All the news from Champion Day at The Festival

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPIONS DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

GROUND REMAINS THE SAME

Today’s going at Cheltenham remains Good to Soft, Good in places on the Old Course which is used today and tomorrow.

It was dry overnight and a dry and sunny day is forecast.

Simon Claisse, Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham, said this morning: “It is like being in a sweetie shop, the plethora and quality of horses we have over four days.

“The Irish challenge is immensely important – it is what The Festival is really all about.

“We have the Prestbury Cup again this year, sponsored by BetBright, which is Great Britain versus Ireland.

“The going remains Good to Soft, Good in places. It has been dry since last Tuesday; John Kettley was spot on with his weather forecast.

“One or two trainers were concerned at the back-end of last week when we said we were going to put on just a little bit of water to keep the ground sweet.

“I think the ground is pretty much spot on. The good section is mainly coming down the hill.”

The Cross Country Course, used tomorrow, is Good, Good to Soft in places.

The GoingStick readings at 8.30am
6.9 (Old Course)
7.2 (Cross Country Course)

Some rain is forecast tomorrow, Wednesday.

NON-RUNNER

4.00pm OLBG Mares’ Hurdle
15 THE GOVANESS (Self Cert, Bruised Foot)

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

DECLARED RUNNERS FOR LADIES DAY –
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 2015

1.30pm G1 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (10), 2m 5f
1 Anteros (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Sophie Leech 11st 7lb Paul Moloney
2 Beast of Burden (IRE) Rebecca Curtis 11st 7lb P. Townend
3 Nichols Canyon W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb R. Walsh
4 Ordo Ab Chao (IRE) Alan King 11st 7lb Wayne Hutchinson
5 Outlander (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb Bryan J. Cooper
6 Parlour Games (Hood) John Ferguson 11st 7lb A. P. McCoy
7 Snow Falcon (IRE) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 7lb Paul Carberry
8 Vyta du Roc (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb Barry Geraghty
9 Warrantor (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Warren Greatrex 11st 7lb Gavin Sheehan
10 Windsor Park (IRE) D. K. Weld, Ireland 11st 7lb Davy Russell

2.05pm G1 RSA Chase (9), 3m ½f
1 Apache Jack (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Ms Sandra Hughes, Ireland 11st 4lb Davy Condon
2 Don Poli (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 4lb Bryan J. Cooper
3 If In Doubt (IRE) Philip Hobbs 11st 4lb A. P. McCoy
4 Kings Palace (IRE) (Tongue Strap) David Pipe 11st 4lb Tom Scudamore
5 Southfield Theatre (IRE) Paul Nicholls 11st 4lb Sam Twiston-Davies
6 The Ould Lad (IRE) Tom George 11st 4lb Paddy Brennan
7 The Young Master (Sheepskin C/P) Neil Mulholland 11st 4lb Barry Geraghty
8 Wounded Warrior (IRE) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 4lb Paul Carberry
9 Adriana des Mottes (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 10st 9lb R. Walsh

2.40pm G3 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (26), 2m 5f
1 Volnay de Thaix (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 12lb Peter Carberry (3)
2 Bear’s Affair (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 6lb Freddie Mitchell (7)
3 Lac Fontana (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 5lb Sean Bowen (5)
4 Vulcanite (IRE) Charlie Longsdon 11st 4lb
5 Blackmail (FR) (Hood) A. J. Martin, Ireland 11st 1lb Denis O’Regan
6 Activial (FR) Harry Fry 11st 1lb Noel Fehily
7 Clondaw Kaempfer (IRE) Donald McCain 11st 1lb Wilson Renwick
8 Rolling Star (FR) Nicky Henderson 10st 13lb Nico de Boinville
9 Un Atout (FR) (Tongue Strap) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 10st 13lb
10 Lyvius (Blinkers) Nicky Henderson 10st 13lb David Bass
11 Zabana (IRE) Andrew Lynch, Ireland 10st 12lb Robert Colgan
12 Dell’ Arca (IRE) (Blinkers) David Pipe 10st 12lb Tom Scudamore
13 Hammersly Lake (FR) Nicky Henderson 10st 12lb Barry Geraghty
14 Plinth (IRE) (Blinkers) Aidan O’Brien, Ireland 10st 10lb
15 Goodwood Mirage (IRE) Jonjo O’Neill 10st 10lb A. P. McCoy
16 Shammick Boy (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Victor Dartnall 10st 8lb Jack Doyle
17 Baradari (IRE) Venetia Williams 10st 8lb Aidan Coleman
18 Vasco du Ronceray (FR) (Hood) Nicky Henderson 10st 8lb Daryl Jacob
19 Taglietelle Gordon Elliott, Ireland 10st 8lb
20 Hisaabaat (IRE) (Visor) D. K. Weld, Ireland 10st 7lb Luke Dempsey (5)
21 Ttebbob (IRE) (Hood) Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland 10st 7lb Robbie Power
22 Aux Ptits Soins (FR) Paul Nicholls 10st 7lb Sam Twiston-Davies
23 Mijhaar John Ferguson 10st 7lb Richard Johnson
24 Marinero (IRE) (Hood) A. J. Martin, Ireland 10st 6lb
25 Daneking (Hood) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 10st 6lb
26 Barizan (IRE) (Visor, Tongue Strap) Brendan Powell 10st 6lb Brendan Powell

Eliminations: Pearl Swan (FR), On Tour (IRE), Make A Track (IRE), Tanerko Emery (FR), Katkeau (FR), Junction Fourteen (IRE), Quick Jack (IRE), Kauto Grand Mogol (FR), Full Shift (FR), Thistlecrack, Killultagh Vic (IRE), Unique de Cotte (FR), Edeymi (IRE), No No Mac (IRE), Forthefunofit (IRE), Southfield Vic (IRE), Balgarry (FR), Theinval (FR), Saffron Wells (IRE), Sort It Out (IRE), Gold Futures (IRE), Open Day (IRE), Upswing (IRE), Alaivan (IRE), Dark Spirit (IRE), Ballybolley (IRE), Pure Style (IRE), Fayette County (IRE), Invicta Lake (IRE), Alternatif (FR), Klepht (IRE), Batavir (FR), Wadswick Court (IRE), Guess Again (IRE), Sweet Deal (IRE), Abolitionist (IRE), Kelvingrove (IRE), Kazlian (FR), Stonebrook (IRE), Grand Partner (IRE), Auvergnat (FR), Mydor (FR), Royal Guardsman (IRE), Champagne Present (IRE), Ericht (IRE), As de Ferbet (FR), Minstrels Gallery (IRE), Willem (FR), Such A Legend, Cassells Rock (IRE), No Secrets (IRE), The Saint James (FR), La Vaticane (FR), Uisge Beatha (IRE), Sporting Boy (IRE), Fort Smith (IRE), Roll It Out (IRE), I Shot The Sheriff (IRE), Lord Scoundrel (IRE), Little Boy Boru (IRE), Rocky Wednesday (IRE), Chill Factor (IRE), Speed Demon (IRE), Last Shadow, Hawaii Five Nil (IRE)

3.20pm G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (11), 2m
1 Champagne Fever (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb R. Walsh
2 Clarcam (FR) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Davy Condon
3 Dodging Bullets (Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies
4 Mr Mole (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb A. P. McCoy
5 Savello (IRE) (Hood) A. J. Martin, Ireland 11st 10lb Bryan J. Cooper
6 Simply Ned (IRE) Nicky Richards 11st 10lb Brian Harding
7 Sire de Grugy (FR) Gary Moore 11st 10lb Jamie Moore
8 Sizing Europe (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb J. J. Burke
9 Somersby (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Mick Channon 11st 10lb Brian Hughes
10 Special Tiara Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb Noel Fehily
11 Sprinter Sacre (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Barry Geraghty

4.00pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (16), 3m 7f
1 Hey Big Spender (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 12lb Brendan Powell
2 Any Currency (IRE) (Hood, Sheepskin C/P) Martin Keighley 11st 11lb Aidan Coleman
3 Uncle Junior (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 9lb
4 Sire Collonges (FR) (Blinkers) Paul Nicholls 11st 7lb Sam Twiston-Davies
5 Toutancarmont (FR) (Tongue Strap) Mrs I. Pacault, France 11st 5lb Jonathan Plouganou
6 Quantitativeeasing (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Enda Bolger, Ireland 11st 2lb Miss N. Carberry
7 Duke of Lucca (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Philip Hobbs 11st 1lb Richard Johnson
8 Chicago Grey (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 10st 13lb Davy Condon
9 Nuage d’Ainay (FR) (Tongue Strap) Patrice Quinton, France 10st 10lb James Reveley
10 Rivage d’Or (FR) (Tongue Strap) A. J. Martin, Ireland 10st 10lb
11 Dogora (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 10st 10lb
12 Ipsos du Berlais (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) Noel Meade, Ireland 10st 8lb G. N. Fox (5)
13 Charingworth (IRE) Kim Bailey 10st 6lb Mr H. A. A. Bannister (5)
14 Rose of The Moon (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) David O’Meara 10st 4lb Jake Greenall
15 Are Ya Right Chief (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 10st 3lb
16 Master Rajeem (USA) Neil King 10st 1lb Mark Grant
Eliminations: Imperial Circus (IRE), Union Jack d’Ycy (FR), Wayward Frolic

4.40pm G3 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (22), 2m ½f
1 Golden Doyen (GER) Philip Hobbs 11st 10lb Richard Johnson
2 Gwencily Berbas (FR) Alan Fleming, Ireland 11st 8lb A. P. Heskin
3 Dai Bando (IRE) Ross O’Sullivan, Ireland 11st 6lb Andrew J. McNamara
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4 Arabian Revolution (Blinkers) John Ferguson 11st 6lb Barry Geraghty
5 All Yours (FR) (Hood, Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 6lb Sam Twiston-Davies
6 The Wallace Line (IRE) Tim Vaughan 11st 6lb Alan Johns (7)
7 The Saint James (FR) (Hood, Tongue Strap) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 5lb Paul Carberry
8 Thunder Zone Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 4lb Bryan J. Cooper
9 Box Office (FR) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 4lb A. P. McCoy
10 Buiseness Sivola (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 3lb
11 Unanimite (FR) (Tongue Strap) David Pipe 11st 3lb Tom Scudamore
12 Starchitect (IRE) (Blinkers) Donald McCain 11st 2lb Wilson Renwick
13 Bouvreuil (FR) (Hood, Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 2lb Noel Fehily
14 Souriyan (FR) Jamie Snowden 11st 2lb Micheal Nolan (3)
15 Zarib (IRE) Dan Skelton 11st 2lb Harry Skelton
16 Mr Gallivanter (IRE) John Quinn 11st 0lb Dougie Costello
17 Qualando (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 0lb Nick Scholfield
18 Verawal (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 0lb
19 Hostile Fire (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 0lb Davy Condon
20 Baron Alco (FR) Gary Moore 11st 0lb Jamie Moore
21 Beatabout The Bush (IRE) Henry Oliver 10st 13lb Adam Wedge
22 Sebastian Beach (IRE) Jonjo O’Neill 10st 12lb Richie McLernon
Eliminations: Zafayan (IRE), Bishop Wulstan (IRE), Tarabiyn (IRE), Blue Atlantic (USA), Norse Legend, Officer Drivel (IRE), Russian Bolero (GER), Vosne Romanee, Saint Lucy, Gimme Five, Silver Duke (IRE), Storm Force Ten, Full Day, Lucky Jim, Kabjoy (IRE), Sternrubin (GER), Ryeolliean, Superb Story (IRE), Cyclop (IRE), Top of The Glas (IRE)

5.15pm G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (24), 2m ½f
1 Always Lion (IRE) Ben Pauling 11st 5lb David Bass
2 Au Quart de Tour (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb
3 Bay of Freedom (IRE) Peter Fahey, Ireland 11st 5lb Noel Fehily
4 Bellshill (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb
5 Bordini (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb
6 Davy Doubt (IRE) Warren Greatrex 11st 5lb Gavin Sheehan
7 General Principle (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 5lb Bryan J. Cooper
8 Ghost River Peter Bowen 11st 5lb Sean Bowen
9 Jetstream Jack (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 5lb Davy Condon
10 Livelovelaugh (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb
11 Modus (Hood) Robert Stephens 11st 5lb Tom O’Brien
12 Moon Racer (IRE) David Pipe 11st 5lb Tom Scudamore
13 Neatly Put D. G. Hogan, Ireland 11st 5lb Denis Hogan
14 O O Seven (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 5lb Barry Geraghty
15 Pylonthepressure (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb
16 Stone Hard (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb
17 Supasundae Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 5lb J. J. Burke
18 Theo’s Charm (IRE) Nick Gifford 11st 5lb Tom Cannon
19 Up For Review (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 5lb
20 Vigil (IRE) D. K. Weld, Ireland 11st 5lb Pat Smullen
21 Wait For Me (FR) Philip Hobbs 11st 5lb Richard Johnson
22 Western Way (IRE) (Blinkers) Don Cantillon 11st 5lb Denis O’Regan
23 Yanworth Alan King 11st 5lb A. P. McCoy
24 Montana Belle (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Stuart Crawford, Northern Ireland 10st 12lb Mr Steven Crawford
Eliminations: Broughtons Rhythm, Dueling Banjos, Final Nudge (IRE), Justanother Muddle, Lip Service (IRE), Robert’S Star (IRE), Rushvale (IRE), Sugar Train, Turcagua (FR), West Approach, Western Rules (IRE), Work du Breteau (FR)

