All news from Gold Cup Day at The Festival 2017

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

GOING GOOD FOR GOLD CUP DAY

 

The going for the fourth and final day of The Festival, Gold Cup Day, has changed to:

 

Good (from Good, Good to Soft in places)

 

Racing today takes place on the New Course.

 

All distances are as advertised.

 

Today’s forecast is for dry conditions, with bright spells and temperatures of around nine degrees Celsius.

 

NON-RUNNERS

 

1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle

8  KING JULIEN (IRE) (Vet’s Certificate, Lame)

 

2.10pm Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle

8  MICK JAZZ (FR) (Self Certificate, Lame)

 

3.30pm Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup

5  EMPIRE OF DIRT (IRE) (Self Certificate, Stiff)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

F1.

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

MAIRE SETS A RECORD PRICE FOR A MARE AT LAST NIGHT’S TATTERSALLS IRELAND CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL SALE

 

A record price for a mare from the point-to-point field was set at Cheltenham last night, when 21 horses were sold for £3 million.

 

Maire Banrigh, a five-year-old daughter of King’s Theatre, only made her racing debut on Sunday, but four days later, at Tattersalls Ireland’s Cheltenham Festival Sale, she was knocked down for £320,000. The successful bidder was jockey Ryan Mahon, who has been fashioning a new career as a bloodstock agent, and who was acting for leading racehorse owner John Hales.

 

Moments later, Mahon added to Hales’ band of racehorses when buying four-year-old The Dellercheckout (Lot 26) for £260,000. The buyer said Dan Skelton would train one horse, and Paul Nicholls the other, although who gains which horse had to be decided.

 

Maire Banrigh, who won a 13-runner mares’ maiden at Lingstown just ahead of her ring appearance, was bought for £40,000 at Goffs UK’s Spring Sale 12 months ago by County Wexford-based point-to-point trainer Richard Black. The Dellercheckout, who had won his sole start, a four-year-old maiden at Lismore, was offered by Cormac Doyle of Monbeg Stables.

 

On a tremendous night of trade, turnover soared 107% compared to the same sale 12 months ago, while the average price for each horse, £142,857, was a 38% increase.

 

J P McManus, who has seen his colours carried to victory at The Festival this week by Buveur D’Air (Stan James Champion Hurdle) and Cause Of Causes (Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase) was among the throng in the bidders’ area, and looked on as his son, Kieran, offered £310,000 to secure four-year-old Palmers Hill. The gelding had finished third on debut in a point at Oldtown – the winner, Flemenshill, made a record £480,000 for a pointer at a sale held at Cheltenham last month – and then won at Tyrella.

 

Dual Derby-winning jockey Joseph O’Brien, who is now making strides as a trainer, also got on the buyers’ list when bidding £220,000 for Speak Easy, also from the Monbeg Stables’ consignment, but trained by Sean Doyle.

 

Colin Tizzard will train Slate House, a five-year-old who won at point in November, and who was bought by jockey-turned-agent Tom Malone for £260,000, while two British pointers also made a splash.

 

Santini, who won at Didmarton in Gloucestershire on his sole start last month, was offered by his breeders, Richard and Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes, the sponsors of yesterday’s Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. Their mare, Dusky Legend, who was third in the contest, is a half-sister to Santini, who was knocked down for £150,000 to Dan Skelton.

 

Sky Pirate, a four-year-old who won at Larkhill in Wiltshire last month for Sophie Lacey’s Herefordshire stable, also found a new home when he was sold for £150,000 to Jonjo O’Neill.

 

 

F4.

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

SIMON CLAISSE ON GROUND & GOING

 

Simon Claisse, Clerk of Course at Cheltenham and Regional Head of Racing Jockey Club Racecourses South West, spoke this morning before the racing on the fourth and final day, Gold Cup Day, of The Festival 2017.

 

He said: “The ground dried out ever so slightly yesterday. I had a good walk round this morning and I have taken the good to soft in places out of the going description.

 

“The ground is now Good on both the Chase and Hurdle tracks of the New Course and there is fresh ground on the inner (seven yards).

 

“As to the weather, it looks like the wind is going to keep any rain out to the west of us, though there is a chance of a little light rain from 5pm onwards. There is only one race to go then and it is not going to make any difference to the ground conditions.”

 

Asked about the fences at Cheltenham, Classie replied: “We have two men on the fences, Keith and John, Keith has been here even longer than I have, 26 or 27 years.

 

“They love these fences to bits, as if they are their children. The fences are here for two years and after that they strip out all of the birch, check that the oak frame is sound, replace any timbers that need replacing, and then they re-pack the fence with birch.

 

“We have seven more races to go at The Festival this year. We have had three terrific days racing, with 21 races so far, and I am looking forward to this afternoon enormously.”

 

UPDATED NON-RUNNERS

 

1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle

8  KING JULIEN (IRE) (Vet’s Certificate, Lame)

 

2.10pm Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle

8  MICK JAZZ (FR) (Self Certificate, Lame)

 

3.30pm Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup

5  EMPIRE OF DIRT (IRE) (Self Certificate, Stiff)

 

THE IRISH INDEPENDENT LEADING TRAINER AWARD AT THE FESTIVAL STANDINGS AHEAD OF GOLD CUP DAY

 

Trainer    1st   2nd   3rd

Gordon Elliott IRE   5   2   2

Willie Mullins IRE   4   2   3

Nicky Henderson   3   5   3

Henry de Bromhead IRE  1   1   2

Noel Meade IRE   1   -   1

Stuart Edmunds   1   -   -

Alan Fleming IRE   1   -   -

Jessica Harrington IRE  1   -   -

Patrick Kelly IRE   1   -   -

Ben Pauling    1   -   -

David Pipe    1   -   -

Nick Williams    1   -   -

Harry Fry    -   1   1

Tom George    -   1   1

Warren Greatrex   -   1   -

Malcolm Jefferson   -   1   -

Neil King    -   1   -

Charlie Longsdon   -   1   -

Gary Moore    -   1   -

Margaret Mullins IRE   -   1   -

Fergal O’Brien    -   1   -

Jonjo O’Neill    -   1   -

Colin Tizzard    -   1   -

Alan King    -   -   3

Enda Bolger IRE   -   -   1

Brian Ellison    -   -   1

Paul Nicholls    -   -   1

Dan Skelton    -   -   1

Venetia Williams   -   -   1

 

THE BOODLES LEADING JOCKEY AWARD AT THE FESTIVAL STANDINGS AHEAD OF GOLD CUP DAY

 

Jockey    1st   2nd   3rd

Ruby Walsh    4   1   2

Noel Fehily    2   2   1

Bryan Cooper    2   1   2

Nico de Boinville   2   -   2

Mr Jamie Codd   2   -   -

Davy Russell    1   2   3

Jack Kennedy    1   -   1

Miss Gina Andrews   1   -   -

David Bass    1   -   -

Richard Johnson   1   -   -

Ms Lisa O’Neill   1   -   -

Denis O’Regan   1   -   -

Robbie Power    1   -   -

Tom Scudamore   1   -   -

Aidan Coleman   -   3   -

Paddy Brennan   -   1   1

Adrian Heskin    -   1   1

Daryl Jacob    -   1   1

Brian Hughes    -   1   -

Jeremiah McGrath   -   1   -

Mr Noel McParlan   -   1   -

Jamie Moore    -   1   -

Danny Mullins    -   1   -

David Mullins    -   1   -

Mr Derek O’Connor   -   1   -

Paul Townend    -   1   -
Trevor Whelan   -   1   -

Wayne Hutchinson   -   -   2

Danny Cook    -   -   1

Charlie Deutsch   -   -   1

Mr Patrick Mullins   -   -   1

Sam Twiston-Davies   -   -   1

Mr Sam Waley-Cohen  -   -   1

 

THE IRISH THOROUGHBRED MARKETING LEADING OWNER AWARD AT THE FESTIVAL STANDINGS AHEAD OF GOLD CUP DAY

 

Owner    1st   2nd   3rd

Gigginstown House Stud  3   2   2

J P McManus    2   2   3

Andrea & Graham Wylie  2   -   1

Susannah Ricci   1   1   1

Ann & Alan Potts   1   1   -

Paul & Clare Rooney   1   1   -

Barry Connell     1   -   -

Maura Gittins    1   -   -

J Humberstone   1   -   -

Edward O’Connell   1   -   -

Aidan O’Ryan    1   -   -

Patricia Pugh    1   -   -

Sally Rowley-Williams  1   -   -

The Knot Again Partnership  1   -   -

Philip Reynolds   1   -   -

The Macaroni Beach Society  1   -   -

Prof Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew 1    -   -

Simon Munir & Isaac Souede -   1   1

Martin Broughton & Friends (1) -   1   -

Adrian Butler & S O’Connor  -   1   -

John & Barbara Cotton  -   1   -

Davies Smith Govier & Brown -   1   -

Mrs J Donnelly   -   1   -

Force Eight Syndicate  -   1   -

Chris Giles    -   1   -

N Griffith & H Haddock  -   1   -

Trevor Hemmings   -   1   -

Masterson Holdings Limited  -   1   -

John Stone    -   1   -

Alan & Andrew Turner  -   1   -

Walters Plant Hire Ltd  -   1   -

Mike Grech & Stuart Parkin  -   -   2

Chris Jones    -   -   2

Doone Hulse Susie Saunders & Lady Cobham -   -   1

D Gilbert, M Lawrence, A Bruce, G Wills -   -   1

HP Racing Who Dares Wins  -   -   1

Mrs M Hurley    -   -   1

Middleham Park Racing  -   -   1

Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes -   -   1

Sideways Syndicate   -   -   1

The Bellamy Partnership  -   -   1

Walters Plant Hire & James & Jean Potter  -   -   1

 

 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

BETBRIGHT CUP

 

STANDINGS AT THE START OF DAY FOUR OF THE FESTIVAL

Ireland 14 wins; Great Britain 7

 

The BetBright Cup is the annual competition which represents and formalises the longstanding rivalry between Britain and Ireland, for the winning-most country at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

Going into the final day, Gold Cup Day, on St Patrick’s Day, the Irish have a commanding lead of 14 wins in the BetBright Cup. With Great Britain only able to draw at best, with seven wins on the board, it leaves the home team with a mountain to climb.

 

BetBright have sponsored the competition, started in 2014 and formerly known as the Prestbury Cup, since 2015 and this year personalities Hector Ó hEochagáin, represents Team Ireland and Phil Tufnell, represents Team GB.

 

Tuffnell, the former England left-arm spin bowler, and team captain on A Question of Sport, said: “It is still statistically possible to get a draw at the moment. It has been a spanking – a mullering. It started off with Gordon Elliot (three wins on day one followed by one win on day two.) who passed the baton to Willie Mullins (four wins on day three.), he’s just about got Ireland over the line. We are licking our wounds a little bit and playing for pride today.

