All the news from Ladies Day at The Festival in 2017







The going for day two of The Festival 2017, Ladies Day, has changed to:


Chase and Hurdle Courses (Old Course): Good to Soft, Good in places (from Good to Soft)

Cross Country Course: Good, Good to Soft in places (from Good to Soft, Good in places)


All distances are as advertised in the racecard.


The forecast is for dry and mild weather.




2.50pm Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

26    CARRIG CATHAL (Self Certificate, Stiff)




3.30pm Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle

11    THE NEW ONE (IRE) (Self Certificate, Lame)

13    UN TEMPS POUR TOUT (IRE) (Self Certificate, Other)





























The going has changed on the Chase and Hurdle tracks of the Old Course at Cheltenham today, Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 15, the second of the four days of The Festival – Good to Soft, Good in places (from Good to Soft).


Cheltenham Clerk of the Course & Director of Racing Simon Claisse said this morning: “I cannot believe that yet again today the sun has come out.


“There has been no rain since Sunday. We have had a dry night and another heavy dew and the forecast is for dry and warm weather with sunny spells today.


“It was quite murky early on and I thought the forecast was for it to remain cloudy throughout the day with the odd sunny spell. Maybe, we are going to be fortunate again.


“I had a good walk round with the stick this morning, the ground may be marginally quicker. There is a little bit of good ground at the top of the hill when they turn for home as is always the case but I think it will be pretty similar to yesterday, maybe marginally quicker.


“This is what we describe as groundsman’s ground because it is perfect from a horse’s point of view, really safe ground, but the horses haven’t really made a mess of it because the grass is so strong. I’ve been delighted with how little damage has been done with 112 runners on the first day.


“I had no temptation to water last night. Whether we will have to do something for tomorrow’s tracks (on the New Course) which is a little bit quicker and currently Good, Good to Soft in places, that is a decision we take later today, depending on what happens and how much it dries out. It’s looking as if the rainfall may come on Friday afternoon so we could be lucky and have four dry days.”


The Festival also stages the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (4.10pm) today, for which the ground has changed to Good, Good to Soft in places (from Good to Soft, Good in places).


Claisse commented: “The Cross Country Course is always a little bit quicker as we are not able to water it as much as both the Old and the New Courses. Also, that ground has only been managed as a racecourse since 1995, 22 years, whereas on the New Course has been raced on for 25 years and the Old Course for nearly 100 years.


“A lot of work goes into maintaining the Cross Country Course fences but we are always rewarded with a wonderful race.”


Reflecting on the first day of The Festival, Claisse added: “We had a wonderful day yesterday with J P McManus having his 50th winner at The Festival and Nicky Henderson winning his sixth Champion Hurdle and sixth Arkle.”




Jockey Willy Twiston-Davies fractured two vertebrae in a fall from 6/1 favourite Foxtail Hill in the final race of the first day of The Festival 2017 yesterday.


Foxtail Hill, trained by Willy’s father Nigel Twiston-Davies, fell at the eighth fence in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase. The jockey walked to the ambulance, but subsequent checks at Gloucester Royal Hospital revealed that he had fractured his T8 and T9 vertebrae.


Sam Twiston-Davies, Willy’s older brother, tweeted on Tuesday night: “Just left @willy_twiston in hospital, he’s in good spirits but fracture to his T8&9 and some cracked ribs!”


On Wednesday morning, Willy tweeted: “In hospital with broken T8, T9 and a few broken ribs. Will know more tomorrow.”


Twiston-Davies’ mother Cathy told ITV Racing’s Alice Plunkett this morning that Willy had full movement.


After an initial start in Jump racing, Willy Twiston-Davies, 22, made his name as a Flat jockey and rode Primitivo to win the King George V Stakes to victory at Royal Ascot in 2016. This winter he has returned to jumping and has ridden four winners.


The ride on Foxtail Hill was his first at this year’s Festival. In 2011, as a 16-year-old, Willy was unseated from Baby Run at the final fence when in the lead in the St James’s Place Foxhunters, but made amends at Aintree by winning the Fox Hunters’ over the Grand National fences a few weeks later.




The Joseph O’Brien-trained Edwulf, who was pulled up when in third place after the final fence in the J P McNamara National Hunt Chase on Tuesday, March 15, is reported to be in good shape this morning.


The eight-year-old, who was ridden by Derek O’Connor, was immediately attended by vets on the course, and then taken to the racecourse stables. From there he was transported to the Three Counties Equine Hospital near Upton-on-Severn.


Twenty-three-year-old O’Brien told ITV Racing this morning: “He’s in Three Counties Equine Hospital and [vet] Liam Kearns and everyone there has done a great job, and they did a great job with him yesterday on the track. It’s very positive this morning.


“They’re not altogether sure [what happened]. They thought it may have been something to do with his heart, but his heart came back normal relatively quickly and then he got up.


“It’s very good news this morning.”


Edwulf was Joseph O’Brien’s first official runner at the Cheltenham Festival. His father Aidan was listed as the trainer of the 2016 JCB Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov, but Joseph prepared the horse for the race before his training licence came through.


As a jockey on the Flat, Joseph scored multiple Group One wins for his father, including two Investec Derbys aboard Camelot (2012) and Australia (2014). He retired from race-riding in 2016 to take out a licence as a trainer.











1.30pm JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (8 runners)

1 Baily Cloud (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) M. F. Morris, Ireland 11st 4lb Mark Enright

2 Balko des Flos (FR) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 4lb David Mullins

3 Disko (FR) (Hood) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 4lb B. J. Cooper

4 Flying Angel (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 4lb Noel Fehily

5 Kilcrea Vale (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Jeremiah McGrath

6 Politologue (FR) (Hood) Paul Nicholls 11st 4lb Sam Twiston-Davies

7 Top Notch (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Daryl Jacob

8 Yorkhill (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 4lb


2.10pm Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle Race (Listed Race) (24 runners)

1 Gayebury Evan Williams 11st 12lb Adam Wedge

2 Presenting Percy (Tongue Strap) Patrick G. Kelly, Ireland 11st 11lb Davy Russell

3 Aubusson (FR) Nick Williams 11st 10lb Mr C. Williams (7)

4 Jury Duty (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Jack Kennedy

5 Caid du Berlais (FR) (Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Stan Sheppard (5)

6 Barney Dwan (IRE) Fergal O’Brien 11st 8lb Paddy Brennan

7 Tobefair (Sheepskin C/P) Debra Hamer 11st 8lb Trevor Whelan

8 El Bandit (IRE) Paul Nicholls 11st 8lb Sam Twiston-Davies

9 Mr Mix (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 8lb Harry Cobden

10 Golden Doyen (GER) Philip Hobbs 11st 8lb Tom O’Brien

11 Sutton Manor (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 7lb Ms L. O’Neill (5)

12 Splash of Ginge Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 6lb Jamie Bargary (3)

13 The Tourard Man (IRE) Alan King 11st 5lb Kevin Dowling (10)

14 Rocklander (IRE) Tom George 11st 5lb A. P. Heskin

15 Fingal Bay (IRE) Philip Hobbs 11st 5lb Mr Sean Houlihan (7)

16 Impulsive Star (IRE) Neil Mulholland 11st 5lb Mr S. Waley-Cohen (3)

17 Electric Concorde (IRE) J. Culloty, Ireland 11st 4lb David Mullins

18 Isleofhopendreams W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 4lb

19 Arctic Gold (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 3lb Tom Humphries (7)

20 Theo’s Charm (IRE) (Blinkers) Nick Gifford 11st 3lb Tom Cannon

21 Ballymalin (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 3lb Noel Fehily

22 Alzammaar (USA) Sam England 11st 3lb Jonathan England

23 For Good Measure (IRE) Philip Hobbs 11st 3lb Richard Johnson

24 Clondaw Cian (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Suzy Smith 11st 2lb Sean Bowen

Eliminations Three Ways, Dadsintrouble (IRE), Duke Street (IRE), Rainy City (IRE), Ruacana, Some Kinda Lama (IRE), Young Dillon (IRE), Knockara Beau (IRE), Solomn Grundy (IRE), Solstice Star, Kelvingrove (IRE), Billy’s Hope (IRE), Will O’The West (IRE), Rolling Maul (IRE), Behind Time (IRE), Woodford Island (IRE), Very First Time, Stoneham


2.50pm Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) (8 runners)

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

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

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

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

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

6 Un de Sceaux (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb R. Walsh

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

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


3.30pm Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (13 runners)

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

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

3 Clondaw Warrior (IRE) (Hood) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ms K. Walsh

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

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

6 Jezki (IRE) (Hood) Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland 11st 10lb Mark Walsh

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

8 Nichols Canyon W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb R. Walsh

9 Shaneshill (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb P. Townend

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

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

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

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

14 West Approach Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Tom Scudamore

15 Yanworth (Sheepskin C/P) Alan King 11st 10lb Non Runner

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


4.10pm Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (24 runners)

1 Village Vic (IRE) Philip Hobbs 11st 12lb Richard Johnson

2 Art Mauresque (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 9lb Nick Scholfield

3 Tango de Juilley (FR) Venetia Williams 11st 4lb Charlie Deutsch (3)

4 Cold March (FR) (Blinkers) Venetia Williams 11st 4lb Liam Treadwell

5 Diamond King (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 4lb Davy Russell

6 Voix d’Eau (FR) (Tongue Strap) Harry Fry 11st 0lb Mr M. Legg (5)

7 Baron Alco (FR) Gary Moore 11st 0lb Jamie Moore

8 Road To Respect (IRE) Noel Meade, Ireland 10st 13lb B. J. Cooper

9 Bouvreuil (FR) (Hood, Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 10st 13lb Mark Walsh

10 King’s Odyssey (IRE) Evan Williams 10st 13lb Adam Wedge

11 Cocktails At Dawn Nicky Henderson 10st 13lb Nico de Boinville

12 Germany Calling (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Charlie Longsdon 10st 13lb Kielan Woods

13 Starchitect (IRE) (Tongue Strap) David Pipe 10st 11lb Tom Scudamore

14 Henryville (Tongue Strap) Harry Fry 10st 9lb Noel Fehily

15 Ballykan (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Nigel Twiston-Davies 10st 8lb Daryl Jacob

16 Sizing Codelco (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 10st 8lb Tom O’Brien

17 Pinkie Brown (FR) (Hood) Neil Mulholland 10st 5lb A. P. Heskin

18 Un Ace (FR) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Kim Bailey 10st 5lb David Bass

19 Rock Gone (IRE) Dr Richard Newland 10st 4lb Sam Twiston-Davies

20 Champagne At Tara Jonjo O’Neill 10st 4lb Aidan Coleman

21 Mad Jack Mytton (IRE) Jonjo O’Neill 10st 3lb Richie McLernon

22 All Together (FR) Johnny Farrelly 10st 1lb Brendan Powell

23 Katachenko (IRE) (Hood) Donald McCain 10st 1lb Will Kennedy

24 Thomas Crapper (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Robin Dickin 10st 1lb (5lb ex) Charlie Poste

Eliminations: Ericht (IRE), Astracad (FR), Pressurize (IRE), Killala Quay, Full Shift (FR), Marcilhac (FR), Un Prophete (FR), Sergeant Mattie (IRE), Rockchasebullett (IRE)


