All the news from St Patrick’s Thursday 2017

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

EARLY GOING NEWS

 

The going for the third day of The Festival, St Patrick’s Thursday, remains:

 

Good, Good to Soft in places

 

Today racing switches to the New Course.

 

All chase bends have been dolled out seven yards, adding 67 yards to races over 2m 4f and 2m 5f, and 92 yards to the race over 3m 2f.

 

However, the race one (JLT Novices’ Chase) start has been moved forwards 42 yards, so the actual distance run is 25 yards over the minimum distance.

 

The forecast is for conditions to remain dry but cooler than the previous two days, with temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius.

 

The round course was watered overnight, with 10 millimetres of moisture applied.

 

NON-RUNNERS TODAY

 

3.30pm Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle

5  DEDIGOUT (IRE) (Going)

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

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

15  YANWORTH (Self Certificate, Not Eaten Up)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Th1.

ARKLE AND DAWN RUN TO CELEBRATE
ST PATRICK’S DAY

 

 

Two of Cheltenham’s greatest heroes, Arkle and Dawn Run, will play their part in celebrating St Patrick’s Day.

 

Horse Racing Ireland is lighting the statues of the two famous horses, both bred and trained in Ireland, green on Thursday evening at 6.30pm, which is the eve of St Patrick’s Day.

 

The statues, which are situated on the crescent walkway above Cheltenham’s parade ring, will remain lit during the Tattersalls sale in the parade ring after racing today.
Arkle, trained by Tom Dreaper in Co Meath and ridden by Pat Taaffe, won the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1966, 1967 and 1968. He is considered to be the greatest chaser there has been.
Dawn Run, trained by Paddy Mullins in Co Kilkenny and ridden by Jonjo O’Neill, won the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1986. She is the only horse so far to complete the Stan James Champion Hurdle-Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup double (1984 and 1986).

 


THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

DECLARED RUNNERS FOR GOLD CUP DAY – FRIDAY, MARCH 17


 

1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (16 runners)

1 Bapaume (FR)  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  11st 0lb Ruby Walsh

2 Charli Parcs (FR)  Nicky Henderson  11st 0lb  Noel Fehily

3 Coeur de Lion  Alan King  11st 0lb  Tom Cannon

4 Dandy Mag (FR)  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  11st 0lb Paul Townend

5 Defi du Seuil (FR)  Philip Hobbs  11st 0lb  Richard Johnson

6 Ex Patriot (IRE)  Miss Ellmarie Holden, Ireland  11st 0lb  Rachael Blackmore

7 I See You Well (FR)  Seamus Mullins  11st 0lb  Jamie Moore

8 King Julien (IRE)  John Ryan  11st 0lb  Thomas Garner

9 Landin (GER)  Seamus Mullins  11st 0lb  Jeremiah McGrath

10 Landofhopeandglory (IRE) (Tongue Strap)  Joseph Patrick O’Brien, Ireland  11st 0lb  Robbie Power

11 Master Blueyes (IRE)  Alan King  11st 0lb  Wayne Hutchinson

12 Mega Fortune (FR) (Sheepskin C/P)  Gordon Elliott, Ireland  11st 0lb  Davy Russell

13 Soldier In Action (FR)  Nicky Henderson  11st 0lb  Nico de Boinville

14 Dinaria des Obeaux (FR)  Gordon Elliott, Ireland  10st 7lb  B. J. Cooper

15 Evening Hush (IRE)  Evan Williams  10st 7lb  Adam Wedge

16 Magie du Ma (FR) (Hood)  David Pipe  10st 7lb  Tom Scudamore

 

2.10pm Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle(Grade 3) (26 runners) 

1 Arctic Fire (GER) (Hood)  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  11st 12lb Paul Townend

2 L’Ami Serge (IRE)  Nicky Henderson  11st 6lb  Daryl Jacob

3 Ivanovich Gorbatov (IRE) (Blinkers, Tongue Strap)  Joseph Patrick O’Brien, Ireland  11st 4lb  J. J. Slevin (5)

4 Renneti (FR)  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  11st 3lb Ruby Walsh

5 Diego du Charmil (FR) (Tongue Strap)  Paul Nicholls  11st 3lb  Sam Twiston-Davies

6 North Hill Harvey  Dan Skelton  11st 3lb  Harry Skelton

7 Court Minstrel (IRE)  Evan Williams  10st 13lb  Adam Wedge

8 Mick Jazz (FR) (Hood)  Gordon Elliott, Ireland  10st 11lb  Jack Kennedy

9 Tell Us More (IRE)  Gordon Elliott, Ireland  10st 10lb  B. J. Cooper

10 Wakea (USA) (Hood, Tongue Strap)  Karl Thornton, Ireland  10st 10lb  Donagh Meyler (3)

11 Boite (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P)  Warren Greatrex  10st 8lb  Gavin Sheehan

12 Winter Escape (IRE)  Alan King  10st 8lb  Wayne Hutchinson

13 Joey Sasa (IRE)  Noel Meade, Ireland  10st 8lb Sean Flanagan

14 Air Horse One  Harry Fry  10st 8lb  Noel Fehily

15 Vosne Romanee (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P)  Dr Richard Newland  10st 7lb  Aidan Coleman

16 Bertimont (FR) (Tongue Strap)  Dan Skelton  10st 7lb  Bridget Andrews (3)

17 Baltimore Rock (IRE) (Tongue Strap)  Neil Mulholland  10st 6lb  Tom Scudamore

18 Crievehill (IRE) (Hood)  Nigel Twiston-Davies  10st 5lb  Jamie Bargary (3)

19 De Name Escapes Me (IRE)  Noel Meade, Ireland  10st 4lb Jonathan Moore (3)

20 Kapstadt (FR) (Tongue Strap)  Ian Williams  10st 3lb  Will Kennedy

21 Wait For Me (FR) (Hood, Tongue Strap)  Philip Hobbs  10st 3lb  Richard Johnson

22 Dominada (IRE)  Brian Ellison  10st 3lb  Brian Hughes

23 Jaleo (GER)  Ben Pauling  10st 3lb  Mr Alex Ferguson (7)

24 Ozzie The Oscar (IRE)  Philip Hobbs  10st 3lb  Tom O’Brien

25 Song Light  Seamus Mullins  10st 3lb  Kevin Jones (5)

26 Mohaayed (Tongue Strap)  Dan Skelton  10st 2lb  Ian Popham

Eliminations: Ice Cold Soul (IRE), Solatentif (FR), Grand Partner (IRE), Keep In Line (GER), William H Bonney, Apasionado (GER), Byron Flyer, Hassle (IRE), Dream Berry (FR), Bloody Mary (FR), Discours d’Un Roi (FR), Shaama Grise (FR), Tara River (FR), Chesterfield (IRE), Golden Spear, Okotoks (IRE), Derulo (IRE), Maestro Royal, Tudor City (IRE), Top Tug (IRE), Eamon An Cnoic (IRE), Max Do Brazil (FR), Pillard (FR), Chieftain’s Choice (IRE), Daklondike (IRE), Bazooka (IRE)

 

2.50pm Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (15 runners)

1 Ami Desbois (FR) (Tongue Strap)  Graeme McPherson  11st 5lb  Kielan Woods

2 Any Drama (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P)  Harry Fry  11st 5lb  Noel Fehily

3 Baden (FR)  Nicky Henderson  11st 5lb  Jeremiah McGrath

4 C’Est Jersey (FR) (Sheepskin C/P)  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  11st 5lb Robbie Power

5 Constantine Bay  Nicky Henderson  11st 5lb  Nico de Boinville

6 Death Duty (IRE)  Gordon Elliott, Ireland  11st 5lb  B. J. Cooper

7 Elegant Escape (IRE)  Colin Tizzard  11st 5lb  Tom Scudamore

8 Monalee (IRE)  Henry de Bromhead, Ireland  11st 5lb  David Mullins

9 Penhill  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  11st 5lb Paul Townend

10 Step Back (IRE)  Mark Bradstock  11st 5lb  Jamie Moore

11 The Worlds End (IRE)  Tom George  11st 5lb  A. P. Heskin

12 Tommy Rapper (IRE)  Dan Skelton  11st 5lb  Harry Skelton

13 Turcagua (FR) (Hood)  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  11st 5lb Daniel Mullins

14 Wholestone (IRE)  Nigel Twiston-Davies  11st 5lb  Daryl Jacob

15 Augusta Kate  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  10st 12lb Ruby Walsh

 

3.30pm Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) (14 runners)

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)  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  11st 10lb  R. Walsh

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  P. Townend

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

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

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

10 Outlander (IRE)  Gordon Elliott, Ireland  11st 10lb  B. J. Cooper

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

12 Sizing John  Mrs J. 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Th9.

 

 

4.10pm St. James’s Place Foxhunter Chase (24 runners)

1 Anseanachai Cliste (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P)  S. McConville, Northern Ireland  12st 0lb  Mr M. McConville

2 Ask The Weatherman (Sheepskin C/P)  Jack R. Barber  12st 0lb  Mr W. Biddick

3 Aupcharlie (IRE)  J. T. R. Dreaper, Ireland  12st 0lb  Mr P. W. Mullins

4 Balnaslow (IRE)  Graham John McKeever, Ireland  12st 0lb  Mr Derek O’Connor

5 Barel of Laughs (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P)  Philip Rowley  12st 0lb  Mr Alex Edwards

6 Black Thunder (FR) (Sheepskin C/P)  Warren Greatrex  12st 0lb  Mr S. Waley-Cohen

7 Buckers Bridge (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P)  M. F. Morris, Ireland  12st 0lb  Mr R. P. Quinlan

8 Cottage Oak (IRE)  J. J. O’Shea  12st 0lb  Mr H. Crow

9 Current Event (FR)  Mrs Rose Loxton  12st 0lb  Ms L. O’Neill

10 Dolatulo (FR) (Sheepskin C/P)  Ben Pauling  12st 0lb  Mr D. Gittins

11 Grand Jesture (IRE)  J. T. R. Dreaper, Ireland  12st 0lb  Mr R. O. Harding

12 Grand Vision (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P)  Colin Tizzard  12st 0lb  Mr M. Legg

13 Lets Get Serious (IRE)  C. J. Miller  12st 0lb  Mr C. J. Miller

14 Mendip Express (IRE) (Tongue Strap)  Philip Hobbs  12st 0lb  Mr D. Maxwell

15 Minella For Value (IRE)  Declan Queally, Ireland  12st 0lb  Mr D. Queally

16 On The Fringe (IRE)  Enda Bolger, Ireland  12st 0lb  Mr J. J. Codd

17 Pacha du Polder (FR)  Paul Nicholls  12st 0lb  Miss B. Frost

18 Paint The Clouds  Warren Greatrex  12st 0lb  Mr Barry O’Neill

19 Pentiffic (NZ)  P. P. C. Turner  12st 0lb  Miss L. M. Turner

20 Premier Portrait (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P)  Dr Charles Levinson  12st 0lb  Mr G. Levinson

