great performance from the horse off 7lb higher than last year. I think this race looked ultra-competitive but fair play to horse and jockey, they were superb.


“It was very similar to last year. He got a good start and, whilst they came and challenged and I thought that he might be just be getting tired two out, he found a lot under pressure.


“This is the Olympics of racing each year and you are judged on how you perform here, maybe too much but that is how it is.


“Tom gave him a great ride. I thought he was getting tired two fences out but he kept on well for pressure. He is not an overly big horse but he is neat and economical over fences and comes up when Tom asks him.


“He is a very good horse on a going day. He is not always like that but you could tell today from an early stage, he was going to run a big race.


“I thought he was in good form at home and he was very gutsy here. He has won at two Cheltenham Festivals and a French Champion Hurdle so it is great.”


Pipe, Scudamore and owners Professor Caroline Tisdall and Bryan Drew team up again in the next race on the card, the Grade One Stan James Champion Hurdle, with 2015 Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner Moon Racer.




Un Temps Pour Tout, owned by Professor Caroline Tisdall and Bryan Drew, won back-to-back runnings of the Ultima Handicap Chase, but needed every inch of Cheltenham’s run-in to fend off Singlefarmpayment.


The pair were as one heading for the line, where the Tom Scudamore-ridden 9/1 shot Un Temps Pour Tout prevailed by a short-head from the 5/1 favourite. Noble Endeavour and Buywise took the minor placings.


Scudamore, having just ridden his 10th Festival success, heaped praise on winning trainer David Pipe, ably supported by his parents Martin and Carol. He said: “The Pipes are geniuses. Nothing more needs to be said. The team do all the hard work. David does the training and leaves the riding up to me.


“Sometimes you come here and plans get changed, but David said all the  way through keep it simple. He’s a very good horse, but he can run a funny race – he made no show in the Hennessy, ran an odd race in the Long Walk, but today he was up and travelling and attacking his fences. I’d like to ask him what he’s thnking.


“Un Temps Pour Tout is a different horse in the spring and loves the hill. I remember A P [McCoy] saying to me after getting beat around here that he doesn’t stay. I agreed with him, stupidly, but he obviously does stay.


“I knew halfway up the run in that I was going to get there. He is so tough and jumps brilliantly. I rode the exact same race as I did last year and everything has worked out.


“I’d love to ride him in a four-miler one day, be it the National or some other race. He’s very versatile, and could go back to France this year, although I leave it all to David.


“Every Festival winner gets better – it is brilliant. I am so pleased for everyone.”




Singlefarmpayment finished second by a short-head to Ultima Handicap Chase winner Un Temps Pour Tout, victorious for a second year, in a photo-finish.


Ridden by Adrian Heskin and trained by Tom George, the Milan seven-year-old won a novices’ chase at Cheltenham in December and was sent off the 5/1 favourite here.


“I’m thrilled with him – it’s just gone the wrong way on the line,” said George, who trains in Gloucestershire. “A very good horse beat him and he’s run a very good race. He looked like he was getting back up on Un Temps Pour Tout.


“He jumped very well and the only thing that didn’t go to plan was the result at the end of it, but the horse doesn’t know that.”


Heskin added: “He’s run a wonderful race.”



15/2 chance Noble Endeavour, who finished third in the Ultima Handicap Chase today over three miles and one furlong, may well go for the Irish National over three miles and five furlongs next.


Gordon Elliott, the eight-year-old’s trainer said after the race: “He jumped great and travelled well and did everything right with a lot of weight – I am delighted. All being well he will go for the Irish National (Fairyhouse, April 17) next.”


Fourth home was 33/1 Buywise whose trainer, Evan Williams, commented: “The horse has run well.


“I thought we had lost him as his winter form hasn’t been good. He ran well in the BetVictor Gold Cup again but since then, when I put the visor on him, it has been absolutely dreadful.


“But spring has come and he runs well around here so I am absolutely delighted.


“I imagine we might rock up to Aintree, he has run well round there, or maybe come back here in April. He loves the place so maybe the Grade Two race in April will be the target as he has won it before.”


This was Buywise’s third try at The Festival and he has finished fifth, fourth and fourth.


2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

1 UN TEMPS POUR TOUT (Professor Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew) David Pipe 8-11-12 Tom Scudamore 9/1

2 Singlefarmpayment (N T Griffith & H M Haddock) Tom George 7-10-13 Adrian Heskin 5/1 Fav

3 Noble Endeavour (Chris Jones) Gordon Elliott IRE 8-11-11 Davy Russell 15/2

4 Buywise (Hywell Jones) Evan Williams 10-11-02 Adam Wedge 33/1


Distances: sh, 3½, 7

Time: 5m 59.77s

Tote Win: £12.20 Places: £3.10; £2.00; £2.20; £9.00


David Pipe – 15th winner at The Festival  

Tom Scudamore – 10th winner at The Festival  


BetBright Cup – standings after 3 races

Great Britain 2

Ireland 1









Nicky Henderson’s Festival total rose to 57 after 5/1 chance Buveur D’Air gave him a sixth Stan James Champion Hurdle success, making him the winning-most trainer ever in the hurdling championship.