4.50pm Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (16 runners)

1 Airlie Beach (IRE) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb

2 Coillte Lass (IRE) Paul Nicholls 11st 7lb Sam Twiston-Davies

3 Forge Meadow (IRE) Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland 11st 7lb Robbie Power

4 La Bague Au Roi (FR) Warren Greatrex 11st 7lb Gavin Sheehan

5 Let’s Dance (FR) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 7lb

6 Tahira (GER) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Richard Hobson 11st 7lb Harry Skelton

7 Dusky Legend Alan King 11st 5lb Wayne Hutchinson

8 Asthuria (FR) (Hood) W. P. Mullins, Ireland 11st 2lb

9 Awayinthewest (IRE) P. A. Fahy, Ireland 11st 2lb Davy Russell

10 Barra (FR) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 2lb B. J. Cooper

11 Groovejet Richard Spencer 11st 2lb Sean Bowen

12 Montana Belle (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 2lb David Mullins

13 On Demand (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 2lb Tom O’Brien

14 Toe The Line (IRE) John E. Kiely, Ireland 11st 2lb Denis O’Regan

15 Verdana Blue (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 2lb Jeremiah McGrath

16 Titi de Montmartre (FR) (Sheepskin C/P) R. Collet, France 11st 0lb Ludovic Philipperon


5.30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (24 runners)

1 Pendra (IRE) (Blinkers) Charlie Longsdon 11st 12lb Mr Derek O’Connor

2 Mall Dini (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Patrick G. Kelly, Ireland 11st 10lb Ms K. Walsh

3 Forgotten Gold (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Tom George 11st 10lb Mr N. George (7)

4 La Vaticane (FR) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap) David Pipe 11st 10lb Mr D. Edwards

5 Doctor Harper (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) David Pipe 11st 8lb Ms L. O’Neill

6 Local Show (IRE) Sarah Humphrey 11st 8lb Mr Thomas Greatrex (3)

7 Southfield Royale (Sheepskin C/P) Neil Mulholland 11st 8lb Mr James King

8 Unioniste (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 8lb Mr D. Maxwell (3)

9 Hadrian’s Approach (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 7lb Mr W. Biddick

10 Potters Legend Lucy Wadham 11st 6lb Mr M. Legg

11 Potters Cross Rebecca Curtis 11st 6lb Mr Barry O’Neill

12 Lamb Or Cod (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Philip Hobbs 11st 5lb Mr Sean Houlihan (7)

13 Premier Bond (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 4lb Mr S. Waley-Cohen

14 Domesday Book (USA) (Blinkers) Stuart Edmunds 11st 4lb Miss G. Andrews

15 Whats Happening (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Tom George 11st 4lb Mr R. O. Harding

16 Another Hero (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 3lb Mr J. J. O’Neill (5)

17 Sugar Baron (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 2lb Mr Steven Clements

18 Venitien de Mai (FR) J. T. R. Dreaper, Ireland 11st 2lb Mr P. W. Mullins

19 Lessons In Milan (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Henderson 11st 2lb Mr H. Hunt (5)

20 Squouateur (FR) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 2lb Mr J. J. Codd

21 Kilfinichen Bay (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Charlie Longsdon 11st 2lb Mr J. Nailor (7)

22 Balbir du Mathan (FR) (Tongue Strap) Alan Fleming, Ireland 11st 1lb Mr Steven Clements

23 Father Edward (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) David Pipe 11st 1lb Mr Rex Dingle (7)

24 Alvarado (IRE) Fergal O’Brien 11st 0lb Mr Z. Baker (3)

Eliminations: Ballycross, Katachenko (IRE), Ericht (IRE), The Crafty Butcher (IRE), What A Moment (IRE), Lake Takapuna (IRE), Theatrical Star, Undressed (FR), Astracad (FR), Long Lunch, Mountainous (IRE), Russe Blanc (FR), Adam du Breteau (FR), Katenko (FR), Definite Ruby (IRE), Full Shift (FR), Federici, In The Rough (IRE), Wadswick Court (IRE), Buddy Bolero (IRE), Top Wood (FR), Capard King (IRE), Troika Steppes, Goohar (IRE), Thomond (IRE), Amber Gambler (GER)








1 Bristol de Mai (FR) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Daryl Jacob


2 Champagne West (IRE) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb David Mullins


3 Cue Card (Tongue Strap) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Paddy Brennan


4 Djakadam (FR) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb


5 Empire of Dirt (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Jack Kennedy


6 Irish Cavalier (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Rebecca Curtis 11st 10lb Paul Townend


7 Minella Rocco (IRE) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 10lb Aidan Coleman


8 More of That (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Jonjo O’Neill 11st 10lb Mark Walsh


9 Native River (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Richard Johnson


10 Outlander (IRE) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Bryan Cooper


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


12 Sizing John Jessica Harrington, Ireland 11st 10lb Robbie Power


13 Smad Place (FR) Alan King 11st 10lb Wayne Hutchinson


14 Tea For Two Nick Williams 11st 10lb Lizzie Kelly



















Douvan’s arrival on Jump racing’s greatest stage, and reflections of Buveur D’Air’s Stan James Champion Hurdle win dominate today’s racing press coverage.


The Racing Post captures both elements on its front page, with headlines that read ‘It could be a dream Douvan Day’ and ‘Walking on Air’ (also a page header in The Daily Telegraph). Nicky Henderson’s two winners on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival – Buveur D’Air plus Altior in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy – is marked on the Post’s front cover, and it manages to squeeze in ‘. . . and it’s high fives for Gordon Elliott who bags a treble’.


Elliott’s rise in racing – encapsulated by that three-timer – and Willie Mullins’ sticky start yesterday, is latched onto by The Sun’s Matt Chapman, who writes: “The gauntlet has been thrown down by the big lad from Meath.”


The Daily Mail headlines with ‘Who D’Airs wins’, ‘Punching D’Air’ is the Gloucestershire Echo’s big-race reflection, and ‘Air force won’ does for The Sun. The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Hayward shared a few moments with Henderson post-race, and during their conversation the interviewee said: “Now where’s my cough mixture?” Hayward writes: “A glass of red wine was placed in front of Cheltenham’s leading trainer . . .”


Douvan will become the first major-league equine star to appear at this week’s Festival when lining up in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. His trainer, Willie Mullins, has yet to win the race, prompting the Racing Post headline ‘A new trophy for the cabinet?’.


‘Dou the biz’ is the Daily Star’s proclamation, and ‘Dou the business’ is the Racing Plus’s take – its Value Plus column, which made Apple’s Jade the star bet yesterday, selects Hawk High each-way in today’s Coral Cup – while Kevin Garside, writing in I, quotes Douvan’s owner, Rich Ricci, saying: “I’d like to see something get him off the bridle to see what he is really made of.” Referring to The Festival as “the world’s best sporting spectacle” Ricci tells the Daily Express’s Chris Goulding about owning a hot favourite saying: “It’s so difficult to enjoy it, I just endure it.”


Following Altior’s odds-on win yesterday, Greg Wood of The Guardian allows himself the luxury of pondering possibilities for the best confrontation since Denman took on Kauto Star, by writing: “Now it is up to Douvan to make the match and set the date for what promises to be one of the great head-to-heads at next year’s Festival.”


If Douvan is a proven champion, Neon Wolf is on the cusp of attaining that status in today’s Neptune Investment Management Hurdle. Followers of the Racing Post’s Pricewise column will be on Harry Fry’s runner ante-post at 8/1. ‘Cry Wolf!’ is the Daily Mirror’s nod to the horse, who is napped by the paper’s Newsboy, and also by jockey Lizzie Kelly in the Daily Mail.


The Festival is a gathering of wide social and economic backgrounds, with captains of industry and work-place trainees rubbing shoulders. The captains own the horses, of course, and a win for Apple’s Jade, the property of Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, encourages The Times’ Business section to carry a photo of the man and his mare. Racing also reaches the Business Comment page of The Daily Telegraph, which illustrates its reflections of operating profits at Close Brothers with a photo of Tully East winning the same company’s novices’ chase yesterday.


Off the track and down among the people, The Guardian’s Steven Morris considers The Jockey Club’s tightening of alcohol sales following some OTT performances last year. Alongside the headline ‘Cheltenham latest: Binge drinking and loutish horseplay are non-runners’ The Guardian prints a series of photos capturing day one, including a five-star picnic assembled for a beaming quintet of tweed-clad racegoers (possibly not Guardian readers). The Times’ news section has a headline ‘Race-goers raise a glass to moderation’, and while the Daily Star comes at the subject from a different angle, its caption ‘And they’re quaff’ is one of the more original.


A fusion of pheasant feathers adorning one racegoers’ hat provides The Daily Telegraph with a front-cover photo, and ‘It’s a fur bet’ heads the Daily Mail’s people-watching round-up. ‘Chelten-glam Festival’ is a pun in The Sun. Sport, industry, fun, food and fashion; it’s all part of The Festival mix.                                                 




Bookmakers certainly had the better time of it on the first day, Champion Day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival as a host of big-priced winners plundered the spoils at PrestburyPark, with Altior (1/4 favourite) the only favourite to oblige on what was a difficult day to find winners.