21 Salsify (IRE)  Rodger Sweeney, Ireland  12st 0lb  Mr Steven Clements

22 Sweet As A Nut (IRE) (Tongue Strap)  Michael Barry, Ireland  12st 0lb  Mr J. C. Barry

23 Warden Hill (IRE)  Mrs H. Connors  12st 0lb  Mr T. Chatfeild-Roberts

24 Wonderful Charm (FR) (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P)  Paul Nicholls  12st 0lb  Ms K. Walsh

Eliminations: Carlton Ryan (IRE), Current Exchange (IRE), Doctor Braveheart (IRE), Need To Know (IRE), Night Alliance (IRE), One Conemara (IRE), Ourmanmassini (IRE), Quiet Account (IRE), Real Milan (IRE), Sprintingforgold (IRE), Popaway

 

4.50pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (24 runners)  

1 Taglietelle (Blinkers)  Gordon Elliott, Ireland  11st 10lb  Cian Collins (5)

2 Born Survivor (IRE)  Dan Skelton  11st 8lb  Bridget Andrews

3 Gibralfaro (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P)  Alan King  11st 8lb  Tom Bellamy

4 Tommy Silver (FR)  Paul Nicholls  11st 5lb  Stan Sheppard

5 Runfordave (IRE)  Gordon Elliott, Ireland  11st 5lb  Donagh Meyler

6 Lac Fontana (FR)  Paul Nicholls  11st 4lb  Jack Sherwood

7 I Shot The Sheriff (IRE) (Tongue Strap)  A. J. Martin, Ireland  11st 4lb  Shane Shortall

8 Remiluc (FR) (Tongue Strap)  Chris Gordon  11st 4lb (5lb ex)  Harry Reed (3)

9 Castello Sforza (IRE)  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  11st 3lb Jonathan Moore

10 Coo Star Sivola (FR)  Nick Williams  11st 3lb  Lizzie Kelly

11 Dell’ Arca (IRE) (Blinkers)  David Pipe  11st 3lb  David Noonan

12 Champagne Classic (IRE)  Gordon Elliott, Ireland  11st 3lb  J. J. Slevin

13 Massini’s Trap (IRE) (Blinkers)  James A. Nash, Ireland  11st 3lb  Kieron Edgar

14 No Comment (Hood)  Philip Hobbs  11st 2lb  Ciaran Gethings

15 Thomas Campbell  Nicky Henderson  11st 2lb  Ned Curtis

16 Doesyourdogbite (IRE)  Jonjo O’Neill  11st 2lb  Killian Moore

17 Pain Au Chocolat (FR) (Hood, Tongue Strap)  Dan Skelton  11st 2lb  Lewis Gordon (5)

18 Ballyhill (FR)  Nigel Twiston-Davies  11st 1lb  Jamie Bargary

19 Dadsintrouble (IRE)  Tim Vaughan  11st 1lb  Harry Cobden

20 Protek des Flos (FR)  Nicky Henderson  11st 1lb J J Slevin

21 Rather Be (IRE)  Nicky Henderson  11st 1lb  Charlie Deutsch

22 Battleford  W. P. Mullins, Ireland  11st 0lb A W Short (5)

23 Verni (FR)  Philip Hobbs  11st 0lb  Thomas Cheesman

24 Catamaran du Seuil (FR) (Blinkers)  Dr Richard Newland  11st 0lb  Charlie Hammond (5)

Eliminations: Mister Fizz, Kayf Blanco, Curious Carlos, KK Lexion (IRE), Geordie des Champs (IRE), Allee Bleue (IRE), Wait For Me (FR), Duke Street (IRE), Sleep Easy, Eminent Poet, Brio Conti (FR), Keep In Line (GER), Grand Partner (IRE), Solomn Grundy (IRE), Ice Cold Soul (IRE), Solatentif (FR), Bigmartre (FR), Hassle (IRE), Byron Flyer, Dream Berry (FR), Charlemar (FR), Crimson Ark (IRE), Bloody Mary (FR), Fly Camp (IRE), Cyrname (FR), Divine Spear (IRE), Phobiaphiliac (IRE), Shaama Grise (FR), Solstice Star, Magie du Ma (FR), Mr Clarkson (IRE), Sky Khan, Tara River (FR), Chesterfield (IRE), Okotoks (IRE), Kelvingrove (IRE), El Terremoto (FR), Cottersrock (IRE), Golden Spear, Al Boum Photo (FR), Hunters Call (IRE), Maestro Royal, Baden (FR), Sumkindofking (IRE), Stowaway Magic (IRE), Poetic Rhythm (IRE), Anteros (IRE), Casper King (IRE), Crystal Lad (FR), Bandsman, Justmemyselfandi (IRE), Ballybolley (IRE), Oscar Hoof (IRE), Max Do Brazil (FR), Poker School (IRE), Camlann (IRE), Bennys King (IRE), Behind Time (IRE), Magna Cartor, Westendorf (IRE), Dolos (FR), Jack The Wire (IRE), Duke of Sonning, Argante (FR), Justification, Graasten (GER), Ramses de Teillee (FR)

 

5.30pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (24 runners)  

1 Eastlake (IRE) (Tongue Strap)  Jonjo O’Neill  11st 12lb  Aidan Coleman

2 Dodging Bullets (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P)  Paul Nicholls  11st 9lb  Noel Fehily

3 The Game Changer (IRE) (Tongue Strap)  Gordon Elliott, Ireland  11st 8lb  B. J. Cooper

4 Rock The World (IRE) (Tongue Strap)  Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland  11st 5lb  Robbie Power

5 Quite By Chance  Colin Tizzard  11st 5lb  Tom Scudamore

6 Le Prezien (FR) (Tongue Strap)  Paul Nicholls  11st 4lb  Sam Twiston-Davies

7 Upsilon Bleu (FR)  Pauline Robson  11st 3lb  Henry Brooke

8 Bright New Dawn (IRE)  Venetia Williams  11st 3lb  Liam Treadwell

9 Velvet Maker (FR)  Alan Fleming, Ireland  11st 2lb  Denis O’Regan

10 Dandridge (Tongue Strap)  A. L. T. Moore, Ireland  11st 1lb  Davy Russell

11 Gardefort (FR)  Venetia Williams  11st 0lb  Daryl Jacob

12 Mr Fiftyone (IRE)  Mrs J. Harrington, Ireland  11st 0lb  Daniel Mullins

13 Sizing Platinum (IRE)  Colin Tizzard  10st 13lb  Tom O’Brien

14 Theinval (FR) (Sheepskin C/P)  Nicky Henderson  10st 13lb  Jeremiah McGrath

15 Croco Bay (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P)  Ben Case  10st 13lb  Kielan Woods

16 Pairofbrowneyes (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P)  Barry John Murphy, Ireland  10st 12lb  M. P. Fogarty

17 Bold Henry  Philip Hobbs  10st 12lb  Richard Johnson

18 Solita (IRE) (Tongue Strap)  Paul Nolan, Ireland  10st 12lb  P. Townend

19 Calipto (FR) (Tongue Strap)  Venetia Williams  10st 11lb  Charlie Deutsch (3)

20 Ultragold (FR) (Tongue Strap)  Colin Tizzard  10st 10lb  Harry Cobden

21 Solar Impulse (FR) (Blinkers)  Christopher Kellett  10st 9lb  Brian Hughes

22 Un Beau Roman (FR) (Hood)  Paul Henderson  10st 9lb  Nick Scholfield

23 Mick Thonic (FR) (Tongue Strap)  Colin Tizzard  10st 7lb  Paddy Brennan

24 Witness In Court (IRE)  Donald McCain  10st 7lb  Will Kennedy

Eliminations: Yorkist (IRE), Cepage (FR), Ballybolley (IRE), Workbench (FR), Next Sensation (IRE), De Faoithesdream (IRE), Max Ward (IRE), Sir Note (FR), Lake Takapuna (IRE),  Doitforthevillage (IRE), Theatre Flame (IRE), Canicallyouback, Un Prophete (FR)



THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

SIMON CLAISSE TALKS GROUND

 

Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s Clerk of the Course & Regional Head of Racing Jockey Club Racecourses South West, said this morning: “The weather was wonderful yesterday and gave us a record crowd (for the second day of The Festival since it went to four days in 2005) of just under 58,000.

 

“We knew from the weekend that if the rain that was forecast for Thursday and Friday didn’t materialise we probably would have to give the New Course a little bit of help. The forecast had been for rain but that has now disappeared from all predictions.

 

“I came out here last night after racing and expectation was the ground would have been dried out a lot during that warm and sunny afternoon but it actually caught me out how much the New Course had dried out – there was good to firm spots in significant places so we have put on eight to 10 millimetres of water to try and restore it to slow good ground. I am pretty confident now we have got it back to Good, Good to Soft in places. I think it might ride pretty similar to Tuesday’s ground.

 

“The New Course is a slightly longer circuit. The key is it rejoins the straight further down the hill so it is a longer climb to the winning post.

 

“I have been really happy with the ground for the last two days and the New Course is in good nick. This course hasn’t been raced on since March last year so we are really delighted with its condition. I don’t intend to water anymore.

 

“The outlook is for dry weather but it will be significantly cooler than yesterday’s 15/16 degrees Celsius, the second highest temperature there has been at The Festival during my time here, but what a lovely day. There was one year when we got up to 17/18 degrees Celsius.

 

“Temperatures this afternoon are forecast to be between eight to 10 degrees Celsius and it is likely to be cloudy. We have two more great days of racing to come.”

 

JOCKEY CHANGES

 

Due to the injured Mark Walsh missing the final two days of The Festival after fracturing a leg and suffering concussion in a fall in Wednesday’s Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, there are several jockey changes for today’s racing.

 

In race three, the Ryanair Chase, Wayne Hutchinson will take the ride on Uxizandre, trained by Alan King.

 

In race four, the Sun Bet Stayers’ Hurdle, Robbie Power will ride Jezki for Jessica Harrington.

 

In race five, the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, Sam Twiston-Davies will take over on Bouvreuil, trained by Paul Nicholls, while Joshua Moore rides the Dr Richard Newland-trained Rock Gone in Twiston-Davies’ stead.

 

WALSH ‘SHOCKED’ BY DOUVAN’S CHAMPION CHASE FLOP

 

Ruby Walsh admitted he was ‘puzzled’ and ‘shocked’ by the performance of Willie Mullins’ superstar Douvan, who finished a bitterly disappointing seventh in the Grade One Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, the feature race on day two, Champion Day, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Starting at odds of 2/9 for the chasing two-mile championship, the seven-year-old son of Walk In The Park never jumped with any real fluency and clambered over a number of fences, which included a bad mistake at the second obstacle as he laboured to a disappointing finish behind Henry De Bromhead’s gutsy 11/1 winner Special Tiara.