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

THE 14 DECLARED RUNNERS FOR THE RYANAIR CHASE ON ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 12

2.40pm G1 Ryanair Chase (14), 2m 5f

1 Balder Succes (FR) Alan King 11st 10lb Wayne Hutchinson

2 Ballycasey (IRE) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb

3 Don Cossack (GER) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Bryan Cooper

4 Double Ross (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Ryan Hatch

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

6 Foxrock (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Ted Walsh, Ireland 11st 10lb Adrian Heskin

7 Hidden Cyclone (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) John Hanlon, Ireland 11st 10lb Andrew McNamara

8 Johns Spirit (IRE) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 10lb Richie McLernon

9 Taquin du Seuil (FR) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 10lb Noel Fehily

10 Third Intention (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Daryl Jacob

11 Uxizandre (FR) (Visor) Alan King 11st 10lb A. P. McCoy

12 Wishfull Thinking (Tongue Strap) Philip Hobbs 11st 10lb Richard Johnson

13 Wonderful Charm (FR) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies

14 Ma Filleule (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 3lb Barry Geraghty

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THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

THE 17 DECLARED RUNNERS FOR THE LADBROKES WORLD HURDLE ON ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 12

3.20pm G1 Ladbrokes World Hurdle (17), 3m

1 Abbyssial (IRE) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb

2 At Fishers Cross (IRE) (Blinkers) Rebecca Curtis 11st 10lb A. P. McCoy

3 Aubusson (FR) Nick Williams 11st 10lb Lizzie Kelly

4 Blue Fashion (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb David Bass

5 Cole Harden (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Warren Greatrex 11st 10lb Gavin Sheehan

6 Dedigout (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Tony Martin, Ireland 11st 10lb Denis O’Regan

7 Jetson (IRE) Jessica Harrington, Ireland 11st 10lb Davy Russell

8 Lieutenant Colonel (Sheepskin C/P) Sandra Hughes, Ireland 11st 10lb Bryan Cooper

9 Monksland (IRE) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 10lb Paul Carberry

10 Reve de Sivola (FR) Nick Williams 11st 10lb Daryl Jacob

11 Saphir du Rheu (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies

12 Seeyouatmidnight Sandy Thomson 11st 10lb Brian Hughes

13 Tiger Roll (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Davy Condon

14 Un Temps Pour Tout (IRE) (Tongue Strap) David Pipe 11st 10lb Tom Scudamore

15 Whisper (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Barry Geraghty

16 Zaidpour (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb

17 Zarkandar (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Noel Fehily

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THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

FOXROCK WILL NEED TO BE ON THE MONEY IN THE RYANAIR

Trainer Ted Walsh will be hoping that Foxrock can justify the £15,000 that it cost to supplement the seven-year-old for the race last week by winning the Ryanair Chase on Thursday (March 12).

The Flemensfirth gelding won a valuable 2m 5f handicap chase at Leopardstown in January, and finished a close second to Carlingford Lough in the Irish Hennessy last month.

Favourite is the Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack, winner of his last four races, including the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Punchestown in December.

Their 12 rivals include Ma Filleule, who could become the first mare to win the Ryanair Chase – if she can turn around recent form with Balder Succes.

Trained by Nicky Henderson, the seven-year-old Ma Filleule finished second to Holywell in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase at The Festival last year and followed up with an impressive eight-length victory in the Topham Chase at Aintree a month later.

Her best effort this season so far has been the runner-up spot behind the Alan King-trained Balder Succes in the Betfair Ascot Chase in February.

Balder Succes has won his last two races, and was a comfortable winner of the Grade One Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree in 2014. But the seven-year-old’s record at Cheltenham is uninspiring; in three runs here, he has fallen twice and unseated his jockey once.

Last year’s runner-up, Hidden Cyclone, bids to go one better for trainer John Joseph Hanlon. He won his last outing, Punchestown’s Tied Cottage Chase, over two miles in soft ground.

A P McCoy, who twice won the Ryanair Chase on Albertas Run in 2010 and 2011, will have his final ride in the race aboard Uxizandre, owned by J P McManus and trained by Alan King. Uxizandre won the Shloer Chase over two miles at Cheltenham in November, and was second in the JLT Novices’ Chase at last year’s Festival.

Willie Mullins has yet to add the Ryanair Chase to his Festival tally, and he is represented by Ballycasey in this year’s renewal. Nicky Henderson (Ma Filleule), Jonjo O’Neill (Johns Spirit and Taquin Du Seuil) and Paul Nicholls (Wonderful Charm) have each trained two winners of the race. Henderson scored with Fondmort in 2006 and Riverside Theatre in 2012, O’Neill trained Alberta Run to his 2010 and 2011 successes, and Nicholls won the first running of the race in 2005 with Thisthatandtother, following up with Taranis in 2007.

NICHOLLS PAIR ARE ON TOP OF THE WORLD

Course-and-distance winner Saphir Du Rheu and Zarkandar are jostling for the favourite’s spot ahead of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle on Thursday, March 12. Both represent champion trainer Paul Nicholls and are available at odds of around 9/2.

Zarkandar has only run in Britain once this season. Nicholls has sent him to Auteuil in Paris three times since last May, and he scored in the valuable Grade One Prix d’Automne in November on very soft ground.

Zarkandar was beaten a neck by Reve De Sivola, whom he faces once again in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, at Ascot in December.

Trained by Nick Williams, Reve De Sivola was in turn beaten a neck by Saphir Du Rheu in the Galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January, with the David Pipe-trained Un Temps Pour Tout behind them in third.

Seven of the 17 horses in Ladbrokes World Hurdle are trained in Ireland. Since Michael Hourigan took the race with Doran’s Pride in 1995, only Solwhit (Charles Byrnes) in 2012 has managed to take win it for Ireland.

First-season trainer Sandra Hughes has perhaps the best chance of taking the trophy across the Irish Sea. Lieutenant Colonel, who runs in the Gigginstown House Stud colours, has won Grade Ones at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown this season.

And the lightly-raced Noel Meade entry Monksland has a chance; he went down by a short-head to Tony Martin’s runner Dedigout in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park in January.

A P McCoy rides the sole Welsh-trained runner, Rebecca Curtis’s At Fishers Cross, for J P McManus. The Oscar eight-year-old finished third behind More Of That and Annie Power in the 2014 Ladbrokes World Hurdle, and was second at Aintree to Whisper, who runs here for Nicky Henderson. At Fishers Cross took the 2013 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival.

Paul Nicholls holds the training record for wins in the race – four, with Big Buck’s from 2009-2012.


Press fawning for Faugheen

Brilliant sunshine adorning Cheltenham for day one of The Festival could be glittering on some equine chrome come mid-afternoon.

Faugheen, hot favourite for today’s highlight, the £400,000 Stan James Champion Hurdle, has been dubbed ‘The Machine’ by the press, a billing that underlines his brilliant, unbeaten career to date. ‘Moment of truth has arrived for Champion Hurdle favourite’ is a sub-head on the Racing Post’s cover, alongside a graphic showing Willie Mullins’ unbeaten beast in fully revved-up mechanical mode.

Among a raft of racing pullouts The Daily Mail claims, ‘Faugheen can be the Mullins dream machine’, and the Daily Express’s Stuart Brodkin agrees, writing: “Faugheen can justify Ruby Walsh’s decision to opt for him over Hurricane Fly.” ‘Faugheen’s a jolly good fellow’ is a headline in The Times above Rob Wright’s analysis.

‘Forced’ headline of the day narrowly goes to the Racing PLUS, which is being published each day of the Festival. ‘May the Faugh-ce be with you’ is its message, while The Sun’s opening headline is ‘The four horses of the Apocalypse’ a reference to trainer Willie Mullins’ four opening-day favourites – Annie Power, Douvan, Faugheen and Un De Sceaux. With Ruby Walsh riding each horse, the paper’s Claude Duval writes: “Ruby Tuesday could turn into the biggest-ever disaster for bookies.” In similar vein a headline on page 6 of the Daily Star runs, ‘£100m on Ruby’, while its racing special heralds ‘Go Fau it’ – however, while siding with Faugheen, correspondent Mick Fitzgerald reckons the Mullins-trained Shaneshill will beat his stablemate Douvan in the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Faugheen, and every other talking horse, has to share the spotligh with a legend whose like is unlikely to be seen again. A P McCoy’s retirement next month means this is his final Cheltenham Festival, and each of his rides will be analysed in detail. The Daily Mirror’s racing pullout (which is stuffed with great reading and a wealth of Festival focusses) hails ‘McCoy: Final fling of a legend’.

‘A four-day farewell to the real McCoy’ is The Independent’s take on the master’s exit, however, the great jockey’s Festival record comes under scrutiny from Greg Wood in the Guardian. The jockey’s 30 Festival winners is not a shabby total, but he has been the meeting’s top rider just twice, a reminder of how tough it is for the top at the top.

Paul Hayward’s sporting ponderings are usually worth the price of The Daily Telegraph, and he also considers the champ’s Festival record, concluding: “He has never been able to ‘own’ Cheltenham in the way a great Wimbledon champion ‘owns’ Centre Court.”

The Times has bragging rights over rival publications, for it includes McCoy among its panel of writers in another bumper-sized, 12-page Festival special. The jockey tips himself to win the Stan James Champion Hurdle on Jezki, while racing correspondent Alan Lee considers Mullins’ Festival muscle, and talks to trainer John Ferguson for some intriguing observations.

A stack of other Festival intrigue will involve the virgins who have yet to score at the meeting. The Daily Mirror’s David Yates homes in on two young trainers dubbed ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentices’, aka Harry Fry and Dan Skelton, acolytes of Paul Nicholls. Referring to his former assistants, Nicholls says: “Harry was like a big puppy and Dan is a mini me.”

All-round coverage of The Festival by local paper the Gloucestershire Echo includes an interview with former Cheltenham Racecourse managing director Edward Gillespie following his receipt of an OBE at Buckingham Palace. “When you’re the only person on the planet talking to the Queen it’s a strange experience,” says Gillespie.

The same paper’s Melissa Jones discusses life with Gloucestershire trainer Jonjo O’Neill who, when looking ahead to the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, admits: “Holywell [who he trains] and Carlingford Lough [ridden by his friend A P McCoy] – I wouldn’t want that finish.” Jones, a leading tipster in the national press challenge, reckons McCoy will win today’s Stan James Champion Hurdle with Jezki.

Another local paper, the Western Daily Press, tracks down seven Australian visitors who are dipping into their first Festival, and also reveals the town’s football team, aka The Robins, will be at day one of the meeting “for a bit of downtime” with manager Russell Milton. Has anyone told him 55,000 racing-charged people will make it anything but a day for basking?
Punters Pile On The Crapper

It’s been a busy morning in the betting offices up and down the country as punters look to take advantage of a myriad of offers that the major bookmakers are offering.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm) sponsors Sky Bet have understandably been busy on their big race and are giving punters their money back as a free bet (up to a stake of £25) if their selection doesn’t win the opener.

The best backed horse in the traditional curtain raiser has been Shaneshill, stablemate of current 2/1 favourite Douvan, and the Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old is now a 10/1 shot (from 12/1) with the Leeds-based firm.

“We expected our money back offer to be extremely popular and we’ve taken plenty of bets as punters look to get off to a risk free start to The Festival,” said Sky Bet spokesman Michael Shinners.

“A lot of the horses behind hot favourite Douvan have been popular as a result and it is the Willie Mullins second string in the shape of Shaneshill that has proven to be the best backed selection in our race so far.”

Sky Bet are also paying out on the first five home in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (2.40pm) and two horses have come in for support in that particular contest. Barrakilla is now an 11/1 shot (from 12/1) with Sky Bet while the same firm have also been forced to cut Monbeg Dude into 20/1 (from 25/1).

Stan James, who sponsor this afternoon’s feature race, the Champion Hurdle (3.20pm), report a flood of money for favourite Faugheen and have cut the seven-year-old to 11/10 (from 6/5). They are also promising to be top price about the favourite until the opening show.

They also report strong each-way support for The New One at 9/2 and Hurricane Fly at 10/1 and, as a result, Jezki had been friendless in the market and has drifted to 5/1.

Stan James have also seen strong support for Thomas Crapper in the final race, the CHAPS Restaurants Barbados Handicap Chase (5.15pm), and the Robin Dickin-trained eight-year-old has consolidated his position at the head of the market at 13/2 (from 15/2).

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

HORSE RACING IRELAND PRESS CONFERENCE

Trainers Gordon Elliott and Tony Martin as well as jockey Bryan Cooper joined Irish Racing Post editor Jonathan Mullin to discuss their horses for this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Thursday’s Ryanair Chase hopeful Don Cossack was given a positive mention by his trainer-jockey combination Gordon Elliott and Bryan Cooper. The eight-year-old is unbeaten in his last four starts and heads the market for the two mile five furlong contest. Cooper said: “He seems in great form, has a good chance and I’m really looking forward to him. With a bit of luck, he should run well.”