However, punters are unperturbed and have supported a number of runners on the second day, Ladies Day, of the Festival.


In the feature race, the Grade One Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30pm), the Willie Mullins-trained Douvan is a warm order for the two-mile chasing championship and is available at odds of 1/4. The sponsors have reported solid each way support for Tom George’s God’s Own who is 9/1 from 12/1.


In the Coral Cup (2.50pm), the race sponsors are fearful of Gordon Elliott’s well-supported Tombstone, in the two mile and five furlong contest. CountyMeath handler Elliott saddled three winners on the first day of the 2017 Festival and runs the unexposed the seven-year-old who was fourth to Altior in the 2016 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Coral have made the gelding 7/2 favourite from 5/1 as he seeks to provide owners Gigginstown House Stud with their third victory of the week.


The Harry Fry-trained Neon Wolf heads the market for the opening race of the day, the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm). Unbeaten in three starts under Rules, the gelding is a strong favourite at 15/8 from 2/1 with Coral.


Nicky Henderson’s Whisper is also proving a popular choice to upstage his more vaunted stable companion Might Bite in the Grade One RSA Chase. The Seven Barrows Maestro gained his 57th winner at the Festival yesterday after saddling Altior (Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase) and Buveur D’Air (Stan James Champion Hurdle) to victory. Whisper is 6/1 from 7/1 with Betway.


Enda Bolger’s Cantlow, favourite for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, has proved weak in the market for the three mile and seven furlong event this morning and has drifted out to 7/2 from 11/4 with Betway. Support has emerged for Usuel Smurfer who is 16/1 from 20/1 with the same firm.


The Weatherbys Champion Bumper, the concluding race of the day, is invariably seen as a minefield for punters. However, Coral have reported good support for Dan Skelton’s Cause Toujours. A bumper winner at Warwick in December, his price has constricted to 13/2 from 8/1.


Reflecting on yesterday’s action, Betway representative Alan Alger said: “It was certainly one of the best first days we have had at The Festival in a while. We’ve gone into the first day with trepidation the last few years but, whilst yesterday went well for us, there are still 21 races left.”


Focusing on today’s racing, David Stevens of Coral commented: “Tombstone could be a 5/2 shot by the off, which is the shortest price we can find in the history of the race. Gordon Elliott had such a good day here yesterday and running this horse in the Coral Cup rather than the Champion Hurdle says a lot. Today revolves around Tombstone and we would like to get him beat in a race we are sponsoring.”


Alger added: “Tombstone would be a bad result for us and we think he will go off at 4/1. We need a result in that race as the ante-post liabilities on the horse will cost us.”


1.30pm – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle – 15/8 from 2/1 – Neon Wolf (Coral)


2.10pm – RSA Chase – 6/1 from 7/1 – Whisper (Betway)


2.50pm – Coral Cup – 7/2 from 5/1 – Tombstone (Coral)


3.30pm – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase – 9/1 from 12/1 – God’s Own (Betway)


4.10pm – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase – 16/1 from 20/1 – Usuel Smurfer (Betway)


5.30pm – Weatherbys Champion Bumper – 13/2 from 8/1 – Cause Toujours (Coral)





Champion Day, Tuesday, March 14


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

Labaik (FR) (Aidan O’Ryan) Gordon Elliott 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 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 7-11-6tb Lisa O’Neill 16/1, 3l


Seventh race: Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

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




Willie Twiston-Davies’ ride in the Coral Cup is taken by claimer Jamie Bargary.


Twiston-Davies fractured two vertebrae when 6/1 favourite Foxtail Hill fell in the final race of Champion Day, the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.


Third race: 2.50pm. The Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

No. 22 Robinshill is now ridden by Jamie Bargary (3)









Fourteen runners will line up in The Festival’s showpiece race, the £575,000 Grade One Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, on Friday (3.30pm, March 17).


The Colin Tizzard-trained pair of Native River (3/1) and Cue Card (7/2) head the betting.


Native River will be ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, who is looking for a second Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup victory, 17 years after he last took the race on Looks Like Trouble.


Second in the 2016 J P McNamara National Hunt Chase, Native River has enjoyed an excellent season. He won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November, the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in December and the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury in February.


Cue Card, at 11 four years older than Native River, is a familiar face at The Festival. He won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper – a first Festival victory for his trainer – in 2010, and has run at the meeting four times since. He finished fourth in the 2011 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, won the Ryanair Chase in 2013 and finished second to Sprinter Sacre in the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase in 2012. In 2016, he fell three fences from home in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup when disputing the lead, losing out on the chance of a £1million bonus.


This season Cue Card has won both the Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock and the Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase. He will once again be ridden by Paddy Brennan.


Shortest-priced of the five Irish-trained runners is Willie Mullins’ Djakadam at 4/1, runner-up for the past two years. Winner of two renewals of the Grade One John Durkan Punchestown Chase, including last December, Djakadam could only finish third to Outlander on his last outing in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas. Mullins has never won the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, but has saddled the runner-up six times.


Outlander (Bryan Cooper), trained by the in-form Gordon Elliott, who won the 2016 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with Don Cossack, is available at around 9/1. He fell in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the 2016 Festival, and finished fifth in the 2015 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.


Elliott also runs 12/1 shot Empire Of Dirt (Jack Kennedy, who scored his first Festival winner on Tuesday). The 10-year-old took the Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate at last year’s Festival.


Sizing John (9/1) won the Stan James Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February for Jessica Harrington and jockey Robbie Power, beating Empire Of Dirt by three-quarters of a length, and will renew that rivalry at Cheltenham.


Champagne West (16/1) completes the Irish quintet. Henry de Bromhead’s Thyestes Chase winner will be ridden by last year’s Randox Health Grand National-winning jockey David Mullins. There have been 23 Irish-trained winners of the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup to date.


Nigel Twiston-Davies, who trains just a few miles from the racecourse near Naunton, has declared 20/1 chance Bristol De Mai for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. His form this season includes a win in Haydock’s Peter Marsh Chase, but he finished third of three behind Native River at Newbury last month. Daryl Jacob takes the ride.


Jonjo O’Neill will be represented by the J P McManus-owned pair Minella Rocco (20/1, Aidan Coleman) and More Of That (12/1, Mark Walsh), both previous Festival winners. The former won the 2016 National Hunt Chase and the latter the 2014 Stayers’ Hurdle.


Paul Nicholls, with the best record of any current trainer in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with four wins since 1999, has Saphir De Rheu (66/1, Sam Twiston-Davies) in this year’s race.


Lizzie Kelly will become the first woman since Linda Sheedy in 1984 to ride in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup when she partners Tea For Two, trained by her stepfather Nick Williams. The pair are priced at around 50/1.


Smad Place (50/1), who won the 2015 Hennessy Gold Cup and is running at his seventh consecutive Festival, represents Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson.


The field is completed by 66/1 chance Irish Cavalier, trained by Rebecca Curtis and ridden by Paul Townend. He finished fifth in the 2016 renewal.









2.50pm Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

26    CARRIG CATHAL (Self Certificate, Stiff)


5.30pm Weatherbys Champion Bumper

15    SOMEDAY (Vet’s Certificate, Lame)




3.30pm Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle

11    THE NEW ONE (IRE) (Self Certificate, Lame)

13    UN TEMPS POUR TOUT (IRE) (Self Certificate, Other)

15    YANWORTH (Self Certificate, Not Eaten Up)





























Sprinter Scare, the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase winner of 2013 and 2016, who was retired in November, 2016, today paraded at the scene of his greatest triumphs, Cheltenham, bathed in glorious sunshine, fitting for his bright and shinning career.


The packed crowd clapped him into the parade ring at 12.45am and a ripple of applause followed the great horse around his many laps of the ring.


Nicky Henderson, interviewed by Martin Kelly, talked of his charges career of 18 wins from 24 starts, which encompassed Grade Ones at Sandown, Aintree, Ascot and Punchestown as well as his five victories at the Home of Jump Racing.


The 11-year-old was led up by Sarwar Mohammed and Sarah Shreeve, and looking every inch the superstar, with his coat gleaming and a bright eye, he took the eye of all who looked. These included numerous trainers, bloodstock agents, who wished they had had either trained or bought him, and enthralled racegoers.


As he took a final bow, an even bigger round of applause broke out and the great warrior danced for the public as they cheered his exit.









Trainer Ben Pauling scored his first Festival victory when Willoughby Court took the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in a thrilling battle to the line with Neon Wolf.


The David Bass-ridden Willoughby Court, a 14/1 shot, made the vast majority of the running but in end only scored from 2/1 favourite Neon Wolf by a head in a photo-finish.


Pauling, who trains in Gloucestershire near Bourton-on-the-Water, said: “I can’t believe it, honestly. It feels as good as I ever hoped it would and better. To do it for Paul [Rooney, owner], who has been a great supporter of mine since my second season when I literally had 12 horses, means a huge amount.


“Jason [Maguire – the owner’s racing manager] has been a big part of the whole thing and my wife Sophie supports me day in, day out. It is fantastic, even down to Greg Walters who rides Willoughby Court every day because he is not an easy horse. I suppose Bassy did an all right job as well!”


“We set out with a plan. There weren’t any confirmed front runners apart from ourselves, and I said to David [Bass], ‘get him into a rhythm and then let him do what he can from there on in. He settled beautifully, didn’t miss a beat on any of the hurdles, and I saw Neon Wolf coming there between the last two and I admit I was slightly concerned, but I hoped we’d get him off the bridle and we did. He was gutsy as you like and I think that was an absolutely exceptional ride from David.


“I think David and Nico [de Boinville], the two boys I use, their clocks from the front are second to none – they can almost ride others to sleep and I think that’s exactly what happened today.


“Willoughby Court was an impossible horse to train for two years because he was so fractious and nervous, and this time he has just been a different kettle of fish.


“Greg Walters, who rides him every day, has done an exceptional job and he is here today to enjoy it.


“This means everything and more. We’ve had a fantastic start to my training career, and the yard, my support and my staff are exceptional, but this is really is the icing on the cake.


“Every option is open now, but I don’t think we will be seeing Willoughby Court at Aintree. Never say never, but this could be the end of his season.”