 

The 2015 SkyBet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and 2016 Racing Post Arkle Chase winner was subsequently found to be stiff behind after the race, with Walsh unable to fathom the events of yesterday.

 

Walsh, who has ridden 52 winners at The Festival and has been crowned the meeting’s Boodles Leading Jockey Award in 10 of the past 13 years, said: “It’s difficult to put into words what happened yesterday, shock really.

 

“He didn’t jump with his usual fluency, he was erratic at his fences and down the back straight I was struggling to keep up with Special Tiara. At the top of the hill, I was hoping for a miracle and it never came off.

 

“Fair play to the winner, he jumped well and it was his day. Douvan is stiff and sore behind this morning and I think he will be scanned today or later in the week.

 

“Look he’s standing up, he’s ok and he’ll race another day. We just keep moving forward and yesterday’s history now, that’s racing.”

 

Explaining his disappointment, Walsh added: “If you make a mistake, you can kick yourself and look to correct that by looking at where you went wrong, but what happened with Douvan yesterday, it leaves you puzzled and you don’t know where you stand.”

 

Walsh and Mullins have had a frustrating start to The Festival, but will look to get on the scoreboard on St Patrick’s Thursday, the third day of the meeting, with the rider boasting a strong book of rides for today’s racing.

 

His mounts are headed by JLT Novices’ Chase (1.30pm) favourite Yorkhill, unbeaten in two starts over fences and Ryanair Chase (2.50pm) market leader Un De Sceaux.

 

Focusing on the latter, who steps up to two miles and five furlongs for the first time over fences, Walsh said: “The ground seems dead enough and I think the ground is right for Un De Sceaux. Willie is very happy with him and we’re all delighted with him so we’ll give it our best shot. He will either the stay the trip or he won’t so I’ll ride him like I always ride him.”

 

Walsh also partners Mullins’ Let’s Dance in the Grade Two Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (4.50pm) as she bids to emulate stable companion Limini, who won this race last year in the same colours of Susannah Ricci. Explaining why he decided to ride the five-year-old over stable mates Asthuria and AirlieBeach in the two-mile contest, Walsh continued: “This race I think was always the target in Willie’s mind for Let’s Dance.

 

“The other two mares we have in the race are also good mares. Asthuria hasn’t had much luck but she’s good and AirlieBeach has done nothing wrong literally, she has won every race she has run in. This is a bit of a Limini-Vroum Vroum Mag decision but this time there were three to choose from so we don’t know what is going to happen.

 

“Let’s Dance probably stays the strongest, is most experienced and is not really a novice running in a novice race. She is a second season novice as such, having run in the Triumph last year. She has experience and that’s why I have gone for her really.”

 

THE FESTIVAL 2017 – WINNERS SO FAR

 

Champion Day, Tuesday, March 14

 

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

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

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

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

Third race: 2.50pm. The Ultima Handicap Chase

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

Fourth race: 3.30pm. The Stan James Champion Hurdle

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

Fifth race: 4.10pm. The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

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

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

Amateur Riders Novices’ Chase

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

Seventh race: Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

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

 

Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 15

 

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

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

Second race: 2.10pm. The RSA Novices’ Chase

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

Third race: 2.50pm. The Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

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

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

Special Tiara (Sally Rowley-Williams)  Henry de Bromhead IRE 10-11-10 Noel Fehily 11/1, hd

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

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

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

Flying Tiger (The Macaroni Beach Society) Nick Williams 4-11-5 Richard Johnson 33/1, nk

Seventh race: 5.30pm. The Weatherbys Champion Bumper

Fayonagh (Maura Gittins) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-10-12 Mr Jamie Codd 7/1, 1¼l


THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

 ‘FORTUNATE’ TIZZARD LOOKS FORWARD
TO GOLDEN CLASH

 

Colin Tizzard gave a press conference before racing on Thursday at which he discussed his week so far and talked about his two Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup runners, Cue Card and Native River. The two horses are both 7/2 joint-favourites for The Festival’s showcase race with the Willie Mullins-trained Djakadam.

 

He said: “Thank God that Fox Norton ran his race [he finished second in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday]. The Festival finds out how good your horses are, and my others this week didn’t run quite as well as they could, but that’s probably as good as they are. We’ve got the best horses to come, I think.”

 

Asked whether he was concerned that the excellent form his yard has shown throughout the winter would have passed by the time The Festival came round, he replied: “No stable keeps going flat out all year round. We all have little blips and some horses for whatever reason don’t run quite as well. If they have won in the autumn they are going up the handicap, and they have had hard races. Nothing keeps going forever, except for the really good ones. The real good Grade One horses seem to be able to hand anything you put at them.”

 

Tizzard compared the relative merits of Cue Card and Native River.

 

“Native River is an absolute thorough stayer; we wouldn’t run Cue Card in the Welsh National [which Native River won this season],” he said. “I don’t think there’s a lot in them. The handicapper says there is 2lb between them – they know pretty well what’s what.

 

“I was definitely nervous coming into Cheltenham on Tuesday morning – I don’t normally get that bad. Now I’m here – after all, it’s only a horse race. We’ve got to get it all in perspective, really. I’m in a very fortunate position to have these two lovely horses, so we’ve got to make sure I enjoy it and that we do the best by these two.

 

“We’ve always thought Native River wanted better ground; last year’s heavy ground was heavier than any we have experienced before. This winter it has been soft ground. We flipped with Cue Card [as to his ground preferences] – when he was an eight-year-old we used to think he was a real good ground, spring, Cheltenham Festival-type of horse. He won the Champion Bumper here, and the Ryanair on watered ground, so I’m not going to say that any ground is going to affect either of them. That won’t be one of our excuses.

 

“We had it in our mind last year that, after his Gold Cup fall, that was Cue Card’s chance gone. We purposely didn’t let him have too long out in the field last summer – we kept a degree of fitness on him the whole time – and he’s come out really well this year. He’s as good as he has ever been, I think.

 

“Richard Johnson [who rides Native River] thinks Native River has got the full range of gears. He’ll probably need them – Cue Card has been, and still is, a really good Grade One horse. I don’t think he is wilting at all yet. We daren’t gallop the two of them together, that’s for sure.”

 

Asked whether Cue Card is the horse closest to Tizzard’s heart, the trainer replied: “When [Tizzard’s son, now his assistant trainer] Joe rode him here in the Champion Bumper [in 2010], I’ve never had a pain in the back of my neck like that. He bolted up – I’ve never experienced that type of emotion before or since, and he’s kept on doing it for seven seasons. We’ve had downers with him – he missed two Festivals, one with a trapped epiglottis and one with a stress fracture – but only little problems. Luckily he’s been good enough to come through and carry on where he left off.”

 

Asked how life has changed since he moved to the top of the training ranks, Tizzard said: “You get a bit disappointed when your phone doesn’t keep ringing! If you have a day when no one rings you up, you think, ‘bloody hell, I must be gone’, so I don’t mind. If the phone doesn’t ring, you know you haven’t got any decent horses. It’s not about me, it’s all about the horses we’ve got in the yard now – and about making sure that continues. There’s a good one in the sales here tonight and we’ve got to make sure in the next couple of hours that we can get one of our owners to buy it, because that’s the future.”

 

Tizzard commented on Cue Card’s fall in last year’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, saying: “The Gold Cup is a very big strain on an owner, a trainer, a horse and a jockey. I’m sure if Paddy [Brennan, Cue Card’s jockey] had his time again, he wouldn’t have been where he was at that time. But four fences before, Cue Card was off the bridle not going anywhere. Then a gap opened and the horse took off and went in there. None of us thought Cue Card would fall; he’s always been a neat, accurate jumper – he’s a cat really. At the time I was just glad he got up – it was a horrible fall.”

 

The possibility of Cue Card retiring after the Gold Cup was raised, and Tizzard said firmly: “It’s something I don’t want to talk about. If he was on the wane, we would stop, but he’s not. He’s as good as he was four years ago. When we turn him out in the summer, after a fortnight he’s stood at the gate wanting to come back in. He’s only 11; we don’t need to talk about retirement.”

 

He gave an update on the injured Thistlecrack, saying: “We’ve got to make sure we get him right for next season. It’s only a very small injury, but we are in the middle of March – next season isn’t very far away. Nature cures everything, and we can help nature a long a bit. The swelling is gone and he trotted out sound the other morning. With racehorses, especially big horses, there is strain put on their tendons, running and jumping carrying weight at speed. I see no reason why he shouldn’t be back at Christmas.”

 

HARRY OUT TO SHOW BOOKIES EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANS

 

Punters are certainly licking their wounds at the halfway stage of this year’s Cheltenham Festival as bookmakers again had the better of things on the second day, Ladies Day, of the 2017 Festival. A number of big-priced winners, coupled with the shock defeat of 2/9 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite Douvan, gave the bookies the upper hand on a day where RSA Novices’ Chase winner Might Bite (7/2) was the only favourite to oblige.

 

However, punters are unperturbed and have supported a number of horses for the third day of The Festival, St Patrick’s Day.

 

In the feature race, the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (3.30pm), the Harry Fry-trained Unowhatimeanharry is a warm order for the three-mile hurdling showpiece and is available at odds of 6/4 with the race sponsors. The firm have also reported each way support for the 2014 Stan James Champion Hurdle winner Jezki, who is 7/1 from 8/1.

 

The Irish will hope lady luck is on their side in the first race, the Grade One JLT Novices’ Chase (1.30pm), as Willie Mullins remarkably attempts to gain his first winner of the week at Prestbury Park with Andrea & Graham Wylie’s Yorkhill. Winner of the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Festival, the seven-year-old son of Presenting is unbeaten in two starts over fences and is the 6/4 favourite with Sun Bets. The same firm have also reported money for Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Flying Angel who is now 12/1 from 16/1.

 

In the ultra-competitive Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (2.10pm), Tom George’s Rocklander is attracting each way support and is into 16/1 from 20/1 with Sun Bets.

 

Despite concerns over the ground, last year’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase second Un De Sceaux, trained by Mullins, is a popular favourite in the Grade One Ryanair Chase (2.50pm). The nine-year-old son of Denham Red has constricted in price with Sun Bets into 9/4 from 11/4.

 

Robin Dickin’s Thomas Crapper was a facile winner at Newbury last time and is the one for money in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (4.10pm). The Tamure gelding is 8/1 from 9/1 with Sun Bets.