 

“I haven’t been into the weighing room or given our boys a pep talk, I am more walking around with the sunglasses and the hat on keeping a low profile. I am actually starting to think about the rugby a little bit now (Six Nations), I am looking forward to that tomorrow.”

 

TV and radio star, Ó hEochagáin, who originally hails from Navan, replied: “Great Britain and England have decide to leave the European Union, they have decide to leave Trump on one side of us, Brexit on the other side of us. So we have decide to stand up and fight for our rights, and fight as the greatest nation in National Hunt racing!

 

“We did that yesterday in spades, it was a fantastic day – a four-timer for Ruby (Walsh), Un De Sceaux  was the winner of the meeting for me. Let’s Dance, the mare for Rich Ricci. Little Pat Kelly’s small horse, Presenting Percy, from Co Galway. A magnificent day for Ireland yesterday.

 

“I felt the whole country heaved a sigh of relief when Willie Mullins got his first winner. St Patrick, and Ruby, will ride the winner of the Timico Gold Cup today. Djakadam will win it!

 

“It is five, four and three wins respectively to Gordon, Willie and Nicky (Henderson) starting today.

 

“Yesterday Willie could have traded at 100/1 for champion trainer, it just shows how thing as can change in one day’s racing. Of course Willie can win the Irish Independent trainers competition.

 

“The crowd were with Rich Ricci yesterday, he got a great reception in the ring, the crowd were with him for all the bad luck he has had this season. I went up to Rich and said, that is very special what happened there, she is a great mare (Let’s Dance). He got a great reception as an owner and it will happen again in the Gold Cup.”

 

Tuffnell, said: “I am sticking with my boys, NativeRiver and Cue Card (both trained by Colin Tizzard in Dorset). I know Cue Card is an old boy but experience does count. Maybe, I will come out of retirement. I will be up in the attic when I get home and I will be looking for my boots.”

 

PAPER REVIEW

 

While pictures of Carol Vorderman and a rather more warmly-dressed Zara Phillips at Cheltenham yesterday are scattered throughout the news pages of many newspapers this morning, the sports writers have focused on the Cue Card-Native River clash in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, the highlight of The Festival.

 

“Cue An Epic Battle” announces the Racing Post on its front page.

 

Opinion of which of Colin Tizzard’s pair will win gold is divided. “Cue Card has it all: the raw ability, the stage presence and a boy-next-door backstory in a sport normally dominated by the super-rich,” says Greg Wood in The Guardian.

 

“It’s Paddy’s day,” shouts the headline on the front of the Daily Express’s Cheltenham supplement – a nod towards St Patrick’s Day and Paddy Brennan’s attempt to make amends for Cue Card’s fall in last year’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. Inside, Chris Goulding reports Paddy Brennan as saying, “It does feel like a chance at redemption”, while The Scout tips Cue Card for the big race.

 

In The Daily Telegraph, Paul Hayward quotes Brennan as saying: “If there is one thing I could change in my whole life, it’s that movement [into a gap between horses going to the third-last fence in the 2016 race], but I can never fix that.”

 

“Go Native” roars the Daily Mirror, with Newsboy stating: “Native River should be backed to gallop his rivals into submission in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.”

 

In The Sun, Templegate assures readers that, “The Timico Gold Cup is off down the River. Colin Tizzard’s Native River has everything you need in a Gold Cup horse.” Naturally, Sun columnist Richard Johnson agrees, and Matt Chapman backs them up, saying: “Native River has a brilliant chance of claiming jump racing’s biggest prize in what looks like an open year.”

 

The Western Daily Press – which features Ruby Walsh and Nichols Canyon returning after winning the Sun Bet Stayers’ Hurdle on the front page – also plumps for Native River. “His jumping – and stamina – is beyond reproach and he should have too many guns for his stable mate,” says the paper’s Captain Wessex.

 

The Daily Star deserts the Tizzard-trained pair for Djakadam: “Djak Attack” is the Cheltenham supplement’s headline.

 

Sam Turner in the Daily Mail is a sole voice arguing for Outlander: “The score between Djakadam and Outlander stands at one apiece this term and the latter could be some value to give Gordon Elliott a second straight win in the race.”

 

And in The Times, Rob Wright selects Jonjo O’Neill’s More Of That, saying “More Of That undoubtedly has the ability to win here and, if his [wind] problems really are behind him, he looks sure to go well under conditions that suit him.” More Of That is also the Gloucestershire Echo’s local choice, with Melissa Jones giving a well-reasoned argument for her selection,

 

Marcus Armytage goes for the Jessica Harrington-trained Sizing John in The Daily Telegraph: “I believe he has been crying out for today’s trip on this ground.”

 

Lizzie Kelly, who will become the first woman to ride in a Gold Cup for 33 years, garners plenty of press attention. Mark Souster interviews her in The Times, and there is a quarter-page-sized photo of her on page two of The Daily Telegraph.

 

When reviewing Thursday’s racing, and the Willie Mullins-Ruby Walsh four-timer, plenty of attention is given to the irony of Mullins winning the Ryanair Chase after Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary removed 60 horses from Mullins’ yard at the start of the season over an argument about training fees.

 

“We can’t agree on fees but he’s still taking my money,” O’Leary is quoted as saying in The Times.

 

WALSH REFLECTS ON MOMENTOUS THURSDAY AT CHELTENHAM

 

Ruby Walsh reflected on a phenomenal time at the Cheltenham Festival yesterday, after he became the most successful jockey in a day at The Festival ever, following victories on Yorkhill (JLT Novices’ Chase), Un De Sceaux (Ryanair Chase), Nichols Canyon (Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle) and Let’s Dance (Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle), on the third day of The Festival, St Patrick’s Thursday.

 

Walsh, along with Closutton handler Willie Mullins, recorded a 178.6/1 four-timer yesterday and registered his 56th Cheltenham Festival winner.

 

Walsh, who has won the meeting’s Boodles Leading Jockey Award in 10 of the past 13 years, said: “It was a brilliant day. I thought when Annie Power fell here two years ago [2015 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle] that my chance of riding a four-timer at The Festival was over, so it was great.”

 

Andrea & Graham Wylie’s novice chaser Yorkhill got the ball rolling for Walsh and the jockey waxed lyrically about the son of Presenting, commenting: “He was fantastic. He jumped super and showed what a good horse he is. I think he is a Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup horse and I always thought he was. His pedigree suggests he should get the trip, he isn’t short of speed and I’ve always felt he was a good jumper. He only ever does enough when he is in front but I just think he is a very good horse.”

 

The Irishman also partnered Un De Sceaux to his second victory at The Festival (2015 Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase) in the Ryanair Chase, with Walsh remarking: “Un De Sceaux is a little tiger who always gives his best. I would liked to have been a little more in control! He saw the trip out well enough and I thought if I could hold him up for four and a half furlongs to get pretty near to the two mile start then that was going to be a bonus. He is a pleasure to ride and is such an honest little horse.”

 

Reflecting on his other two winners, the jockey continued: “Nichols Canyon’s victory (Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle) was a pleasant surprise. He has been a genuine Grade One horse all his career. I was delighted with how well he battled from the last, he was good, tough and found enough to get home. He has a bit of age on his side now and he is a hardy little horse. Let’s Dance (Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle) was also very good so it was a great day all round.”

 

Walsh partners the well-backed market leader Djakadam in today’s Blue Riband event, the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30pm), with the eight-year-old son of Saint Des Saints second in the last two renewals of the Grade One event. Rating the gelding’s chances, he said: “I wouldn’t swap him. He looks a million dollars and is in really good order. I think the strongest piece of form in the race is his Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup run last year when he was second to Don Cossack, so if he can reproduce that, I’m hoping he can go close.

 

“When all is said and done, form is form and it tends not to lie. He was too free last time at Leopardstown [third, beaten two and a half lengths]. We went too slow and that race came just 14 days after winning the John Durkan so it was one race on top of the other. He had a fall here at Cheltenham last January and got a cut on his chest so his preparation was a bit stop-start but everything has been much smoother with him this year. We are really happy with him.

 

“The pace of this race should suit him better than three mile chases in Ireland which can be run a bit slower as the gallop they go here is relentless. Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup horses are incredible to ride at that level as they just keep building it up and it’s not so much that one quickens away, just the others keep dropping off. I’ve always found it a great race to ride in and hopefully it is again today.”

 

Asked about potential dangers to his charge, Walsh added: “You could make a case for four or five others in the field. Obviously, the Colin Tizzard-trained horses are dangerous. Whatever way you look at it, an 11-year-old is going to win the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at some stage and Cue Card is a wonderful horse. Native River has done nothing wrong and has only improved this year so you have to respect the two of those.

 

“There are some Irish horses with chances as well through Outlander, Sizing John and possibly Henry De Bromhead’s horse Champagne West, who put up a very strong performance in the Thyestes Chase the last day.”                                                       F5.

 

JOHNSON CONFIDENT RIVER CAN DELIVER

 

Richard Johnson, who partnered Noel Chance’s Looks Like Trouble to victory in the 2000 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, is confident of a bold showing from the Colin Tizzard-trained Native River in the 2017 edition of Jump racing’s championship event.

 

Britain’s champion Jump jockey gained his 21st victory at The Festival earlier this week, courtesy of the Nick Williams-trained Flying Tiger (33/1) in the Grade Three Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle and will look to gain number 22 in the extended three and a quarter mile event.

 

Native River is unbeaten in his last three starts, having tasted victory in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November and the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow in December, before decisively plundering the spoils in the Betfair Denman Chase back at Newbury last time out. However, Johnson missed the ride on the gelding at Newbury due to illness and is excited to renew his partnership with the progressive staying chaser.

 

Johnson said: “I’m massively looking forward to riding Native River. He has been the horse I have enjoyed riding all season and it was devastating to not ride him last time but this is his big day today.”

 

Focusing on the good ground the seven-year-old son of Indian River will encounter today, Johnson continued: “The Tizzards have always felt that he doesn’t want it too soft and the big worry in the Welsh Grand National was that the ground might have been too testing but he coped with it well.

 

“He should bounce off the decent ground and there are no excuses today. He should run really well.”

 

The market for the Grade One contest is headed by Willie Mullins’ Djakadam, with Johnson wary of the threat posed by the eight-year-old. He added: “I’m always concerned about Willie Mullins’ horses, he had a fantastic day yesterday and Djakadam has been second in the race twice so you have to respect his chances as well, but I’ll take my chance on my fella.”

 

Johnson will be hoping to start the final day of this year’s Festival, Gold Cup day, with a winner as he partners the Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil, favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle (1.30pm) and unbeaten in five starts over hurdles in Britain.

 

The jockey remarked: “Defi Du Seuil has done nothing wrong all season. He is a likeable horse who comes here with the best form and fingers crossed he can run well.