Buveur D’Air, a six-year-old French-bred by Crillon, held off his stable mate My Tent Or Yours by four and a half lengths under Noel Fehily.


Both the first and second home are owned by J P McManus, who was also winning his sixth Stan James Champion Hurdle. It was McManus’ 50th Festival triumph in all.


Henderson said: “The horse Buveur D’Air beat very easily first time out at Haydock over fences was second to Altior in the Arkle [Cloudy Dream] and I thought ‘blimey, that’s good chasing form.’ I wondered had I got it wrong [in sending him back over hurdles].


“We felt it was the right thing to do and it has worked on the day. Noel has given him a beautiful ride. Well done him.


“You feel sorry for My Tent Or Yours. It’s wonderful – we have won the Champion Hurdle – but that is now three Champion Hurdles he has been second in as well as a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. What else can you say about a horse who has done that again and again? He has been sensational. But the youngster has got home, and that is great.


“I thought Brain Power [Henderson’s third runner in the race] was going very well two out but he did not get home. I feel sorry for Michael Buckley (owner).”


McManus said: “Nicky insisted Buveur D’Air went back to hurdling – in the end I let him have his way. It was great to see My Tent Or Yours finishing second for a fourth time here. I don’t know which one Barry Geraghty [who misses The Festival through injury] would have chosen, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been Buveur D’Air.”


Fehily was winning his second Stan James Champion Hurdle, having taken the race in 2012 on the Paul Nicholls-trained Rock On Ruby.


He said: “It doesn’t matter to me whether it was a vintage Champion Hurdle or not. Buveur D’Air is a class animal and I won a Grade One at Aintree on him last year. He has been a very good horse to me and I love him to bits.


“I thought early on that maybe he was doing a little bit too much. I thought I had taken too long to get him switched off, but once I got to the top of the hill I was very happy. He travelled great down the hill. That was the one part of the race I was worried about – whether or not he would have the pace.


“It is a privilege to ride in these colours and I am delighted to ride a winner for him [J P McManus].


“You certainly appreciate winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle more the second time round.”




Nicky Henderson became the most successful trainer of all time in the Stan James Champion Hurdle with six victories (See You Then 1985-1987, Punjabi 2009 and Binocular 2010) following the success of the J P McManus-owned Buveur D’Air in the Grade One two-mile showpiece, the highlight of day one, Champion Day, at the Cheltenham Festival. Henderson has now saddled 57 winners at the Festival, following on from Altior’s success in the Grade One Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase earlier in the day.


Buveur D’Air (5/1), ridden by Noel Fehily, was always prominent and cruised into contention in the home straight, travelling ominously well. The six-year-old son of Crillon winged the final flight and stayed on dourly up the hill to also give owner McManus his sixth victory in the race and 50th success at the Festival. The winner’s stable-companion My Tent Or Yours (16/1) also owned by McManus, was four and a half-lengths behind in second and was finishing in the runner-up position in the Grade One event for the third time. Henry de Bromhead’s Petit Mouchoir was a further three lengths back in third.


Speaking at a press conference after the race, Henderson, who also ran Brain Power (9th) in the contest, said: “Watching three horses is never easy but they were all running well at the top of the hill. Noel was always going very sweetly and I thought Buveur D’Air was great. I walked the course on Sunday and I thought the ground was juicy enough for him.”


The winner started this season over fences and was successful in two novice chase contests at Haydock and Wetherby. However, Henderson was keen to revert back to timber following those runs with a view to having a tilt at the Stan James Champion Hurdle. Explaining the decision, the Seven Barrows maestro said: “He was very good at chasing and on his debut over fences, he beat the horse [Cloudy Dream], who was second to Altior in the Arkle earlier on today so there was nothing wrong with his novice chase form. Admittedly, he wasn’t very impressive on his second chase start at Warwick but I knew we were going down the wrong road and he needed to revert back to hurdles as we had unfinished business.


“I lost his novice chase season by going back hurdling and if I had got that wrong, it would have looked a very silly decision but the great thing about J P McManus and his team is they are a great team. There is a pretty strong board behind the company with J P as the chairman and they are just great to train for. When I said hurdling was what I wanted to do, they were totally behind it and that was great and ever since then, that has been the plan. It was soft enough for him today but it couldn’t have been that soft as My Tent Or Yours also handled it.”


When asked where next for the winner, Henderson suggested the gelding would remain over hurdles and potentially head for the Randox Health Grand National meeting in April. He commented: “It would be difficult not to stay over hurdles with him now. He is a novice chaser for the rest of this season so he could go to Aintree if he wanted to go chasing but I don’t think a champion hurdler has ever done that. We like doing extraordinary things but I think that would be a bit bizarre but I don’t really know where we go with him now. That ground today was as good as he will ever want it but he also stays so a race over two and a half-miles with cut in the ground would be great. The two and a half-mile race at Aintree [Betway Aintree Hurdle] could suit him over that trip.”