 

Neil Mulholland is also targeting a first victory of the week at PrestburyPark. He saddles Southfield Royale in the concluding race of the day, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap (5.30pm). Sun Bets have made the imposing seven-year-old son of Presenting 8/1 from 9/1.

 

Reflecting on yesterday’s action, in particular Douvan’s shock defeat, Sun Bets representative Tim Reynolds said: “You don’t want to see a fantastic animal like Douvan get beat but obviously he didn’t run his race and it was good for the bookmakers to see him beaten. In the first race, Neon Wolf was heavily backed and was just run out of it by Willoughby Court so no doubt, they were two really good results.”

 

Looking ahead to today’s racing, Reynolds commented: “Unowhatimeanharry is a very strong favourite and to be fair, he has been strong in the market for this race all season. Harry Fry has done an incredible job with him and of course, he won the Albert Bartlett last year so there is no reason he can’t win the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle this year as he sets the standard in this race.

 

“Yorkhill is also pretty solid in the market but with Willie Mullins yet to have a winner at The Festival at the halfway stage, there will be plenty of people who will want to take him on, especially as there has been question marks over his jumping.”

 

1.30pm JLT Novices’ Chase – 12/1 from 16/1 – Flying Angel (Sun Bets)

2.10pm Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle – 16/1 from 20/1 – Rocklander (Sun Bets)

2.50pm Ryanair Chase – 9/4 from 11/4 – Un De Sceaux (Sun Bets)

3.30pm Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle – 7/1 from 8/1 – Jezki (Sun Bets)

4.10pm Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate – 8/1 from 9/1 – Thomas Crapper (Sun Bets)

5.30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap – 8/1 from 9/1 – Southfield Royale (Sun Bets).


THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE.

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

CHARM, PAINT AND FRINGE THE PROVEN FOXHUNTER OPTIONS

Tomorrow’s £45,000 St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival is a pinnacle of the point-to-point season.

 

Once again it pulls together proven talent and exciting potential, and a stage on which point-to-point trainers challenge leading licence holders at the most prestigious Jump race meeting.

 

Anseanachai Cliste – 9yo b g – trainer Stephen McConville

On a roll, with eight consecutive wins, including two in hunters’ chases, but he faces far tougher opposition in this race.

 

Asktheweatherman – 8 b g – Jack Barber

Another with eight consecutive victories to his name, and still largely unexposed, but form of two wins this year has taken a knock. There’s more in the locker.

 

Aupcharlie – 11 b g –  Jim Dreaper

Sixth last year behind On The Fringe, then further behind that horse at Punchestown. Stamina concerns in this race.

 

Balnaslow – 10 b g – Graham McKeever

Consistently placed, but poor win-ratio, and recent form does not suggest he will give Derek O’Connor another Festival first.

 

Barel Of Laughs – 11 b g – Philip Rowley

Won narrowly at Taunton last time out, but well behind Real Milan at Larkhill in December, and no match for Paint The Clouds at Doncaster last year.

 

Black Thunder – 10 b g – Warren Greatrex

Beaten 1/8 favourite when short-head second to Premier Portrait (rec 11lb) at Kelso, and needs to improve on that to win this. Sam Waley-Cohen keeps faith, leaving Paint The Clouds to Barry O’Neill.

 

Buckers Bridge – 11 b g – Mouse Morris

From same stable as last year’s Grand National winner, and while a winner last time out his overall form leaves gaps at this level.

 

Current Event – 10 b g – Rose Loxton

Fourth last year, but making his seasonal debut this time. Rider Lisa O’Neill won Tuesday’s NH Chase on Tiger Roll, and seeks a memorable double.

 

Cottage Oak – 14 b g – Joe O’Shea

Third to Salsify in this race four years ago, and has shown his wellbeing with recent wins at Bangor under young Henry Crow, son of former champion Alastair, and now getting a dream opportunity in first season.

 

Dolatulo – 10 b g – Ben Pauling

Won by 20l at Ffos Las last month, but runner-up (conceding 8lb) not up to this level. This is tougher, and hard to see him winning.

 

Grand Jesture – 9 b g – Jim Dreaper

Second in the Ultima Handicap Chase two years ago, but has three times refused to race since in races under Rules, while angelic in point-to-points. The Festival is no place for faint hearts.

 

Grand Vision – 11 g g – Colin Tizzard

Rated 142 at his peak, but this season’s win over Pearlysteps at Warwick, and defeats by Pacha Du Polder and Black Thunder, suggest he will fall short.

 

Lets Get Serious – 11 b g – Callum Miller

Was 50/1 when beating Doctor Kingsley at Fontwell two years ago, and no show in two races since.

 

Mendip Express -  11 b g – Philip Hobbs

No match for On The Fringe in this race last year, nor at Aintree and Punchestown, but should give owner/rider David Maxwell another fun round.

 

Minella For Value – 11 b g – Declan Queally

A trio of point-to-point wins this season, including when beating First Lieutenant at Aghabullogue, but no match for rising young Irish star Sweet As A Nut at Tallow in February.

 

On The Fringe – 12 b g – Enda Bolger

Has completed the Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown hunters’ chase trebles in past two years, and hard to beat tomorrow. Fine seasonal debut and in-form Jamie Codd on board. No horse has won the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase three times, but he might.

 

Pacha Du Polder – 10 b g – Paul Nicholls

Nothing like the fanfare this time because Victoria Pendleton is not in the saddle, but his close fifth 12 months ago was a fine effort. Won nicely under Bryony Frost when they teamed up at Bangor.

 

Paint The Clouds – 12 b g – Warren Greatrex

Close third last year, then won at Stratford under tomorrow’s rider, Barry O’Neill. Gave 13lb and a beating to a top pointer at Doncaster, and drying ground is a plus.

 

Pentiffic – 13 b g – Phil Turner

In form of his life, although close second to Wonderful Charm (conceding 7lb) latest was flattering. Fun ride for Lucy Turner.

 

Premier Portrait – 10 b g – Charles Levinson

Reigning British champion pointer whose crown had slipped until righted with victory at Kelso. This race in another league, but what a spin for Gus Levinson.

 

Salsify – 13 b g – Rodger Sweeney

Winner of this in 2012 and 2013, and, although a teenager, ran well on season’s debut when fourth, two places behind On The Fringe. Expect a hold-up ride, and might sneak a place.

 

Sweet As A Nut – 7 b g – Michael Barry

Limerick maiden hunters’ chase win in December not franked by runner-up, but still unexposed and could be very good. Bookies aware of him – one to note.

 

Warden Hill – 9 b g – Helen Connors

Rated 137 at his best, and that is no longer quite enough in this race. Thorpe Lodge win, then second to Carlton Ryan (eliminated from this race) at Fakenham leave him short of this standard, but a memorable opportunity for owner’s son Tom Chatfeild-Roberts.

 

Wonderful Charm – 9 b g – Paul Nicholls

Champion trainer, top rider in Katie Walsh, and two easy-peasy wins in hunters’ chases – plus a 153 rating – give this horse a winner’s profile (although they said similar about Douvan).

 

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

IRELAND IN CHARGE IN THE BETBRIGHT CUP

 

Ireland leads Great Britain by eight wins to six at the half-way stage in the BetBright Cup – the team competition between the two nations during The Festival.

 

Irish team captain and television personality Hector Ó hEochagáin had a broad smile on his face as he said this morning: “It’s been a fantastic couple of days for the Irish, and we are confident today.

 

“But what a day ahead we have – can Willie Mullins start again today? Will Yorkhill win? It’s an intriguing game of chess.”

 

Former cricketer Phil Tufnell, who is captaining the GB team, said: “We need a better day today – but a football game is never won at half time.

 

“I have had a fabulous time. I’ve seen lots of mates from the sporting world, and there are still two days to go!”

 

Tufnell tipped Top Notch, who represents Nicky Henderson in the JLT Novices’ Chase, as his best British hope of the day. Top Notch won the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown on his last outing and is a 4/1 chance for the race.

 

The BetBright Cup is in its third year. In 2015 Great Britain scored a narrow victory, and last year it ended in a dead-heat – although the subsequent disqualification of Any Currency belatedly awarded the competition to Ireland.

 

Team GB was the 1/3 favourite ahead of The Festival with the sponsors, with Ireland priced at 9/2.

 

The odds up until the commencement of racing today are: GB 5/4, Ireland 11/8, and a draw 7/2.

 

SALE OF RACEHORSES AFTER RACING

 

A sale of young racehorses will take place in the winner’s enclosure after racing on day three of The Festival, St Patrick’s Thursday, at Cheltenham.

 

First held in 2014, and now staged by Tattersalls Ireland, the sale (due to start at 6pm) comprises a catalogue of 27 horses, the majority having shown form in one or two runs in Irish point-to-points, although also on offer are a few pointers who have run in Britain plus some bumper horses.

 

Minella Rocco came from the Irish point-to-point field when he was offered for sale at this auction in 2014 and was knocked down to Kieran McManus for £260,000. Sent into training with Jonjo O’Neill, he repaid that faith when winning last year’s National Hunt Chase at The Festival, and is among the field for tomorrow’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

Some horses to note early in this year’s catalogue are Gallahers Cross (Lot 4), an easy winner of a point-to-point at Punchestown for Sandra Hughes’ stable – he is by an exciting young sire in Getaway – the Ed Walker-trained Santini (Lot 7), a runaway winner under British champion Will Biddick at Didmarton in Gloucestershire, and Western Honour (Lot 13), who made a winning debut at Farmaclaffley for Stuart Crawford’s stable, and is from the family of Black Jack Ketchum.

 

Mr Whipped (Lot 14), a son of a six-time winning mare, won at Lingstown on Sunday for Sean Doyle’s Monbeg Stables, while Palmers Hill (Lot 18) scored earlier this month for Denis Murphy’s yard. That was his second start; on debut he was third to Flemenshill, who then came to Cheltenham for Tattersalls Ireland’s January Sale and made £480,000 – he will run next season from Colin Tizzard’s stable.

Doyle also offers Speak Easy (Lot 21), the son of a nine-time winning mare, and successful on debut at Lingstown on Sunday, while Tom Lacey’s Herefordshire yard sends Sky Pirate (Lot 23), a son of Midnight Legend and a Larkhill winner on his sole start.

 

With racing opportunities for mares having been widened, Maire Banrigh (Lot 25) will appeal. A winner at Lingstown at the weekend, she is by champion sire King’s Theatre out of a mare from the family of highly talented Banjaxed Girl.

 

The Dellercheckout (Lot 26) is also from a family of quality, in his case the Champion Hurdle winners Morley Street and Granville Again. Cormac Doyle’s horse won at Lismore the weekend before last, while Present In Court (Lot 28) showed his rivals a clean pair of heels at Bangor on Sunday under trainer Ed Glassonbury.