Elliott echoed his jockey’s sentiments stating: “He has travelled over very well. He’s been good this year having won four including three graded races and has done everything we have asked of him. I think he is finishing his races out an awful lot stronger this year and with luck in running he could be bang there.”

Elliott also suggested Cause of Causes would run well in today’s Toby Balding National Hunt Chase (4:40pm). Elliott remarked: “He’ll love the ground and four miles will be no problem to him.”

Cooper gave a positive mention to his mount Lieutenant Colonel in Thursday’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle. He said: “He has won two Grade Ones, so it was a great call to go back hurdling with him. He will have to improve a bit more but it’s a wide open race. I feel he has improved since Christmas and I wouldn’t swap him for anything.”

Cooper also highlighted the chances of Road To Riches in Friday’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. He remarked: “You don’t know how good our lad could be. He has been impressive this year especially when winning the Lexus Chase on ground that wouldn’t have suited him at all. Hopefully, the rain stays away. With the ground being good and going left-handed, I see it being a big help to him. There is no real worry about the trip, it’s more about how good the Irish form is and whether he is good enough. I wouldn’t swap my lad for anything.”

Tony Martin was also keen on the chances of his Ladbrokes World Hurdle hope Dedigout. Martin’s charge is unbeaten in his last two starts and will “not mind the ground. He’s in great form and is moving well so will hopefully give a good account of himself.”

Martin also gave a positive mention to a plethora of his handicap horses for the Festival. These included today’s Ultima Business Solutions Handicap (2:40pm) runner Gallant Oscar who according to his handler “has jumped well before and all going well, he will have a great each-way chance.” Martin also spoke well of Edeymi in Thursday’s Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle. He stated: “the horse is a bit older and the ground won’t be a problem to him. He’ll stay well and enjoy the better ground so he should have a great chance.”

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

WARM APPLAUSE FOR RACING’S PAST MASTERS AT ROR PARADE

There was barely room to slide a blade of grass between members of the public that packed around Cheltenham’s winner’s enclosure for today’s Retraining of Racehorses Parade Of Stars.

Nine ex-racehorses, some brilliant, some champions and some excelling in new careers, entertained a hugely-appreciative audience who clapped and cheered as the old stars marched past under their new keepers.

The biggest reception was saved for Kauto Star, the dual Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner who is now taking part in dressage under Laura Collett. There was also very warm applause for the four-time Ladbrokes World Hurdle winner Big Buck’s, who is now giving Lucy Tucker fun following a local hunt in Dorset.

Another Betfred Gold Cup winner, the mighty Denman, looking as powerful as ever, led his former rivals under Charlotte Alexander, who now rides him in team chases, while Crabbie’s Grand National hero Comply Or Die followed him under Verity Green, who rides him in dressage competitions and takes him hunting.

Grands Crus (showjumping), Sentry Duty (hunting) Miko De Beauchene (hunting), Blazing Bailey (hunting) and Ortolan – who at the inaugural RoR Awards in 2014 was named Elite Eventing Champion – completed the parade.


THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

Mullins, Walsh and Ricci Land First With Douvan

The combination of trainer Willie Mullins, jockey Ruby Walsh and racehorse owner Rich Ricci promise to be the team to beat at this week’s Festival, and they got off to a flier with Douvan in the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

It was third year running they had won the race, having taken in with Champagne Fever and Vautour in 2013 and 2014.

Douvan, a very tall horse and sent off the 2/1 favourite, beat his stablemate Shaneshill with Sizing John in third. Mullins said of the winner: “It’s joy and relief. It was good to see that everything he can do at home he was able to do there. If there wasn’t so much at stake I suspect Ruby might not have let him come off the bridle – he has huge ability.

“He was very free early on and I thought that might be his undoing if he clipped the top of a hurdle. I didn’t expect him to be like that because he’s very relaxed at home. We give Ruby a bit of stick when the horse is keen under him at the races.

“Douvan is every inch a chaser – are they famous last words, because I said the same about Faugheen last year. He’s got scope and needs to fill out – after a summer at grass I hope he comes back a big, well-muscled horse. He’s raw, but has natural ability.

“There’s so much work to do we don’t feel pressure, just the need to get the job done. You have to get your A, B, C done and complete what’s in front of you – there’s no time for pressure. I suppose four or five weeks ago when the ante-post betting came out and we had four or five first-day favourites it was a bit of a shock – the amount of expectation is huge, but we have one on the board now and one of the best ones. That’s going to make the week a lot easier for us.

“A pal of mine sent me a text this morning, saying ‘I’m wishing you the worst day in bookmaking history’, which I thought was quite good.”

Ruby Walsh said: “He was very keen and it took me a while to settle him, but once he’d settled he did it lovely. He wasn’t great at the second-last, but he picked up really sharply going to the bend and suddenly he was in front. He pricked his ears and I thought ‘happy days’, he has a bit in the tank yet. He saw it out well to the line. He’s slick, rather than stupid and he has a big engine. He’ll be some horse in the future.”

‘We’re Very Lucky,’ Says Douvan’s Owner Rich Ricci On His Third Consecutive Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Win

French-bred Douvan gave the trainer-owner-jockey combination of Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh and Rich Ricci their third successive victory in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, cruising home by four and a half lengths.

American Ricci’s pink-and-green colours were also carried by Champagne Fever (2013) and Vautour (2014).

The former head of corporate and investment banking at Barclays Bank said: “It’s unbelievable – three in a row is remarkable. We’re very lucky. He jumps easily, he travels well, he’s a good mover – he was brilliant.

“He has been on the go for a bit – he is still raw and when he fills out and matures, he is going to be something.

“I haven’t seen the race yet. I never watch it –I always have my back turned because I get too nervous to watch. I stand next to my friend Joe and he tells me how it’s going. I did see him come up the stretch.”

Wylie Happy With Shaneshill

Owner Graham Wylie was delighted with the performance of 9/1 shot Shaneshill, who finished the four-and-a-half-length runner-up behind stablemate Douvan in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The six-year-old, who also occupied the runner-up berth in last year’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper at The Festival, travelled and jumped well in the main but had no answer to the finishing kick of the winner between the final two flights.

His owner was visibly happy after the race though and revealed the son of King’s Theatre wasn’t quite match fit heading into the race.

“We’re delighted with that,” said Wylie.

“He’s run a big race considering he wasn’t quite at full fitness. He could easily have run in tomorrow’s race (the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle) but we’ve got Nichols Canyon in and Willie (Mullins – trainer) felt we should come here instead.

“He’s won over a bit further and it could be that the two and a half miles will suit him better in time as Paul (Townend – jockey) felt he was flat out all the way.

“We’ve got a lot to look forward to.”

Townend was also happy enough with the performance.

“He’s run on well but they were always going a bit quick for him out there,” said the jockey.

“It’s good to soft ground out there – there’s a bit of cut in the ground.”

Mullins was also quick to praise the runner-up after saddling the first two home.

“It was a fantastic run from Shaneshill,” said Mullins.

“He hasn’t had a straight run through the season so there has to be improvement to come. For the future, he could be a chaser or hurdler – he’s more of a hurdler than Douvan and he has more of a Flat pedigree.”

Jockeys Say Ground Is Good To Soft After First Race
Ruby Walsh, rider of the winner Douvan, described the ground as “dead.”

David Casey, jockey of Alvisio Ville (7th), described the ground as “yielding, with a couple of soft spots down the back but yielding.”

Adrian Heskin, rider of Velvet Maker (11th), said the ground was “good to soft.”

Tony McCoy aboard Jollyallan (8th) and Noel Fehily, partner of Qewy (5th) both agreed that “the ground is good to soft, it is quite dead ground.”

Paul Townend riding the second-placed Shaneshill, described the ground as “good to soft, pretty dead ground.”

John Burke on Sizing John (3rd), said the ground was “good to soft.”

Paddy Brennan, riding Some Plan (10th), described the ground as “good to soft, it’s not too bad just quite dead.”

Bryan Cooper, partner of Tell Us More (6th), said the ground was on the “slow side, it is pretty dead ground out there”.

1.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
£120,000 total prize fund. For 4yo+, 2m 110y. Weights: 4yo 10st 13lb; 5yo+ 11st 7lb. Allowances fillies & mares 7lb. Penalty value 1st £68,340.00 2nd £25,644.00 3rd £12,840.00 4th £6,396.00 5th £3,216.00 6th £1,608.00

1) DOUVAN (FR) (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-7 Ruby Walsh 2/1f
2) SHANESHILL (IRE) (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-07 Paul Townend 9/1
3) SIZING JOHN (Ann & Alan Potts Partnership) Henry De Bromhead IRE 5-11-07 Johnny Burke 25/1
4) L’AMI SERGE (IRE) (Simon Munir & Isaac Souede) Nicky Henderson 5-11-7 Barry Geraghty
5) QEWY (IRE) (Bloomfields) John Ferguson 5-11-07 Noel Fehily
6) TELL US MORE (IRE) (Gigginstown House Stud) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-07 Bryan Cooper
7) ALVISIO VILLE (FR) (J P McManus) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-07 David Casey
8) JOLLYALLAN (J P McManus) Harry Fry 6-11-07 A P McCoy
9) BENTELIMAR (IRE) (James Ryan) Shay Barry IRE 6-11-07 Brian O’Connell
10) SOME PLAN (IRE) (Roger Brookhouse) Tom George 7-11-07 Paddy Brennan
11) VELVET MAKER (FR) (Barry Connell) Tony Martin IRE h6-11-07 Adrian Heskin
UR 4th) SEEDLING (Equis & Chrisopher Spence) Warren Greatrex 6-11-07 Gavin Sheehan

12 ran
Distances: 4½, 2½, 3¼, 8, 3¼, 3, 3¾, ½, 6, 4½
Breeder: S A R L Haras De La Faisanderie
Breeding: b g Walk In The Park (IRE) — Star Face (FR) (Saint Des Saints (FR))
Tote Win £3.00 Place £1.60 £2.50 £7.00 Exacta £18.10

Winning Trainer: WILLIE MULLINS Date of Birth: 15/9/56 Based: Closutton, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow Background: Willie Mullins was six-times amateur champion rider in Ireland and his major successes in the saddle included the 1983 John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree on Atha Cliath, before taking out a training licence in 1988. He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families, being a son of Paddy Mullins, the now retired outstanding all-round trainer, whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup two years later. Willie Mullins rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Mullins has over 100 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in Co Carlow. He was crowned both Champion and Leading Trainer in Ireland for the first time in the 2007/08 season and has retained the title since. Cheltenham Festival wins (34): Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2010 Thousand Stars, 2011 Final Approach), OLBG Mares Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 Quevega), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree, 2009 Mikael D’Haguenet, 2014 Faugheen), Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1995 Tourist Attraction, 2007 Ebaziyan, 2013 Champagne Fever, 2014 Vautour, 2015 Douvan), RSA Chase (1998 Florida Pearl, 2004 Rule Supreme, 2009 Cooldine), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (1996 Wither Or Which, 1997 Florida Pearl, 1998 Alexander Banquet, 2000 Joe Cullen, 2005 Missed That, 2008 Cousin Vinny, 2012 Champagne Fever, 2013 Briar Hill), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2002 Scolardy), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2011 Sir Des Champs, 2014 Don Poli), JLT Novices’ Chase (2012 Sir Des Champs), National Hunt Chase (2013 Back In Focius) Number of Winners in Britain (2001/02-2013/14): 4; 1; 1; 2; 0; 1; 2; 3; 2; 4; 5; 6; 11 Wins in Britain this season: 8

Winning Jockey: Ruby Walsh Born: May 14, 1979 Background: Ruby (short for Rupert) is now solely based in Ireland with champion trainer Willie Mullins, having ended his hugely successful 10 and a half year association with Paul Nicholls in May, 2013. He is the son of 11-times Irish amateur champion jockey, Ted Walsh, now a trainer. Ruby is the second of Walsh’s four children and his younger sister Katie is a successful amateur. He followed in his father’s footsteps when capturing the Irish amateur riders’ championship (1996-97) at the age of 19 while still studying for his Leaving Certificate. He was crowned champion Irish National Hunt jockey in his first season as a professional (1998/99) and has taken the title a further eight times (2000/2001, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10 & 2013/14). First Winner: Siren Song, Gowran Park, July 25, 1995 Cheltenham Festival Wins (42): Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2010 Sanctuaire), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Big Buck’s), OLBG Mares Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 Quevega), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree, 2009 Mikael D’Haguenet, 2014 Faugheen), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2008 Celestial Halo), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (1998 Alexander Banquet, 2005 Missed That, 2013 Briar Hill), Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate (2002 Blowing Wind), Racing Post Arkle (2003 Azertyuiop), Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (2004 Azertyuiop, 2008 & 2009 Master Minded), A P McCoy Grand Annual Chase (2004 St Pirran), Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2004 Sporazene, 2006 Desert Quest, 2009 American Trilogy, 2011 Final Approach), Ryanair Chase (2005 Thisthatandtother, 2007 Taranis), Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2006 Noland, 2010 Al Ferof, 2013 Champagne Fever, 2014 Vautour, 2015 Douvan), Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (2006 Dun Doire), RSA Chase (2007 Denman, 2009 Cooldoine), Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (2007 & 2009 Kauto Star), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly) Number of Wins in Britain (1998/99-2013/14): 1; 1; 5; 13; 77; 62; 81; 69; 73; 69; 69; 69; 26; 55; 57; 7 Wins in Britain this season: 8


THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

First race: The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy
Winning Quotes

Sceaux is so impressive as Mullins brings up double

Willie Mullins made it two-from-two with a 4/1 double when landing the second race at the Festival, the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy, with Un De Sceaux.