Willoughby Court became trainer Ben Pauling’s first Festival winner when landing the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle under jockey David Bass.


The 14/1 winner held off 2/1 favourite Neon Wolf by a head, with Messire Des Obeaux (8/1) a further three and three-quarters of a length back in third. Bass was riding his second winner at The Festival, following Darlan’s 2015 success in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate for trainer Kim Bailey.


Today’s win was particularly sweet for Bass, who rode Charbel in yesterday’s Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy, and was still in contention when falling two out. Bass said: “Yesterday was a massive disappointment for me and Kim [Bailey, Charbel’s trainer], but today was brilliant. It all went to plan, he was tough on the run-in, he stays very well and it worked out.


“He has form over two miles five furlongs on heavy ground, and my worry was that I hadn’t ridden him on decent ground. I feared his stamina might not come into play, so I rode him positively and he really got into a lovely rhythm. We respected Neon Wolf, and when Noel [Fehily, on Neon Wolf] got to me turning in I thought it would be a close-run thing.


“He [Willoughby Court] is a three-mile chaser in the making and I think he’s got a big future over fences.


“I went home last night and watched the replay [of Charbel] quite a few times and it hurt – we’ll never know what will happen. I woke up today and said ‘right, you’ve got two good rides today, so focus on that’. Ben is a really good young trainer, very ambitious and with good staff. It will mean a lot to him.”


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

1 WILLOUGHBY COURT (Paul & Clare Rooney) Ben Pauling 6-11-07 David Bass 14/1

2 Neon Wolf (Masterson Holdings Limited) Harry Fry 6-11-07 Noel Fehily 2/1 Fav

3 Messire Des Obeaux (Simon Munir & Issac Souede) Alan King 5-11-07 Daryl Jacob 8/1


Distances: hd, 3¾

Tote Win £14.70 Places: £3.60; £1.60; £2.90 Exacta: £57.20


Ben Pauling – 1st winner at The Festival

David Bass – 2nd winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings after 8 races

Great Britain 4

Ireland 4




Trainer Harry Fry was pleased with the run of 2/1 favourite Neon Wolf who finished an agonising head second to 14/1 winner Willoughby Court, trained by Ben Pauling after a prolonged battle, in the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, the first race on day two, Ladies Day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.


Always handy under Noel Fehily, Neon Wolf cruised into contention approaching the home turn and looked the likely winner in the home straight. However, Willoughby Court under a never-say-die ride from David Bass, found plenty for pressure and gamely repelled the sustained challenge of Fry’s charge, to score by a head. Alan King’s Messire Des Obeaux (8/1) was a further three and three-quarter lengths behind in third.


Fry said: “All credit to the winner, he just pulled out more and more. I’m absolutely delighted with the run of Neon Wolf. We have a lovely horse on our hands. Obviously, we would’ve loved to have won but all credit to Ben Pauling and his team for a fantastic performance by the winner.”


The six-year-old son of Vinnie Roe pecked on landing at the final flight but Fry refused to blame that for the defeat, commenting: “There are plenty of what-ifs in racing. We were second on the day and we will now look forward to having an exciting horse on our hands.


“He has got the trip no problem. He was keeping on again at the end but the winner just kept finding a bit more. There we go, that’s racing and they don’t win all the time. He’s run a great race in defeat.”


Fry would not be drawn on where the gelding would go next, adding: “We’ll see how he comes out of this but the owners are keen on Punchestown.”


Jockey Noel Fehily said: “The ground just dried out a bit too much for him. He pecked badly at the back of the last as well.”


Alan King was delighted with the performance of Messire Des Obeaux, who stayed on well to finish third. The Barbury Castle handler said: “He never missed a beat. He jumped well and we are really pleased with him.”


Anthony Bromley, racing manager to Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, was similarly delighted with the performance of Messire Des Obeaux, remarking: “It was a very hot novice hurdle. We were so pleased to get third place. He stayed on well, Daryl had him in a good position and he has run a great race behind two very good horses.


“The handicapper had the two in front rated higher but we are very proud of our horses and can’t wait to go chasing next year. He has much more relaxed as he is maturing so he may be an RSA or JLT horse I would like to hope for next season. We are very proud of him.” Daryl Jacob, rider of the third, said: “He ran a great race.”


Consul De Thaix


Consul De Thaix, who fell during the race, incurred a fatal injury.




David Bass, rider of the 14/1 winner Willoughby Court, said: “On the slow side.”


Noel Fehily, jockey of the head second Neon Wolf, said: “It has dried and is a bit dead.”


Daryl Jacob, on board the third, Messire Des Obeaux, said: “Good ground.”


Jeremiah McGrath, rider of the fourth, Burbank, said: “It is on the slow side and a bit dead. Having said that it is lovely jumping ground, if stays like that I would be delighted.”


Ruby Walsh, partner of, Bacardys, said: “Dead.”


Paul Townend, jockey of Bon Papa, said: “Lovely ground. It is a shade quicker than yesterday.”


Jack Kennedy, on board Brelade, said: “It is a bit better than yesterday.”


Adam Wedge, partner of De Dollar Man, said: “It is good to soft. There is a bit more juice in it than I expected.”


Gavin Sheehan, jockey of Keeper Hill, said: “On the slow side of good.”


David Mullins, rider of Kemboy, said: “Good ground but a bit tacky.”


Daniel Mullins, partner of Livelovelaugh, said: “Nice good to soft ground. A bit drier than yesterday.”


Paddy Brennan, rider of Poetic Rhythm, said: “On the slow side of good.”


Kielan Woods, on Skipthecuddles, said: “Tacky ground. It has dried since yesterday.”


Bryan Cooper, on board Shattered Love, said: “Tacky but a bit livelier than yesterday.”









The Nicky Henderson-trained Might Bite (7/2 favourite) rallied amazingly in the closing stages to edge a dramatic finish after appearing to throw certain victory away in the Grade One RSA Novices’ Chase, the second race on day two, Ladies Day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.


Having led, Might Bite under Nico de Boinville, was well clear approaching the final fence, having jumped superbly throughout the three mile contest. However, the son of Scorpion clambered his way through the last fence and subsequently began to hang violently to his right, losing all momentum.


However, de Boinville and the eight-year-old heroically battled back to catch the Davy Russell-ridden Whisper (9/2), also trained by Henderson, by a nose in the most exciting race many had witnessed, drawing huge cheers from the crowd at Prestbury Park.


The Willie Mullins-trained Bellshill was a further 10 lengths behind in third.


Henderson, gaining his third winner of the week at the Festival, his 58th winner overall at the meeting and his third RSA Chase, said: This place has extraordinary tricks in its tales and that was another one.


“It looked, for all the world, that Might Bite had thrown it away when Whisper came along but to be fair Might Bite was the best horse.


“You thought Might Bite had done it all well and then he goes and does that. What can you make of it all? It shows why you should run two in a race or maybe why you shouldn’t.


“Nico said going to the last he was looking around but it was just quite extraordinary. He came here as a novice hurdler and did exactly the same thing.


“He is hugely talented. He is only a baby and hasn’t had a lot of experience. It is deceptive how quickly he is going.


“The future is enormous with him. I was worried whether Cheltenham would suit him at all but he has showed he handles the place and everything that comes with it because he is the sort of horse I couldn’t guarantee was a certainty.”


Reflecting on Whisper’s heroic effort, the Seven Barrows maestro said: “Davy [Russell, jockey] did everything right on Whisper. He did exactly what he wanted to do – hunt around. You could see him creeping in there but you thought Might Bite had got away.”




Nico de Boinville drove 7/2 favourite Might Bite to a last-gasp victory in the Grade One RSA Novices’ Chase to record his second win of The Festival 2017 and his sixth in total.


De Boinville had a clear lead on the Nicky Henderson-trained eight-year-old at the final fence, but an error there was followed by the horse drifting strongly to the right. His stable mate Whisper, ridden by Davy Russell, headed him on the run-in but Might Bite fought back dramatically to score by a nose in a photo-finish.


The jockey said: “I had deja vu there. Might Bite did exactly the same in his hurdle race around here – he saw the entrance to the track where he came in. He was on a perfect stride to the last fence and he’s seen that and just lost concentration. He was lugging, trying to get there, and then he saw the loose horse [Marinero] and was like, ‘oh right, we are in a race again’. Without that loose horse, I would not have won.


“I thought we’d stand a chance of getting back up because he has such a good turn of foot, but it just depended how fast Whisper was coming. If he had been coming any quicker than that, we wouldn’t have won.


“He is like that. He is a thinker but so talented. He jumped for fun and should have won by five or 10 lengths. It is great for the owners and great for the guvnor [Nicky Henderson], who is having a tremendous time of it. I kept the faith with this horse, although I can see why others might not.


“You can just see what a talented horse he is – jumps and travels for fun. He just has his quirks sometimes. You just deal with it and try and make it as easy as you can.


“He’s got a huge future. Kempton suits him because the entrance to the track is after the line!”


2.10pm RSA Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

1 MIGHT BITE (The Knot Again Partnership) Nicky Henderson 7-11-04 Nico de Boinville 7/2 Fav

2 Whisper (Walters Plant Hire Ltd) Nicky Henderson 9-11-04 Davy Russell 9/2

3 Belshill (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-04 Ruby Walsh 5/1


Distances: Nose, 10

Tote Win: £4.00 Places: £1.90; £1.90; £2.20 Exacta: £15.40


Nicky Henderson – 58th winner at The Festival

Nico de Boinville – 6th winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings after 9 races

Great Britain 5

Ireland 4




Nicky Henderson saddled his 58th Cheltenham Festival winner when Might Bite landed the RSA Novices’ Chase, beating his stablemate Whisper in a dramatic finish.


Might Bite (7/2 favourite), another from a long line of stunning-looking Henderson horses, made most of the running, pulled well clear turning in, but wandered markedly right on the run-in, slowed to a canter, and was passed by Whisper who was staying on powerfully. Incredibly, Might Bite rallied to such good purpose that he got back in front to win by a nose, with Bellshill a further 10 lengths back in third.


Davy Russell, who rode Whisper, said: “They went quick, and I couldn’t go that early pace, so I had to sit and suffer. Nico’s horse gave it away on the run-in, by straying, and if anything I got to him too soon.