Reflecting on his other two runners in the race, Henderson remarked: “My Tent Or Yours, you have to feel sorry for him but he has run at his fourth Festival, second in three Champion Hurdle’s. It’s been a remarkable story and he has just been a legend and he did so deserve to win one so you have to sympathise with him. I also thought Brain Power was going well two out as well but didn’t last home.”


Also reflecting on Altior’s six length success in the Arkle, Henderson said: “Some will say he wasn’t quite as flashy as predicted today. He took his time to get there today, they went a good gallop and he did look a little bit flat but by the time he got to the finishing line he was going away.”

50 up for J P McManus


J P McManus, the leading owner at The Festival, made it 50 winners at the meeting when Buveur D’Air won the hurdling crown, the 2017 Stan James Champion Hurdle, from My Tent Or Yours, a one-two for the owner and trainer Nicky Henderson.


His nearest pursuer in winners at The Festival, Gigginstown House Stud, has had 16 successes, which demonstrates McManus’ long-term commitment to Jump racing.


His first winner at The Festival was Mister Donovan in the 1982 equivalent of the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.


Buveur D’Air was the sixth Stan James Champion Hurdle winner for McManus, following on Istabraq (1998, 199 and 2000), Binocular (2010) and Jezki (2014).


McManus, interviewed on ITV, commented: “Buveur D’Air was reading the script and I also had an eye on My Tent Or Yours in behind. I was in a pretty comfortable position jumping the second last.


“In fairness to poor old Yanworth (the 2/1 favourite trained by Alan King), he got very warm before the race and maybe ran his race beforehand.


“Nicky said not to forget about My Tent Or Yours – Nicky said he would not disgrace himself.


“Full marks to Nicky and his team down there, and all the other trainers. Looking around parade ring there, the horses are a credit to them all. They are in marvellous condition and ready to run for their lives.


“I never thought about reaching 50 winners. It is just a number. Fifty has gone now and we are looking for 51!


“I have many favourites [of the 50]. The first one was great as I had a couple of disappointments before that. Jack Of Trumps in ‘78 was odds-on for the four miler and fell or unseated on the final circuit. The following year, we had a short-priced one Deep Gale and the same happened to him – he fell five out.


“In ’82, Mister Donovan won the Neptune and I always said had he not won I would not have had the others. We then had a quiet time, just having a few runners through the 80s.


“In 1991 Danny Connors won with Jonjo [O’Neill], then we had a double in ‘94, before the years with Istabraq winning the Champion Hurdle. They were marvellous years. The first year was very sentimental because we had lost John Durkan who found Istabraq for us. It was filled with emotion that day.


“Then we had some marvellous times with A P. Binocular in 2010, Synchronised in 2012 and Uxizandre two years ago. Every winner you have at Cheltenham is a magic moment.”




Nicky Henderson and owner J P McManus dominated the St James Champion Hurdle with responsibility for the first and second, but in terms of long-term potential third-placed Petit Mouchoir lost little in defeat.


The grey six-year-old, who is part of the Gigginstown House Stud ranks, won an Irish point-to-point over three miles when making his racing debut, so to be squaring up to the best two-milers this season has to be regarded as a bonus. He arrived as winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle, and ran pretty much to that form by again holding off Footpad, who finished fourth, a further three lengths adrift.


Buveur D’Air scored by four and a half lengths from My Tent Or Yours, with 6/1 shot Petit Mouchoir a further three lengths back in third.


Trainer Henry De Bromhead said of Petit Mouchoir: “I’m delighted with him – he’s run a fine race, and I’d say he’s run up to his Irish Champion mark – it certainly looks like that.


“We tried to put the others under a bit of pressure out in front – he might run again this season, I would think so, but it’s up to the lads [Michael and Eddie O’Leary]. We’ll get this season out the way before making plans [about chasing in the future].”



Willie Mullins, who had two runners in the Stan James Champion Hurdle today, was delighted with the run of his charge, Footpad, after he was confirmed fourth following a photo-finish, a short-head in front of The New One.


Mullins said:“ I was very happy with Footpad – to get in the first four was a good result.” Ruby Walsh, jockey of the five year old Creachadoir gelding, added: “He ran a blinder. He is only a five year old and will keep improving.”


Mullins also commented on his other runner Wicklow Brave, who finished eighth: “Wicklow just didn’t like the start but ran a great race, his first run back after so long. He clearly has ability and we will get it out of him.”


Nigel Twiston–Davies, trainer of The New One, said: “It was brilliant, it was his sixth run here and he has never let us down. I think we may go further in distance and Aintree would be our first thought.”