 

“Nothing is against him today and conditions should suit him. He has a great chance.”

 

 

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

RENTON DELIGHTED WITH 2017 FESTIVAL

 

Ian Renton, Regional Director, South West, Jockey Club Racecourses, has been delighted with the 2017 Cheltenham Festival so far.

 

Renton said: “It has been a fantastic three days. I think operationally, everything has run as smoothly as we could hope.

 

“We’ve had three great days of racing, we have been lucky with the weather and we look forward to another superb day today with another great attendance.

 

“I think the new facilities are all beginning to work extremely well. I think racegoers are getting used to the new surroundings at the racecourse, particularly The Princess Royal Stand and how that fits in as well as enjoying the additional space so hopefully with a sold-out crowd of 70,000 today, they will feel that much more comfortable since the last time we had those numbers.

 

“The racing has been fantastic – we have had three brilliant days of racing. Yesterday’s performance of Un De Sceaux [Ryanair Chase] was wonderful to behold and hopefully we will have some great performances here today as well.

 

“The press coverage has also been fantastic. I haven’t seen any of the ITV coverage but everything I have heard about it has been absolutely wonderful.

 

“We try to improve every year and I think things have worked really well this year.”

 

Possible headline acts on the final day

 

Smad Place makes his seventh consecutive Festival appearance when he runs in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30). His best previous results at the four-day extravaganza include a second in the RSA Chase (2014) and thirds in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (2012 and 2013).

 

Fellow Gold Cup contender Cue Card is making his sixth reappearance at The Festival. Cue Card won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper in 2010 and the Ryanair Chase in 2013.

 

JCB Triumph Hurdle: leading owner J P McManus won the JCB Triumph Hurdle last year with Ivanovich Gorbatov. This year he has two of the leaders in the betting, Defi Du Seuil (trained by Philip Hobbs, winning trainer in 2006 and 2004) and Charli Parcs (trained by Nicky Henderson, the most successful trainer in the race with six winners to date). Jockey Davy Russell (Mega Fortune) has won the race once in 2014 on Tiger Roll, who won this year’s J T McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase. The race has been won once by a female trainer, Dina Smith with Shiny Copper in 1982. No female jockey has ever ridden the winner and today trainer Ellmarie Holden and jockey Rachael Blackmore combine with Ex Patriot.

 

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle: no jockey has ever won the race for two years in succession. Harry Skelton captured the prize last year and has strong claims with North Hill Harvey. Only trainer Willie Mullins has won the race two years in a row (2010 and 2011). Mullins has trained three winners (also 2015) and victory this year from either Arctic Fire or Renneti would match the four of winning-most trainer Paul Nicholls in the post-war era.

 

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle: Noel Fehily is the only jockey riding in this year’s race who has been successful in it before (2016). Trainers Harry Fry (2016) and Nicky Henderson (2011) are the only two trainers with previous winners of the race. It would be a first Festival winner for David Mullins (rides Monalee). Augusta Kate would be the first winning mare in the race.

 

Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup: of the jockeys riding this year, Bryan Cooper (2016), Ruby Walsh (2007 & 2009) and Richard Johnson (2000) have won the race before. Gordon Eliott (2016), Jonjo O’Neill (2012) and Paul Nicholls (2009, 2008, 2007, 1999) are previous winning trainers. Victory this year for Nicholls would match Tom Dreaper’s record as the most successful Gold Cup-winning trainer. Lizzie Kelly is the first female to ride for 33 years and only the second ever. It would be a first Festival winner for David Mullins (rides Champagne West).

 

St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase: no jockey riding this year has won the race before. Only Enda Bolger ­- in 2015 and 2016 – and Paul Nicholls (2004 and 2005) have trained the winning horse before. On The Fringe could become the first-ever horse to win the race three years in succession, while Salsify is also going for a third victory. At 14 years of age, Cottage Oak and Pentiffic would be the oldest horses to ever win at The Festival.

 

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase: Solar Impulse could become the first horse to win the race twice since Dulwich in 1974 and 1976. Paul Nicholls is currently the joint-most successful trainer with Fulke Walwyn with three winners.

 

The Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award: if Gordon Elliot takes the trainers’ title, he will be the first trainer other than Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls or Nicky Henderson to succeed since 2005.

 

The Boodles Leading Jockey Award: Ruby Walsh, if successful, would be taking the title for the 11th time, a run broken only in 2012 by Barry Geraghty and Robert Thornton in 2007

 

 

 

 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

HOBBS AND JOHNSON TRIUMPH WITH DEFI DU SEUIL

 

Defi Du Seuil justified his position as the long-time leader in the JCB Triumph Hurdle market by winning by a comfortable five lengths. He started the well-backed 5/2 favourite.

 

Ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, for whom it was a second Festival winner of the week, the French-bred gelding is owned by J P McManus and trained by Philip Hobbs, who has two previous JCB Triumph Hurdle winners to his credit in Detroit City and Made In Japan.

 

An emotional Hobbs explained his reddened eyes, saying: “It’s the relief! He’s been favourite all year and it’s great when it goes right. He’s such a fantastic horse. He has always jumped well – there have been one or two little hiccups, particularly at Chepstow when he won there, but his jumping overall is mustard.

 

“He’s never run on good ground so it was an unknown and therefore a bit of a concern, but there was no reason why it shouldn’t have suited him. He’s run six times for us and won each time easily.”

 

Hobbs’ wife Sarah said: “I’m shaking. It’s so exciting. J  P [McManus] has been brilliant, and this horse is amazing. He tries, he wants to do it – he loves it. He’s so bonny.”

 

Asked whether Defi Du Seuil would attempt to emulate Hobbs’ 2003 Stan James Champion Hurdle winner Rooster Booster in 2018, he replied: ”He could run in the Arkle or the Champion Hurdle next year. He could do either. I haven’t schooled him over fences but it wouldn’t be a problem.

 

“You shouldn’t get too bullish too early, but he has a fantastic attitude and is very sound. He’s got fantastic ability, so he has everything going for him.”

 

RICHARD JOHNSON – “I WAS A PASSENGER ALL THE WAY”

 

Defi Du Seuil’s success was a third JCB Triumph Hurdle win for the jockey-trainer combination of Richard Johnson and Philip Hobbs, following Detroit City’s victory in 2006 and Made In Japan in 2004.

 

Johnson said: “He was the best horse in the race and he jumped and travelled. He was always going well and I was always happy with him. I knew he’d stay and that I could pick him up as I wished. I was a passenger all the way to be honest.

 

“On the better ground there were a few negatives with people suggesting he wouldn’t be good enough, but he has just improved all year.

 

“I cannot believe this is the same horse I rode at Ffos Las four or five months ago. All credit to Philip. He has campaigned him so smoothly through the year.

 

“He is an honour to ride. He travelled so easy and jumped so well that I was trying not to be on my own for too long. He jumped two out so well and it is a dream to travel that well after two out in a race around here.

 

“He shocked me at Christmas with how much pure speed and class he has. Christmas was my fault completely and I apologised to Mr McManus afterwards. I was worried the leader was going to get first run on me, so I squeezed him and lit him up and got there too soon on bad ground.

 

“I spoke to Barry this morning. He told me exactly how to ride him. That would have been hard for him to watch, but hopefully Barry will be back for Aintree and this horse is one he can look forward to riding.”

 

Asked whether Defi Du Seuil might be a Stan James Champion Hurdle horse, Johnson said: “I don’t know. It is hard with juveniles, but he has done everything he has ever been asked. He is not a typical ex-Flat horse and I think he will improve with time.”

 

Johnson also reported that the ground to be “on the slow side of good.”

 

FORTUNE GAINS PLACED MONEY

 

The Gordon Elliott-trained 7/1 shot Mega Fortune finished an excellent five length second to impressive winner Defi Du Seuil, the well-backed 5/2 favourite, in the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle, the first race on day four, Gold Cup day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Always prominent under Davy Russell, Elliott’s charge was no match for the runaway winner but battled on gamely up the Cheltenham hill to fend off the challenge of Willie Mullins’ Bapaume (10/1), who was a short-head behind in third.

 

Russell said: “It was a great run by Mega Fortune. We were beaten by the best horse in the race but he’s ran a really well. He was excellent with his jumping, he jumped well from hurdle to hurdle.”

 

Rich Ricci, owner of the third-placed Bapaume, commented: “He ran a stormer. That was the Irish form really I think as those are the best two Irish novices I’d say.

 

“He did peck at the last so we might have finished second but we weren’t going to catch the winner so yeah I’m delighted with that – it’s good!

 

“Hopefully, it will be onwards and upwards but they went some gallop!

 

“He jumped brilliantly throughout except for the last but hopefully he will get bigger and stronger so he’s a nice type. We’re delighted with that.”

 

Rachel Blackmore, rider of fourth-placed Ex Patriot was delighted the four-year-old’s run after she was unseated from the gelding going to the start and ran loose before being caught. She said: “It was a really good run. It was fantastic to be a part of and everyone’s happy.

 

“It didn’t really go the way I wanted but he finished well.

 

“He only cantered himself away at the start so I don’t think that made too much of a difference to his run today.

 

“It was brilliant to ride in the race – it was a great experience.”

 

1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)

1 DEFI DU SEUIL (J P McManus) Philip Hobbs 4-11-00 Richard Johnson 5/2 Fav

2 Mega Fortune (Chris Jones) Gordon Elliott IRE 4-11-00 Davy Russell 7/1

3 Bapaume (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 4-11-00 Ruby Walsh 10/1

 

Distances: 5, sh

Tote Win: £3.30 Places: £1.70, £2.50, £3.00 Exacta: £28.60

 

Philip Hobbs – 19th winner at The Festival

Richard Johnson – 22nd winners at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 22 races

Great Britain 8

Ireland 14

 

GOING AFTER THE FIRST

 

Richard Johnson, on board the five length winner and 5/2 favourite Defi Du Seuil, said: “On the slow side of good.”

 

Davy Russell, rider of the second, Mega Fortune, said: “Good ground.”

 

Ruby Walsh, on board the third-placed Bapaume, said: “A bit slower than yesterday – still on the soft side.”

 

Rachael Blackmore, rider of fourth, Ex Patriot, said:  “It is lovely ground.”

 

Noel Fehily, rider of Charli Parcs, said: “Just good to soft.”

 

Tom Cannon, partner of Couer De Lion, said: “Good.”

 

Paul Townend, rider of Dandy Mag, said: “It is slow ground.”

 

Jamie Moore, jockey of I See You Well, said: “Good ground.”

 

Jeremiah McGrath, partner of Landin, said: “Good going.”

 

Robbie Power, on Landofhopeandglory, said: “Good.”

 

Wayne Hutchinson, partner of Master Blueyes, said: “Good.”

 

Nico de Boinville, on board Soldier in Action, said: “Good.”