“Obviously, the best horse has won and there are no excuses for my horse. He just kept going at one pace.”


Whisper’s owner, Dai Walters, said: “You go back three years and it was his day when he won the Coral Cup – that was inches and I think there is only a half-inch in this. It was fantastic and I thought he had it!


“It’s brilliant and it’s good for Nicky Henderson. Whisper was in bad form last year and he sent him back [over fences]. It’s a credit to Nicky.”


Josephine’s first bite at a Festival win


While Nicky Henderson was welcoming in his 58th Festival winner, a member of his family was experiencing her first.


His sister Josephine, who lives in Wiltshire, is one of 10 members of the Knot Again Partnership which owns Might Bite. Others in the group include David Minton, the bloodstock agent who bought Might Bite privately as an unbroken store horse.


Josephine said: “It’s terrifying to own this horse, but also really thrilling. On the run-in I thought ‘Oh God’, but he’s done that before when winning a hurdle race here. Well done Nico for getting him going again. I couldn’t believe he was going to lose it, but after the fall he had at Kempton at Christmas it’s so wonderful to have him back and winning.


“I saw him in his box as a four-year-old and couldn’t help but notice his incredibly long legs. That’s where he gets his speed from – he really covers the ground.”




Bellshill, who fell at the last when a beaten horse at Leopardstown in a Grade One novice chase in February, turned that upset around when finishing third in an enthralling renewal of the RSA Novices’ Chase today, Ladies Day.


Willie Mullins, trainer of the 5/1 chance, said: “It was a fabulous race to watch and very brave of the winner (Might Bite 7/2f) to do what he did – extraordinary to do what he did.


“It was a very strongly run race and my fellow just wasn’t able to go the pace. Bellshill ran well considering his last run – we were delighted. He jumped fantastically and ran well, no excuses.”














Jessica Harrington became the most successful female trainer ever at the Festival after 16/1 shot Supasundae claimed a decisive two length victory in the Coral Cup, the third race on day two, Ladies Day, of the Cheltenham Festival.


Always travelling well throughout the two mile and five furlong contest under Robbie Power, the seven-year-old son of Galileo travelled powerfully entering the home straight and found plenty for pressure after winging the final flight to draw away from second-placed Taquin Du Seuil (12/1), trained by Jonjo O’Neill. Alan King’s Who Dares Wins (33/1) was a further two and a half-lengths back in third, whilst Noel Meade’s 66/1 chance Monskland was a length behind in fourth.


Harrington was level with Jenny Pitman on eight Festival winners coming into the this year’s meeting, but Supasundae’s success now makes Harrington The Festival’s winning-most female trainer with nine victories.


The gelding was originally trained by Andrew Balding before he was purchased by Ann & Alan Potts, going on to finish sixth in the 2015 Weatherbys Champion Bumper and seventh in the 2016 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival for Henry De Bromhead.


Switched to Harrington’s yard this season, the trainer was delighted with the horse’s performance, commenting:


“I’ve taken time to get to know him. He has run well on his last two runs but was just getting stuck in the mud and the more it dried out, I thought he would be a different horse on good ground. He is Flat-bred and really liked that good ground.


“He’s run in the Champion Bumper and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival so it’s good that a horse can come here where he has run before and he was just brilliant today.


“Robbie gave him a lovely ride. He was always where he wanted to be, had a little bit of space and was just off the pace.


“It is absolutely fantastic. I inherited Supasundae this season from Henry de Bromhead.


“I don’t know where Supasundae will go next. He might just step up to Graded company, I don’t know whether he will be good enough or we may just go for another handicap.”




Robbie Power returned to The Festival’s winners’ spot for the first time in six years following Supasundae’s success in The Coral Cup.


His only victory before this one came on this day in 2011 when he won the RSA Chase on Bostons Angel, like Supasundae, trained by Jessica Harrington. Today the winning team (16/1) scored by two lengths from Taquin Du Seuil (12/1), who was two and a half lengths clear from Who Dares Wins (33/1). Monksland (66/1) finished fourth.


Power took additional pleasure in wearing the colours of Ann and Alan Potts, who sent horses to Harrington for the first time this season. The winning jockey said: “I have nearly forgotten what it is like to win a race here. To have a Festival win for the Potts in their first season with us is fantastic.


“I said before the race the main priority was to get a good position and find a bit of room in a 25-runner handicap, which wasn’t going to be easy. I got a perfect run – he jumped the first a bit slow but after that I got a lovely run the whole way. He’s been running on heavy ground in Ireland all winter, and I was sure he would improve for better ground, and that’s how it worked out.


“He beat Monksland on New Year’s Eve and was then second and fourth to J P’s good horse Sutton Place on heavy ground. He got bogged down, but I said then, ‘Let’s go to the Coral Cup’. He has travelled over to give Sizing John [a Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup contender] a bit of company – he’s best mates with him. It’s great to get one winner, and fingers crossed we get another.”


2.50pm Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

1 SUPERSUNDAE (Ann & Alan Potts) Jessica Harrington IRE 7-11-04 Robbie Power 16/1

2 Taquin Du Seuil (Martin Broughton & Friends 1) 10-11-04 Jonjo O’Neil 12/1

3 Who Dares Wins (HP Racing Who Dares Wins) Alan King 5-11-02 Wayne Hutchinson 33/1

4 Monksland (Patricia Hunt) Noel Meade IRE 10-11-00 Donagh Meyler (3) 66/1


Distances: 2, 2½, 1, ½

Tote Win: £26.70 Places £4.80; £3.00; £8.30; £16.90 Exacta: £334.00

7/2 Fav Tombstone (22nd)


Jessica Harrington – 9th winner at The Festival – most successful female trainer now

Robbie Power – 2nd winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings after 10 races

Great Britain 5

Ireland 5




Aidan Coleman rode Taquin Du Seuil, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, into second place in the Coral Cup. The 12/1 chance finished two lengths behind the winner, Supasundae.


Coleman said: “I’m absolutely delighted – he gave me a great ride. He travelled, and followed the winner the whole way. He’s a brilliant horse who has won a BetVictor Gold Cup [at Cheltenham’s 2016 Open meeting] and finished second in a Coral Cup – I couldn’t be happier with him.


O’Neill added: “It was a good run and I’m very happy with him.”


Third Who Dares Wins, the bravely named Jeremy gelding who is a genuine dual purpose sort, having run and won on the Flat as well as over hurdles, ran up to his mark and more but couldn’t overcome the winner Supasundae and second Taquin Du Seuil.


Trained by Alan King at Barbury Castle for the HP Racing Who Dares Wins partnership, the five-year-old could well be heading back for the flat after this run.


Henry Ponsonby, the manager of the partnership, said: “We haven’t discussed future plans yet but we very much have our eye on the flat next. The Chester Cup is a possibility, whether he will get there off 92 I am not sure but he has won on his only start there. Also races like the Ascot Stakes and maybe even the Ebor, he is very good on the Flat.


“Wayne (Hutchinson) gave him a super ride too, giving him daylight as he doesn’t like to be crowded.


“We are thrilled, we thought he was a bit high in the handicap but to come here and be placed is wonderful. He won the Gerry Feilden (Newbury, Nov, 2016) but this is a far better race. He had seven or eight pounds to find but it was worth coming.


King added: “We are delighted up in the van all the way and no excuses. He has run a mighty race. He is probably a few pounds too high to win one of these but he has run incredibly well and everyone is delighted.”








Special Tiara (11/1) delivered the finest performance of his career to be crowned a shock winner of the 2017 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase with a superb front-running performance in the two-mile chasing championship, the feature race on day two, Ladies Day, of the Cheltenham Festival.


Ridden by Noel Fehily, the 10-year-old son of Kayf Tara led throughout and jumped superbly. Still clear after jumping the last, Henry de Bromhead’s charge responded well to Fehily’s urgings up the punishing Cheltenham hill and fend off the late challenge of Colin Tizzard’s 7/1 chance Fox Norton, who stayed on stoutly to finish just a head behind the winner, in a thrilling finish.


Tom George’s Sir Valentino (33/1) was six lengths back in third.


Special Tiara is a regular at the Festival and has finished sixth, third and third again in the 2014-2016 renewals of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. However, today was the gelding’s crowning glory as he caused a seismic shock in a race many believed would be a mere procession for 2/9 favourite Douvan.


De Bromhead, gaining his fourth Cheltenham Festival winner, said: “It’s a horse race and anything can happen but this is very hard to believe at the moment. No horse deserves it any more than this lad and Sally [Rowley-Williams, owner] loves her horses and no-one deserves this more than her.


“Noel gave Special Tiara a super ride. The horse is just a legend and I just thought he jumped really quick today over his fences. Noel is an amazing rider and I am absolutely delighted for him.


“I am so pleased for everyone involved. He seemed in great form coming into this – I nearly said to our head lad Davy Roche at home that this fellow seems better than ever and I said: ‘No, no, I will stop’.


“Special Tiara seemed in great form but it is hard to believe with Douvan and everything else. For our lad, it’s amazing. He just tries his heart out and no horse deserves it more.


“I thought that he jumped the slickest that he has ever jumped. Often, he jumps a bit high but he was so slick today, it’s incredible.


“Any day that you win a Grade One at Cheltenham is an amazing day and one of the feature races. My uncle and aunt bred this horse and for Sally, it’s just brilliant.”


“Douvan is a super horse. I don’t know what happened today but our horse has benefitted from it. I was surprised we had such a nice lead at the top of the hill and the finish was very nerve-wracking.


“He loves that better ground and he gives his all every time. He is a great horse.”




Noel Fehily won another championship race at The Festival 2017 when riding Special Tiara to victory in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.


The win topped up his success yesterday in the Stan James Champion Hurdle on Buveur D’Air, and tomorrow he could make it a hat-trick of wins in the meeting’s top races when riding hot favourite Unowhatimeanharry in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle. At present he has no ride in Friday’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.


Special Tiara (11/1) scored by a head from Fox Norton (7/1) with Sir Valentino (33/1) six lengths back in third. The shock in that list is the absence of 2/9 favourite Douvan, who lost his unbeaten record when finishing seventh.