Mullins is making Festival-winning look easy, but this was his first victory in this particular race with his twelfth runner – his Champagne Fever was a close second 12 months ago.

Un De Sceaux was ridden by Ruby Walsh in the colours of Cork’s Eddie O’Connell, who was absent, but represented by his son Colm and other family members.

God’s Own, trained in Gloucestershire by Tom George, finished six lengths behind in second after powering up to briefly eyeball the winner in the home straight, while Josses Hill took third a further two lengths back.

The winning trainer said: “I thought they were getting to him before the last, but he just seemed to prick his ears going into the fence and pulled clear again. He is racing a lot more settled now – Ruby didn’t build up the sort of big lead he’s been getting at home, but perhaps that’s just the strength of opposition here. Ruby didn’t have to fight him.

“He was good at the water and brilliant at the open ditch and I thought ‘Wow, if he can just keep him jumping from here’. I thought he might be beaten going to the last but when the other horse [God’s Own] came to him he picked up and went away again.

“It shows how much he has matured as a jumper – he just looks at fences and measures them up. Ruby doesn’t have to do much but hang on.

“I’m not thinking about how many winners we might have [today] – I’m just looking forward to seeing my favourite horse, Hurricane Fly [who runs in the Stan James Champion Hurdle].”

This was the first time a horse has made all in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy since Anaglogs Daughter in 1980.

Sceaux Macho

Un De Sceaux pummelled his rivals into submission with a powerful front running performance to record a six length victory the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The 4/6 favourite travelled supremely well under Ruby Walsh and was almost foot perfect with his jumping, producing a fine leap at the last to see off the challenge of God’s Own.

Walsh was full of praise for the seven-year-old following the race and feels he could be as good as some of the best two-mile chasers he has ridden. It was Walsh’s first victory over fences at The Festival since partnering Kauto Star to victory in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2009.

“He was very good,” said the jockey.

“He settled very well which he didn’t do at Leopardstown last time out. He jumped super considering he was going so fast but he’s more careful now. He’s looking where he’s going and is looking what he’s doing – he doesn’t want to fall. He was neat when he had to be.

“He was going a good gallop to the third last but he set himself up nicely, jumped it well. When Paddy (Brennan – rider of runner-up God’s Own) joined me on the turn, I knew I had plenty of horse underneath me. It was similar to Auteuil when I rode him there last year. I grabbed hold of him that day and he sprinted up to the last so when Paddy came to me today, I’d saved a bit and I knew when I landed over the last he was going to go and he stretched from there to the post.

“He has very, very high cruising speed – that’s what two milers do isn’t it? He’s a bit like 800 metre runners, he just keeps going.

“He’s a very, very talented horse and Willie has done a great job with him. He got a bit of stick for not coming here last year but I think that was the right call.

“He reminds me of Azertyuiop (winner of the 2004 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase) when he was a novice and it would be wonderful if he could do on and reach the heights that he did.

“The dream is alive, isn’t it?”

Mullins Delivers With Festival Winner For The O’Connells

Colm O’Connell, son of Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy winner Un De Sceaux’s owner Eddie O’Connell, said: “It’s incredible. It’s what makes the dream alive. We’ve only got two horses with Willie [Mullins]. We asked Willie to find this horse for us – Eddie my father did – and by God he delivered with a Festival horse.”

Asked how he felt when God’s Own loomed up in the latter stages of the race, O’Connell said: “It’s the Arkle, something always appears. It’s a Grade One.”

Commenting on what went through his mind at that moment, O’Connell said: “My mind doesn’t work that fast. Tomorrow I will be able to answer your questions. For now my brain is burnt!”

Twenty-five of the O’Connells’ friends and family travelled over from Ireland, wearing scarves in Un De Sceaux’s pale blue and orange colours.

George delighted with God’s Own

Trainer Tom George beamed with pride after 33/1 chance God’s Own came home a very creditable six-length second to Un De Sceaux in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy.

The seven-year-old jumped and travelled smoothly throughout, travelling in behind the winner for the duration of the race before keeping on up the hill to hold onto second place.

George said: “He was the only horse who could keep up with Un De Sceaux. He stayed with Un De Sceaux all the way, jumped super and has run a brilliant race. I’m so proud of the horse.”

The trainer suggested that the better ground may have brought a return to form for God’s Own. He remarked: “He loves good/good to soft ground. Next winter we’ll put him away as he doesn’t like heavy ground, and then we will bring him back when the ground improves. If it’s nice weather and the ground is good that is when we want to run him.

“We’ll enjoy today first and see how he comes out of the race. However, we may keep ourselves busy and go to Aintree and then possibly on to Punchestown.”

Paddy Brennan, the jockey of God’s Own, added: “He has run an absolute cracker. I’m so pleased with him. He jumped well and I’m really proud of him. I’m glad for Tom as it is a fantastic training performance, many people had written this horse off but his quality has shown and we’ve been proved right.

Barry Geraghty, aboard the third-placed Josses Hill, said: “He’s ran a great race. He jumped better like we hoped with the faster pace and has run well.”

2.05pm Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Grade 1)
£150,000 total prize fund. For 5yo+, 2m. Weights: 11st 4lb. Allowances mares 7lb. Penalty value 1st £85,425.00 2nd £32,055.00 3rd £16,050.00 4th £7,995.00 5th £4,020.00 6th £2,010.00

1) UN DE SCEAUX (FR) (Edward O’Connell) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-04 Ruby Walsh 4/6f
2) GOD’S OWN (IRE) (Crossed Fingers Partnership) Tom George 7-11-04 Paddy Brennan 33/1
3) JOSSES HILL (IRE) (Alan Spence) Nicky Henderson 7-11-04 Barry Geraghty 12/1
4) VIBRATO VALTAT (FR) (Axom XLIII) Paul Nicholls t6-11-04 Sam Twiston-Davies
5) COURT MINSTREL (IRE) (Janet Davies) Evan Williams 8-11-04 Paul Moloney
6) SGT RECKLESS (Camilla Radford) Mick Channon 8-11-04 Brian Hughes
7) SMASHING (FR) (Ann & Alan Potts Partnership) Henry De Bromhead IRE 6-11-04 Johnny Burke
8) CLARCAM (FR) (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE t5-11-04 Bryan Cooper
9) THREE KINGDOMS (IRE) (Bloomfields) John Ferguson 6-11-04 A P McCoy
PU) SAIL BY THE SEA (IRE) (Roger Brookhouse) David Pipe t7-11-04 Tom Scudamore
PU) DUNRAVEN STORM (IRE) (Karola Vann) Philip Hobbs 10-11-04 Richard Johnson

11 ran
Distances: 6, 2, 5, 6, 4½, 6, 2, 10
Breeder: Haras De La Rousseliere Et Al
Breeding: b g Denham Red (FR) — Hotesse De Sceaux (FR) (April Night (FR))
Tote Win £1.60 Place £1.10 £5.00 £2.40 Exacta £23.80

Winning Trainer: WILLIE MULLINS Date of Birth: 15/9/56 Based: Closutton, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow Background: Willie Mullins was six-times amateur champion rider in Ireland and his major successes in the saddle included the 1983 John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree on Atha Cliath, before taking out a training licence in 1988. He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families, being a son of Paddy Mullins, the now retired outstanding all-round trainer, whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup two years later. Willie Mullins rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Mullins has over 100 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in Co Carlow. He was crowned both Champion and Leading Trainer in Ireland for the first time in the 2007/08 season and has retained the title since. Cheltenham Festival wins (35): Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2010 Thousand Stars, 2011 Final Approach), OLBG Mares Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 Quevega), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree, 2009 Mikael D’Haguenet, 2014 Faugheen), Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1995 Tourist Attraction, 2007 Ebaziyan, 2013 Champagne Fever, 2014 Vautour, 2015 Douvan), RSA Chase (1998 Florida Pearl, 2004 Rule Supreme, 2009 Cooldine), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (1996 Wither Or Which, 1997 Florida Pearl, 1998 Alexander Banquet, 2000 Joe Cullen, 2005 Missed That, 2008 Cousin Vinny, 2012 Champagne Fever, 2013 Briar Hill), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2002 Scolardy), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2011 Sir Des Champs, 2014 Don Poli), JLT Novices’ Chase (2012 Sir Des Champs), National Hunt Chase (2013 Back In Focus), Racing Post Arkle (2015 Un De Sceaux) Number of Winners in Britain (2001/02-2013/14): 4; 1; 1; 2; 0; 1; 2; 3; 2; 4; 5; 6; 11 Wins in Britain this season: 9

Winning Jockey: Ruby Walsh Born: May 14, 1979 Background: Ruby (short for Rupert) is now solely based in Ireland with champion trainer Willie Mullins, having ended his hugely successful 10 and a half year association with Paul Nicholls in May, 2013. He is the son of 11-times Irish amateur champion jockey, Ted Walsh, now a trainer. Ruby is the second of Walsh’s four children and his younger sister Katie is a successful amateur. He followed in his father’s footsteps when capturing the Irish amateur riders’ championship (1996-97) at the age of 19 while still studying for his Leaving Certificate. He was crowned champion Irish National Hunt jockey in his first season as a professional (1998/99) and has taken the title a further eight times (2000/2001, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10 & 2013/14). First Winner: Siren Song, Gowran Park, July 25, 1995 Cheltenham Festival Wins (43): Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2010 Sanctuaire), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Big Buck’s), OLBG Mares Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 Quevega), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree, 2009 Mikael D’Haguenet, 2014 Faugheen), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2008 Celestial Halo), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (1998 Alexander Banquet, 2005 Missed That, 2013 Briar Hill), Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate (2002 Blowing Wind), Racing Post Arkle (2003 Azertyuiop), Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (2004 Azertyuiop, 2008 & 2009 Master Minded), A P McCoy Grand Annual Chase (2004 St Pirran), Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2004 Sporazene, 2006 Desert Quest, 2009 American Trilogy, 2011 Final Approach), Ryanair Chase (2005 Thisthatandtother, 2007 Taranis), Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2006 Noland, 2010 Al Ferof, 2013 Champagne Fever, 2014 Vautour, 2015 Douvan), Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (2006 Dun Doire), RSA Chase (2007 Denman, 2009 Cooldoine), Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (2007 & 2009 Kauto Star), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly), Racing Post Arkle (2015 Un De Sceaux) Number of Wins in Britain (1998/99-2013/14): 1; 1; 5; 13; 77; 62; 81; 69; 73; 69; 69; 69; 26; 55; 57; 7 Wins in Britain this season: 9

Mulholland puts Limpley Stoke on the racing map

Trainer Neil Mulholland saddled his first Cheltenham Festival winner when The Druids Nephew romped home in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase.

Barry Geraghty rode the 8/1 winner, who beat Grand Gesture by three and three-quarters of a length, with Gallant Oscar third a further length and a half behind. Gary Elisia, representing the winning, four-strong syndicate The Stonehenge Druids, was at Cheltenham today on his stag party – he is getting married in two months’ time.

Mulholland, who trains at Limpley Stoke near Bath, said: “There have been no hiding places for this horse because every race is so competitive – we’re delighted it’s all come good.

“This is our World Cup and this is where we want to be – it’s the big stage and we’re on it today. It’s a fantastic feeling and will take a while to sink in.

“We ran him over hurdles last time to give him a little freshen up – I told Barry he has solid handicap form and we know he stays. Barry’s a great big-race jockey and he proved that again today.

“We’ve been at our current yard for two and a half years and we had 48 winners last year and 53 this time. We put in a new spa and flat gallop in the last year and a half and you can see you are getting that little bit more out of the horses.”

The Druids Nephew is a leading fancy for next month’s Crabbie’s Grand National, but when asked about that race, Mulholland said: “We’ll worry about today for now – today was always a stop towards the National, but I’ll have a word with Barry and see how we get on. I’m not going to talk the National up at this stage.”

The Young Master is a contender for Mulholland’s stable in tomorrow’s RSA Chase. Of that horse he said: “The Young Master is in very good form – I feel all the horses are in good order. He’s had the same prep as The Druids Nephew and it’s all looking good.”

‘Everyone Wants To Ride A Winner And The Sooner You Do It The Better,’ Says Geraghty

Barry Geraghty, who rode The Druids Nephew to victory, was winning the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase for the second time. His first win in the came in 2003 on Youlneverwalkalone.

Geraghty said: “I always felt comfortable. He jumped nicely – a little sketchy over the first couple – but, every time I gave him a little squeeze from early in the back straight, he would come on the bridle quickly, so I was keen to tuck him away and wait.

“I was there sooner than ideal but I couldn’t hang on much longer and he didn’t do an awful lot in front.