 

Bryan Cooper, rider of Dinaria Des Obeaux, said: “Good.”

 

Adam Wedge, partner of Evening Hush, said: “It is good ground.”

 

Tom Scudamore, on board Magie Du Ma, said: “Good to soft.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

TOWNEND PULLS IT OUT OF THE FIRE FOR RED-HOT MULLINS

 

Paul Townend produced the Willie Mullins-trained Arctic Fire (20/1) to perfection to claim the spoils in the Randox Health County Hurdle, the second race on day four, Gold Cup day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Mullins, registering his fifth victory of the week and 53rd victory at The Festival overall, was delighted with the eight-year-old who has been off the track for 13 months and had to carry top-weight in the two-mile event.

 

Under Townend, the son of Soldier Hollow made strong headway on the stands’ side rail in the home straight to get the better of Nicky Henderson’s L’Ami Serge (25/1) by a neck, with a further neck back to Philip Hobbs’ Ozzie The Oscar (50/1). Air Horse One (10/1), trained by Harry Fry, was two lengths back in fourth.

 

Mullins also saddled the 2015 winner of this event, Wicklow Brave, who was ridden by Townend and also owned by Wicklow Bloodstock Ltd. He now joins Gordon Elliott at the top of the Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award for this year’s Festival.

 

The Closutton handler said: “I fancied Reneti [eighth] for this who worked very well at home and I thought Arctic Fire could be a social runner rather than a fancied one.

 

“He is a class horse on his day and the handicapper probably, even though he was carrying top-weight, his rating was maybe 6lb below his top rating and that gave him a fighting chance.

 

“He pulled so hard on the way down to the start and Paul dropped him right in and then they went a huge gallop so the horse’s which were able to close fast had an advantage and lucky enough, he had a clear passage on the inside. It’s fantastic for Paul and great for the horse too.

 

“Carrying top-weight in handicaps is very hard but he does have a bit of class and if he did go back to his previous form, the handicapper had given him a chance.”

 

Mullins also had news on Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase seventh Douvan, who was found to be stiff behind after the race. He said: “Douvan has a stress fracture on his left ilium. Box rest and he should be 100%. The vets are recommending 12 weeks but I imagine we will see.

 

“That is very good news. With bone injuries, horses usually come back 100% and they heal well.”

 

TOWNEND ON FIRE AT THE FESTIVAL

 

Arctic Fire gave jockey Paul Townend a fifth career win at The Festival when taking the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle by a neck from L’Ami Serge in a photo-finish.

 

The 20/1 shot and top-weight is trained by Willie Mullins, for whom it was a fifth success of the week. Mullins has now joined Gordon Elliott at the top of the Irish Independent Leading Trainer at The Festival Award.

 

Arctic Fire was second in this race in 2014 and second in the 2015 Stan James Champion Hurdle, but has been off the track since January 2016.

 

Townend said: “It is some training performance by Willie to get Arctic Fire back after such a long absence.
“He had top-weight in the race but he had it for a reason. He is a class horse. I went out with the mind-set of riding him like the best horse and thankfully it has paid off.

 

“They went a good gallop all the way, as we expected. The leader got away. It is very hard to do that around here because you can’t gain that much of a lead without doing a hell of a lot. That horse has a run a cracker, but I had no choice at that stage after deciding to drop in.

 

“To carry all that weight on the back of a big absence was some effort.”

 

Townend won the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle two years ago in the same colours – those of Wicklow Bloodstock (Ireland) Ltd – on Wicklow Brave.

 

2.10pm Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

1 ARCTIC FIRE (Wicklow Bloodstock (Ireland) Ltd) Willie Mullins IRE 8-11-12 Paul Townend 20/1

2 L’Ami Serge (Simon Munir & Issac Souede) Nicky Henderson 7-11-06 Daryl Jacob 25/1

3 Ozzie The Oscar (Bradley Partnership) Philip Hobbs 6-10-03 Tom O’Brien 50/1

4 Air Horse One (The Dons) Harry Fry 6-10-08 Noel Fehily 10/1

 

5/1 Fav Ivanovich Gorbatov (6th)

Distances: nk, nk, 2

Tote Win: £25.90 Places: £5.10, £5.80, £11.60, £2.30 Exacta: £491.30

 

Willie Mullins – 53rd winner at The Festival

Paul Townend – 5th winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 23 races

Great Britain 8

Ireland 15 – Ireland wins

 

L’AMI STILL FINDS ONE TOO GOOD

 

L’Ami Serge, a 25/1 chance, finished a neck second to Arctic Fire in the Randox Health County Hurdle, on the final day of The Festival 2017, continued his sequence of places which stretches back to January, 2016.

 

He has been running in Graded races, but has found either one or two too good in a run of seven races, including the Grade One Manifesto Chase at Aintree, beaten eight lengths by Arzal, April 2016, and the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle, a head second to Agrapart, at Cheltenham, in January this year.

 

Nicky Henderson, the King’s Theatre gelding’s trainer, commented: “Things haven’t really gone his way this season but he has run a great race. He has finished his race well today. He hasn’t been finishing things off as well as he ought to be.”

 

The seven-year-old has no current entries but Ayr might be a possibility Henderson added: “I thought Ayr might suit him and the Scottish Champion Hurdle (April 22). It would be a good race for him.”

 

THE BRADLEY PARTNERSHIP “THRILLED” WITH OZZIE’S THIRD PLACING

 

The Philip Hobbs team were all smiles after Ozzie The Oscar’s third at 50/1 in the Randox Health County Hurdle, beaten just two necks.

 

“We are so pleased with that, especially as he only just got into the race!” said Sarah Hobbs, wife of trainer Philip.

 

“The owners, the Bradley Partnership, are thrilled, they have never had a placed horse at The Festival before and Ozzie has picked up over £8,500 for his efforts. The only thing is that he is entered at Taunton on Monday and Philip is now saying he wouldn’t have got beat if we had waited to go and run there!”

 

Jockey Tom Brien said: “We had a lovely run up the rail, he has run really well, performed above himself.”

 

Additional JCB Triumph Hurdle quotes

 

McManus third victory of The Festival 2017

 

The leading owner at The Festival J P McManus gained his third success of 2017 and 52nd in all when Defi Du Seuil ran away with the opening race, the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

 

McManus said: “You would have to be impressed by him and it was nice to see that he was able to go on that better ground.

 

“Richard (Johnson) handled it marvellously and I am just very pleased. He looked impressive there and full marks down to (trainer) Philip Hobs and his team down in Minehead – they have done a marvellous job.

 

“That is the horse’s sixth race this season and every day seems to be better than the previous one. Today was the plan and we will take things from here.

 

“I got enormous pleasure from Buveur D’Air’s victory on Tuesday (in the Stan James Champion Hurdle). It is the championship race, with a huge build-up to it, and that build-up is almost starting again (for 2018). The Champion Hurdle is a race I am very fond of.

 

“I get a marvellous thrill of being in Cheltenham any day, whether it is for The Festival or otherwise.

 

“I would like to say regarding Edwulf, who appeared to be injured earlier in The Festival, and also pay tribute to the veterinary staff about what they have dome with the horse. They stayed with him and gave him every chance. When I went down there, it did not look very hopeful, but full marks they worked it out between them.”

 

 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

MULLINS IS SIX UP

 

Willie Mullins scored a sixth winner of The Festival 2017, going to the top of the trainers’ table at the meeting, when Penhill beat Monalee by three and a half lengths at odds of 16/1. It was his first Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle triumph.

 

It was a second success of the day for jockey Paul Townend and a 356/1 double for him and Mullins on the day.

 

Mullins: “It isn’t a race that has been lucky for us in the past. Penhill has class. We were trying to win with him over two miles and he just couldn’t handle the pace of top-class racing over two miles, so we let him out to three miles and he impressed us so we said we’d go for this race. As he gets more experienced, maybe he could come back in trip.

 

“We’ll probably go to Punchestown now, and then go back on the Flat I think; Ascot, and then maybe the Melbourne Cup. Maybe he won’t be good enough when we try the Flat game with him, but we’ll see. He’s got a typical profile for the type of horse we manage to bring back to the Flat. The owner was keen to do that and sent him to me with that in mind.”

 

Owner Tony Bloom, who sent Penhill to Mullins at the start of this season and who was collecting his first Festival winner’s trophy, said: “I am over the moon for everyone involved. It was a great ride again by Paul and we are delighted. It is a brilliant horse that we have here.

 

“He was looking good all the way and, certainly two out, we really were quite expecting it. He ran a brilliant race – his hurdling was a lot better than it has been and he has got the pace.

 

“We don’t want it too fast and the race was perfect for him – it was brilliantly run.

 

“I haven’t had many Cheltenham runners, so to have a winner at The Festival means a lot to me. It’s really exciting. There are quite a lot of friends here today and a lot of us were on at 16/1 and 20/1, so we are delighted.

 

“I have only started having horses with Willie Mullins this season, when we decided to go over hurdles with Penhill. He is one of the best trainers ever, and we have a great relationship.

 

“I was slightly concerned that Paul might be having a glass of champagne or two before jumping on [having won the last race on Arctic Fire], but he went from one winner to the other. Two 20/1 winners – what a brilliant day he has had.”

 

DOUBLE DELIGHT FOR TOWNEND

 

Paul Townend made it a quick fire 356/1 double when taking the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle by three and a half lengths on the Willie Mullins-trained 16/1 chance Penhill, following the combination’s Randox Health County Hurdle victory with Arctic Fire.

 

“Penhill is class horse, just like the last winner,” said the winning jockey. “We kept him wide to help him get into a rhythm and everything went right for him.

 

“I never really had any worries – luckily we avoided the late faller – but you need that bit of luck. I suppose coming down the hill I knew that I had loads of horse under me and that we’d be going close.

 

“I won on him over three miles at Limerick over Christmas on heavy ground and he saw it out really well that day. The trip gives him a chance to warm up, and his Flat class came into play up the hill today.”

 

Reflecting on riding a back-to-back double, Townend added: “It’s grand, there’s no feeling like it. It’s a brilliant day.”

 

 

2.50pm Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

1 PENHILL (Tony Bloom) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-05 Paul Townend 16/1

2 Monalee (Barry Maloney) Henry de Bromhead IRE 6-11-05 David Mullins 8/1

3 Wholestone (Simon Munir & Issac Souede) Nigel Twiston-Davies 6-11-05 Daryl Jacob 13/2

 

13/8 Fav Death Duty (PU)

 

Distances: 3½, 4, 8

Tote Win: £17.00 Places: £4.00, £2.50, £2.20 Exacta: £151.90

 

Willie Mullins – 54rd winner at The Festival

Paul Townend – 6th winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 24 races

Great Britain 8

Ireland 16

 

MONALEE FINISHES SECOND

 

Henry De Bromhead was delighted with the performance of 8/1 shot Monalee, who finished a three and a half-length second to Willie Mullins’ Penhill (16/1) in the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, the third race on day four, Gold Cup day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Always prominent under David Mullins, the six-year-old son of Milan was vying for the lead approaching the final flight, but was unable to match the winner’s potent turn of foot up the Cheltenham hill.