Fehily, who made all on the winner, said: “I’ve just won the race I always wanted to win – the Champion Chase is the best speed race over fences and it’s a great one to have on the CV.


“I was wondering where Ruby was and thought he would be stalking me, but I got into a great rhythm down the back straight and my horse jumped better than he has ever done. He’s a wonderful horse and deserved that, because he’s been knocking on the door a few times [third in this twice].


“It’s difficult to make all in the Champion Chase, especially going at that speed, and you’re worried you’re a sitting target for something else. When I jumped the ditch at the top of the hill I thought Douvan might come past me, but I didn’t think anything else would.


“Henry [De Bromhead, trainer] does a great job, and the better ground helped. He won at Kempton and showed he was in good form this season, but he’s been bogged down in other races. If you said to me at the start of the week ‘you can win the Champion Hurdle and Chase’ I’d have taken that.”




Henry de Bromhead admitted that Special Tiara’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase victory by a head from Fox Norton hadn’t quite sunk in yet.


The Co Waterford trainer said: “It was super; I am delighted with him. I thought he jumped the best I have ever seen him – lower and much slicker. Sometimes he can get a bit high in the air. He was five or six lengths in front on the top of the hill and then got a nice run down. Obviously we were waiting for Douvan to come out of the pack, among others, and when I saw him [Douvan, the 2/9 favourite, who finished seventh] back-pedal after the third-last  I thought we were in with a chance, and then it was whether we could get home or not – he was amazing.


“Noel [Fehily] rides him so well – he’s won two Grade Ones on him now.”


Asked about his expectations coming into the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, de Bromhead answered: “I thought our season was going pretty well when he won the Grade Two [Desert Orchid Chase] at Kempton, and if we could get placed here today it would have been a fantastic run. It’s incredible.”


Jockey Noel Fehily, who also won Tuesday’s Stan James Champion Hurdle on Buveur D’Air, said: “It went pretty smooth, really. I got out of the gate fast, as normally he does do. I got into a great rhythm, and he felt great down the back – he pinged fences.


“I was able to get a breather into him round the top of the hill, and down the hill I had a little look to see whether Douvan was stalking me, but I couldn’t see him so thought he was hid behind a wall of horses or something. I was expecting to be challenged sooner than I was; I heard horses coming to me jumping the last, and once I was over the last I thought he would take a fair bit of passing as I knew he wouldn’t stop going up the hill.


“He’s always been a fantastic jumper, but today he settled lovely and got into a really good rhythm.”


De Bromhead interjected: “Glad you didn’t go for the Ryanair now?”


Fehily replied: “I’m glad you didn’t listen to me on that one!”


He continued: “The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a fantastic race to win. Fair play to Henry for getting this horse back; he had a couple of runs here in the winter on soft ground and you could almost be disappointed with him. Then he had that good run at Kempton on better ground that showed he was still in good form.”


De Bromhead said: “In fairness, Noel said, when he ran so badly here the last time, that he felt amazing going to the start and it was just the ground and that was it, so he was sticking by him as well. In the past few weeks Special Tiara has been in incredible form and has looked the best he has ever looked. It just came together today.”


He praised owner Sally Rowley-Williams, saying: “Sally is brilliant – very enthusiastic, loves her horses and I am delighted for her. She was telling me this was her sixth runner in the Queen Mother Champion Chase – four times with Special Tiara and twice with River City [who finished third in 2007 and unseated his jockey in 2006, trained by Noel Chance], so she has finally won it.”


De Bromhead was asked about future plans for Special Tiara, and he laughed, saying: “We are asked all year about Cheltenham, then we win here and you are asking us what’s next! We’ll enjoy today.”




Sally Rowley-Williams owns the 11/1 winner of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, Special Tiara, trained by Henry de Bromhead in Ireland.


The American former banker, who lived for much of her life in England, said: “He really totally deserves this race.


“It is the first time since he won his G1 at Aintree as a novice that he has had his ground. He has just shown us what he can do on the ground.


“Noel Fehily is a beautiful horseman and there is no one like him in terms of sensitivity – he calmed down Special Tara going to the start – and gave the horse such a lovely ride. I could not be more thankful to him.


“My only fear was coming up the hill, but Special Tiara kept on and it was great. I was shouting hang on, hang on and lots of four-letter words! There we are – I am a very enthusiastic owner.


“I have never lost faith in Special Tiara because I know exactly what he can do and all he needed was this sort of ground. I had complete faith in the jockey, the trainer and the stable staff and where he goes on holiday. The person who looks after him does an amazing job.


“This is an incredible feeling to be in the winner’s enclosure – this was my sixth attempt at winning the Champion Chase.


“Two miles is about all my nerves can take and even that is stretching it!”





The Colin Tizzard-trained Fox Norton (7/1) finished an agonising head second in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, after just failing to reel in Henry De Bromhead’s 11/1 winner Special Tiara in the feature race on day two, Ladies Day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.


Always travelling well, Fox Norton stayed on stoutly up the Cheltenham hill under Aidan Coleman but was unable to quite get to the leader who led throughout.


Dorset handler Tizzard said: “It was a fantastic run. Halfway up the run, we thought we were going to get there but to be fair to the winner he stayed on didn’t he and kept going. It was a lovely run and we couldn’t wish for anything else.”


Fox Norton’s rider, Aidan Coleman, said: “I could not be happier with him. He jumped brilliantly and, from the back of the last, I thought we might get there, but fair play to Special Tiara for keeping going. He is a very brave horse and there was nothing else I could do.


“I haven’t a negative word to say against my horse or my passage through the race. It would have been nice to win, but I’m happy.”


Paddy Brennan was delighted with the run of eight-year-old Sir Valentino (33/1), who was as further six lengths behind Fox Norton in third.


Brennan said: “Unbelievable run and it was a great training performance and I was just thrilled to be a part of it.


“There is no reason to say he cannot improve again after running in this race. It was his first proper run in Grade One company where he looked good, unlike in the Tingle Creek, and wherever he goes next, he’ll be interesting.”




Willie Mullins, trainer of the previously unbeaten superstar Douvan, felt there must be a physical problem after his charges out of sorts seventh when sent off the 2/9 favourite to retain his unbeaten record in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.


Mullins said: “He never did that before, I imagine we will find something physical wrong with him. Ruby was gobsmacked by that. Douvan didn’t jump as well as he expected. Usually we would find something wrong when something like this happens.


“When they jump like that they can injure themselves, it is a huge strain they exert upon themselves and he is a big horse. He put in two or three odd jumps and I would say he must have done something. It takes a lot out of a horse to make a mistake like that in a championship race.


“I think he probably pulled something, maybe a muscle or a ligament. Hopefully, it is only something that will come right straight away. When I saw him jump the first couple of fences, I thought he would have to be a superhorse to win this. You don’t get away with that sort of jumping and win a (Betway Queen Mother) Champion Chase, you might win a beginners’ chase but not a champion class of race.


“I am hoping that he could be one of the best horses I have ever trained, but today was clearly not his run. We will have to get him back on track, if we can, but that is the way it is. We are all disappointed that this has happened. Now my main job is to find out what is wrong and how long it will take to fix.


“Ruby didn’t say Douvan had come back lame, all he said was that the horse wasn’t moving well behind. I don’t know whether that was after he jumped during the race or as he was pulling up. He didn’t say there was something wrong behind but that he felt that he wasn’t moving well behind.


“I am well used to dealing with the frustration of racing, if not quite at this level with this type of hore, but that is the way it is.


Ruby Walsh, rider of Douvan, added: “We were beaten a long way out, he didn’t jump well. He didn’t feel right and he never got going.”


3.30pm £365,760 Betway Queen Mother

Champion Chase (Grade 1) – Result


1 SPECIAL TIARA (Sally Rowley-Williams) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb Noel Fehily 11/1


2 Fox Norton (FR) (Ann & Alan Potts) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Aidan Coleman 7/1
3 Sir Valentino (FR) (Doone Hulse Susie Saunders & Lady Cobham) Tom George 11st 10lb Paddy Brennan 33/1


4 Top Gamble (IRE) (Walters Plant Hire & James & Jean Potter) Kerry Lee 11st 10lb Davy Russell 20/1


5 God’s Own (Crossed Fingers Partnership) Tom George 11st 10lb Adrian Heskin 6/1


6 Traffic Fluide (Galloping On The South Downs Partnership) Gary Moore 11st 10lb Joshua Moore 50/1


7 Douvan (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ruby Walsh 2/9 Fav


8 Garde La Victoire (Diana Whateley) Philip Hobbs 11st 10lb Richard Johnson 14/1


9 Simply Ned (David & Nicky Robinson) Nicky Richards 11st 10lb Brian Harding 33/1


PU Sizing Granite (Ann & Alan Potts) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Tom O’Brien 50/1


Distances: hd, 6, hd, 1, nk, 4, 17, 13

Tote Win: £17.50 Places: £3.10; £2.20; £6.20 Exacta: £201.60


Henry de Bromhead – 4th winner at The Festival

Noel Fehily – 5th winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings after 11 races

Great Britain 5

Ireland 6




Mark Walsh has been taken to Gloucestershire Hospital with suspected concussion after his fall in the first race at Cheltenham today.


The Irish jockey was replaced in the third race, the Coral Cup, on Hargam by Nico de Boinville, while in the same race Robinshill was ridden by 3lb-claimer Jamie Bargary following Willy Twiston-Davies’ back injury in the last race yesterday.


Mark Walsh was also due to partner the anticipated favourite Cantlow in the fifth race today, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. Adrian Heskin now takes the ride, after switching from another Enda-Bolger-trained and J P McManus-owned runner, Auvergnat, who will be partnered by Robbie Power.


















The Gordon Elliott-trained 4/1 shot Cause Of Causes created Cheltenham Festival history in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase as the gelding 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.


Ridden by Jamie Codd on each occasion, the Irishman again gave the nine-year-old son of Dynaformer a superb ride as the pair quickened up well after the final flight to bound clear up the Cheltenham hill to score by nine lengths from stable companion Bless The Wings (10/1) in second, with a further length and a quarter back to Enda Bolger’s 9/4 favourite Cantlow in third.