“It’s only when we come here that we really appreciate what it means. You hate to draw a blank – everyone wants to ride a winner and the sooner you can do it, the better.”

Jesture’s Grand Target

Trainer Henry De Bromhead was delighted with the performance of Grand Jesture after the 25/1 shot finished the three-and-three-quarter length runner-up behind The Druid’s Nephew in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase at Cheltenham this afternoon.

Dr Bromhead had entertained thoughts of running the seven-year-old in this year’s Crabbie’s Grand National but decided to wait another year and the Aintree showpiece could be the target next year following his run here.

“We’re delighted,” said the trainer.

“Super run and a super ride. He’s a tough horse and you’d hope he’d be an English National hope next year. I was going to enter him this year but then I looked at his age so I just scratched him so he’s not in it this year.

“We’ll see what his campaign will be next year. He’s there to win races and you need to win them to get in the National nowadays.

“We’ve not had a bad day. I was a bit disappointed with Smashing (seventh in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy) and I think I’ve picked the wrong race for him unfortunately. He looked completely outpaced.

“Sizing John ran a super race in the Supreme Novices’ though. I remember going home with my tail between my legs after his run at Gowran Park when he was beaten but the winner that day was Douvan so I suppose that form has stood up!”

Trainer Tony Martin was also happy with Gallant Oscar, who finished a further one and a half lengths back in third.

“I’m absolutely delighted with him,” said the trainer.

“He galloped and stayed on really well. He jumped very nicely, travelled throughout and was staying on well at the finish. He came into the race travelling well and saw the trip out well, I was really happy with the run.

“We have plenty of options for him including going to Leopardstown or Punchestown. Obviously, we’ll see how he comes out of the race and then decide where we will go but he has a range of possible races he could be targeted for.”

2.40pm Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
£90,000 total prize fund. For 5yo+, 3m 1f. Minimum weight 10st. Penalties after February 22nd, a winner of a chase 5lb. Penalty value 1st £51,255.00 2nd £19,233.00 3rd £9,630.00 4th £4,797.00 5th £2,412.00 6th £1,206.00

1) THE DRUIDS NEPHEW (IRE) (The Stonehenge Druids) Neil Mulholland p8-11-03 Barry Geraghty 8/1
2) GRAND JESTURE (IRE) (Ann & Alan Potts Partnership) Henry De Bromhead IRE 7-10-11 Johnny Burke (3) 25/1
3) GALLANT OSCAR (IRE) (G Kelly) Tony Martin IRE 9-10-05 Bryan Cooper 9/1
4) INDIAN CASTLE (IRE) (Askew, Dick, Hernon, Reynard) Ian Williams 7-10-10 Will Kennedy 16/1
5) PENDRA (IRE) (J P McManus) Charlie Longsdon p7-10-11 A P McCoy 9/1
6) LOST LEGEND (IRE) (Gay Smith) Jonjo O’Neill p8-10-12 Richie Mclernon 33/1
7) BLACK THUNDER (FR) (Donlon, MacDonald, Fulton & Webb) Paul Nicholls t8-11-07 Sean Bowen (5)
8) NED STARK (IRE) (The Dunkley & Reilly Partnership) Alan King 7-11-00 Denis O’Regan 6/1f
9) TENOR NIVERNAIS (FR) (Muhammad Nadeem Khan) Venetia Williams p8-10-04 Aidan Coleman
10) SMART FREDDY (R Sumpter) Ben Pauling 9-10-07 David Bass
11) THEATRE GUIDE (IRE) (Jean Bishop) Colin Tizzard tp8-11-04 Daryl Jacob
12) GEVREY CHAMBERTIN (FR) (Roger Stanley & Yvonne Reynolds III) David Pipe bt7-10-09 Tom Scudamore
13) BARRAKILLA (IRE) (William & Angela Rucker) Evan Williams 8-10-07 Paul Moloney
14) MONBEG DUDE (IRE) (Oydunow) Michael Scudamore t10-11-01 Paul Carberry
15) WHAT A WARRIOR (IRE) (Mr & Mrs Gordon Pink) Dan Skelton t8-10-13 Harry Skelton
16) ANNACOTTY (IRE) (Liz Prowting) Martin Keighley p7-11-06 Gavin Sheehan
17) MENDIP EXPRESS (IRE) (The Mendip Syndicate) Harry Fry t9-11-02 Mr Will Biddick (3)
18) ACCORDING TO TREV (IRE) (F Mills & W Mills) David Bridgwater 9-10-08 Tom Cannon
19) NO PLANNING (Jacqueline Conroy) Sue Smith 8-11-02 Dougie Costello
20) CAPE TRIBULATION (David Abell) Malcolm Jefferson 11-11-02 Brian Hughes
21) DURSEY SOUND (IRE) (J P McManus) Jonjo O’Neill 7-10-05 Niall Madden
DNF) LAMB OR COD (IRE) (Terry Warner) Philip Hobbs t8-10-09 Richard Johnson
DNF) AZURE FLY (IRE) (Girls Allowed) Charlie Longsdon tp7-10-04 Sam Twiston-Davies
DNF) SHANGANI (USA) (The Bellamy Partnership) Venetia Williams b9-10-06 Liam Treadwell

24 ran
Distances: 3¾, 1½, hd, 3¼, 7, 3½, ¾, ½, ½, 2¾, hd, sh, 1, 2¼, 3¼, 1½, nk, 17, 10, 5
Breeder: Patrick Collins
Breeding: b g King´s Theatre (IRE) — Gifted (Shareef Dancer (USA))
Tote Win £7.60 Place £2.20 £6.20 £2.70 £5.30 Exacta £287.10

Winning Trainer: NEIL MULHOLLAND Based: Conkwell Grange Stables, Limpley Stoke, Bath Background: Born in Ulster. Served a three year apprenticeship with Aidan O’Brien before switching codes to become a National Hunt jockey, riding for trainers such as Eamonn Sheehy, Colm Murphy and Edward O’Grady and finishing second in the Irish champion conditional championship. After 56 successes in Ireland, he came to England in January, 2003, and was initially based with Ferdy Murphy, but a heavy fall at Wetherby in March, 2004, resulted in a shattered leg and broken cheekbone kept him on the sidelines for nine months. He subsequently moved on to Micky Hammond, Alan and Lucy Normile and Sandy Forster before becoming Paul Keane’s retained jockey in 2006. Took out a trainer’s licence in May, 2008. First Winner: Winsley Hill, Morgan Timber Novices’ Hurdle, Uttoxeter, June 8, 2008 Cheltenham Festival Wins (1): Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (2015 The Druids Nephew) Big Race Wins include: Argento Chase (2012 Midnight Chase) Wins (2008/09-2013/14): 16; 18; 21; 16; 19; 31 Wins This Season: 42

Winning Jockey: Barry Geraghty Born: September 16, 1979 Background: Geraghty is one of six children from a “horse-mad” family that hails from Drumree in Co Meath. His father ‘Tucker’ was a useful amateur and trains a few horses in addition to his riding school and livery yard while his brother Ross won the 2002 Irish National on The Bunny Boiler. Geraghty has a background in pony racing, riding his last winner in that sphere in September, 1996, before becoming apprenticed to Noel Meade that month and having his first ride in October, 1996. He has twice been champion jump jockey in Ireland (1999/2000 and 2003/04). Took up the offer of becoming Nicky Henderson’s number one jockey following the retirement of Mick Fitzgerald at the end of the 2007/08 season, and he now divides his time between Britain and Ireland. First Winner: Stagalier (EBF Mares’ Maiden Hurdle, Down Royal, January 29, 1997) Achievements: Champion jockey in Ireland in 1999/2000 and 2003/04 Cheltenham Festival Wins (32): Stan James Champion Hurdle (2009 Punjabi, 2014 Jezki), Chaps Restaurants Barbados Novices’ Handicap Chase (2008 Finger OnThe Pulse), Racing Arkle Post Chase (2002 Moscow Flyer, 2009 Forpadydeplasterer, 2012 Sprinter Sacre, 2013 Simonsig), Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (2003 Youlneverwalkalone, 2015 The Druids Nephew), Pertemps Final (2003 Inching Closer), Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (2003, 2005 Moscow Flyer, 2010 Big Zeb, 2012 Finian’s Rainbow, 2013 Sprinter Sacre), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2003 Spectroscope, 2009 Zaynar, 2010 Soldatino), Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2003 Spirit Leader), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (2004 Iris’s Gift, 2014 More Of That), Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (2005 Kicking King, 2013 Bobs Worth), RSA Chase (2006 Star de Mohaison, 2012 Bobs Worth, 2014 O’Faolains Boy), Coral Cup (2006 Sky’s The Limit, 2010 Spirit River), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (2007 Cork All Star), Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2011 Bobs Worth), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2012 Simonsig), Ryanair Chase (2012 Riverside Theatre) Leading Rider at The Festival: 2003 (5); 2012 (5) Wins in Britain (2001/02-2013/14): 4; 26; 13; 10; 8; 1; 1; 65; 78; 61; 63; 57; 57 Wins in Britain this Season: 56

Faugh makes it three for Mullins and Walsh

Unbeaten hurdler Faugheen gave trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh their third winner of the day when running out a commanding winner of the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The 4/5 favourite was always travelling powerfully under Walsh and, when asked for his effort turning for home, the reaction was instant as the seven-year-old skipped up the hill to record a one and a half length victory from his fast-finishing stablemate Arctic Fire.

Faugheen’s victory stretched his unbeaten run to nine and gives Mullins and Walsh an 8/1 treble on the card so far.

Walsh has always had faith in Faugheen and opted to ride him in the race over dual Champion Hurdler Hurricane Fly, who finished a further five lengths back in third, giving Mullins an unprecedented 1-2-3 in the race. Trainer Aidan O’Brien trained the first two home in 1998 and 1999 when Theatreworld chased home the mighty Istabraq.

“It was a massive decision not to ride Hurricane Fly,” said Walsh.

“I knew that he was in great nick but a lot of the credit goes to John Codd (who looks after Faugheen at home). He is a wonderful horse, he has jumped better – he missed the second last.

“I know the betting reflected that I was always going to ride Faugheen but when you are in a stable like Willie’s and you see what Hurricane Fly is doing at home, it is still a big call to make and get off him.

“This is an incredible little horse, a fine horse. He was awkward at the second last but pinged the last and saw it out well.

“He is definitely not slow and no-one else wanted to make it so I was only going to go my fractions in front – I wasn’t going to go theirs. He’s got such a good turn of foot though. This is probably the best feel I’ve ever had from him – it was certainly his biggest challenge facing all these good horses.

“It’s some training performance to have the 1-2-3 and a 1-2 in the Supreme. It’s a great place to work and the man’s a genius. He has a great team of staff around him and it’s brilliant to be part of it.”

Mullins and Walsh’s front-running plan pays off

Willie Mullins, who trained the first three home in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, an unprecedented feat, and who was winning his third race of the afternoon, said: “Ruby [Walsh] told me about a month ago what he was going to do and how he was going to do it – and he did it.

“We looked at the race and we thought no one probably wanted to make it, and Ruby just thought it might be the thing to do. I was happy once he was happy to do it. There didn’t seem to be a potential front-runner. In championship races, it’s always hard to get a front-runner and if you are brave enough to do it, why not?

“I wasn’t concerned at any stage, I thought he was well in control all the time.

Talking about the unbeaten seven-year-old Faugheen, who was bred in Ireland by Dr John Waldron by Germany out of an Accordian mare and who is owned by Rich Ricci, Mullins said:

“He’s young, he’s improving, he’s coming on and what can I say, he’s got a long way to go to be as good as Hurricane Fly. He probably won’t jump a fence. When you’ve got a good hurdler like this there’s no reason to go novice chasing.”

About second-placed Arctic Fire: “Arctic Fire is a horse we know is improving and I don’t think I still have him fit yet, which is incredible but I still can’t see a rib on him.”

Hurricane Fly, running for the fifth time in a race he has won twice: “Hurricane Fly ran a terrific race, I thought he was going to get right into it at the second-last. I think Paul [Townend] was very happy and I was happy how he ran – no disgrace.”

Jezki and New One teams take defeat on the chin

While trainer Willie Mullins was marching triumphantly into the winner’s enclosure to greet the first three in today’s Stan James Champion Hurdle, there were no celebrations for connections of Jezki (fourth) and The New One (fifth).

Jezki, the winner last year and a final mount in the race for retiring A P McCoy, is trained by Jessica Harrington, who said: “A P was blaming himself, saying he took on [winner] Faugheen at the top of the hill, and in chasing the winner it probably cost him second or third and he finished fourth. He got to the winner’s quarters and he just took off.

“If he had ridden him to be second to Faugheen he may have been second. We’ll go back to the drawing board and see how he comes home. There’s Punchestown and he doesn’t have to travel for that which is great. I’ve never given a thought to sending him chasing.

“I always thought a lot of Faugheen and he was very good – he did it the hard way and made all the running. I can’t name the last horse to do that in a Champion Hurdle.

“It’s amazing that Willie Mullins has trained the first three, but it just shows how hard it is to win any race in Ireland.”