 

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Wholestone (13/2) was a further four lengths back in third.

 

De Bromhead said: “Unfortunately, he just met a very battle-hardened horse there. Anything he does this year will hopefully be a bonus for when we go chasing as that is going to be his game.

 

“I’m delighted with the run but disappointed to be beaten.”

 

David Mullins, Monalee’s rider, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to bits with him. He is going to improve double next year when he jumps a fence.

 

“He has my heart racing when I go to see him every day so I’m delighted.”

 

Nigel Twiston-Davies was also happy with the run of third-placed Wholestone. He said: “He has definitely run to his mark. We beat all the English horses out of sight and beat the favourite Death Duty. It was just two good Irish horses who have come over that beat us. He ran really well.

 

“We will definitely go to Aintree next and hopefully the two in front of us will stay away.”

 

 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

HARRINGTON SIZES UP THE GOLD CUP PERFECTLY

 

Sizing John’s 7/1 victory in The Festival’s showpiece race, the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, was a first in the championship contest for trainer Jessica Harrington, jockey Robert Power and owners Ann and Alan Potts.

 

Sizing John, a seven-year-old by the British sire Midnight Legend, was Harrington’s first-ever runner in the race. It was her second winner of the week – she also took the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle with Supasundae – and a 10th Festival success in total. She is the winning-most female trainer in Festival history.

 

Sizing John beat second-placed Minella Rocco by two and three-quarter lengths.

 

Harrington said: “I can’t believe it. He was absolutely amazing. His jumping, the way he travelled. He was absolutely fantastic. It’s unreal! It’s thanks to Robert – he’s the one who said at Christmas, ‘he will stay’.”

 

“Sizing John has gone from two miles at Christmas to winning over three miles and two furlongs here. He jumped like a buck and it is his jumping that has got him there the whole way. He was amazing.

 

“It is a first runner in the race for me. I have never had any stayers before this. A big thank you to everyone at home. It is a big team and everyone has been fantastic.”

 

Alan Potts, who moved Sizing John from Henry de Bromhead’s yard to Harrington in the autumn, said: “It’s the first horse we have ever run in the Gold Cup, and only a couple of weeks after we won the Irish Gold Cup [with Sizing John at Leopardstown in February]. Pretty good!

 

“It has always been our dream to win this, ever since we got into this game about 12 years ago. I invest heavily so that we can hopefully pick the best horses, and when you win a race like this, this is unreal.”

 

JOHN PRODUCES SIZING PERFORMANCE

 

Jockey Robbie Power gained his first success in Jump racing’s Blue Riband event, the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, after the Jessica Harrington-trained Sizing John (7/1) registered a two and three-quarter length victory in the extended three and a quarter mile event.

 

Power, registering his third victory at the Festival and his second of this year’s meeting, led approaching the final fence aboard the seven-year-old son of Midnight Legend and produced a superb leap at the last before keeping on well for pressure up the Cheltenham hill to score.

 

Jonjo O’Neill’s 18/1 chance Minella Rocco made late headway under Noel Fehily to finish second, with Colin Tizzard’s Native River (7/2) a short-head back in third.

 

A delighted Power said: “It is unbelievable. Jessica Harrington is a genius. I always said that when Sizing John stepped up in trip it would be the making of him.

 

“It was 10 years ago when I won the Grand National, I’m 35 now and appreciate this a lot more. It is fantastic and big thank you to all the team at home – they do a top-class job. This means more than any other winner I have ridden for Jessica.”

 

“I had a lot of confidence in this horse. Since the first day that I rode him behind Douvan, I felt that all he did was stay. We went gradually to two and a half and then three miles in the Irish Gold Cup and up to three miles and two today.

 

“I was always fully confident that he would stay. I have given plenty of Cheltenham preview nights and people were saying it was a bad Gold Cup – I was kind off insulted because every good Gold Cup winner has G1 form over two miles. He had it over two miles behind Douvan and he had that bit of speed.

 

“I ended up jumping my way to the front at the second last. I didn’t want to jump to the front until the last but when I was there, I had to keep going. I was confident when I jumped the last that he would gallop all the way up the hill.

 

“I had an unbelievable run. The plan was to be middle of the fence and keep out of trouble because he is such a good jumper but, when we jumped the first, I was getting crowded on the outside, so I took a chance and switched in. Everything went perfectly but, when you are on the best horse in the race, things do usually go perfectly for you.

 

“The first day I rode him, I said that we would go further. I felt at Thurles, the stamina kicked in and he didn’t win until he met the rising ground. The Irish Gold Cup wasn’t a strongly run race and he was a bit keen the whole way but we went a good gallop today. He latched on coming down the hill the first time but he probably thought that we were finishing that time because he is used to running over two miles!

 

“He was just unbelievable. He is such a good jumper and it’s an unbelievable. Thanks to Ann and Alan Potts for letting us go up in trip with him. When he won the Irish Gold Cup, we said that we would come here and take our chance. Ann and Alan have been rewarded. They have put a lot of money into the game and I am delighted for them as well.”

 

RIVER RUNS A CRACKER

Minella Rocco, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, flew home for second in the Grade One Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, two and three-quarter lengths behind Jessica Harrington’s decisive winner, Sizing John.

 

Noel Fehily, Minella Rocco’s rider, said: “He ran really well. I was flat out all the way but he stayed on well up the hill.”

 

Native River was a short-head behind the second and connections were delighted with his run.

 

Richard Johnson, rider of third-placed Native River, commented: “He ran really well. I have no excuses and we were just beaten on the day.”

 

Garth Broom, part of Brocade Racing which owns Native River, said: “He is a seven-year-old and you can’t be disappointed. He ran his heart out like he always does.

 

I’m delighted with him. We’ll see how he comes out of this race but then we’ll see. He will probably go to Aintree if he is ok. He has come out of most of his races fresh but you can’t expect him to come out of a Gold Cup bouncing.

 

“He wears his heart in sleeve. I’m so proud of him. We achieved one lifetime ambition of having a runner in a Gold Cup so we are very proud of him – it’s marvellous!”

 

REACTION FROM PLACED CONNECTIONS

 

Jonjo O’Neill, trainer of the second, Minella Rocco, sent off an 18/1 chance, said: “He ran a cracker and I am thrilled to bits with him.

 

“Noel (Fehily) gave him a great spin and he stayed on well up the hill – he probably wanted a little bit further – I get [couldn’t pick up] the winning post and run any further but I would’ve if I could!

 

“The winner won well and we were a good second so I am thrilled to bits with him. We will think about his future plans later.”

 

Colin Tizzard, trainer of the third home, Native River, and Cue Card, who fell three out for the second year running, said: “He (Native River) has run his heart out and has done absolutely nothing wrong.

 

“He stayed right to the line. There were just a couple better, one staying on and one to fast for him.

 

“I saw Cue Card gallop back.”

 

Rich Ricci, owner of the 3/1 beaten favourite and fourth, Djakadam, said: “It didn’t look like he stayed. It is heart-breaking but no excuses. He wouldn’t have beaten the winner.

 

“Gee, how good is Douvan. It was a great run from Jessie Harrington’s horse (Sizing John) and a great result for her. It has been that kind of a season but we will be back.”

 

Willie Mullins, trainer of Djakadam, added: “I don’t think we have any excuses. He jumped well and galloped well. What more can I say – it just wasn’t our day. A great day for Jessie.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

Result

 

3.30pm £575,000 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1)

3m 2f 70y

 

1 SIZING JOHN (Ann & Alan Potts) Jessica Harrington, Ireland 11st 10lb Robbie Power 7/1

 

2 Minella Rocco (J P McManus) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 10lb Noel Fehily 18/1

 

3 Native River (Brocade Racing) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Richard Johnson 7/2

 

4 Djakadam (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ruby Walsh 3/1 Fav

 

5 Saphir du Rheu (The Stewart Family) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies 33/1

 

6 More of That (J P McManus) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 10lb Aidan Coleman 14/1

 

7 Bristol de Mai (Simon Munir & Issac Souede) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Daryl Jacob 16/1

 

8 Smad Place (Mrs Peter Andrews) Alan King 11st 10lb Wayne Hutchinson 50/1

 

9 Champagne West (Roger Brookhouse) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb David Mullins 14/1

 

10 Outlander (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Bryan Cooper 10/1

 

FELL 3 OUT Cue Card (Jean Bishop) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Paddy Brennan 9/2

 

FELL 2ND Tea For Two (Jane Williams & Len Jakeman) Nick Williams 11st 10lb Lizzie Kelly 40/1

 

PU Irish Cavalier (Andrew McIver) Rebecca Curtis 11st 10lb Paul Townend 66/1

 

Distances: 2¾, sh, ½, 3, 3½, 10, 7, nk, 24

 

Tote Win: £7.80 Places: £2.30, £5.10, £1.80 Exacta: £130.80

 

Jessica Harrington – 10th winner at The Festival

Robbie Power – 3rd winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 25 races

Great Britain 8

Ireland 17

 

Jessica Harrington becomes the third woman to train a Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner after Jenny Pitman (1984 Burrough Hill Lad, 1991 Garrison Savannah) & Henrietta Knight (2002, 2003 & 2004 Best Mate)

 

TIMICO CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP STATS

 

Jessica Harrington is the most successful female trainer ever at The Festival with 10 successes.

 

She is the third female trainer to send out a Timico Gold Cup winner, following on from Jenny Pitman Burrough Hill Lad (1984) and Garrison Savannah (1991) and Henrietta Knight Best Mate (2002-2004).

 

Sizing John was her first runner in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup and first winner.

 

He is the 24th Irish-trained winner of the chasing championship and the third in the last four runnings.

 

Sizing John won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last month and other horses to do the double include Jodami (1993) and Imperial Call (1996).

 

Sizing John was the 17th seven-year-old to win.

 

Cue Card, who fell three out for the second year running, is fine according to trainer Colin Tizzard.

 

Willie Mullins, the leading trainer at The Festival this year with six successes, is still to win the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, finishing fourth with the 3/1 favourite Djakadam, after previously sending out six seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

FROST’S WIN GIVES WOMEN JOCKEYS A CLEAN SWEEP

 

Bryony Frost’s win in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup means that all three races for amateur riders run at The Festival 2017 have gone to female jockeys for the first time,, following the successes of Lisa O’Neill in the J T McNamara National Hunt Chase on Tiger Roll on Tuesday and Gina Andrews in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase aboard Domesday Book yesterday.