3.30pm Stan James Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) – Result


1 BUVEUR D’AIR (J P McManus) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Noel Fehily 5/1

2 My Tent Or Yours (J P McManus) (Hood) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Aidan Coleman 16/1

3 Petit Mouchoir (Gigginstown House Stud) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb Bryan Cooper 6/1

4 Footpad (Simon Munir/Issac Souede) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ruby Walsh 14/1

5 The New One (S Such & C Paletta) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies 10/1

6 Sceau Royal (Simon Munir/Issac Soude) Alan King 11st 10lb Daryl Jacob 25/1

7 Yanworth (J P McManus) (Sheepskin C/P) Alan King 11st 10lb Mark Walsh 2/1 Fav

8 Wicklow Brave (Wicklow Bloodstock Ltd) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Paul Townend 22/1

9 Brain Power (IRE) (Michael Buckley) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb David Mullins 13/2

10 Cyrus Darius (Mr & Mrs G Calder & P M Warren) Malcolm Jefferson 11st 10lb Brian Hughes 50/1

PU BEF 3 OUT Moon Racer (Professor Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew) David Pipe 11st 10lb Tom Scudamore 10/1


Distances: 4½, 3, 3, sh, 2¾, ½, ¾, 15, 14

Time: 3m 52.38s

Tote Win: £5.90 Places: £2.00; £3.40; £2.30 Exacta: £64.30

Non-Runner: CH’TIBELLO (FR) Self Certificate (Infected Foot)


J P McManus – 50th winner at The Festival


Nicky Henderson – 57th winner at The Festival


Noel Fehily – 4th winner at The Festival 


Record 6thChampion Hurdle win for Nicky Henderson following See You Then (1985, 1986, 1987), Punjabi (2009), and Binocular (2010)


Record 6th Champion Hurdle win for J P McManus following Istabraq (1998, 1999, 2000), Binocular (2010) and Jezki (2014)


Second Champion Hurdle win for Noel Fehily following Rock On Ruby (2012)


BetBright Cup – standings after 4 races

Great Britain 3

Ireland 1















Betting on the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle suggested it would be a three-horse race, and so it proved, but not in the bookies’ order.


Apple’s Jade, the 7/2 shot and outsider of the fabulous threesome, came out on top by one and a half lengths, with last year’s winner Vroum Vroum Mag (11/4) a nose in front of her Willie Mullins-trained stablemate, the 6/4 favourite Limini.


All three were trained by Mullins last season, but Apple’s Jade owner, Michael O’Leary moved all his horses from that yard during the autumn in a disagreement over training fees. Gordon Elliott was the lucky recipient of Apple’s Jade, who was ridden today by O’Leary’s jockey, Bryan Cooper.


On her latest start Apple’s Jade was beaten by Limini at Punchestown, but Elliott said: “Today was her Gold Cup. We knew the ground would suit her and I put a tongue tie on for the first time and thankfully it worked out.


“We kept our mouths shut after Punchestown because we knew she would come on a good bit for it. The tongue tie and drying ground were a big help. You don’t want to get beat, but knowing she would improve we were fine, and she’s as tough as old boots.


“She’ll definitely run at the Punchestown Festival.”


Cooper said: “They didn’t go a great gallop early and my mare was a bit keen, but I got into a lovely rhythm and she flew her hurdles.


“She winged the last and is a real battler – she outbattled Vroum Vroum Mag at Fairyhouse and I was confident she would do it today.


“We knew there was improvement to come from Punchestown and that today’s longer trip would help – it’s a great job done.”


Michael O’Leary said: “It is a great training performance by Gordon. He gave her a run there a couple of weeks ago and felt she had come on for it. Apples’s Jade needed to stretch them. I thought Bryan gave her an extraordinary ride. She was down coming to the last but she battles. They are three very good mares.


“We all love Cheltenham. The amphitheatre is incredible and the racing is very tough. I have never had a winner on the Tuesday, so it is great to have the pressure off. Now I know how Willie Mullins feels banging in winners on the first day. Normally, I am here sweating on the last day!


“I am delighted for Gordon and his team at Cullentra. They do a great job. It is great for Bryan too.”




Willie Mullins may have won the past eight runnings of the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, but a ninth success eluded him as Apple’s Jade, who moved from his yard to that of Gordon Elliott at the start of the season, beat the Mullins pair of Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini into second and third places.


Paul Townend rode Vroum Vroum Mag, last year’s winner of the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, to beat the Ruby Walsh-ridden Limini, the 6/4 favourite, by a nose. Vroum Vroum Mag was a length and half behind Apple’s Jade.


Both Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini are owned by Rich Ricci, who said: “It was a great race. I thought it was the best race of the day. Apples Jade is a multiple Grade One winner, and anyone who asked me today who was going to win, Apple’s Jade was my answer all day. I think she’s a very, very good mare and I knew she would come on for that Punchestown run [where she was beaten two lengths by Limini].


“I think it’s fair enough; I don’t think there any excuses. Paul [Townend, on Vroum Vroum Mag] jumped the last in front and Apples Jade is just a very good mare.