Codd and the J P McManus-owned gelding won the J T McNamara National Hunt Chase in 2015 before plundering the spoils in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at last year’s Festival, with today’s victory now taking his record at The Festival to three victories from four starts [second in 2014 Kim Muir].


A delighted Codd said: “Cause Of Causes has run at four Festivals – he’s been second and had three wins, so he is a remarkable little horse, he is so durable.


“He was second in the Kim Muir, won the four-miler and came back for a Kim Muir and has now won the Cross-Country race. He is a great little horse – he is just a dinger – and he has been marvellous for my career.


“He ran here at January and had schooled well at home before, so we were quite confident but he just got a bit sticky early on that day. I got out of my ground and, to be fair, he only got going over the last three or four hedges across the side.


“He finished OK that day but has been back since. He went to Punchestown and came here in February when the sales were on, so we had two good schooling days with him, and he schooled well yesterday and this morning.


“If he turned up in the same form as the last couple of Festivals, I thought that he would run a big race.


“He is an idle little horse, who only does what he has to in the race, but is very quick when you want him there. He has been second over two miles in a Galway Hurdle and a Ladbrokes Hurdle, so he is not slow either. He has just been fantastic.


“That means a lot because I sit under John Thomas’ (McNamara) peg and he was the king of the banks. It’s my first win in the banks race and I am just delighted that he is looking down on us all and delighted to win it.”


Winning trainer Gordon Elliott, registering his fourth victory of the week, said: “He ran well and he may now go for the Randox Health Grand National.”


Winning owner J P McManus, registering his 51st Festival success said: “He’s a lovely horse and I’m pleased.”




In a clean-sweep for horses trained in Ireland the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase was dominated by trainers Gordon Elliott and Enda Bolger, and owner J P McManus.


Elliott saddled the first and second, Cause Of Causes and Bless The Wings, while Bolger was responsible for the 9/4 favourite Cantlow, who finished third, and Auvergnat, an 8/1 shot who was fourth. McManus owned the first, third and fourth.


Limerick-based Bolger said: “They ran up to form, but Cause Of Causes is a better horse, and now a three-time winner here, so I always knew that if it came to a battle he would keep going.


“I think it was a very good race, but we were never in a position to boss the race, and Adrian [Heskin, who rode Cantlow] said he was always flat out.


“Auvergnat will get the hang of this type of racing, and he stayed on very well. He’s half the age of some of these horses – exactly half the age of Any Currency [finished ninth].


“They’ll both go to Punchestown, and if Cause Of Causes goes to the Grand National instead that will help, but at least the green and gold [McManus’s colours] won today and that’s the main thing.”


Bolger will saddle On The Fringe in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase on Friday, when the 12-year-old will bid to become the first horse to win that contest three times.


Bolger said: “He’s in great order, but he is 12 now. Wonderful Charm must be a big danger, but they’re probably as afraid of us as we are of them.”


4.10pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

1 CAUSE OF CAUSES (J P McManus) Gordon Elliott IRE 9-11-04 Mr Jamie Codd 4/1

2 Bless The Wings (Adrian Butler/S P O’Connor) Gordon Elliott IRE 12-11-04 Davy Russell 10/1

3 Cantlow (J P McManus) Enda Bolger IRE 9-11-04 Adrian Heskin 9/4 Fav


Distances: 9, 1¼

Tote Win: £4.90 Places: £2.20; £2.60; £1.60 Exacta: £43.80


Gordon Elliott – 12th winner at The Festival

Mr Jamie Codd – 6th winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings after 12 races

Great Britain 5

Ireland 7











Flying Tiger’s triumph in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle was a first at The Festival for trainer Nick Williams.


Ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson – scoring his first win of the week – the Soldier Of Fortune four-year-old beat Divin Bere by a neck. He was sent off at odds of 33/1.


Williams said: “We’ve had lots of near-misses here with the likes of Maljimar [second in the 2009 Ultima Handicap Chase] and Reve De Sivola [second in the 2010 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle], so it was due to come sooner or later. I thought if we were ever going to do it, it might be with a juvenile.


“Lizzie [Kelly, Williams’ stepdaughter, who rode Diable De Sivola into fifth place] must take a lot of the credit for Flying Tiger winning – it was a really hard call for her to decide which one to ride. She said to take the ear plugs out at the start, because at Kempton in the Adonis Hurdle [where he finished fourth] he had earplugs in for the whole race and she didn’t really feel he picked up from two out. So we’ve gone down to post late, all those little things that she has advised and she has sorted out, so it is very much a team effort. It’s a bit hard on her.


“The Adonis made us decide to come here for the Fred Winter rather than the Triumph Hurdle. I think he was just switched off a little bit too much at Kempton.


“We bought Flying Tiger as a yearling in Deauville, like I’ve bought lots of good horses, such as Fox Norton [second in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase for Colin Tizzard].”



Richard Johnson was delighted to gain his 21st Festival success and his first of this year’s meeting after partnering the Nick Williams-trained Flying Tiger (33/1) to success in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, the sixth race on day two, Ladies Day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.


Held up in midfield by Britain’s champion Jump jockey early on in the two-mile event, Williams’ charge came with a late withering run after jumping the final flight to beat 9/2 favourite Divin Bere and score by a neck. Brain Ellison’s Nietzsche (12/1) was a neck further back in third, with John Quinn’s Project Bluebook (14/1) five lengths behind in fourth.


Johnson said: “I think the main thing with him is he is very keen and Nick and his team have done a wonderful job at helping him learn to settle.


“To be fair Lizzie Kelly has done a lot of the work with him and after I rode him at Exeter [sixth, November 20] I said he would never win if he was this keen and he has got more and more settled with each run.


“Today’s race was the perfect race for him because they went a strong gallop, he jumped really well and the race unfolded for him so look he is obviously a very good horse and if they can continue with his progression, hopefully there will be more to come.”


Johnson failed to ride a winner at last year’s Festival and was justifiably delighted to get on the board at the 2017 Festival.


He remarked: “There’s no such feeling as a winner here. I didn’t have a winner at Cheltenham last year so it’s nice to get off the mark this year.


“Cheltenham is a very special place and it doesn’t matter if it’s a juvenile race, the bumper or the Gold Cup, they are all hard to come by and you need to appreciate every single one of them because they are all very special.”


4.50pm Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

1 FLYING TIGER (The Macaroni Beach Society) Nick Williams 4-11-05 Richard Johnson 33/1

2 Divin Bere (Chris Giles) Nicky Henderson 4-11-10 Noel Fehily 9/2 Fav

3 Nietzsche (D Gilbert, M Lawrence, A Bruce, G Willis) Brian Ellison 4-11-01 12/1

4 Project Bluebook (J P McManus) John Quinn 4-11-09 Brian Hughes 14/1


Distances: nk, nk, 5


Tote Win £48.60 Places: £7.90; £1.80; £3.30; £4.20 Exacta: £354.30


Nick Williams – 1st winner at The Festival

Richard Johnson – 21st winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings after 13 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 7




Nicky Henderson, who trained the 9/2 favourite Divin Bere, who went down by a neck to the winner, 33/1 chance Flying Tiger, commented after the race: “Second is second, it is alright being second when you have the winner as well! He ran well and I am pleased with him.”


Noel Fehily, jockey of the second, added: “He has run a blinder. It was a very rough running and the whole occasion has got to him but he ran a stormer.”


Brian Ellison, who trains the third-placed Nietzsche in Malton, said: “He ran a blinder, that was a great race.


“I thought he would be happier with juice in the ground but that is not an excuse. Danny (Cook, jockey) thought he might have just landed on his backend after the last and that he might have lost a bit of momentum. It is a tough race and he has run brilliantly. To be honest, I thought he was the winner at the last. It is a very hard juvenile to win so I am happy.


“As to where he goes, we will have to see. Ground is very important to him, he likes it soft and he has run a lot. I will see what Danny (Gilbert, Owner) says, but there is Aintree and Punchestown but if the ground doesn’t come right we won’t run.”












A Cheltenham Racecourse statement issued this afternoon from Clerk of the Course and Director of Racing Simon Claisse revealed: “We will water the New Course tonight ahead of racing tomorrow to maintain current conditions – Good, Good to Soft in places.”


Racing has taken place over the Old Course on the first two days of The Festival, switching to the New Course for the final two days. Dry weather has prevailed since Sunday.






A new record crowd for the second day of The Festival (since the meeting went to four days in 2005), 57,681, attended Ladies Day at Cheltenham today.


Last year’s attendance came to 57,093, up 1,734 from the 55,359 in 2015.










Trainer Gordon Elliott and amateur Jamie Codd completed a 39/1 double when Fayonagh (7/1) flew home to land the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.


Codd, who works for auctioneers Tattersalls Ireland, bought Fayonagh for £64,000 at the company’s Cheltenham December Sale on behalf of Edward and Maura Gittins – they had no big ambition about running in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, and were planning sending her to a race at Sandown last Saturday until Codd intervened and suggested today’s race was winnable.


The plan nearly unravelled at the start, when Fayonagh was left flat-footed, knocked sideways and then set off behind the field. Elliott said: “I wanted to run onto the track and tell Jamie to pull up.”


Yet she flew up the hill at the finish to win by one and a quarter lengths and one and a half lengths from Debuchet and Claimantakinforgan.


Elliott said: “Jamie gave her a great ride – she must be tough. The start was something else. Jamie bought her and recommended she be sent to me. I was worried about the ground, and she just stood at the start [a standing start took place following a false start]. That was a pity because she jumps brilliant.


“She’s schooled over hurdles, but if she never does anything else it won’t matter because she’s won a Listed bumper and now a Grade One bumper. She could be a filly to run on the Flat, too, possibly at Royal Ascot.”


Mark Gittins, the son of Maura and Edward, and son-in-law of retired top jockey Mick Kinane, said: “My parents [who are breeders of racehorses] love National Hunt racing, while I would be pushing more towards the Flat. Jamie was at the sales, picked this mare out, and rang to say ‘I’ve seen a lovely Kalanisi mare that would suit you’.


“My father is from Liverpool, and so they wanted a mare to run in the [Listed] mares’ bumper at Aintree. The plan was to go to Sandown and then Aintree, until Jamie said we should come here. She showed an unbelievable turn of foot out there, yet going past the stands I thought she had no chance.”