 

Riding Pacha Du Polder, on whom former Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton finished fifth in last year’s race, Frost beat Wonderful Charm (Katie Walsh) by a neck at odds of 16/1.

 

The first two horses are both trained by Paul Nicholls.

 

Frost said: “It’s hard to describe how I feel – it’s an unbelievable feeling. I’ve watched people ride winners here – I’ve seen it, seen the success – but actually to ride into this winner’s enclosure…

 

“He jumped the last and kept galloping. I saw the head of Wonderful Charm next to me and thought, ‘don’t you deny us today!’. I might have been a bit more forward than I wanted to be, but I’ve been here once before and got left at the start, and that wasn’t going to happen again.”

 

Describing the latter stages of the race, Frost said: “We are in gear six, as it were, and he’s met the last cleanly, his stride is still strong underneath me and he’s trying his heart out. If anyone was going to get past us, fair play to them, but luckily they didn’t.”

 

Andy Stewart, representing winning owners The Stewart Family, said: “I am absolutely delighted with that. Last year we were beaten a couple of lengths with Victoria Pendleton on board, but Bryony did it really well.

 

“It’s great, the Foxhunters – I love it. It’s very competitive; it always is at this level, and that’s what we all love. Yes, the horse will go to Aintree – two miles, five furlongs will suit him.”

 

4.10pm St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase

1 PACHA DU POLDER (The Stewart Family) Paul Nicholls 10-12-00 Bryony Frost 16/1

2 Wonderful Charm (Robin Geffen & Sir John Ritblat) Paul Nicholls 9-12-00 Ms Katie Walsh 7/2

3 Barel Of Laughs (Mrs Peter Andrews) Philip Rowley 11-12-00 Mr Alex Edwards 100/1

 

11/8 Fav On The Fringe (4th)

 

Distances:

Tote Win: £19.10 Places: £3.70, £2.00, £23.50 Exacta: £84.90

Distances: nk, nk, 2

 

Paul Nicholls – 41st winner at The Festival

Bryony Frost – 1st winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 26 races

Great Britain 9

Ireland 17

 

NICHOLLS GET ON 2017 FESTIVAL SCORESHEET

 

Somerset handler Paul Nicholls, Britain’s champion Jump trainer, gained his first success of this year’s Cheltenham Festival after Pacha Du Polder claimed the St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup, the fifth race on day four, Gold Cup day, of the 2017 Festival.

 

Under Bryony Frost, the 10-year-old gelding, fifth in this race last year, found plenty for pressure up the Cheltenham hill to score by a neck at odds of 16/1.

 

Stable companion Wonderful Charm (7/2) was second, with 100/1 shot Barel Of Laughs, trained by Philip Rowley, in third.

 

A delighted Nicholls, registering his 41st winner at The Festival said: “It is sweet and it’s sweet for young Bryony. She is Jimmy’s [Frost, trainer] daughter and works in the yard, and it’s great to give kids like that an opportunity. He is a legend of a horse – he ran well for Victoria last year and we are thrilled. Wonderful Charm ran an absolute blinder from way off the pace, so we are absolutely delighted.

 

“The buzz today with Saphir Du Rheu finishing fifth in the Gold Cup and now this – it’s unbelievable. It has and it hasn’t been a difficult week. Everyone expects a little bit too much and some of them have run OK but I thought those two would go well.

 

“I really believed in Pacha. He was beaten three lengths last year and it was a bad prep. I am so thrilled for Bryony, who is a great part of the team. She is only a young girl and it’s brilliant. He wasn’t beaten too far last year, he was just too far out of his ground, so I am thrilled.”

 

Katie Walsh, rider of the second Wonderful Charm said: “It was a great spin, I really enjoyed it. I couldn’t have been any closer as I was never really travelling.”

 

Mr Alex Edwards, rider of third home Barel Of Laughs, remarked: “He has run a blinder. We were hoping for a good run as he shows a lot at home. He showed us a lot in the Taunton run (first in a hunter chase) and we thought we had come on a bit for it.”

 

 

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

CHAMPAGNE PRODUCES CLASSIC PERFORMANCE

 

The Gordon Elliott-trained 12/1 chance Champagne Classic, owned by Gigginstown House Stud, was a ready winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, the sixth race on day four, Gold Cup day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Always travelling well under J J Slevin, the six-year-old son of Stowaway kept on nicely after the final flight to score by two and a quarter lengths from Philip Hobbs’ Verni (25/1) in second.

 

Champagne Classic’s stable companion Runfordave (9/1) was a length and a quarter back in third with a further half-length back to Nick Williams’ Coo Star Sivola (13/2) in fourth.

 

The gelding’s victory sees Elliott take over from Willie Mullins at the top of the Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award standings for this year’s Festival, with both handlers having six winners, but Elliott has had three seconds against two for Mullins.

 

Elliott said: “I’m delighted. To have six winners at the Cheltenham Festival is special. It’s unbelievable and I just can’t believe it – it’s brilliant.”

 

Michael O’Leary, owner of Gigginstown House Stud, said: “I think that was a miraculous event. He is probably the worst horse we own! We buy them in numbers and you get a few duds – he is one of the duds!

 

“However, it means a lot to Gordon to win this race as he has wanted to win it for many years. He will really enjoy that.

 

“J J gave him a great ride and it’s good for him. He is a very good young jockey in Ireland. I don’t know much about him. I know he has ridden a couple of winners for us.”

 

Phillip Hobbs, trainer of second-placed horse, said: “He’s run really well, he is probably still on the up a bit and the two-and-a-half miles suited him better.

 

Tom Cheesman, jockey of the second, added: “He travelled well, maybe a bit handier that I wanted but I thought it was important in that race to be as handy. He has travelled all the way through the race.”

 

“I saw the winner come up on the outside and ideally I wanted to get a tow to the last and then take it up, which is what we did. We have just been beaten by a better horse on the day. He has run really well and hopefully it will be something to look forward to?”

 

4.50pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

1 CHAMPAGNE CLASSIC (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-03 J J Slevin 12/1

2 Verni (Paul & Clare Rooney) Philip Hobbs 8-11-00 Thomas Cheesman 25/1

3 Runfordave (Mrs Pat Sloan) Gordon Elliott IRE Donagh Meyler 9/1

4 Coo Star Sivola (Babbit Racing) Nick Williams 5-11-03 Lizzie Kelly 13/2

 

9/2 Fav Battleford (8th)

 

Distances: 2¼, 1¼, ½, nk

Tote Win: £16.70 Places:£3.50, £8.60, £2.50, £2.40 Exacta :£525.10

 

Gordon Elliott – 14th winner at The Festival

J J Slevin – 1st winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 27 races

Great Britain 9

Ireland 18

 

SLEVIN SCORES A CLASSIC VICTORY

 

JJ Slevin picked up a first Festival victory when guiding Champagne Classic to win the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle. The Gordon Elliott-trained 12/1 chance beat Verni by two and a quarter lengths.

 

“This means the world. It’s something I’ve dreamed about from a very young age – when you are young riding ponies and messing about in fields, this is where you want to be, and this is something I thought would never happen.

 

“I got the ride yesterday. Then other people rang me wanting to ride their horse, and I tried to get off Champagne Classic, but luckily Gordon wouldn’t let me! I was very lucky he didn’t.

 

“Champagne Classic’s a fine, big, scopey horse who was the winner everywhere, jumping and travelling well.

 

“Gordon has had an unbelievable week and it is a privilege to ride for him.

 

“My father trains at home in Wexford and I started riding his point-to-pointers. He’s stood by me the whole way and I owe him an awful lot. Joseph O’Brien has been very good to me this season – he’s got a lot of exciting jumpers there.

 

“I turned professional last September and I genuinely thought I wouldn’t have a ride here this week. It’s unbelievable putting these colours [those of Gigginstown House Stud] on my back. I broke my ribs about a month ago and only started riding again last Thursday.”

 

 

 

 

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

RECORD ATTENDANCES ON LADIES DAY & ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY AS OVER 260,000 AT THE FESTIVAL FOR SECOND YEAR RUNNING

 

ATTENDANCES         2017             2016             2015

Tuesday                  66,019          67,700          63,249

Wednesday              57,681          57,093          55,359

Thursday                 66,200          65,544          60,495

Friday                     70,160          70,242          68,957

Totals                         260,060         260,579         248,050

 

 

STEWARDS’ REPORTS FIRST FIVE RACES

 

Race 1 – 1:30pm JCB TRIUMPH HURDLE (Grade 1)

The Stewards gave permission for DEFI DU SEUIL (FR), trained by Philip Hobbs, to wear a hood in the parade ring and in the chute only. They noted that BAPAUME (FR) and DANDY MAG (FR), both trained by W.P. Mullins would wear earplugs and that MEGA FORTUNE (FR), trained by Gordon Elliott would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start.

The Stewards noted that EX PATRIOT (IRE), ridden by Rachael Blackmore, unseated its rider on the way to post but were satisfied that the gelding was checked by a veterinary surgeon at the start and deemed fit to race.

The Veterinary Officer reported that MASTER BLUEYES (IRE), unplaced, trained by Alan King, was lame left fore.

Nico de Boinville, the rider of SOLDIER IN ACTION (FR), unplaced, reported that the gelding was never travelling.

 

Race 2 – 2:10pm RANDOX HEALTH COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE (Grade 3)

The Stewards noted that WINTER ESCAPE (IRE), placed fifth, had hung quickly right-handed after the final flight, interfering with IVANOVICH GORBATOV (IRE), placed sixth, but after viewing a recording of the incident they were satisfied that it neither involved a riding offence nor improved WINTER ESCAPE (IRE)’s placing.

The Stewards noted that JOEY SASA (IRE), unplaced, had lugged left-handed after the second last flight, before being quickly corrected, interfering with MOHAAYED, unplaced, but after viewing a recording of the race they were satisfied that it did not involve a riding offence.

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

Noel Meade, the trainer of JOEY SASA (IRE), unplaced, reported that the gelding bled from the nose.

Noel Meade, the trainer of DE NAME ESCAPES ME (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding bled from the nose. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding revealed it to have lost its left fore shoe.

 

Race 3 – 2:50pm ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE (Grade 1)

The Stewards held an enquiry into possible interference on the run to the last flight. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race they found that David Mullins, the rider of MONALEE (IRE), placed second, had allowed his horse to hang right-handed causing interference to WHOLESTONE (IRE), placed third, ridden by Daryl Jacob. They found Mullins in breach of Rule (B)54.1 and guilty of careless riding in that he had allowed his horse to drift right without sufficient correction. They cautioned him as to his future conduct in races.

The Stewards noted that PENHILL and TURCAGUA (FR), both trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs.

Ruby Walsh, the rider of AUGUSTA KATE, placed sixth, reported that the mare made a bad mistake in the back straight.