Sam Twiston-Davies, who rode The New One, said: “I don’t really think he was himself today and hopefully we can get him a lot better. He was awkward and not an easy ride – that’s not like him. The winner is very good, but our fellow is better than you saw today. I thought if I threw him at the second-last he might power round the bend, but he didn’t produce anything, which makes you think he wasn’t quite right.”

The jockey’s father, Nigel, who trains The New One, said: “I’m disappointed, because it didn’t seem like him. He finished a lot closer last year when he made a mistake. We’ll keep going and look at Aintree next month, then come back here next year. He’s not blowing and I’ve no idea what the problem was, but he didn’t seem himself.”

3.20pm Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)
£400,000 total prize fund. For 4yo+, 2m 110y. Weights: 4yo 11st 2lb; 5yo+ 11st 10lb. Allowances fillies & mares 7lb. Penalty value 1st £227,800.00 2nd £85,480.00 3rd £42,800.00 4th £21,320.00 5th £10,720.00 6th £5,360.00

1) FAUGHEEN (IRE) (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-10 Ruby Walsh 4/5f
2) ARCTIC FIRE (GER) (Wicklow Bloodstock Limited) Willie Mullins IRE h6-11-10 Danny Mullins 20/1
3) HURRICANE FLY (IRE) (George Creighton & Rose Boyd) Willie Mullins IRE 11-11-10 Paul Townend 8/1
4) JEZKI (IRE) (J P McManus) Jessica Harrington IRE h7-11-10 A P McCoy 6/1
5) THE NEW ONE (IRE) (Simon Such & Gino Paletta) Nigel Twiston-Davies 7-11-10 Sam Twiston-Davies
6) KITTEN ROCK (FR) (J P McManus) Edward O’Grady IRE 5-11-10 Noel Fehily
7) BERTIMONT (FR) (Chris Giles) Dan Skelton t5-11-10 Harry Skelton
8) VANITEUX (FR) (Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes) Nicky Henderson 6-11-10 Barry Geraghty

8 ran
Distances: 1½, 5, 1¾, ½, 1, 6, 12
Breeder: Dr John Waldron
Breeding: b g Germany (USA) — Miss Pickering (IRE) (Accordion)
Tote Win £1.80 Place £1.10 £3.10 £1.80 Exacta £18.10

Winning Trainer: WILLIE MULLINS Date of Birth: 15/9/56 Based: Closutton, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow Background: Willie Mullins was six-times amateur champion rider in Ireland and his major successes in the saddle included the 1983 John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree on Atha Cliath, before taking out a training licence in 1988. He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families, being a son of Paddy Mullins, the now retired outstanding all-round trainer, whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup two years later. Willie Mullins rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Mullins has over 100 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in Co Carlow. He was crowned both Champion and Leading Trainer in Ireland for the first time in the 2007/08 season and has retained the title since. Cheltenham Festival wins (36): Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2010 Thousand Stars, 2011 Final Approach), OLBG Mares Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 Quevega), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree, 2009 Mikael D’Haguenet, 2014 Faugheen), Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1995 Tourist Attraction, 2007 Ebaziyan, 2013 Champagne Fever, 2014 Vautour, 2015 Douvan), RSA Chase (1998 Florida Pearl, 2004 Rule Supreme, 2009 Cooldine), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (1996 Wither Or Which, 1997 Florida Pearl, 1998 Alexander Banquet, 2000 Joe Cullen, 2005 Missed That, 2008 Cousin Vinny, 2012 Champagne Fever, 2013 Briar Hill), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2002 Scolardy), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly, 2015 Faugheen), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2011 Sir Des Champs, 2014 Don Poli), JLT Novices’ Chase (2012 Sir Des Champs), National Hunt Chase (2013 Back In Focus), Racing Post Arkle (2015 Un De Sceaux) Number of Winners in Britain (2001/02-2013/14): 4; 1; 1; 2; 0; 1; 2; 3; 2; 4; 5; 6; 11 Wins in Britain this season: 10

Winning Jockey: Ruby Walsh Born: May 14, 1979 Background: Ruby (short for Rupert) is now solely based in Ireland with champion trainer Willie Mullins, having ended his hugely successful 10 and a half year association with Paul Nicholls in May, 2013. He is the son of 11-times Irish amateur champion jockey, Ted Walsh, now a trainer. Ruby is the second of Walsh’s four children and his younger sister Katie is a successful amateur. He followed in his father’s footsteps when capturing the Irish amateur riders’ championship (1996-97) at the age of 19 while still studying for his Leaving Certificate. He was crowned champion Irish National Hunt jockey in his first season as a professional (1998/99) and has taken the title a further eight times (2000/2001, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10 & 2013/14). First Winner: Siren Song, Gowran Park, July 25, 1995 Cheltenham Festival Wins (44): Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2010 Sanctuaire), Ladbrokes World Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 Big Buck’s), OLBG Mares Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 Quevega), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree, 2009 Mikael D’Haguenet, 2014 Faugheen), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2008 Celestial Halo), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (1998 Alexander Banquet, 2005 Missed That, 2013 Briar Hill), Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate (2002 Blowing Wind), Racing Post Arkle (2003 Azertyuiop), Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (2004 Azertyuiop, 2008 & 2009 Master Minded), A P McCoy Grand Annual Chase (2004 St Pirran), Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2004 Sporazene, 2006 Desert Quest, 2009 American Trilogy, 2011 Final Approach), Ryanair Chase (2005 Thisthatandtother, 2007 Taranis), Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2006 Noland, 2010 Al Ferof, 2013 Champagne Fever, 2014 Vautour, 2015 Douvan), Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (2006 Dun Doire), RSA Chase (2007 Denman, 2009 Cooldoine), Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (2007 & 2009 Kauto Star), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly, 2015 Faugheen), Racing Post Arkle (2015 Un De Sceaux) Number of Wins in Britain (1998/99-2013/14): 1; 1; 5; 13; 77; 62; 81; 69; 73; 69; 69; 69; 26; 55; 57; 7 Wins in Britain this season: 10

Mullins again – even with his second string

There is no stopping trainer Willie Mullins, who pulled off a 62/1 four-timer on day one of The Festival when taking the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle with Glens Melody.

In doing so he equalled Nicky Henderson’s record of four winners in one afternoon at the meeting, set on day two in 2012.

Taking some of the shine off the moment for Mullins was that Annie Power, who he also trains, and who was sent off the 1/2 favourite, crumpled when landing over the last hurdle, when apparently in full control. Jockey Ruby Walsh was quickly on his feet, but the race-changing exit left 6/1 chance Glens Melody in front and she duly held on to beat Polly Peachum and Bitofapuzzle by a head and a neck.

Mullins said: “It’s rare to have four runners on a day like this, let alone four winners – I keep saying to myself, ‘enjoy it while it lasts’. You couldn’t write a script like that, but I just knew that all the horses were doing everything right. We had no sickness, no virus, no bad weather – it was going scarily well, and I thought coming here it was either going to be a great success or a blow-out.”

Of Glens Melody he said: “I thought she was going to get caught up the hill, but she held on, and Annie is up and Ruby is up so it all looks okay. I just felt Ruby stood off at the hurdle, probably through going too well, and clipped the top.

“Ruby set her alight and she took off, but I was shaking so much I couldn’t really see.”

Glens Melody was second to another Mullins’ supermare, Quevega, in last year’s race, and he added: “I’m delighted for [owner/breeder] Fiona McStay, who decided to keep her mare in training to come back for this race, and it’s worked out fantastically well.

“I’m also pleased for Paul [Townend, who rode the winner]. He is second jockey, but has gained his reward today and ridden a winner at The Festival.”

Glens Melody to retire at end of season after Cheltenham victory

Fiona McStay, who owns OLBG Mares’ Hurdle winner Glens Melody, is also the seven-year-old daughter of King’s Theatre’s breeder.

She said: “She was second here behind Quevega last year, and she was to be retired after such a good run, but we decided to give this race one more go this year. We didn’t think we’d be taking Annie Power on!”

Glens Melody will retire to the paddocks at the end of this season. Fiona McStay has four of Glens Melody’s siblings, but their dam Glens Music died this year.

“To retire now on the back of a Cheltenham win is what you dream of; it doesn’t get any better than that,” said McStay. “She’ll finish the season out but then that’s it. I have a few of the family coming behind her – I have a full-sister now with Willie, so we’ll see if she has any of her sister’s ability. When you are breeding them, it’s very special to see them do so well – I bucket-fed her as a foal because she was very timid in the field with the others.

“But as a racehorse she’s gutsy, genuine and honest and has never ran a race where she hasn’t put 100% into it. She’s a really tough mare. I’ve been there for every race she has run – I’ve never missed one. She’s never disappointed.

“This is a dream of a lifetime – everybody wants to win at Cheltenham and I can’t believe we are standing here in the winner’s enclosure.”

Peachum squeezed out

The Nicky Henderson-trained Polly Peachum was just denied a famous victory in a dramatic finish to the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The race looked at the mercy of the 1/2 favourite Annie Power as she headed to the final flight several lengths clear of her rivals. However, she misjudged the hurdle and took a crashing fall, leaving stablemate Glens Melody to fight out the finish with Polly Peachum and Bitofapuzzle.

Henderson’s mare tried to resist the challenge of eventual winner Glens Melody as the line approached but couldn’t quite hold on, going down by a head with Bitofapuzzle a neck back in third.

“We’re very pleased with her,” said Henderson.

“It looked like we were all playing for second place but, even with that window open after what happened at the last, we still couldn’t quite get there!”

Trainer Harry Fry was also happy with the performance of third-placed Bitofapuzzle.

“She’s run well,” said Fry.

“It’s a shame what happened to Annie Power. We’re very pleased with our filly though.”

Fry also had news of his other runners this afternoon.

“We were very disappointed with Jollyalan (who finished eighth in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle) so we’ll have a look at him when we get home. Mendip Express (who finished 17th in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase) finished distressed.”

4.00pm OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
£100,000 total prize fund. For 4yo+ fillies & mares, 2m 4f. Weights: 4yo 10st 10lb; 5yo+ 11st 5lb. Penalty value 1st £56,270.00 2nd £21,200.00 3rd £10,610.00 4th £5,300.00 5th £2,660.00 6th £1,330.00

1) GLENS MELODY (IRE) (Fiona McStay) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-05 Paul Townend 6/1
2) POLLY PEACHUM (IRE) (Lady Tennant) Nicky Henderson 7-11-05 Barry Geraghty 9/1
3) BITOFAPUZZLE (Chris Giles & Potensis Limited) Harry Fry t7-11-05 Noel Fehily 16/1
4) THE PIRATE’S QUEEN (IRE) (The Dunkley & Reilly Partnership) Alan King 6-11-05 Denis O’Regan 25/1
5) CAROLE’S SPIRIT (Paul Murphy) Robert Walford b7-11-05 Daryl Jacob
6) PASS THE TIME (Dajam Ltd) Neil Mulholland 6-11-05 Mark Quinlan
7) DARK SPIRIT (IRE) (Richard Abbott & Mario Stavrou) Evan Williams 7-11-05 Adam Wedge
8) HIDDEN IDENTITY (IRE) (Paul Bowtell) Tim Vaughan t9-11-05 Richard Johnson
9) EMILY GRAY (IRE) (J Perriss) Kim Bailey p7-11-05 Aidan Coleman
10) MISCHIEVOUS MILLY (IRE) (A Stewart & A Taylor) Oliver Sherwood p7-11-05 Leighton Aspell
11) CENTASIA (Roger Brookhouse) Warren Greatrex t8-11-05 Dougie Costello
12) SWING BOWLER (K Alexander) David Pipe tb8-11-05 Tom Scudamore
DNF) SURENESS (IRE) (P Hott) Charlie Mann t5-11-05 Gavin Sheehan
Fell last) ANNIE POWER (IRE) (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-05 Ruby Walsh 1/2f
Fell last) L’UNIQUE (FR) (Denis Barry) Alan King 6-11-05 Wayne Hutchinson

15 ran
Non-runner: The Govaness (self cert – bruised foot)
Distances: hd, nk, 3½, 9, ¾, 1¾, 1¼, 2½, 14, 1¼, 8
Breeder: Fiona McStay
Breeding: b m King´s Theatre (IRE) — Glens Music (IRE) (Orchestra)
Tote Win £7.20 Place £1.60 £1.70 £3.00 Exacta £39.50

Winning Trainer: WILLIE MULLINS Date of Birth: 15/9/56 Based: Closutton, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow Background: Willie Mullins was six-times amateur champion rider in Ireland and his major successes in the saddle included the 1983 John Smith’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree on Atha Cliath, before taking out a training licence in 1988. He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families, being a son of Paddy Mullins, the now retired outstanding all-round trainer, whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup two years later. Willie Mullins rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Mullins has over 100 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in Co Carlow. He was crowned both Champion and Leading Trainer in Ireland for the first time in the 2007/08 season and has retained the title since. Cheltenham Festival wins (37): Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (2010 Thousand Stars, 2011 Final Approach), OLBG Mares Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 Quevega, 2015 Glens Melody), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2008 Fiveforthree, 2009 Mikael D’Haguenet, 2014 Faugheen), Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1995 Tourist Attraction, 2007 Ebaziyan, 2013 Champagne Fever, 2014 Vautour, 2015 Douvan), RSA Chase (1998 Florida Pearl, 2004 Rule Supreme, 2009 Cooldine), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (1996 Wither Or Which, 1997 Florida Pearl, 1998 Alexander Banquet, 2000 Joe Cullen, 2005 Missed That, 2008 Cousin Vinny, 2012 Champagne Fever, 2013 Briar Hill), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2002 Scolardy), Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 & 2013 Hurricane Fly, 2015 Faugheen), Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2011 Sir Des Champs, 2014 Don Poli), JLT Novices’ Chase (2012 Sir Des Champs), National Hunt Chase (2013 Back In Focus), Racing Post Arkle (2015 Un De Sceaux) Number of Winners in Britain (2001/02-2013/14): 4; 1; 1; 2; 0; 1; 2; 3; 2; 4; 5; 6; 11 Wins in Britain this season: 11 His four winners today equals Nicky Henderson’s record for triumphs in a day at The Festival set in 2012