“It’s like the Cheltenham Oaks – it was great to see how many good horses turned up. You had three Grade One winners and Limini.


“It’s got to be the first time Willie [Mullins] hasn’t had a winner on the Tuesday of the Festival, so I hope Arbre De Vie [who runs in the next race, the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase] can change that luck!”


Paul Townend said: “Vroum Vroum Mag ran a cracker; I came down the hill great, straightened up and I thought I would win at the back of the last, but got seen out of it in the end.”


Ruby Walsh, who rode Limini, said: “The winner is a very good mare.”


4.10pm OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

1 APPLE’S JADE (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 5-11-05 Bryan Cooper 7/2

2 Vroum Vroum Mag (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 8-11-05 Paul Townend 11/4

3 Limini (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-05 Ruby Walsh 6/4 Fav


Distances: 1½, Nose, 3¾, ½

Time: 5m 13.98s

Tote Win: £4.30 Places: £1.50; £1.50; £1.40 Exacta: £14.60


Gordon Elliott – 10th winner at The Festival

Bryan Cooper – 7th winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings after 5 races

Great Britain 3

Ireland 2








A remarkable day for trainer Gordon Elliott was embellished when Tiger Roll brought up a 1,988/1 treble for his yard by landing the J T McNamara National Hunt Chase.


The victory – which completed a double for owner Michael O’Leary of Gigginstown House Stud – underlined the versatility of the seven-year-old winner, who three years ago won the JCB Triumph Hurdle over two miles. Today he ran out a ready winner over a trip almost twice as far, pulling hard for much of the trip under rider Lisa O’Neill, who works in Elliott’s office and rides out each day.


Tiger Roll (16/1) scored by three lengths and three-quarters of a length respectively from Missed Approach (50/1) and Haymount (33/1).


McNamara, who rode more than 700 winners, including 16 at Cheltenham and four at The Festival, was seriously injured in a fall at the meeting four years ago – he passed away at the age of 41 in July last year, but his wife, Caroline, and their three children, Dylan, Harry and Olivia, were at Cheltenham today to present the trophies.


Elliott said: “It’s unbelievable, particularly having Lisa ride the horse and in John Thomas’s race. The John Thomas Munster National was won by Tiger Roll, too – it’s hard to believe. If you watch the rerun of the race, Lisa has given him some ride because he head-butts fences.  Fair play to her, she is a big part of our team. She is a star, who pre-trains horses, rides out each day, does everything – Jamie [Codd] could have ridden him [but partnered A Genie In A Bottle], but I said to her, if you work hard you can ride him if Jamie doesn’t, and she did a great job.


“The horse loved it, and I guess the Irish National has to be next. To have three winners in a day is unbelievable. I trained three winners here last year and said if I had one this year I would be delighted!”


O’Leary said: “Lisa has been very lucky for us – she won the Kerry National for us on Wrath Of Titans and is a superb pilot. She’s a lovely girl and tiny, but you could see Tiger Roll loved it, rolling along with her and having his own way of doing things. He has his own ideas about the game, but has won a couple of decent races.


“I’m delighted for Lisa and Gordon. He’s an optimist and I’m a pessimist. He gives positive vibes about everything he runs, and that’s been vindicated today. What a day for Gordon to win two Grade Ones and now this. Everybody misses J T and it’s an honour to win his race.


“I don’t know what to do for the rest of the week now, because normally I get to Thursday evening and start getting nervous because we can’t find a winner. I think I had better fly home because it can’t get any better than this.”




Lisa O’Neill scored a first Festival victory on her first ride at the meeting, partnering the Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll, a 16/1 shot, to win the J T McNamara National Hunt Chase by three lengths over Missed Approach.


She is just the second woman to win the race after Katie Walsh took it on Poker De Sivola in 2010.


Lisa, 30, works in the office for Gordon Elliot as well as riding. Her mother Margaret is the bloodstock manager for Tattersalls Ireland, and Lisa works during there during sales also.


She said: “He’s been a brilliant horse to have at home. He won the Triumph Hurdle three years ago, and he loved it today; he was a bit free with me early on and I was wondering whether he would finish it out, but he did. I think he was taking the mickey out of me because he was loving it too much!


“He’s Flat-bred [by Authorized] but he’s economical and measures his fences to a T. I think everyone in the yard knows he’s got ability, but it’s a question of when he’s on song, and he was today.


“I was bred into racing – my Dad [Tommy] trains at home [in Co Meath], and unfortunately I was never able to ride a winner for him, but he’ll be proud of me today.”


Asked whether she had dared to dream that she could win today, she replied: “No, I suppose I’m a bit of a pessimist, so I never count my eggs until they are hatched. Today is a great day and I’ll really enjoy it. J T McNamara was an icon to all of us in the point-to-point world at home in Ireland and it is a privilege to win this race.”