PAPERS CELEBRATE THE FIRST NOEL

 

Jockey Noel Fehily is on the cusp of racing history – and all over today’s racing press – after winning yesterday’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Cheltenham Festival.

 

That victory followed up his success on Buveur D’Air in the Stan James Champion Hurdle and means he is close to becoming the first jockey to ride the treble of those two races plus today’s Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle – he rides hot favourite Unowhatimeanharry. ‘Harry’s Game’ is a cover headline on the Racing Plus and The Sun, referring to Unowhatimeanharry’s trainer Harry Fry, while ‘Special won’ in the Daily Mail and The Sun’s ‘The Special One’ are headlines that convey Fehily’s Tiara triumph.

 

Yet the intriguing Fehily hat-trick possibility, a gift for the racing press, has to share column inches with post-mortems on defeat for Douvan, who cut a forlorn figure behind free-wheeling Special Tiara. The Racing Post’s Alastair Down describes Douvan’s downfall as “unravelling like some huge ball of string”, while The Daily Telegraph proclaims ‘Shock of the century’ – it is amazing how quickly Leicester’s Premier League win has been forgotten.

 

Rarely can seventh place in a race justify a two-page spread in The Guardian. Racing correspondent Greg Wood quotes Mullins saying: “I am well used to dealing with the frustrations of racing, if not quite at this level with this type of horse.” Paul Hayward of The Daily Telegraph, sums up Mullins’ winless first two days by writing: “This Festival is determined to torment him.”

 

Capturing the aftermath, The Times’ Mark Souster says Mullins, “Rich Ricci, the owner, and Ruby Walsh, his jockey, had the glazed look of men who did not quite know what had hit them”. No doubt the punter who put £500,000 on Douvan – a person described by Kevin Garside in I as a “cocky punter” and “Billy Big Boots” – felt similarly. Marcus Townend of the Daily Mail asks: “Who would have thought that Mullins [15 winners in two years] would still be seeking his first success after two days this year?” ‘Tiara’s crown as Van stalls’ is the Daily Mirror’s summary

 

‘Noel’s gem ride’ is the Daily Star’s tribute, while ‘Fehily crowns Special double’ is a headline on the Gloucestershire Echo’s back page. The same paper enjoys reporting on yesterday’s win for Cotswolds trainer Ben Pauling with Willoughby Court in the Neptune Investment Management Hurdle. ‘Pauling pumped after first Festival win’ is the headline above a shot of the young trainer punching the air. Marcus Armytage’s look back at Ladies Day in The Daily Telegraph focuses on the RSA Chase, and Might Bite’s win of “mind-blowing drama”.

 

Looking ahead to St Patrick’s Thursday, the Racing Post headline ‘It could be U’ is a reference to the chances of Unowhatimeanharry and Ryanair Chase hopefuls Un De Sceaux and Uxizandre. Rob Wright of The Times takes a look at the fairytale that is Tobefair, a runner in today’s Pertemps Hurdle, and owned by 17 regulars at the Cresselly Arms in Carmarthenshire. Wright quotes part-owner Alan Parnell saying: “It’s just about this community getting together.” Chris Goulding of the Daily Express also delves into the story alongside the headline ‘The pub team who made it to the big league’. The Racing Post’s Lee Mottershead writes: “Tobefair has landed seven consecutive races since joining [trainer] Debra Hamer . . . every one a handicap . . . [and his rating has] climbed from 81 to 143.”

 

Rumours that God is a woman gained further credence yesterday when sunshine bathed the racecourse for Ladies Day. Hats and outfits sparkled, and photographers were given golden opportunities to vent their creative capabilities. Alan Crowhurst’s shot in The Guardian is a tribute to quality camera work and hat presentation, while Eddie Mulholland’s shot in The Daily Telegraph is distinctive for the gaze of one female racegoer glancing into his camera’s lens. ‘Feathered trends’ is the caption, while ‘Tip-top titfer!’ is the Daily Express’s tribute to a broad-brimmed hat worn yesterday by The Duchess of Cornwall. ‘Good to firm on Ladies Day’ is a headline in The Sun owing much to a sub-editor’s imagination.

 

 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

MULLINS AND WALSH ON THE BOARD AT LAST

 

A relieved Willie Mullins greeted Yorkhill and Ruby Walsh as they arrived in the winner’s enclosure after taking the first race of the day, the JLT Novices’ Chase by a length from the fast-finishing Top Notch.

 

Yorkhill, the 6/4 favourite, was Mullins’ first winner of The Festival 2017 after a disappointing two days that included the defeat of odds-on Douvan in yesterday’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

 

“He [Yorkhill] was good – I thought he idled a bit in front; I thought he might go away from them. For a moment going up the straight it looked like he might be coming back to them, and then held on.

 

“He’s not the easiest of rides. The way things were working out over the last few days I thought we might be too far behind, but I know what would be going through his [Ruby’s] head: if you let him pass one horse he probably would have been in front by the next fence, and Ruby just had to sit and suffer until he got the gap through on the inside, and it all worked out.

 

“To get on the board is huge, and to get on the board in a Grade One is better. It’s good for me, it’s good for Ruby, and it puts confidence back in the team. It’s been a hard few days but that’s the way it is. It wouldn’t be any fun winning over here if it was easy, so we take what we can get.

 

“I thought Douvan was a huge disappointment, and a very good mare [Apple’s Jade] beat us in the mares’ race [the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, where Mullins’ pair of Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini finished second and third]. The other horses I think ran their races – we had a lot of placed horses.

 

“Douvan was quite lame this morning again when I brought him out. We had a good look over with the vets. He’s on the way to get an MRI scan either later this afternoon or tomorrow. It’s something up in his hindquarters, we think – it looked like his near hind leg, and we think it is above the hock from the way he is carrying himself. He was quite sore last night but is more comfortable today. I should think that is it for the season with him and we’ll look forward to next season.”

 

WALSH REACHES FESTIVAL SUMMIT WITH YORKHILL

 

Ruby Walsh gained his first winner of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival and his 53rd success at the meeting, courtesy of the Willie Mullins-trained 6/4 favourite Yorkhill’s impressive victory in the Grade One JLT Novices’ Chase, the first race on day three, St Patrick’s Thursday, of The Festival.

 

Held up at the back of the field early on in the two miles and four furlong contest by Walsh, the seven-year-old son of Presenting jumped and travelled superbly throughout and scythed through the field entering the home straight to challenge for the lead.

 

Leading the remainder approaching the final fence, Andrea & Graham Wylie’s idled out in front up the punishing Cheltenham hill, but stayed on resolutely for Walsh’s urgings to record a length success, fending off the sustained challenge of Nicky Henderson’s Top Notch (7/2). Long time leader Disko (4/1), trained by Noel Meade, was a further three lengths behind in third.

 

In what has been a frustrating week for the formidable partnership of Walsh and Mullins, which included the shock defeat of 2/9 favourite Douvan in yesterday’s Grade One Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Irish jockey was visibly delighted to get on the scoresheet.

 

Walsh said: “I could have done with holding onto him a little longer as he doesn’t do a lot in front. He went to the second last and absolutely pinged it and it was then I knew I was in front too soon because he stumbled through the last.

 

“As soon as Top Notch came back at him though, he went again. He is a very good horse.”

 

Walsh spoke with adulation about Mullins’ charge, commenting: “There has been a lot of toing and froing about whether we stay hurdling or go chasing but, to me, Yorkhill has Gold Cup written all over him and always had.

 

“People criticise his jumping but he has a huge kink in him. People never realised the job Paul Nicholls did with Denman because he was the same. He had a kink too and they are two chestnut Presentings. The best ones always do.

 

“Yorkhill has a massive engine. [David] Casey is always raving about him. It was brilliant.”

 

Reflecting on the disappointment from earlier this week, Walsh added: “Everything can’t go your way all the time. That is sport. You have to keep looking forward.”

 

Winning owner Graham Wylie was registering his 12th success at The Festival and said: “Today he jumped magnificently. He was as straight as a die, didn’t jump left and was well settled at the back. He was nearly brought down at the back – he is as clever as Einstein, that horse.

 

“Coming to the last, if he jumped, I knew that he was going to win. Top Notch ran a great race though and pushed him right to the end. I know my fellow tends to go a bit slow when he gets to the lead but thank goodness he did it.

 

“I am proud that the horse did himself justice because he has been crabbed for his jumping and I think today showed that he can jump and has got a big engine. I am pleased for Ruby and Willie because they have had a miserable two days and now we have got one on the board for them.”

 

1.30pm JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

1 YORKHILL (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-04 Ruby Walsh 6/4 Fav

2 Top Notch (Simon Munir & Issac Souede) Nicky Henderson 6-11-04 Daryl Jacob 7/2

3 Disko (Gigginstown House Stud) Noel Meade IRE 6-11-04 Bryan Cooper 4/1

 

Distances: 1, 3

Tote Win £2.40 Places: £1.20; £1.40; £1.50 Exacta: £6.70

 

Willie Mullins – 49th winner at The Festival

Ruby Walsh – 53rd winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 15 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 9

 

DID PLUMPTON PUT MOCKERS ON TOP NOTCH?

 

Did Plumpton racecourse send down a curse that prevented Top Notch winning today’s JLT Novices’ Chase?

 

That thought, delivered with a rye look, was offered by trainer Nicky Henderson after Top Notch under Darryl Jacob finished second, beaten a length, by 6/4 favourite Yorkhill – had he won he would have collected a £60,000 cheque from the Sussex racecourse as part of the Plumpton SIS Cheltenham Bonus, offered to winners of five designated chases at that venue, plus any chase at The Festival.

 

Top Notch and Yorkhill were more or less in line with third-placed Disko at the second-last, when Jacob’s mount put in a slower jump than his rivals and his chance of winning became much harder. He rallied past Disko on the run-in, but could not reel in the winner.

 

Henderson said: “He was brilliant all the way, but he just lacks that bit of scope. He just did his own thing [at the second-last], but hasn’t got the scope of those big horses to be able to go and really stand off. He’s not the size of [RSA Chase winner] Might Bite, but he’s got a better head than Might Bite.

 

“He dug in on the run-in, but now he’s been second in a Triumph Hurdle and second in this race, but still you can only admire him. I didn’t really see what happened at the second-last, but one moment I thought he would land in front and the next he was behind. It was expensive, but how expensive we’ll never know.

 

“Plumpton will be grateful – that’s just saved them £60,000. Perhaps the chairman of Plumpton organised that little error!

 

“He’ll run again this season – Aintree will suit him and he’ll go there.”

 

Bryan Cooper, who rode Disko, said: “He ran really well and I was very happy with him. His jumping was good, and he’s still a big, raw horse so he should get further in time.”