 

Race 4 – 3:30pm TIMICO CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP CHASE (Grade 1)

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Noel Fehily, the rider of MINELLA ROCCO (IRE), placed second, from the third last fence. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found him in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that he had used his whip above the permitted level. The Stewards suspended Fehily for 2 days as follows:- Friday 31 March and Saturday 1 April 2017.

The Stewards noted that BRISTOL DE MAI (FR), trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and DJAKADAM (FR), trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs.

Paul Townend, the rider of IRISH CAVALIER (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding was never travelling.

B.J. Cooper, the rider of OUTLANDER (IRE), unplaced, reported that the gelding was never travelling. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding, during routine testing, failed to reveal any abnormalities.

 

Race 5 – 4:10pm ST JAMES’S PLACE FOXHUNTER CHALLENGE CUP OPEN HUNTERS’ CHASE

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Mr D. Queally, the rider of MINELLA FOR VALUE (IRE), placed sixth, from the third last fence. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found him in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that he had used his whip above the permitted level. The Stewards suspended Mr Queally for 7 days as follows: Friday 31 March and Sunday 2, Monday 3, Tuesday 4, Wednesday 5, Thursday 6 and Saturday 8 April 2017.

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Miss K. Walsh, the rider of WONDERFUL CHARM (FR), placed second, from the third last fence. Having heard her evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found her in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that she had used her whip above the permitted level. The Stewards suspended Miss Walsh for 4 days as follows: Friday 31 March and Sunday 2, Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 April 2017.

The Stewards gave permission for PREMIER PORTRAIT (IRE), trained by Dr Charles Levinson, to be late into the parade ring and to be mounted in the chute. They noted the gelding would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start. They also noted that CURRENT EVENT (FR), trained by Mrs Rose Loxton, would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start. They noted PENTIFFIC (NZ), trained by P.P. Turner, would wear a hood in the parade ring only.

Following an enquiry the stewards ordered that ANSEANACHAI CLISTE (IRE), owned by Mr Michael McConville, be withdrawn from the St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase due to the fact that they could not be satisfied that the horse had been administered only normal feed and water on race day. They interviewed the owner, the trainer, the Veterinary Officer and the Equine Welfare Integrity Officer. Having heard their evidence the Stewards ordered the horse to be tested and referred the matter to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority.

The Stewards held an enquiry following a report from a Stipendiary Steward that he had observed Mr R.P. Quinlan using his mobile phone outside the designated area. They interviewed the rider. Having heard his evidence the Stewards found the rider in breach of Rule (D)33.1 and fined him £290.

 

 

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

HARRINGTON ROCKS CHELTENHAM AND THE WORLD

 

The Cheltenham Festival has a way of creating stories and Rock The World’s (10/1) success in the concluding race of the 2017 Festival, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase, provided a fitting final chapter for two of the leading’s lights of this year’s Festival, trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey Robbie Power.

 

Third in the contest last year, the nine-year-old son of Orpen produced a superb leap at the final fence under Power before gamely fending off his rivals by a length and three-quarters. Venetia Williams’ Gardefort (20/1) was second, with Dandrige (13/2), trained by Arthur Moore, two and a half-lengths further back in third.

 

The victory capped a memorable week at Prestbury Park for Harrington and Power who also claimed the spoils in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, courtesy of Sizing John’s superb performance in the extended three and a quarter-mile event as well as Supasundae’s victory in the Coral Cup.

 

A delighted Harrington said: “What a day! He was third in this race last year, he had a wind operation earlier this season and I couldn’t run him at home as the ground was too heavy so we gave him a couple of racecourse gallops. Unlike last year where he just plodded on, this year he could breathe.

 

“He loves quick ground and is a beautiful jumper. He absolutely pinged the last and didn’t stop all the way up the hill. It’s fantastic for Robbie as well.”

 

Venetia Williams, trainer of the second-placed horse, Gardefort, said: “We’re really thrilled with him; he’s run a superb race. It’s very hard to win any of these races here, but to have him finish second and I think Calipto finished in the prize money as well [sixth], is great.”

 

THREE FOR THE WEEK FOR POWER AND HARRINGTON

 

The Cheltenham Festival 2017 became a year to remember for jockey Robbie Power and trainer Jessica Harrington.

 

The pair won the last race of the meeting, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase, with the 10-1 chance Rock The World, the success adding to their wonderful Timico Gold Cup victory with Sizing John and Supasundae’s Coral Cup win on Wednesday.

 

“We knew we had our best team coming here, it’s wonderful that it’s all worked out,” said Power. “Full marks to Jessie – this horse ran terribly here in October, but he had a wind operation since and this was his first run back. It is some training performance by Jessie.

 

“His wind caught him out in this race last year on ground with a little more give.

 

“At one point today, he took a breath, but when he realised he could breath, he ran on.

 

“He is a wonderful jumper, Jessie always schools them a lot, and he was foot perfect here.

 

“I had one winner in 2011, and it is has been six dry years since then. To take home three this year, including the Gold Cup, is unbelievable.”

 

5.30pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

1 ROCK THE WORLD (Michael Buckley) Jessica Harrington IRE 9-11-05 Robbie Power 10/1

2 Gardefort (Andrew Brooks) Venetia Williams 8-11-00 Daryl Jacob 20/1

3 Theinval (Mr & Mrs Sandy Orr) Nicky Henderson 7-10-12 Jeremiah McGrath 9/1

4 Dandridge (R A Bartlett) Arthur Moore IRE 8-11-01 Davy Russell 13/2

 

7/2 Fav Le Prezien (8th)

 

Distances: 1¾, nk, 2½

Tote Win: £11.70 Places: £2.90, £5.80, £3.10, £2.40 Exacta: £398.40

 

Jessica Harrington – 11th winner at The Festival

Robbie Power – 4th winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – final standings after 28 races

Great Britain 9

Ireland 19

 

 


 

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

GOLD CUP DAY, FRIDAY, MARCH 17

 

GORDON ELLIOTT CROWNED LEADING TRAINER AT 2017 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL

 

 

Irish handler Gordon Elliott has been crowned the Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award winner at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

 

Elliott, along with Willie Mullins, had six winners at The Festival but was declared leading trainer because he had three seconds at the meeting against Mullins’ two.

 

The Irish handler has had a superb week at the Festival, courtesy of victories from horses including Apple’s Jade in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and the J P McManus-owned Cause Of Causes, who became just the fourth horse in Prestbury’s Park rich heritage to win three different races in succession at The Festival, emulating Flying Bolt, Bobs Worth and Vautour.

 

A delighted Elliott said: “To win the trainer award is something special. Willie is an amazing man and a gentleman. I haven’t seen him yet but I am sure he will congratulate me.

 

“It is great to do. We are absolutely thrilled and it’s unbelievable.

 

“It is a credit to the staff, horses and owners I have. I am very lucky to be part of a big team. We will enjoy this.

 

“I was hoping for one winner coming over. I was hoping to get it early as well and we got it in the first race. Everything else has been a bonus.

 

“Apple’s Jade [OLBG Mares’ Hurdle] winning was sweet. Cause Of Causes [Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase] was special and to win the Martin Pipe [winner Champagne Classic] after working for Martin and being good friends with the whole team there is special.

 

“We had three winners on Tuesday and went a bit too hard Tuesday night. We haven’t had a drink since because we were that shook!

 

“When we get home now, we will have a party with all the staff.”

 

CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE REACTION

 

Ian Renton, Regional Director Jockey Club Racecourses South West, commented on the 2017 Cheltenham Festival: “It has been another fantastic four days.

 

“We have had a similar overall attendance over the four days to last year (above 260,000) and are delighted with the crowds.

 

“We capped the crowd at 70,000 today and we hope that everyone today and during the week has enjoyed the fantastic racing.”

 

 

 

FINAL STEWARDS’ REPORTS

 

Race 5 – 4:10pm ST JAMES’S PLACE FOXHUNTER CHALLENGE CUP OPEN HUNTERS’ CHASE (CLASS 2)

The Stewards held an enquiry following a report from the Veterinary Officer that the staff attending BAREL OF LAUGHS (IRE), owned by Mrs Peter Andrews, and trained by Philip Rowley, had brought into the stables substances, Superlyte (an electrolyte) and Quick Fix (a probiotic) which may have been allowed with the permission of the Veterinary Officer, but for which permission had not been sought prior to entry into the stables. They interviewed the Trainer, the Owner, the Veterinary Officer and the Equine Welfare Integrity Officer. Having heard their evidence the Stewards referred the matter to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority. The Stewards ordered BAREL OF LAUGHS (IRE) to be routine tested. The Stewards held an enquiry following a report from the Veterinary Officer that the staff attending COTTAGE OAK (IRE), owned by Mr D.A. Malam, and trained by J.J. O’Shea, had brought into the stables a substance, Equipalazone (oral powder) – an anti-inflammatory – which may have been allowed with the permission of the Veterinary Officer, but for which permission had not been sought prior to entry into the stables, and two Luer-Lock syringes, which would not have been allowed. They interviewed the Trainer, the Owner, the Veterinary Officer and the Equine Welfare Integrity Officer. Having heard their evidence the Stewards referred the matter to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority. The Stewards ordered COTTAGE OAK (IRE) to be routine tested.

The Veterinary Officer reported that BALNASLOW (IRE), placed fifth, trained by Graham John McKeever, lost its left fore shoe.

The Veterinary Officer reported that BLACK THUNDER (FR), which was pulled up, trained by Warren Greatrex, lost its right hind shoe.

 

Race 6 – 4:50pm MARTIN PIPE CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS’ HANDICAP HURDLE

The Stewards noted that BALLYHILL (FR), trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and BATTLEFORD, trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs and that THOMAS CAMPBELL, trained by Nicky Henderson, would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start.

 

Race 7 – 5:30pm JOHNNY HENDERSON GRAND ANNUAL CHALLENGE CUP HANDICAP CHASE (Grade 3)

The Stewards gave permission for UPSILON BLEU (FR), trained by Pauline Robson, to be mounted in the chute and go early to post.

The Starters reviewed recordings of the start but were satisfied that no riders should be reported for contravening the starting procedures.

Denis O’Regan, the rider of VELVET MAKER (FR), unplaced, reported that the gelding ran too freely.