Warren Greatrex was delighted with the run of 50/1 shot Missed Approach who finished an excellent three length second to Gordon Elliott’s 16/1 winner Tiger Roll in the J T McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase, the sixth race on day one, Champion Day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.


The seven-year-old gelding led under Noel McParlan and after being headed by the winner in the home straight, responded willingly to McParlan’s urgings to fill the runner-up position, ahead of the fast-finishing 33/1 chance Haymount under Patrick Mullins.


Lambourn handler Greatrex said: “He is a 145 rated horse and you know early doors with this horse if he is jumping and travelling then yeah he is a good horse. He stays and jumps and has a really bright future as he is a very talented horse.


“To be fair, the cheekpieces arguably lit him up slightly today as he was keen early but I couldn’t be more happy. Noel gave him a great ride and I am just chuffed to bits.”


Greatrex also outlined future plans for the son of Golan, remarking: “We could look at the Scottish National with him as he stays every yard.


“The owners [Alan & Andrew Turner] are great. They are in it for the fun and they said to me are we reaching for the stars today and I sort of backed myself and said this horse would have a huge chance and he showed that he did.”


McParlan, having his first ride in the race, commented: “He gave me a great spin and he was super ride.


“We have no excuses and we were just beaten by the better horse on the day.


“Warren told me he would stay all day and to ride him with loads of confident. I got him into a rhythm and he’s run really well.


“It was great to ride in the race and you just need a horse that stays very well! He gave me a great spin.”




Willie Mullins and son Patrick combined to bring the Irish National-entered Haymount into third place in the J T McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase, the sixth race on the card on the opening day of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.


Willie Mullins, who trains the eight year old, a 33/1 chance, said: “He ran a bit keen in the race but ran well. We’re very happy with him. The Irish National would look an option for him but we will see how he comes out of this first.”


Patrick Mullins, who rode the Presenting gelding for his father, added: “He just ran too keen but will be a great ride in the Irish National”


4.50pm J T McNamara National Hunt Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)

1 TIGER ROLL (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 7-11-06 Ms Lisa O’Neill 16/1

2 Missed Approach (Alan & Andrew Turner) Warren Greatrex 7-11-06 Mr N McParlan 50/1

3 Haymount (Mrs C M Hurdley) Willie Mullins IRE 8-11-06 Mr Patrick Mullins 33/1


4/1 Fav A Genie In Abottle (5th)


Distances: 3, ¾

Time: 9m 12.60s

Tote Win £18.80 Places: £4.50, £18.80, £9.10 Exacta: £1,731.70


Gordon Elliott – 11th winner at The Festival

Ms Lisa O’Neill – 1st winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings after 6 races

Great Britain 3

Ireland 3








The Alan Fleming-trained Tully East, an 8/1 chance, ran out an authoritative winner of the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, the final race on day one, Champion Day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.


Settled in midfield early on by Denis O’Regan in the extended two-mile and four-furlong contest, the seven-year-old son of Shantou made stealthy headway under a motionless O’Regan entering the home straight and quickened clear after jumping the final fence to score by a comfortable length and a quarter from Nicky Henderson’s staying-on Gold Present in second.


Two Taffs, trained by Dan Skelton, was a neck back in third with Brian McMahon’s Powersbomb, a further six lengths back in fourth.


Fleming, saddling his first winner at the Festival for his main owner Barry Connnell, was delighted with the gelding’s performance and said: “It’s so thrilling – I couldn’t tell you how thrilling this is. Denis was so cool on him. He is the man for the big day. What an awesome horse, awesome jockey and awesome owners – brilliant!


“It was like an obstacle course out there at times but Denis is very clever and very astute to what is going on around him and gave him a brilliant ride. I can’t put into words what this means.”


Fourth in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at last year’s Festival, Fleming was keen to bring his charge back to Prestbury Park over fences this season, commenting: “He ran a great race here last year and it was nice to win a chase here this year.


“We weren’t that confident coming into the race as we have had an up-and-down season. It’s been a very stop-start season but this makes up for it a bit.


“He has a lot of ability, and if this horse gets a clear run now he could be very good. I’m not sure how far he can go but he has won a handicap today and he has lots of pace and lots of talent and I was very impressed with the way he jumped today.


“He was super clever and I would like to run him in a graded race later this season.”


County Kildare handler Fleming saddles Usuel Smurfer in tomorrow’s Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (4.10pm) and Bakmaj in the concluding Weatherbys Champion Bumper (5.30pm).


Fleming said of the duo: “Usuel Smurfer, if the ground continues to dry out, will run a really good race, I think the trip will suit him and he is the most natural thing I have ever seen over those obstacles. Since the first day we schooled him, he was loving it and we are hopeful of a big run.


“Bakmaj is way up there with our horses when we work him at home so hopefully he runs well.”




Denis O’Regan added a fourth Festival winner to his record when Tully East took the final race on the first day of the Festival, the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase, on the Alan Fleming-trained Tully East.


The 8/1 shot beat Gold Present, trained by Nicky Henderson, by a length and a quarter.