 

GOING AFTER THE FIRST

 

Ruby Walsh, partner of the 6/4 favourite and winner Yorkhill, said: “Lovely.”

 

Daryl Jacob, jockey of the one-length second Top Notch, said: “Lovely ground.”

 

Bryan Cooper, partner of the third Disko, said: “Lovely ground.”

 

Sam Twiston-Davies, rider of fourth Politologue, said: “It is good, good to soft and a bit dead after the watering.”

 

Noel Fehily, on board Flying Angel, said: “Good ground.”

 

Jeremiah McGrath, jockey of Kilcrea Vale, said: “It is on the slow side of good but beautiful ground.”

 

Mark Enright, on board Baily Cloud, said: “Dead ground.”

 

David Mullins, rider of Balko Des Flos, said: “It is lovely going.”


 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

First two results on St Patrick’s Thursday

 

1.30pm JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

1 YORKHILL (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-04 Ruby Walsh 6/4 Fav

2 Top Notch (Simon Munir & Issac Souede) Nicky Henderson 6-11-04 Daryl Jacob 7/2

3 Disko (Gigginstown House Stud) Noel Meade IRE 6-11-04 Bryan Cooper 4/1

 

Distances: 1, 3

Tote Win £2.40 Places: £1.20; £1.40; £1.50  Exacta: £6.70

 

Willie Mullins – 49th winner at The Festival

Ruby Walsh – 53rd winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 15 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 9

 

2.10pm Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Listed)

1 PRESENTING PERCY (Philip Reynolds) Pat Kelly IRE 6-11-11 Davy Russell 11/1

2 Barney Dwan (Paul & Clare Rooney) Fergal O’Brien 7-11-08 Paddy Brennan 16/1

3 Jury Duty (Sideways Syndicate) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-10 Jack Kennedy 9/1

4 The Tourard Man (Mr & Mrs F Bell, N Farrell, A Marsh) Alan King 11-10-09 Kevin Dowling (10) 66/1

 

Distances: 3¾, 2, 4½

Tote Win:£12.00 Places:£3.20, £4.40, £2.90, £17.80 Exacta:£271.70

8/1 Fav Impulsive Star (21st)

 

Pat Kelly – 2nd winner at The Festival

Davy Russell – 18th winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 16 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 10

 

 

 

 

Th18.


 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

PERCY PRESENTS THE PERFECT DOUBLE

 

Presenting Percy came with a perfectly-timed run under Davy Russell to lead over the final flight in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle and win by three and three-quarter lengths at odds of 11/1.

 

Presenting Percy represents the same combination of owner (Philip Reynolds), trainer (Patrick Kelly) and jockey that won the 2016 race with Mall Dini.

 

Reynolds said: “It’s an absolute dream. It’s the same trainer, we bought the horse from the same people, the Costellos, and it’s the same unbelievable jockey, Davy Russell. It’s just mind-blowing. It’s crazy stuff. It just shouldn’t happen.

 

“I lived off last year – after last year’s race I said I could give up racing now, I’d achieved what I wanted to achieve and, my God, the thought that we are about to walk through those gates [into the winner’s enclosure] again…

 

“I bought this horse for my wife Anne. We’ve had very good luck buying from the Costollos – I bought Mall Dini from Tom Costello, and I went back after about a year and bought this horse from him, and after last year I said to Pat [Kelly, the trainer] I’d like to give my wife a present of this horse, and if you can have as much fun for her as you’ve had for me, it will be fantastic.

 

“He jumped fantastic, he travels unbelievably well, and we always thought with a bit of better ground he would be a better horse as he’s always run on soft or even heavy ground and we were hoping we would pick up a few of those pounds [16lb] that [handicapper] Phil Smith gave us a few weeks back! There’s no better jockey around for this track than Davy Russell.

 

“I was a bit fed up a couple of weeks back when the weights came out for this. People will be saying now that Phil Smith was right; I still don’t believe that to be the case, but today is not the day for arguing.

 

“Pat Kelly is unbelievable, isn’t he? He has a 100 per cent strike rate at Cheltenham, and he has one more to come in the Kim Muir [Mall Dini].”

 

PERCY PERFECTLY PRESENTED BY RUSSELL

 

It is difficult enough to train one winner of the super-competitive Pertemps Network Final, but to do it in consecutive years with different horses is fantasy.

 

Galway trainer Pat Kelly, owner Philip Reynolds and jockey Davy Russell made that reality when Presenting Percy (11/1) followed up last year’s success by Mall Dini. Today’s winner scored by three and three-quarters of a length and two lengths from Barney Dwan (16/1) and Jury Duty (9/1) – The Tourard Man (66/1) was fourth.

 

Russell apologised to British handicapper Phil Smith and his team after the race, following debate over the marks they allot to Irish horses in British handicaps.

 

The jockey said: “I have only limited opportunities to ride a winner here, and this horse was one. We felt Phil Smith was hard on him, and he wasn’t. From my point of view I felt he needed to find an awful lot of improvement [off a mark of 146] and I didn’t know where he would get it from.

 

“He jumped and travelled and really loved the ground and everything fell into place. I took a couple of chances, but he needed to settle with that weight, and so I tucked him in. If he hadn’t jumped so well my plan would have come unstuck.

 

“He’s never raced on this ground and he found improvement on ideal racing ground. The public don’t know who Pat Kelly is, but he really knows his horses and does the right thing by them.”

 

Kelly trains just five horses, and said: “I feel very lucky. I’ve got a lovely horse, a great owner and a free hand. I give all my horses time to improve and I don’t kill them to win. If I get a clear round I’m happy, because they’ll keep improving.

 

“I won a Galway Hurdle in 1992 when Albert Reynolds was Taoiseach and made the presentation – that’s how I got to meet his son. He’s a great owner from a lovely family.

 

“I have five horses, but you cannot get horses off Galway people. None of my owners are from Galway, but I don’t want more horses, I like to work with what I’ve got.”

 

2.10pm Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Listed)

1 PRESENTING PERCY (Philip Reynolds) Pat Kelly IRE 6-11-11 Davy Russell 11/1

2 Barney Dwan (Paul & Clare Rooney) Fergal O’Brien 7-11-08 Paddy Brennan 16/1

3 Jury Duty (Sideways Syndicate) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-10 Jack Kennedy 9/1

4 The Tourard Man (Mr & Mrs F Bell, N Farrell, A Marsh) Alan King 11-10-09 Kevin Dowling (10) 66/1

 

Distances: 3¾, 2, 4½

Tote Win:£12.00 Places:£3.20, £4.40, £2.90, £17.80 Exacta:£271.70

8/1 Fav Impulsive Star (21st)

 

Pat Kelly – 2nd winner at The Festival

Davy Russell – 18th winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 16 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 10

 

BARNEY OUTDWAN BY PERCY

 

Fergal O’Brien was delighted with the performance of 16/1 chance Barney Dwan who finished an excellent three and three quarter-length second to decisive 11/1 winner Presenting Percy in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, the second race on day three, St Patrick’s Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Always prominent under Paddy Brennan, the seven-year-old son of Vinnie Roe led into the home straight, but was unable to match the potent turn of foot displayed by the winner under Davy Russell.

 

Gordon Elliott’s Jury Duty (9/1), who travelled supremely well into the race, was two lengths back in third, with a further four and a half-lengths back to 66/1 shot The Tourard Man, trained by Alan King, in fourth.

 

A delighted O’Brien said: “He’s been unlucky and today we thought our luck might change. Paddy has given him a fantastic ride, he had him in the right place everywhere, he jumped superb today and we were just beaten by the better horse on the day.

 

“Fair play to the winner, he was one of the favourites but I’m absolutely delighted with our horse and the ride by Paddy, we’ve got no complaints.”

 

O’Brien’s charge originally started the season over fences but after being brought down in a contest at Wincanton in December, the gelding reverted back to hurdling.

 

However, the trainer is keen to switch back to chasing in the near future, commenting: “I can’t wait to go back over fences with him. After he got brought down, I decided to go back over hurdles with him and qualify for this race. We’ve given it our best shot and we have no regrets.”

 

As for future plans, O’Brien said: “We might go to Aintree or maybe Punchestown. I’m not sure whether Aintree will suit him, he may be better going left handed even though he has won at Sandown right-handed so I’ll don’t know where we’ll go.

 

“We will get him home from today first and I’ll speak to Paddy about it. He’s a wonderful horse to have and I’m very lucky to have him to train.”

 

Paddy Brennan, rider of Barney Dwan, said: “What a race. He ran well. A gap opened two out and I set him to it, but the winner came by us well. I am really looking forward to him over fences next season, he is a good horse.”

 

Jack Kennedy, jockey of the third Jury Duty, said: “He ran a blinder. Maybe the ground was a small bit too good for him but no excuses. He probably finished where he should have with his handicap mark. I am delighted with the run.”

 

Kevin Dowling, rider of the fourth home The Tourard Man, said: “He’s given me a great spin round. He jumped for fun and travelled really well the whole way round.

 

“He’s ran a blinder and was third in this race three years ago, so he is holding his form still which is a good sign for an older horse.”

 


 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

UN OH SCEAUX GOOD IN RYANAIR FOR MULLINS

 

The enigma that is Un De Sceaux produced a sublime front-running performance to make most in the Grade One Ryanair Chase to provide Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh with a quickfire double on day three, St Patrick’s Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, following Yorkhill’s JLT Novices’ Chase victory.

 

Second in last year’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, the well-backed 7/4 favourite was making a belated step up in trip to two miles and five furlongs for the first time over fences, but despite a couple of hairy leaps, jumped on the whole with real authority under Walsh.

 

Well clear entering the home straight, the son of Denham Red produced two flawless jumps at the final two fences and responded well to Walsh’s urgings up the Cheltenham hill to win by an eased down length and a half from Henry de Bromhead’s Sub Lieutenant (8/1) in second, with a further six lengths back to 40/1 shot Aso, trained by Venetia Williams, in third.

 

A delighted Mullins, registering his 50th Festival victory, just the second trainer to reach that landmark figure (Nicky Henderson, 58), said: “He is a super horse – that’s what he is. He is an iron horse. He does that every day at home and my heart is in my mouth every morning watching him come up the gallops.

 

“That is a real racehorse there. To do what he does every day, I mean Ruby is only half in control half the time and you always wonder whether he will get home, but he just seems to find reserves from I don’t know where. He is just everything you would want in a racehorse. He is brave, strong and sound. Probably coming up in trip now which made more use of stamina was a help as yes he is certainly very good on soft ground. I wouldn’t want to go much further with him but he can go back to two miles.

 

“He never completely drops the bridle. Between fences I was hoping Ruby would be able to drop it for two or three strides to let the horse get his breath back and then go on again. The horse has a huge constitution.”