Winning Jockey: Paul Townend Background: Townend, a cousin of jockey Davy Condon, grew up around horses and was well known in County Cork for his abilities on the pony circuit. He also has experience in show jumping. Started riding as an apprentice on the Flat and came third in his first race aboard Temlett at Ballinrobe on May 2, 2007. A couple of weeks later, he had two wins in four days thanks to some great riding on The Chip Chopman, trained by Seamus O’ Donnell. He was put firmly on the National Hunt map at the 2008 Galway festival when winning the Galway Hurdle on Indian Pace, trained by John Kiely. Attached to the powerful Willie Mullins yard. Cheltenham Festival Wins (2): Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2011 What A Charm), OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (2015 Glens Melody) Other big Race wins include: Irish Arkle (2009 Golden Silver), December Festival Hurdle (2010 Hurricane Fly, 2011 Unaccompanied), Irish Champion Hurdle (2011 Hurricane Fly), Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (2010 Hurricane Fly), Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase (2009 Golden Silver), Boylesports.com Champion Chase (2010 Golden Silver), Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle (2010 & 2011 Quevega), Rabobank Champion Hurdle (2010 Hurricane Fly), Galway Plate (2011 Blazing Tempo)

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
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CHAMPIONS DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

Record First-Day crowd at The Festival

The attendance today on Champion Day at Cheltenham Racecourse came to 63,249, a new record for the first day of The Festival.

This figure is 6,166 more than last year’s 57,083 which in itself was a first-day record for The Festival since it became a four-day meeting in 2005.

The previous highest opening day crowd was 61,132 in 2002.

Ian Renton, Regional Director of Jockey Club Racecourses South West, commented: “The attraction of the very highest quality Jump Racing has been well demonstrated today.

AThe Stan James Champion Hurdle had all the ingredients to be a cracker and so it worked out with a new unbeaten champion in Faugheen.

“We are delighted that so many racegoers wanted to be here and they have been rewarded with fantastic racing and wonderful weather.

“We are all looking forward to three more days of The Festival.@

Day/Year 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Tues 63,249 57,083 55,734 55,403 53,953 50,910 48,416
Wed 50,382 52,854 53,015 49,093 50,504 45,649
Thurs 57,316 57,760 58,186 54,953 50,133 47,757
Fri 67,931 68,655 70,765 67,716 67,716 66,852
TOTALS 232,712 235,003 237,369 226,113 219,263 208,674

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CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

Elliott rises to the Birthday Boy’s Cause

Owner J P McManus can truly celebrate his birthday today after seeing his Cause Of Causes land the Toby Balding National Hunt Chase.

The four-mile test was run in memory of the late trainer who won this race twice, with Lucky Vane in 1981 and Boraceva in 1989.

Jamie Codd rode today’s winner, the fifth of the day so far for Irish stables, and another Festival victory for trainer Gordon Elliott, who first landed this race in 2011 with Chicago Grey.

Elliott said: “He made a mistake at the last fence, but Jamie gave him a great ride and it all worked out. It’s great to have a Festival winner on the Tuesday – last year I had to wait until the Friday, but now I can enjoy tonight.

“All being well this horse will now go for the [Crabbie’s] Grand National next month.”

Confirmation of the Aintree plan opens up the possibility that A P McCoy, who is McManus’s retained jockey, will choose Cause Of Causes as his final Crabbie’s Grand National ride before retiring.

Codd batters rivals

Jockey Jamie Codd was wreathed in smiles following the victory of Cause Of Causes in the Toby Balding National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The 8/1 shot was always travelling sweetly under his pilot and when his jockey asked him for his effort as the field bypassed the final fence, he stayed on strongly to record a length and a half victory.

Codd was registering his third victory as an amateur at The Festival following victories in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup on board Character Building (2009) and Junior (2011) and was delighted to have ridden a winner for owner J P McManus on his 64th birthday.

“It’s just fantastic,” said Codd.

“To do it for it for Gordon (Elliott – trainer), who I’ve been associated with for a long time, it’s just fantastic. I ride a lot of point to pointers and a few bumper horses for him – it’s just magic.

“I didn’t actually know it was J P’s birthday so that makes it extra special. I don’t actually ride for him too much. I had a ride for him at Punchestown last year and we finished third and this is my second ride for him, so it’s actually just unbelievable.

“It was very easy actually. Gordon said to just hunt away on him and he’s got a lot of class. He’s not an exuberant jumper, he likes to pop away and get into his own rhythm so I never actually had to ask him any questions but, to be honest, I was very confident down the back straight on the final circuit.

“He was taking me along very well, I gave him a little kick just after the third last and he just went with me and I had to say to him ‘Woah boy!’. I got a lovely run up on the inner and I knew the last was bypassed so I just had to come in slightly. He’s run on really well though – this is a special moment.”

Pipe pleased with Buffalo’s Charge

David Pipe, the trainer of Broadway Buffalo, who finished second in the Toby Balding National Hunt Chase to Cause Of Causes, said: “He’s run a cracker. We always thought the step up to four miles would suit. He’ll run in the Grand National if he gets in, but I don’t think he will.”

Broadway Buffalo’s jockey Katie Walsh said: “I missed the ditch at the top of the hill. I thought the winner was well in on the day. He’s a well-seasoned novice; he was second in a Paddy Power, second in a Galway Hurdle, second in a Kim Muir last year – he has plenty of class, but my fella ran a cracker.”

4.40pm Toby Balding National Hunt Chase
(Listed Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase)
£85,000 total prize fund. For 5yo+, 4m. Weights: 5yo 11st 4lb; 6yo+ 11st 6lb. Allowances mares 7lb. Penalty value 1st £50,966.00 2nd £15,920.50 3rd £7,956.00 4th £3,978.00 5th £1,989.00 6th £1,003.00

1) CAUSE OF CAUSES (USA) (J P McManus) Gordon Elliott IRE tp7-11-06 Mr Jamie Codd 8/1
2) BROADWAY BUFFALO (IRE) (Jo Tracey) David Pipe bt7-11-06 Ms Katie Walsh 12/1
3) THE JOB IS RIGHT (Mrs M Devine) Michael Hourigan IRE b7-11-06 Mr Derek O’Connor 10/1
4) PERFECT GENTLEMAN (IRE) (Jackie Mullins) Willie Mullins IRE 10-11-6 Mr Patrick Mullins 10/1
5) SEGO SUCCESS (IRE) (Tim Leadbeater) Alan King 7-11-06 Mr Sam Waley-Cohen 9/2
6) COGRY (Graham & Alison Jelley) Nigel Twiston-Davies 6-11-06 Mr Steven Clements
7) BALLYCULLA (IRE) (No Dramas Partnership) Warren Greatrex p8-11-06 Mr Harry Bannister
8) DOING FINE (IRE) (Carl Hinchy) Rebecca Curtis bt7-11-06 Mr Declan Lavery
9) RETURN SPRING (IRE) (D Jones) Philip Hobbs b8-11-06 Mr Ciaran Gethings
10) VERY WOOD (FR) (Gigginstown House Stud) Noel Meade IRE p6-11-06 Miss Nina Carberry
11) TOP TOTTI (Hamer, Hawkes & Helin) Henry Daly 7-10-13 Miss Jane Williams
12) PERFECT CANDIDATE (IRE) (ISL Recruitment) Fergal O’Brien 8-11-06 Miss Aly Stirling
DNF) I NEED GOLD (IRE) (Deva Racing Golden Partnership) Donald McCain 7-11-06 Mr Barry O’Neill
DNF) VIVALDI COLLONGES (FR) (The Gi Gi Syndicate) Paul Nicholls t6-11-06 Mr Will Biddick
DNF) ROYAL PALLADIUM (FR) (Mrs A Thompson) Venetia Williams 7-11-06 Mr Tom Hamilton
Fell) THEATRE QUEEN (IRE) (Datrack) Mark Wall h8-10-13 Mr Mark Wall
Fell) THUNDER AND ROSES (IRE) (Gigginstown House Stud) Sandra Hughes IRE 7-11-6 Mr J J King

17 ran last fence omitted
Distances: 1½, 5, 6, 6, 1, ½, 1¾, 19, nk, 27, ¾
Breeder: Flaxman Holdings Limited
Breeding: b g Dynaformer (USA) — Angel In My Heart (FR) (Rainbow Quest (USA))
Tote Win £8.80 Place £3.10 £3.70 £3.80 Exacta £95.90

Winning Trainer: GORDON ELLIOTT Based: Capranny, Trim, Co Meath, Ireland Background: Former point-to-point rider. Started out at Tony Martin’s Meath stables. Moved to Martin Pipe in 2002 and rode one winner from six amateur rides. Began training in 2006 at Capranny Stables, owned by Barry Callaghan, head of the Dun Doire Syndicate. Won the John Smith’s Grand National in 2007, despite not having recorded a victory in Ireland. Is an avid follower of Australian daytime soap Home And Away. Cheltenham Festival Wins (5): National Hunt Chase (2011 Chicago Grey, 2015 Cause Of Causes), Coral Cup (2011 Carlito Brigante), Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2013 Flaxen Flare), JCB Triumph Hurdle (2014 Tiger Roll) Aintree Festival Wins: John Smith’s Grand National (2007 Silver Birch), Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle (2011 Russian War) Big Race Wins Include: Ebor (2010 Dirar), John Durkan Chase (2014 Don Cossack), Ladbroke Hurdle (2012 Cause Of Causes, 2014 Bayan) Wins in Britain (2006/07-2013/14): 4; 8; 24; 36; 35; 32; 17; 19 Wins in Britain This Season: 30

Winning Jockey: Mr Jamie Codd Background: Former conditional with Willie Mullins who is now a leading amateur. Had his first ride at the Cheltenham Festival, aged 20, aboard Hedgehunter in the 2003 National Hunt Chase. Cheltenham Festival Wins (3): Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (2009 Character Building, 2011 Junior), National Hunt Chase (2015 Cause Of Causes) Wins in Britain (2002/03-2013/14): 0; 0; 0; 0; 0; 1; 1; 1; 1; 0; 1; Wins in Britain this season: 3

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
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CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

Willie Mullins Press Conference

Willie Mullins spoke glowingly about Stan James Champion Hurdle victor Faugheen in a press conference after the race. Mullins admitted he had reservations about whether the horse could win the hurdling championship: “I didn’t think he would win that impressively. I was wondering like punters, the media and the bookmakers, could he take on the Grade One horses and beat them because we picked races for him that did not have top Grade One horses in. However, it paid off and he learned his trade, he got confident. Ruby rode him with huge confidence and he showed that he was the good horse Ruby and everybody else thought he was.

“Faugheen has to be right up there with the other great horses I’ve trained. I’m not going to say he is as good as Hurricane Fly in his heyday as he has a lot more improving to do. This is only his second Grade One. He is a very good horse and probably over hurdles the second best I’ve trained. He won’t jump a fence for a long time, perhaps ever. I’m happy to keep him over hurdles and we can find some other chasers in the yard.

“We bought him off Andy Slattery. The day we bought him, he just looked like an ordinary racehorse. There wasn’t any wow factor about him. Andy said he was better than average, we took his advice and it has paid off. He won a bumper by 20 lengths beating Josses Hill. He kept winning but even after his victory at Cheltenham last year, we didn’t think he was a Champion Hurdle horse. We thought he would be a chaser and were going to send him novice chasing. When he won at Cheltenham last year, he hit a lot of the hurdles so I thought he would need to jump a fence to make him jump. Ruby Walsh was keen on him going hurdling and that was a key factor.”

Mullins did admit he was not sure how good the seven-year-old could become: “I don’t think Faugheen could be better than Hurricane Fly. What Hurricane Fly has done I don’t think will be surpassed. If it is I’ll be glad to admit it. No horse in my mind can do what Hurricane Fly has done. To me, I don’t think I’ll have the likes of Hurricane Fly again.”

Mullins also praised the efforts of Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly who led home a one-two-three for the Irish trainer in the race, the first time it has ever been achieved. Mullins stated: “A one-two-three is a dream. On paper it is my best training feat certainly. To get three horses here in that condition is good for anyone but then to get the luck in running is vital.

“Hurricane Fly ran a fantastic race and was right there at the second last. Possibly on softer ground, he would have made more of an impression. However, I didn’t think he was going to beat the winner at any point today.”