Jamie Codd rode his second winner of The Festival 2017, taking the Weatherbys Champion Bumper on Fayonagh, having won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase on Cause Of Causes 80 minutes earlier. Like Cause Of Causes, Fayonagh is trained by Gordon Elliott, for whom it was a fifth win of the week.


Codd helped owner Maura Gittins to buy the six-year-old Kalanisi mare last December at the Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham Sale for £64,000. She was a comfortable winner of a Listed bumper at Fairyhouse last month, and was sent off at 7/1 today.


But she looked to have lost all chance at the start of the race, jumping off late and spending most of the race at the back of the field, charging through from last to first up the hill to beat Debuchet by a length and a quarter.


Codd said: “We had a false start. I had a great position for that, and I was actually lined up nicely for the second start but she got a fright and just halted for about two and a half seconds. I thought I had lost all chance, to be honest, and so I just followed them.


“All the way down the hill I followed, followed, followed, and just once I switched her out turning in, I thought I’d run on to be second or third or fourth maybe. To be fair to her, she’s quickened and quickened. It’s pure ability that has got me there in the end. She’s a great mare.


“It’s a great story for the Tattersalls sale – to buy a horse and come back to win at The Festival a few months later; it’s remarkable.


“I’ll say it again, Gordon is a remarkable trainer – that is his fifth winner of The Festival and it is only two days old. It’s incredible. Whatever happens from now on, it is made. For me to get two and Gordon on five – it’s fantastic. I am in a good position – I’m riding for the top trainers and at the top Festivals. I am blessed.”




Trainer Margaret Mullins was pleased with the run of 10/1 shot Debuchet who finished a one and a quarter-length second in the concluding race on day two, Ladies Day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.


Looking the likely winner up the straight under Danny Mullins, the imposing grey was collared late on by the fast-finishing 7/1 chance Fayonagh who showed a potent turn of foot to claim the two mile Grade One.


Nicky Henderson’s Claimantakinforgan (22/1) was a length and a half back in third, with a neck to Willie Mullins’ Next Destination (10/1) in fourth.


Irish handler Mullins said: “It’s a long way home up that hill but I am delighted with him, he has run a great race. He will be a lovely horse next year – it’s fabulous.”


Asked about whether the four-year-old son of Smadoun would head to the Punchestown Festival, Mullins said: “We’ll see what he’s like when we get home but we’re delighted with that.”


5.30pm Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1)

1 FAYONAGH (Mrs M Gittins) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-10-12 Mr Jamie Codd 7/1

2 Debuchet (Force Eight Syndicate) Mags Mullins IRE 4-10-11 Danny Mullins 10/1

3 Claimantakinforgan (Grech & Parkin) Nicky Henderson 5-11-05 Nico de Boinville 22/1


9/2 Fav Cause Toujours (9th)

Distances: 1¼, 1½

Tote Win £8.60 Places: £3.00; £4.10; £7.20 Exacta: £88.00


Gordon Elliott – 13th winner at The Festival

Mr Jamie Codd – 7th winner at The Festival


BetBright Cup – standings after 14 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 8











Trainer                                               1st                              2nd                             3rd

Gordon Elliott IRE                         5                           1                           1

Nicky Henderson                          3                           4                           2

Henry de Bromhead IRE                1                           -                            2

Alan Fleming IRE                          1                           -                            -

Jessica Harrington IRE                   1                           -                            -

Ben Pauling                                 1                           -                            -

David Pipe                                  1                           -                            -

Nick Williams                               1                           -                            -

Willie Mullins IRE                          -                            2                           3

Tom George                                -                            1                           1

Harry Fry                                   -                            1                           -

Warren Greatrex                         -                            1                           -

Malcolm Jefferson                        -                            1                           -

Margaret Mullins                          -                            1                           -

Jonjo O’Neill                                -                            1                           -

Colin Tizzard                               -                            1                           -

Alan King                                    -                            -                            2

Enda Bolger                                -                            -                            1

Brian Ellison                                -                            -                            1

Dan Skelton                                -                            -                            1




Jockey                                               1st                              2nd                             3rd

Noel Fehily                                  2                           2                           -

Nico de Boinville                           2                           -                            2

Mr Jamie Codd                            2                           -                            -

Bryan Cooper                              1                           -                            1

David Bass                                 1                           -                            -

Richard Johnson                           1                           -                            -

Jack Kennedy                              1                           -                            -

Ms Lisa O’Neill                    1                           -                            -

Denis O’Regan                             1                           -                            -

Robbie Power                              1                           -                            -

Tom Scudamore                          1                           -                            -

Aidan Coleman                            -                            3                           -

Davy Russell                               -                            2                           3

Ruby Walsh                                 -                            1                           2

Adrian Heskin                              -                            1                           1

Brian Hughes                               -                            1                           -

Jeremiah McGrath                        -                            1                           -

Mr Noel McParlan                         -                            1                           -

Danny Mullins                              -                            1                           -

Paul Townend                              -                            1                           -

Paddy Brennan                            -                            -                            1

Danny Cook                                -                            -                            1

Wayne Hutchinson                        -                            -                            1

Daryl Jacob                                 -                            -                            1

Mr Patrick Mullins                         -                            -                            1




Owner                                                1st                              2nd                             3rd

J P McManus                               2                           1                           1

Gigginstown House Stud                2                           -                            1

Ann & Alan Potts                          1                           1                           -

Barry Connell                              1                           -                            -

Moira Gittins                                1                           -                            -

Aidan O’Ryan                              1                           -                            -

Paul & Clare Rooney                     1                           -                            -

Patricia Pugh                               1                           -                            -

Sally Rowley-Williams          1                           -                            -

The Knot Again Partnership            1                           -                            -

The Macaroni Beach Society           1                           -                            -

Prof Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew  1                           -                            -

Susannah Ricci                            -                            1                           1

Martin Broughton & Friends (1)       -                            1                           -

Adrian Butler & S O’Connor            -                            1                           -

John & Barbara Cotton                  -                            1                           -

Mrs J Donnelly                             -                            1                           -

Force Eight Syndicate          -                            1                           -

Chris Giles                                  -                            1                           -

N Griffith & H Haddock                  -                            1                           -

Trevor Hemmings                        -                            1                           -

Masterson Holdings Limited            -                            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

Simon Munir & Isaac Souede -                            -                            1

Walters Plant Hire & James & Jean Potter -                            -                            1

Andrea & Graham Wylie                -                            -                            1





The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Noel Fehily, the rider of NEON WOLF (IRE), placed second, on the run to the line. 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 in an incorrect place. The Stewards suspended Fehily for 2 days as follows: Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 March 2017.

The Stewards noted that BACARDYS (FR), BON PAPA (FR) and KEMBOY (FR), all trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs.

Ruby Walsh, the rider of BACARDYS (FR), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding was badly hampered by a faller.

Paul Townend, the rider of BON PAPA (FR), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding lost its action coming down the hill. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding failed to reveal any abnormalities.

Paddy Brennan, the rider of POETIC RHYTHM (IRE), unplaced, reported that the gelding was badly hampered by a faller.


Race 2 – 2:10pm RSA NOVICES’ CHASE (Grade 1)

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Davy Russell, the rider of WHISPER (FR), placed second, from the 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 Russell for 4 days as follows: Wednesday 29, Thursday 30 and Friday 31 March and Saturday 1 April 2017.

The Stewards noted that ALPHA DES OBEAUX (FR), trained by M.F. Morris, OUR KAEMPFER (IRE), trained by Charlie Longsdon, and WHISPER (FR), trained by Nicky Henderson, would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start.

The Starters reviewed recordings of the start but were satisfied that no riders should be reported for contravening the starting procedures. The race subsequently was started by flag as the Starter was concerned that the ground staff responsible for the re-fitting of the tape would be at risk from the runners in the confined space.

Tom O’Brien, the rider of BRIERY BELLE, which was pulled up, reported that the mare was never travelling.

The Veterinary Officer reported that ALPHA DES OBEAUX (FR), placed fourth, trained by M.F. Morris, had bled from the nose.


Race 3 – 2:50pm CORAL CUP HANDICAP HURDLE (Grade 3)

The Stewards gave permission for MISTER MIYAGI (IRE), trained by Dan Skelton, to be mounted in the chute and noted that the gelding would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start. They also noted that THOMAS HOBSON, ALLBLAK DES PLACES (FR), and BRAVISSIMO (FR), all trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs.

B.J. Cooper, the rider of TOMBSTONE (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 but he found that TOMBSTONE (IRE) had lost its left hind shoe.

The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of AUTOMATED, unplaced, trained by Gordon Elliott, during routine testing, revealed it to be lame right hind.



The Stewards gave permission for FOX NORTON (FR), trained by Colin Tizzard, to go first in the parade.

The Stewards noted that this race was started by flag owing to the fact that, as the Starter was about to effect the start, the gate mechanism developed a fault.

Ruby Walsh, the rider of DOUVAN (FR), unplaced, reported that the gelding jumped poorly throughout. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding, during routine testing, revealed it to be lame behind.



The Stewards noted that BALLYBOKER BRIDGE (IRE), trained by Peter Maher, would wear earplugs.

The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of SAUSALITO SUNRISE (IRE), unplaced, trained by Philip Hobbs, during routine testing, revealed it to be lame.



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

Rachael Blackmore, the rider of LINGER (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding made a mistake at the second flight and was never travelling thereafter. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding, during routine testing, revealed it to be lame behind.


Race 7 – 5:30pm WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER (Grade 1)

The Stewards noted that CARTER MCKAY and NEXT DESTINATION (IRE), both trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs and that BETTER GETALONG (IRE), trained by Nicky Richards, and MOUNTAIN ROCK (IRE), trained by A.P. Keatley, would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start.

The Starters reviewed recordings of the start but were satisfied that no riders should be reported for contravening the starting procedures. The race subsequently was started by flag as the Starter was concerned that the ground staff responsible for the re-fitting of the tape would be at risk from the runners in the confined space.

Michael Blake, the trainer of FISHERMAN FRANK, which was pulled up, reported that the gelding had a breathing problem.









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