 

Mullins added: “It was a fantastic race to win and Michael [O’Leary] and everyone were very gracious. But as I say in racing, you can’t gloat over beating someone because they will come out in the next race and beat you. I just try to win – it is not about who you beat. I didn’t realise it was my 50th winner at The Festival. That is nice to know.”

 

“I think Ruby sort of managed to settle him in front because he is a funny horse. You give him two strides and he fills up and goes away again. He’s an absolute iron horse – he’s like that on the gallops every day and I am afraid for my life watching him coming up them every day.

 

“He wears his heart on his sleeve every day and I am wondering how he can do that all the years he has been in training – to stay sound and not get worn out. Really, I am training to train him not to get worn out and to keep enjoying it. He is just so hard on himself.

 

“I was watching and thinking that, every time he needed a good jump, he put one in. That’s going to take something out of the others to have to get to him on the flat. He put in some spectacular jumps and then, when he came to the last, it was an extraordinary jump when he just took off. Ruby said that, if he hadn’t have taken off, he would have ended up in the Hunter’s Lodge because he would have been throw so far clear. He saved his best jump for the last.

 

“Once he got over the third last and down into the dip, I wasn’t worried about him staying. I looked at the others and I thought there was nothing there unless he does something wrong – it was his to lose at that stage. He put in two fantastic jumps at the last two.”

 

As for the future, Mullins added: “I’ll probably go to Punchestown with him. I’m not sure what race he will go for definitely but he could go for the two-mile Champion Chase there.

 

Birthday success oh Sceaux sweet for O’Connell

 

Colm O’Connell, son of owner Edward O’Connell, tasted double delight at Cheltenham on Thursday as he celebrated his birthday and also the spellbinding success of his father’s horse, Un De Sceaux (7/4 favourite), who produced a devastating jumping performance to take the Grade One Ryanair Chase, the third race on day three, St Patrick’s Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh, the nine-year-old son of Denham Red was electric at his fences and kept on gamely up the punishing Cheltenham hill to score by an eased down length and a half from Henry de Bromhead’s Sub Lieutenant (8/1) in second, with a further six lengths back to 40/1 shot Aso, trained by Venetia Williams, in third.

 

Second to Sprinter Sacre in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at last year’s Festival, O’Connell praised the versatility and also durability of the gelding, who was registering his second victory at the Cheltenham Festival, having won the 2015 Racing Post Arkle Chase and finished second in the 2016 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

 

O’Connell said: “He was incredible. He tanked along and obviously Ruby decided after three furlongs to push as they weren’t going fast enough.

 

“The horse did guess at a couple but that is the way he is and Ruby didn’t panic. He was beaten last year by Sprinter Sacre who was a superstar in his own right so I’m delighted that Un De Sceaux, a horse who has always been there but doesn’t get the credit he deserves, I think now he’s goes down as a real people’s horse.

 

“He was fantastic today. Ruby is a genius because he lets him do his own thing. When he is guessing at fences, Ruby does not panic.”

 

“Un De Sceaux was wonderful today. I just want to say hello to my mother and father back home. We are here because they invested in this horse and the sport. It is wonderful.

 

“He is the horse of a lifetime. We tasted success so early and then defeat last year to a superstar. We are back with a bang now and it is a big bang.

 

SCEAUX IMPRESSIVE

 

Ruby Walsh rode his second winner of the day – and his 54th in total at The Festival – when collaring the Ryanair Chase on the Willie Mullins-trained Un De Sceaux with a bold ride.

 

The 7/4 favourite’s jumping was exuberant and took him to the lead at an early stage. He stayed there, eased down and held off Henry de Bromhead’s Sub Lieutenant by a length and a half at the line.

 

Walsh said: “Un De Sceaux didn’t half take me down the back. He attacked, he jumped and he stayed.

 

“He is a cracking little horse. He is so consistent and so honest. Virginie [Bascop, the yard vet] rides him herself every day and she and Willie don’t let anyone else near him.

 

“He must be a joy for the O’Connells to own. I am sure Mr and Mrs O’Connell are at home watching. He so forward going and wears his heart on his sleeve.

 

“He wants soft ground over two miles, which is why we went for two and a half on good ground.

 

“It has been a tough year for Willie and he has taken it great. He has the horses in great nick. I have been working for him since I was 17 and could stand here all day and eulogise. He is a friend, and has put an unbelievable shape on my life.”

 

LIEUTENANT NO SUB

 

Sub Lieutenant, owned by Gigginstown House Stud, came to Henry de Bromhead at the start of the season from Sandra Hughes. He has shown that he likes his new home, having won a Grade Two and been placed third in the Grade One John Durkan Memorial  Chase at Punchestown in December.

 

He has now built on that to come home the one-and-a-half length second to Un De Sceaux in the Grade One Ryanair Chase, today, St Patrick’s Thursday.

 

De Bromhead said: “He ran a blinder and I am delighted with him. He is a lovely horse to have in the yard. He has had a super season and shown he is decent already.

 

“I am not sure where he will go next, I will talk to Michael and Eddie (O’Leary) and see what they would like to do. I presume Aintree or Punchestown. Today was always the plan.”

 

CHARLIE’S AN ACE ON ASO FOR GRATEFUL WILLIAMS

 

Conditional jockey Charlie Deutsch has made giant strides since joining Venetia Williams’s Herefordshire stable, and he proved it when giving 40/1 outsider Aso a peach of a ride to finish third in the Ryanair Chase.

 

Despite being unable to claim his 3lb allowance in the race due to its value, Deutsch was given the green light to ride the seven-year-old, who was in contention two out, but could not claw back the pace-setting winner Un De Sceaux, who scored by one and a half lengths and six lengths, with Sub Lieutenant finishing runner-up.

 

Williams, who still calls upon experienced jockey Liam Treadwell for many rides, described Deutsch as “a real talent”, and the unassuming youngster was clearly grateful for a chance to line up in such a celebrated contest.

 

He said: “He was a great spin and his jumping was perfect. He ran a brilliant race and was very genuine at the finish – I’m very happy.

 

“The only way I could catch Ruby [Walsh on Un De Sceaux] was if he stopped in front – I knew his horse had so much talent so I had to play a waiting game. If I’d gone after him too soon it would have burnt my bridge.

 

“He [Aso] is a bit quirky, and doesn’t like hitting the front too soon, so we decided to put him in a better race and hopefully run on into a place, which he did.”

 

Williams said: “We’re really thrilled. He’s come out of it as the best British two-and-a-half miler in the race. He ran well here last year in cheek pieces in the Arkle, so we decided to put them back on.

 

“Charlie couldn’t claim his allowance, but he was the man for the job and he’s ridden a fantastic race and always had the horse in the right place at the right time.”

 

Result

2.50pm £300,000 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) – 2m 4f 166y

 

1 UN DE SCEAUX (Edward O’Connell) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ruby Walsh 7/4 Fav

 

2 Sub Lieutenant (Gigginstown House Stud) Henry de Bromhead, Ireland 11st 10lb David Mullins 8/1

 

3 Aso (The Bellamy Partnership) Venetia Williams 11st 10lb Charlie Deutsch 40/1

 

4 Empire of Dirt (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Bryan Cooper 11/4

 

5 Josses Hill (Alan Spence) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Nico de Boinville 9/1

 

6 Alary (Ann & Alan Potts) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Tom O’Brien 33/1

 

7 Uxizandre (J P McManus) Alan King 11st 10lb Wayne Hutchinson 6/1

 

8 Vaniteux (Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Noel Fehily 14/1

 

Distances: 1½, 6, 1½, 9, 9, 2½, 2¼

 

Tote Win £2.40 Places £1.20; £2.00; £7.60 Exacta: £16.70

 

Willie Mullins – 50th winner at The Festival

Ruby Walsh – 54th winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 17 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 11

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

CANYON GIVES MASTERFUL MULLINS DAY THREE TREBLE

 

Trainer Willie Mullins registered his first success in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle and along with jockey Ruby Walsh, gained his third victory of the day at the Cheltenham Festival, after Nichols Canyon ran out a game 10/1 winner of the three-mile hurdling showpiece, the feature race on day three, St Patrick’s Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

In a superb finish to the Grade One event, Walsh and the seven-year-old son of Authorized kept on resolutely up the stands’ side rail to get the better of Neil King’s ultra-consistent Lil Rockerfeller (33/1) by three-quarters of a length.

 

The well-backed 5/6 favourite Unowhatimeanharry, trained by Harry Fry, was a further three and a half-lengths back in third.

 

A delighted Mullins, registering his 51st winner at The Festival, said: “It was some performance. I didn’t think three miles would suit him particularly as I thought he would be too keen, but Ruby got him settled and got the rail in the home straight.

 

“He is tough and with age they learn to settle. His last bit of work, we changed his stable and his work rider. He always works a bit dead at home so we thought about a change of routine and it worked.

 

“I thought of all the horses in the world you want to jump the last, you want him and he did. He had the benefit of the rail which also helped.

 

“He has handled very soft ground over two miles but he handled that ground today fine.

 

“It’s absolutely magic. I enjoyed that one, the first two were probably relief but that was a little unexpected as I was wondering whether he would come alive as he hasn’t in his two races this season.”

 

‘WARRIOR’ CANYON WINS FOR WALSH

 

Nichols Canyon gave Ruby Walsh a fifth Sun Bet Stayers’ Hurdle success – and a third today, snatching victory from 33/1 chance Lil Rockerfeller in the shadow of the post by three quarters of a length at 10/1.

 

Walsh’s four previous wins in the race came aboard the Paul Nicholls-trained Big Buck’s (2009-2012).

 

Nichols Canyon, a seven-year-old by Authorized, is trained by Willie Mullins and owned by Andrea and Graham Wylie.

 

Walsh, for whom it was a 55th Festival win, said: “Nichols Canyon is a little warrior, isn’t he? He switched off, he jumped, and crept away.

 

“I thought Lil Rockerfeller was battling back close home but Nichols Canyon galloped all the way to the line.

 

“He started to come back to himself the last 10 days. Maisie has been riding him and she was happy. Katie (sister) rode him at the Curragh the other morning and she thought he worked very well.

 

“Yesterday morning, whatever way you looked at it, this fella had won seven Grade Ones, albeit at shorter distances. I suppose he will have to go for the Iroquois [the $200,000 TVV Capital Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge, with $500,000 going to any horse who can win both the Sun Bet Stayer’s Hurdle and the Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle at Percy Warner Park, Nashville, Tennessee] to see if he can get the bonus. He was third last year.

 

“It is brilliant for Andrea and Graham. They are great supporters and this is the race Graham likes.”

 

Graham Wylie said: “When Willie bought this horse for me, he said ‘I might just have found you the next Inglis Drever [Wylie’s Sun Bet Stayers’ Hurdle winner in 2005, 2008 and 2008]. This is the little horse’s eighth Grade One and he hasn’t got the plaudits he deserved; hopefully today he will do.