O’Regan rode Tidal Bay to win the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase and Inglis Drever to win the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2008, and took the 2012 Pertemps Final on Cape Tribulation. He moved back to Ireland to take up a retainer with Tully East’s owner Barry Connell last summer.


O’Regan said: “I’m just so pleased that the horse won. He’s a class horse and has been giving me that feel all year, and he has just run into a couple of good horses on the way. I was hopeful without being over-confident; we need so much luck here. He jumped, he travelled, and we had luck in the race with horses falling in front of us.


“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being back in this winner’s enclosure, because it is so hard to get on these horses. I’ll be forever grateful to Barry Connell and his family and to Alan Fleming for giving me the opportunity to ride this horse and other good horses. And the week is only starting, but whatever happens now we can look forward to the rest of it.


“I’ve never enjoyed a job as much as this one. I’m at that stage where I’ve got a lot of experience and I can handle things an awful lot better. We work well together as a team. It’s great for Alan to have a Cheltenham winner – there’s no better man to do the job when he’s got the right ammunition, and hopefully we can build on this and maybe finish the season with a flurry.”


Asked what else he has to look forward to this week, he replied: “I have two good rides tomorrow – in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, Bakmaj wouldn’t have a whole lot to find on the favourite, and Usuel Smurfer in the Glenfarclas Cross Country. I’ve had about four goes in that race and it hasn’t quite worked out yet, but it might do tomorrow.”


5.30pm Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed Race)

1 TULLY EAST (Barry Connell) Alan Fleming IRE 7-11-08 Denis O’Regan 8/1

2 Gold Present (John & Barbara Cotton) Nicky Henderson 7-11-07 Jeremiah McGrath 14/1

3 Two Taffs (Walters Plant Hire, James & Jean Potter) Dan Skelton 7-11-07 Davy Russell 7/1

4 Powersbomb (Lordan, McMahon, Breslin, Slattery) Brian McMahon IRE 7-11-08 Mr Jamie Codd 22/1


6/1 Fav Foxtail Hill (Fell)


Distances: 1¼, nk, 6, ¾

Tote Win: £9.70 Places: £2.60, £3.80, £2.10, £5.80 Exacta: £158.90


Alan Fleming – 1st winner at The Festival

Denis O’Regan – 4th winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings at the end of Champion Day

Great Britain 3

Ireland 4







Today’s attendance came to 66,019 on the first day of The Festival.


This compares to the 2016 record for the first day of 67,700 (2015 – 63,249).




Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s clerk of course, has not altered the going description at Cheltenham at the end of the first day of The Festival 2017.


Claisse said: “We are going to leave the chase and hurdle courses for tomorrow as Good to Soft, and the cross country course as Good to Soft, Good in places.


“We aren’t forecast any rain tonight, and it should be another mild day tomorrow with cloud cover.”




Edwulf was in third place on the run-in in the J T McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup before being pulled up by his rider Derek O’Connor.


The horse was immediately attended by vets, who arranged for him to be transported to the racecourse stables for further assessment.






Trainer                                               1st                              2nd                             3rd

Gordon Elliott IRE                         3                           -                            1

Nicky Henderson                          2                           2                           1

Alan Fleming IRE                          1                           -                            -

David Pipe                                  1                           -                            -

Willie Mullins IRE                          -                            2                           2

Tom George                                -                            1                           -

Warren Greatrex                         -                            1                           -

Malcolm Jefferson                        -                            1                           -

Henry de Bromhead IRE                -                            -                            2

Dan Skelton                                -                            -                            1



Jockey                                               1st                              2nd                             3rd

Nico de Boinville                           1                           -                            1

Bryan Cooper                              1                           -                            1

Noel Fehily                                  1                           -                            -

Jack Kennedy                              1                           -                            -

Ms Lisa O’Neill                    1                           -                            -

Denis O’Regan                             1                           -                            -

Tom Scudamore                          1                           -                            -

Ruby Walsh                                 -                            1                           1

Aidan Coleman                            -                            1                           -

Adrian Heskin                              -                            1                           -

Brian Hughes                               -                            1                           -

Jeremiah McGrath                        -                            1                           -

Mr Noel McParlan                         -                            1                           -

Paul Townend                              -                            1                           -

Davy Russell                               -                            -                            3

Mr Patrick Mullins                         -                            -                            1



Owner                                                1st                              2nd                             3rd

Gigginstown House Stud                2                           -                            1

J P McManus                               1                           1                           -

Barry Connell                              1                           -                            -

Aidan O’Ryan                              1                           -                            -

Patricia Pugh                               1                           -                            -

Prof Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew  1                           -                            -

Susannah Ricci                            -                            1                           1

John & Barbara Cotton                  -                            1                           -

Mrs J Donnelly                             -                            1                           -

N Griffith & H Haddock                  -                            1                           -

Trevor Hemmings                        -                            1                           -

Alan & Andrew Turner                   -                            1                            -

Chris Jones                                 -                            -                            2

Mike Grech & Stuart Parkin            -                            -                            1

Mrs M Hurley                               -                            -                            1

Walters Plant Hire & James & Jean Potter -                            -                            1




Race 1 – 1:30pm SKY BET SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE (Grade 1)

The Stewards noted that BUNK OFF EARLY (IRE), unplaced, brushed the running rail on the bend turning into the back straight, causing it to shift right-handed, interfering with BALLYANDY, placed fourth, which stumbled, but after viewing a recording of the race they were satisfied that it did not involve a riding offence.