 

 

 

 

THE FINAL IRISH INDEPENDENT LEADING TRAINER AWARD AT THE FESTIVAL STANDINGS

 

Trainer                                               1st                              2nd                             3rd

Gordon Elliott IRE                         6                           3                           3

Willie Mullins IRE                          6                           2                           4

Nicky Henderson                          3                           6                           4

Jessica Harrington IRE                   3                           -                            -

Henry de Bromhead IRE                1                           2                           2

Philip Hobbs                                1                           1                           1

Paul Nicholls                                1                           1                           1

Noel Meade IRE                           1                           -                            1

Stuart Edmunds                           1                           -                            -

Alan Fleming IRE                          1                           -                            -

Pat Kelly IRE                               1                           -                            -

Ben Pauling                                 1                           -                            -

David Pipe                                  1                           -                            -

Nick Williams                               1                           -                            -

Jonjo O’Neill                                -                            2                           -

Harry Fry                                   -                            1                           1

Tom George                                -                            1                           1

Colin Tizzard                               -                            1                           1

Venetia Williams                           -                            1                           1

Warren Greatrex                         -                            1                           -

Malcolm Jefferson                        -                            1                           -

Neil King                                     -                            1                           -

Charlie Longsdon                          -                            1                           -

Gary Moore                                -                            1                           -

Margaret Mullins IRE                     -                            1                           -

Fergal O’Brien                             -                            1                           -

Alan King                                    -                            -                            3

Enda Bolger IRE                           -                            -                            1

Brian Ellison                                -                            -                            1

Philip Rowley                               -                            -                            1

Dan Skelton                                -                            -                            1

Nigel Twiston-Davies                     -                            -                            1

 

 

THE FINAL BOODLES LEADING JOCKEY AWARD AT THE FESTIVAL STANDINGS

 

 

Jockey                                               1st                              2nd                             3rd

Ruby Walsh                                 4                           1                           3

Robbie Power                              3                           -                            -

Noel Fehily                                  2                           3                           1

Bryan Cooper                              2                           1                           2

Nico de Boinville                           2                           -                            2

Richard Johnson                           2                           -                            1

Mr Jamie Codd                            2                           -                            -

Paul Townend                              2                           -                            -

Davy Russell                               1                           3                           3

Jack Kennedy                              1                           -                            1

Ms Gina Andrews                         1                           -                            -

David Bass                                 1                           -                            -

Ms Bryony Frost                          1                           -                            -

Ms Lisa O’Neill                    1                           -                            -

Denis O’Regan                             1                           -                            -

Tom Scudamore                          1                           -                            -

J J Slevin                                    1                           -                            -

Daryl Jacob                                 -                            3                           2

Aidan Coleman                            -                            3                           -

David Mullins                               -                            2                           -

Paddy Brennan                            -                            1                           1

Adrian Heskin                              -                            1                           1

Jeremiah McGrath                        -                            1                           1

Thomas Cheesman                       -                            1                           -

Brian Hughes                               -                            1                           -

Mr Noel McParlan                         -                            1                           -

Jamie Moore                               -                            1                           -

Danny Mullins                              -                            1                           -

Mr Derek O’Connor                      -                            1                           -

Paul Townend                              -                            1                           -

Ms Katie Walsh                            -                            1                           -

Trevor Whelan                             -                            1                           -

Wayne Hutchinson                        -                            -                            2

Danny Cook                                -                            -                            1

Charlie Deutsch                           -                            -                            1

Mr Alex Edwards                          -                            -                            1

Donagh Meyler                            -                            -                            1

Mr Patrick Mullins                         -                            -                            1

Tom O’Brien                                -                            -                            1

Sam Twiston-Davies                     -                            -                            1

Mr Sam Waley-Cohen                   -                            -                            1

 

THE FINAL IRISH THOROUGHBRED MARKETING LEADING OWNER AWARD AT THE FESTIVAL STANDINGS

Owner                                                1st                              2nd                             3rd

Gigginstown House Stud                4                           2                           2

J P McManus                               3                           3                           3

Andrea & Graham Wylie                2                           -                            1

Ann & Alan Potts                          2                           1                           -

Paul & Clare Rooney                     1                           2                           -

Susannah Ricci                            1                           1                           2

Tony Bloom                                1                           -                            -

Michael Buckley                           1                           -                            -

Barry Connell                              1                           -                           -

Maura Gittins                               1                           -                            -

J Humberstone                            1                           -                            -

Edward O’Connell                         1                           -                            -

Aidan O’Ryan                              1                           -                            -

Patricia Pugh                               1                           -                            -

Sally Rowley-Williams          1                           -                            -

The Knot Again Partnership            1                           -                            -

Philip Reynolds                             1                           -                            -

The Macaroni Beach Society           1                           -                            -

The Stewart Family                      1                           -                            -

Prof Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew  1                           -                            -

Wicklow Bloodstock (Ireland) Ltd     1                           -                            -

Simon Munir & Isaac Souede -                            2                           2

Chris Jones                                 -                            1                           2

Andrew Brooks                            -                            1                           -

Martin Broughton & Friends (1)       -                            1                           -

Adrian Butler & S O’Connor            -                            1                           -

John & Barbara Cotton                  -                            1                           -

Davies Smith Govier & Brown         -                            1                           -

Mrs J Donnelly                             -                            1                           -

Force Eight Syndicate          -                            1                           -

Robin Geffen & Sir John Ritblat       -                            1                           -

Chris Giles                                  -                            1                           -

N Griffith & H Haddock                  -                            1                           -

Trevor Hemmings                        -                            1                           -

Masterson Holdings Limited            -                            1                           -

Barry Maloney                             -                            1                           -

John Stone                                 -                            1                           -

Alan & Andrew Turner                   -                            1                           -

Walters Plant Hire Ltd          -                            1                           -

Mike Grech & Stuart Parkin            -                            -                            2

Trish Andrews                             -                            -                            1

Bradley Partnership                      -                            -                            1

Brocade Racing                            -                            -                            1

Doone Hulse Susie Saunders & Lady Cobham        -                            -                            1

D Gilbert, M Lawrence, A Bruce, G Wills    -                            -                            1

HP Racing Who Dares Wins            -                            -                            1

Mrs M Hurley                               -                            -                            1

Middleham Park Racing                 -                            -                            1

Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes        -                            -                            1

Sandy & Caroline Orr                    -                            -                            1

Sideways Syndicate                      -                            -                            1

Mrs P Sloan                                -                            -                            1

The Bellamy Partnership                -                            -                            1

Walters Plant Hire & James & Jean Potter -                            -                            1

 

 

 

THE FESTIVAL WINNERS, 2017

Champion Day, Tuesday, March 14

First race: 1.30pm. The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Labaik (FR) (Aidan O’Ryan) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-7 Jack Kennedy 25/1, 2¼l

Second race: 2.10pm. The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase

Altior (IRE) (Patricia Pugh) Nicky Henderson 7-11-4 Nico de Boinville 1/4F, 6l

Third race: 2.50pm. The Ultima Handicap Chase

Un Temps Pour Tout (IRE) (Caroline Tisdall & Brian Drew) David Pipe 8-11-12tb Tom Scudamore 9/1, shd

Fourth race: 3.30pm.The Stan James Champion Hurdle

Buveur D’Air  (FR) (J P McManus) Nicky Henderson 6-11-10 Noel Fehily 5/1, 4½l

Fifth race: 4.10pm. The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

Apple’s Jade (FR) (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 5-11-5t Bryan Cooper 7/2, 1½l

Sixth race: 4.50pm. The JT McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup

Amateur Riders Novices’ Chase                                    

Tiger Roll (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 7-11-6tb Lisa O’Neill 16/1, 3l

Seventh race: Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

Tully East (Barry Connell) Alan Fleming IRE 7-11-8 Denis O’Regan 8/1, 1¼l

 

Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 15

First race: 1.30pm. The Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle

Willoughby Court (IRE) (Paul and Clare Rooney) Ben Pauling 6-11-7 David Bass 14/1 Hd

Second race: 2.10pm. The RSA Novices’ Chase

Might Bite (IRE) (The Knot Again Partnership) Nicky Henderson 8-11-4 Nico de Boinville 7/2f Nse

Third race: 2.50pm. The Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

Supasundae (Ann and Alan Potts) Jessie Harrington IRE 7-11-4 Robbie Power 16/1 2l

Fourth Race: 3.30pm. The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

Special Tiara (Sally Rowley-Williams)  Henry De Bromhead IRE 10-11-10 Noel Fehily 11/1 Hd

Fifth race: 4.10pm. The Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country Chase)

Cause Of Causes (USA) (J P McManus) Gordon Elliott IRE 9-11-4tp Jamie Codd 4/1 9l

Sixth race: 4.50pm. The Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Flying Tiger (IRE) (The MacaroniBeach Society) Nick Williams 4-11-5 Richard Johnson 33/1 Nk

Seventh race: 5.30pm. The Weatherbys Champion Bumper

Fayonagh (IRE) (M Gittins) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-10-12 Jamie Codd 7/1 1 1/4l

 

St Patrick’s Thursday, March 16, 2017

First race: 1.30pm. The JLT Novices’ Chase

Yorkhill (IRE) (Andrea and Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-4 Ruby Walsh 6/4f, 1l

Second race: 2.10pm. The Pertemps Network Final Hurdle

Presenting Percy (Philip Reynolds) Patrick Kelly IRE 6-11-11 Davy Russell 11/1, 3¾l

Third race: 2.50pm. The Ryanair Chase

Un De Sceaux (FR) (Edward O’Connell) Willie Mullins IRE 9-11-10 Ruby Walsh 7/4f, 1½l

Fourth race: 3.30pm. The Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle

NicholsCanyon (Andrea and Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-10 Ruby Walsh 10/1, ¾l

Fifth race: 4.10pm. The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Chase

Road To Respect (IRE) (Gigginstown House Stud) Noel Meade IRE 6-10-13 Bryan Cooper 14/1, 6l

Sixth race: 4.50pm. The Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Let’s Dance (FR) (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-7 Ruby Walsh 11/8f, 2¾l

Seventh race: 5.30pm. Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Chase

Domesday Book (USA) (J Humberstone) Stuart Edmunds 7-11-4 Miss Gina Andrews 40/1, ¾l

 

Gold Cup Day, Friday, March 17

First race: 1.30pm. The JCBTriumph Hurdle

Defi Du Seuil (FR) (J P McManus) Philip Hobbs 4-11-0 Richard Johnson 5/2f, 5l

Second race: 2.10pm. The Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle

Arctic Fire (GER) (Wicklow Bloodstock (Ireland) Ltd) Willie Mullins IRE Paul Townend 20/1, nk

Third race: 2.50pm. The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

Penhill (Tony Bloom) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-5 Paul Townend 16/1, 3½l

Fourth race: 3.30pm. The Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup

Sizing John (Ann and Alan Potts) Jessica Harrington IRE 7-11-10 Robbie Power 7/1, 2¾l

Fifth race: 4.10pm. The St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunter’s Chase

Pacha Du Polder (FR) (The Stewart Family) Paul Nicholls 10-12-0 Miss Bryony Frost 16/1, nk

Sixth race: The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle

Champagne Classic (IRE)(Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-3 J J Slevin 12/1, 2½l

Seventh race: The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup

Rock The World (IRE) (Michael Buckley) Jessica Harrington IRE 9-11-5 Robbie Power 10/1, 1¾l

 

 

 

 

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