Mullins suggested a possible tilt at the Emirates Melbourne Cup could be on the card for Arctic Fire. Mullins added: “Arctic Fire is improving all the time. He may go down the Flat route. He has the same ownership as Simenon so we may look go for the Melbourne Cup route because I think I haven’t got him really right yet. Looking at his ribs as something to go by, he is a big horse with condition so I think he is still going to improve.”

As for the future, Mullins suggested that: “All three horses may go to Punchestown. I’ll look at the Aintree Hurdle as it is a race I have never won so I’ll see if I can send one of them there.”

As for his three other winners on the day, the handler was pleased for jockey Paul Townend to win a Grade One on the first day of the festival through Glens Melody’s gutsy success in the OLBG Mares Hurdle. Mullins remarked: “I’m delighted for Paul to get a Grade One winner on the board in the first day of Cheltenham after having to play second fiddle to Ruby Walsh.”

Mullins also reported Annie Power to be fine after her last-flight fall in the race won by Glens Melody: “Annie Power’s good. It was a horrible fall, she is going to be sore in the morning on her leg and shoulder but she is ok.”

The successes of Douvan and Un De Sceaux were also mentioned by Mullins: “All season I was saying every time I work Douvan at home at home, he comes up there with a half-speed and does everything so easy. He is as good as he looked at home. As for Un De Sceaux, I was just anxious that he handled the track and that the day would not get to him. He jumped nicely and won well.”

Mullins highlighted that the success had to be down to how well the horses had been training. He said: “It was scary how well everything was going at home. We didn’t have any setbacks; I thought it was going fantastic, the results today proved how fantastic everything was. We were only beating our horses on the gallops but what happened on the gallops came out on the track today. It was scary how good it was.

“I have the luxury of having wealthy owners who can invest in our operation. The team at home do the work for me and help take the pressure off me. We’ve learnt to use our gallops the way it’s best for us to use them.

“I was leading trainer at The Festival last year but we had six seconds so we went away thinking how we can make some of those seconds into winners. At this point of time today, it suggests we got over that little hurdle as well as getting the luck that is needed to get those winners.”

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

One for Wales, thanks to Irish

Irish Cavalier, trained in Pembrokeshire by Rebecca Curtis, won the CHAPS Restaurant Barbados Novices’ Handicap Chase, the closing event on day one of The Festival.

This was Curtis’s fourth success in as many years at The Festival, and it also completed an 83/1 double for jockey Paul Townend, who is understudy to Ruby Walsh at Willie Mullins’ yard, but who has teamed up with Curtis when available.

Curtis admitted she had never visited Barbados, let alone the winning sponsor’s restaurant, but cheerfully added: “Perhaps Andrew [McIver, the winning owner] will take me there now!”

Of six-year-old Irish Cavalier she said: “We fancied him to go well today because he’s been running on heavy, winter ground and he’s happier on this. Despite everything, he ran really well here last time out.

“At halfway I didn’t think he was going to win, but once he pulled him out wide he ran on like a train. I don’t think the cheekpieces made a big difference – in these big handicaps they have to travel well through the race and he was a bit novicey, but he’s learning.

“I definitely think he needs stepping up in trip, but we’ll see what the handicapper thinks before making a plan. Paul Townend has been a lucky jockey for us.”

Surreal feeling for McIver as Irish Cavalier gives him a first Festival winner

Irish Cavalier’s triumph in the CHAPS Restaurants Barbados Novices’ Handicap Chase was a first Festival winner for owner Andrew McIver.

He said: “It feels fantastic, but a bit surreal. Halfway through the race I didn’t think he was going to win, and I was very surprised. And it looks like he can go further.

“Paul [Townend, riding his second winner of the day] gave him a very good ride.

McIver, the former chief executive of Sportingbet, has three horses in training with Rebecca Curtis.

“This is the best!” he said. “I’ve owned him for three years, and have owned racehorses for about six years. I’ve had Flat horses with Clive Cox, but the jumpers have mainly been with Rebecca.”

5.15pm CHAPS Restaurants Barbados Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed)
£60,000 total prize fund. For 5yo+, rated 0-140, 2m 4f 110y. Weights: highest weight 11st 10lb; minimum weight 10st. Penalty value 1st £34,170.00 2nd £12,822.00 3rd £6,420.00 4th £3,198.00 5th £1,608.00 6th £804.00

1) IRISH CAVALIER (IRE) (A McIver) Rebecca Curtis p6-11-07 Paul Townend 11/1
2) THOMAS CRAPPER (apis.uk.com) Robin Dickin 8-11-04 Charlie Poste 6/1f
3) GENEROUS RANSOM (IRE) (Sir Christopher & Lady Wates) Nick Gifford p7-11-06 Daryl Jacob 8/1
4) HORIZONTAL SPEED (IRE) (Favourites Racing Ltd) Philip Hobbs 7-11-07 Richard Johnson 12/1
5) KNOCK HOUSE (IRE) (Camilla Radford) Mick Channon 6-11-07 Brian Hughes 12/1
6) LITTLE JON (R Frosell & Mrs L Taylor) Nigel Twiston-Davies 7-11-03 Ryan Hatch (5)
7) DROMNEA (IRE) (Mrs A Daly) Mouse Morris IRE 8-11-08 Mark Enright
8) LEAP DEARG (IRE) (Mary Hayes) Robert Tyner IRE 7-11-09 Philip Enright
9) COCKTAILS AT DAWN (Robin Geffen & Sir John Ritblat) Nicky Henderson 7-11-05 Barry Geraghty
10) GORES ISLAND (IRE) (Collins, Horsfall, Michael & O’Sullivan) Gary Moore 9-11-04 Joshua Moore
11) GORSKY ISLAND (Silkwood Racing Partnership) Tom George 7-11-08 Denis O’Regan
12) VIVACCIO (FR) (Boultbee Brooks) Venetia Williams 6-11-07 Liam Treadwell
13) STELLAR NOTION (IRE) (Roger Brookhouse) Tom George t7-11-07 Paddy Brennan
DNF) BOLD HENRY (J P McManus) Philip Hobbs 9-11-07 A P McCoy
DNF) RUM AND BUTTER (IRE) (J P McManus) Jonjo O’Neill p7-11-05 Richie Mclernon
DNF) MONKEY KINGDOM (Carl Hinchy) Rebecca Curtis ht7-11-05 Gavin Sheehan
DNF) COLD MARCH (FR) (Andrew Brooks) Venetia Williams 5-11-09 Aidan Coleman
DNF) KELTUS (FR) (Donlon & MacDonald) Paul Nicholls t5-11-04 Sam Twiston-Davies
Fell 1st) GOLDEN HOOF (IRE) (The Hoof Partnership) Nicky Henderson 7-11-07 Andrew Tinkler
PU) KILLALA QUAY (Richard & Susan Perkins) Charlie Longsdon p8-11-10 Noel Fehily

20 ran
Distances: 2½, ½, nk, 5, 2, 2½, 5, 11, sh, nk, 1½, ½
Breeder: Limetree Stud
Breeding: gr or roan Aussie Rules (USA) — Tracker (Bustino)
Tote Win £14.50 Place £3.40 £2.00 £2.70 £3.60 Exacta £96.60

Winning Trainer: REBECCA CURTIS Born: April 1, 1980 Based: Forest Farm, Newport, Pembrokeshire Background: graduated from riding in junior showjumping events to point-to-pointing before joining Peter Bowen for two years. She then took up a post as an assistant trainer to Dan Hendricks in the US for four and a half years before returning to Newport to set up on her own with just five horses in 2007. First Winner: Mango Catcher, John Smith’s Extra Cold Handicap Chase, Chepstow, April 5, 2008. Cheltenham Festival Wins (4): National Hunt Chase (2012 Teaforthree), Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2013 At Fishers Cross), RSA Chase (2014 O’Faolains Boy), CHAPS Restaurants Barbados Novices’ Handicap Chase (2015 Irish Cavalier) Other Big Race Wins: Neptune Investment Management Classic Novices’ Hurdle (2013 At Fishers Cross), Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (2014 O’Faolains Boy) Wins (2007/08-2013/14): 1; 8; 25; 28; 39; 49; 38 Wins This Season: 34

Winning Jockey: Paul Townend Background: Townend, a cousin of jockey Davy Condon, grew up around horses and was well known in County Cork for his abilities on the pony circuit. He also has experience in show jumping. Started riding as an apprentice on the Flat and came third in his first race aboard Temlett at Ballinrobe on May 2, 2007. A couple of weeks later, he had two wins in four days thanks to some great riding on The Chip Chopman, trained by Seamus O’ Donnell. He was put firmly on the National Hunt map at the 2008 Galway festival when winning the Galway Hurdle on Indian Pace, trained by John Kiely. Attached to the powerful Willie Mullins yard. Cheltenham Festival Wins (3): Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2011 What A Charm), OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (2015 Glens Melody), CHAPS Restaurants Barbados Novices’ Handicap Chase (2015 Irish Cavalier)

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

GOING NEWS

The going on the Old Course at the end of the first day of The Festival, Champion Day, remains:

Chase and Hurdle Courses – Good to Soft, Good in places
Cross Country Course – Good, Good to Soft in places

Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s Clerk of the Course, said:

“We’re not expecting any change overnight. There’s a dry night forecast and rain tomorrow afternoon. There’s between two and four millimetres forecast throughout the afternoon on Wednesday.”

WATER JUMP

The water jump was bypassed in the final race of the day, the CHAPS Restaurant Barbados Novices’ Handicap Chase. The reason for this was because the board at the bottom of the jump had been broken during the running of the previous race, the Toby Balding National Hunt Chase.

THEATRE QUEEN

Following the running of the Toby Balding National Hunt Chase, Theatre Queen was humanely put down.

MORE JOCKEY REACTION

Paul Townend, after winning the Grade One OLBG Mares’ Hurdle on Glens Melody following stable companion Annie Power’s fall with the race at her mercy, said: “It’s not the nicest way to win but she deserves it.

“Glens Melody is a cracking mare and I am delighted for the owners keeping her in training and giving me the ride on her.

“She knows more about racing that I do and I would trust her with my life.”

The same jockey partnered Hurricane Fly to finish third to stable companion Faugheen in the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

Townend remarked: “It’s a privilege to be able to ride Hurricane Fly and be part of it all. I got a great ride off him.

“When Ruby (Walsh on Faugheen) made a bit of a mistake at the second last, I thought that I had a chance but I was flat to the boards when I straightened up.

“To be fair to the little horse, he stuck out his head and galloped to the line for me again. It’s a privilege to ride him and he is a star.”

Danny Mullins, who partnered another Mullins-trained runner, Arctic Fire, into second in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, declared: “He ran a great race.

“Ruby probably got it his own way in front and I would have liked to have seen a few more taking him on when I was dropped in and switched off.

“He is a horse for the future – he was only a handicapper here last year and second to Faugheen this year – and you would definitely be happy with him going forward. You wouldn’t mind taking on Faugheen again next year.”

THE FESTIVAL 2015, CHELTENHAM
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
CHAMPION DAY, TUESDAY, MARCH 10

Irish Independent Dessie Hughes Leading Trainer Award

Name 1st 2nd 3rd
Willie Mullins IRE 4 2 1
Rebecca Curtis 1 – -
Gordon Elliott IRE 1 – -
Neil Mulholland 1 – -
Henry de Bromhead IRE – 1 1
Nicky Henderson – 1 1
Robin Dickin – 1 -
Tom George – 1 -
David Pipe – 1 -
Harry Fry – – 1
Nick Gifford – – 1
Michael Hourigan IRE – – 1
Tony Martin IRE – – 1

Boodles Leading Jockey Award

Name 1st 2nd 3rd
Ruby Walsh 3 – -
Paul Townend 2 1 1
Barry Geraghty 1 1 1
Mr Jamie Codd 1 – -
Johnny Burke – 1 1
Paddy Brennan – 1 -
Danny Mullins – 1 -
Charlie Poste – 1 -
Ms Katie Walsh – 1 -
Bryan Cooper – – 1
Noel Fehily – – 1
Daryl Jacob – – 1
Mr Derek O’Connor – – 1

The BetBright Cup (Prestbury Cup)

Ireland – 5 wins
Great Britain – 2 wins

Winners so far

1.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
DOUVAN (FR) (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-7 Ruby Walsh 2/1f

2.05pm Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Grade 1)
UN DE SCEAUX (FR) (Edward O’Connell) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-04 Ruby Walsh 4/6f

2.40pm Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
THE DRUIDS NEPHEW (IRE) (The Stonehenge Druids) Neil Mulholland p8-11-03 Barry Geraghty 8/1

3.20pm Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)
FAUGHEEN (IRE) (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-10 Ruby Walsh 4/5f

4.00pm OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
GLENS MELODY (IRE) (Fiona McStay) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-05 Paul Townend 6/1

4.40pm Toby Balding National Hunt Chase (Listed Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase)
CAUSE OF CAUSES (USA) (J P McManus) Gordon Elliott IRE tp7-11-06 Mr Jamie Codd 8/1

5.15pm CHAPS Restaurants Barbados Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed)
IRISH CAVALIER (IRE) (Andrew McIver) Rebecca Curtis p6-11-07 Paul Townend 11/1

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