The Stewards noted that BUNK OFF EARLY (IRE), CRACK MOME (FR) and MELON, all trained by W.P. Mullins and BALLYANDY, trained by Nigel Twiston Davies, would wear earplugs. They noted that CAPITAL FORCE (IRE), trained by Henry de Bromhead, would wear earplugs, which would be removed at the start. They gave permission for MAGNA CARTOR, trained by John Joseph Hanlon to mount in the chute and go early to post.

The Veterinary Officer reported that CILAOS EMERY (FR), placed fifth, trained by W.P. Mullins, lost its right hind shoe.



The Stewards noted that ALTIOR (IRE), trained by Nicky Henderson, would wear earplugs.

Robbie Power, the rider of THREE STARS (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding lost its action. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding failed to reveal any abnormalities.


Race 3 – 2:50pm ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE (Grade 3)

The Veterinary Officer reported that JUNCTION FOURTEEN (IRE), which was pulled up, trained by Emma Lavelle, had bled from the nose.

Sean Flanagan, the rider of MEASUREOFMYDREAMS (IRE), unplaced, reported that the gelding was hampered by a faller at the second last fence.

Brian Hughes, the rider of COOLOGUE (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding was hampered by a faller at the first fence.

The Veterinary Officer reported that NOBLE ENDEAVOUR (IRE), placed third, trained by Gordon Elliott, suffered from post-race ataxia.

The Veterinary Officer reported that LABEL DES OBEAUX (FR), unplaced, trained by Alan King, suffered from post-race ataxia.

The Veterinary Officer reported that VICONTE DU NOYER (FR), which was pulled up, trained by Colin Tizzard, lost its left fore shoe.

The Veterinary Officer reported that HOLYWELL (IRE), which was pulled up, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, lost its left hind shoe.



The Stewards gave permission for PETIT MOUCHOIR (FR) to go first in the parade and they noted that the gelding would wear earplugs, which would be removed at the start. The Stewards noted that BUVEUR D’AIR (FR), trained by Nicky Henderson, would wear earplugs and that MOON RACER (IRE), trained by David Pipe, would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start.

The Stewards noted that WICKLOW BRAVE, ridden by P. Townend, and trained by W.P. Mullins, lined up with the other runners but was reluctant to jump off when the tape was released.

Mark Walsh, the rider of YANWORTH, unplaced, reported that the gelding was unsuited by the slow early pace. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding, during routine testing, failed to reveal any abnormalities.

The Stewards considered the running of MOON RACER (IRE), ridden by Tom Scudamore, and trained by David Pipe, which was pulled up. The Stewards noted the trainer’s explanation that the gelding made a mistake at the top of the hill when weakening. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding failed to reveal any abnormalities.


The Veterinary Officer reported that BRAIN POWER (IRE), unplaced, trained by Nicky Henderson, lost its right fore shoe.


Race 5 – 4:10pm OLBG MARES’ HURDLE RACE (Grade 1)

The Stewards noted that LIMINI (IRE), trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs and they gave permission for RONS DREAM, trained by Peter Bowen, to wear a hood in the parade ring only.



The Stewards held an enquiry into possible interference shortly after landing over the third last fence. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race they found that KERROW (IRE), placed sixth, ridden by Mr Joshua Newman, switched right-handed interfering with ARBRE DE VIE (FR), who clipped heels and unseated Ms K. Walsh, the rider. The Stewards found Mr Newman in breach of Rule (B)54.1 and guilty of careless riding in that he had switched right when not sufficiently clear They suspended him for 5 days as follows: Friday 31 March and Sunday 2, Monday 3, Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 March 2017.

The Stewards noted that ARBRE DE VIE (FR) and HAYMOUNT (IRE), both trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs.

The Veterinary Officer reported that MARTELLO TOWER (IRE), which was pulled up, trained by Ms Margaret Mullins, was lame left hind.



The record of vaccinations in the passport of KILLINEY COURT (IRE), trained by Henry de Bromhead, did not comply with the Rules of Racing. The Stewards found the trainer in breach of Rule (E)18 and fined him £140.

The Stewards noted that FOXTAIL HILL (IRE), trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, would wear earplugs.

The Veterinary Officer reported that SIZING TENNESSEE (IRE), which was pulled up, trained by Colin Tizzard, had bled from the nose. The Stewards ordered the gelding to be routine tested.








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