 

“I said to Andrea this morning, I hope today is the Willie Mullins-Ruby Walsh day, and so it’s proved. I was hoping to get placed, but I saw him coming up the hill and he was absolutely flying, so I thought, ‘we might just nick this’.”

 

MULLINS PUTS ADVERSITY BEHIND

 

Racing’s strange bedfellows called peaks and troughs have been shadowing Willie Mullins at this year’s Festival.

 

No winners in the first two days, and the nadir of seeing Douvan’s unbeaten run end in lameness was a low point, and now three winners, a 74.6/1 treble, in the first four races on St Patrick’s Thursday. Mullins, coolly analysed the juxtapositions during a press conference following victory by Nichols Canyon, who he trains for Andrea and Graham Wylie, in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle.

 

Mullins, ever the ambassador, entered the conference following lengthy press interviews in the winner’s enclosure and asked, “Can there be any more questions?” before giving further fulsome answers and new angles. He said: “We bought him with a view to going for this race. Graham has said this is his favourite race at The Festival and one he loves to win.”

 

Wylie, whose colours were carried to victory in the Ryanair Chase by the Mullins-trained Yorkshill, said of the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle: “It’s the race that brought me into the sport in the first place. Very early doors in my time as an owner I was lucky enough to own some very special horses, including Inglis Drever who won it three times, despite missing a season with injury. Nichols Canyon reminds me of him – he’s not big, but he’s like a terrier.

 

“Willie rang me one day to say he had a horse for me and he could be the next Inglis Drever, and today he was proved right.” Mullins, in self-deprecatory mode, added: “Except I got a bit caught trying to win two-mile races and Champion Hurdles with him, but at least he’s back now at the right trip. It’s taken a long time to settle him, and Ruby used to ride him differently by jumping out and saying go, because he’s such a good jumper and a good battler. Today he changed tactics, dropped him in, got him settled. Coming over the second-last I thought he might finish first four, and then I saw him locking onto the rail and knowing Ruby’s style of riding, I thought, ‘well this race is gone’ but he might finish in the first three.

 

“Lil Rockerfeller went off to his left giving Ruby room, and if you ever need a jump at the last it’s when you are against Hurricane Fly or this fellow. Once he locks onto a hurdle it’s done and dusted, because he’s going to get a half length at it, and then he’ll battle. He was made for Ruby – they both love having to get a jump and a battle.”

 

Walsh said: “I was worried would he settle or not, but he was quite relaxed at the start. I had no massive plan, and I was looking at the big screen and could see ‘Harry’ [Unowhatimeanharry] was 10/11 so I thought I would follow him. He was going to be in the right place at some time, so I followed Noel [Fehily] and away we went. The ones in front went quick, but they came back to us and we went the same pace. The tempo was level, and while they quickened at the top of the hill I wasn’t sure how well I was going. I sat a while longer, then pinged the second-last and he started to pick up. I was just hoping I would get home.

 

“I don’t know what was wrong with him at Leopardstown when he jumped right, but today he was dead straight and very accurate.”

 

Asked about pre-race plans to unlock the Nichols Canyon box of talents, Mullins said: “My wife Jackie said to me perhaps we should change the [work] rider, so put up Mite, a French girl who works for us and weighs about 6st. We weren’t sure how she would get on because he’s a tough ride – first morning he was grand with her. Then we changed his stable and put him out the front, and every day he was out looking over the stable door and taking a new perspective on life – maybe that’s just a load of bollocks, and we were simply running him over the wrong trip. I’ll let you think we had some influence on it.”

 

Asked if he had a message for Harry Fry, a young trainer whose hopes of victory were thwarted when Unowhatimeanharry finished third, Mullins said: “Harry was the first to congratulate me, it shows his heart is in the right place and he’ll be back. How many times did we have runners here before we trained our first winner? It’s what you go through when starting off in any sport.

 

“I wasn’t feeling super-confident last night, but having been through the beaten horses, with the exception of Douvan who had a veterinary problem, there wasn’t any other race that we could or should have won. We were beaten by better horses.”

 

LIL TO PUNCHESTOWN?

 

33/1 chance Lil Rockerfeller showed what a big heart he has when going down by three-quarters of a length to Nichols Canyon in the Grade One Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle.

 

The six-year-old gelding, has been second to Unowhatimeanharry in a Grade One and Yanworth in a Grade Two at Ascot this season.

 

Neil King, the son of Hard Spun’s trainer, said: “It is absolutely fantastic. I am over the moon with him. Trevor (Whelan, jockey) has given him the most fantastic ride. It is the best he has jumped and he travelled so well throughout the race today.

 

“Trevor kept producing him at the right time and then he hit the front at the last. He just got in a little bit close to the last but, to be fair, I don’t think that we would have beaten Nichols Canyon. It was a tremendous run.

 

“It was most disappointing at the time to miss the National Spirit (at Fontwell) but, with hindsight, it was probably a blessing in disguise. He was dull in himself on the morning of the race and not as sparky as he should be.

 

“Fortunately we left him at home and, with the benefit of hindsight, we couldn’t have beaten Camping Ground, who was a machine round there. He would have probably had a hard race in second and would not have been able to come here, so it was a blessing in disguise.

 

“We knew we had got him in good order, we had done the most brilliant bit of work at Lingfield last Wednesday and then he had a couple of hours out hunting and he has been in cracking form since then.

 

“I am so proud of him, he is so game and genuine and why he was the price he was today, 33/1, it was an insult to him really.

 

“The owners have been so supportive and allowed me to do what I thought was best.

 

“Probably we go to Punchestown next, Aintree just wouldn’t suit him as a track, it would be a little bit too sharp.”

 

Whelan added: “I thought I had it won to be fair. Often, when a horse comes to him he digs it out very well. At the end of the day, he was beaten by a multiple Grade One winner. I couldn’t fault him, what a horse.”

 

Result

 

3.30pm £300,000 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle

(Grade 1) – 2m 7f 213y

 

1 NICHOLS CANYON (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ruby Walsh 10/1

2 Lil Rockerfeller (Davies Smith Govier & Brown) Neil King 11st 10lb Trevor Whelan 33/1

3 Unowhatimeanharry (J P McManus) Harry Fry 11st 10lb Noel Fehily 5/6 Fav

4 Cole Harden (Jill & Robin Eynon) Warren Greatrex 11st 10lb Gavin Sheehan 9/1

5 Snow Falcon (Patricia Hunt) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 10lb Sean Flanagan 16/1

6 Clondaw Warrior (Act D Wragg Syndicate) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Ms Katie Walsh 33/1

7 Zarkandar (Sullivan Bloodstock & Chris Giles) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Harry Cobden 25/1

8 Jezki (J P McManus) Jessica Harrington, Ireland 11st 10lb Robbie Power 15/2

9 Agrapart (The Gascoigne Brookes Partnership III) Nick Williams 11st 10lb Lizzie Kelly 66/1

PU Ballyoptic (Mills & Mason Partnership) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies 14/1

PU Shaneshill (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Paul Townend 16/1

PU West Approach (John & Heather Snook) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Tom Scudamore 28/1

 

Distances: ¾, 3½, 3½, 12, 4, 3¾, 3¾, 2¼

 

Tote Win: £10.80 Places: £2.60, £5.30, £1.40 Exacta:£289.60

 

Willie Mullins – 51st winner at The Festival

Ruby Walsh – 55th winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 18 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

BARON GOES DOWN FIGHTING

 

Trainer Gary Moore was proud of 10/1 shot Baron Alco, who finished the six-length second to Noel Meade’s 14/1 winner Road To Respect, in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, the fifth race on day three, St Patrick’s Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Always at the front of the field, the six-year-old son of Dom Alco kept on gamely in the closing stages but was no match for the winner, who quickened up smartly in the closing stages under Bryan Cooper.

 

Paul Nicholls’ Bouvreuil (10/1) was a length and three-quarters back in third, with a further two and three-quarter lengths to Thomas Crapper (7/1) in fourth.

 

Horsham handler Moore said: “That was a very good run – it’s just a shame he got beat. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is a really genuine horse.

 

“Just watching him there, I do think he would stay three miles, but I just hope he’s ok as he was a little bit sore afterwards.”

 

As for future plans, Moore commented: “We would have to see how he comes out of the race before we make a decision on where we go with him.

 

“I would say Aintree would come quick enough with him but a novice race if we could find one, we may do that as he has only won two novice events so I would like to win another one.

 

“I would say he would hopefully be handicapped to win a decent race in the future.”

 

Rider Jamie Moore said: “He wears his heart on his sleeve, it’s great for the owners, he jumped really well but it’s just annoying to finish second, it does my head in but there you go.”

 

4.10pm Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Grade 3)

1 ROAD TO RESPECT (Gigginstown House Stud) Noel Meade IRE 6-10-13 Bryan Cooper 14/1

2 Baron Alco (John Stone) Gary Moore 6-11-00 Jamie Moore 10/1

3 Bouveril (J P McManus) Paul Nicholls 6-10-13 Sam Twiston-Davies 10/1

4 Thomas Crapper (Apis.uk.com) Robin Dickin 10-10-01 Charlie Poste 7/1

 

Distances: 6, 1¾, 2¾

 

5/1 Fav Diamond King (PU)

Tote Win: £12.00 Places: £3.20, £4.40, £2.90, £17.80 Exacta: £271.70

 

Noel Meade – 5th winner at The Festival

Bryan Cooper – 8th winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 19 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 13

Th35.

 

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

O’LEARY ON GOLDEN HIGHWAY WITH ROAD TO RESPECT

 

Michael O’Leary, owner of Gigginstown House Stud, was delighted with the performance of Noel Meade’s Road To Respect (14/1), who was an impressive winner of the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, the fifth race, on day three, St Patrick’s Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Ridden by Bryan Cooper, the six-year-old son of Gamut jumped the last superbly before staying on stoutly up the hill to beat Gary Moore’s Baron Alco (10/1) by six lengths.

 

Paul Nicholls’ Bouvreuil ((10/1) was a length and three-quarters back in third, with a further two and three-quarter lengths to Thomas Crapper (7/1) in fourth.

 

The victory was O’Leary’s third of the week and the Ryanair supremo was pleased to get another winner on the board. He said: “It’s great and I’m delighted. He wants good ground and is one of the better novices in Ireland.

 

“I didn’t think he had a chance today, but Bryan gave him a peach of a ride. He had him in the right place the whole time as there was a lot of traffic problems in behind.

 

“It was wonderful. Someone said it was Noel Meade’s first chase winner so it just goes to show if you keep banging your head against a brick wall, eventually you will get one!”

 

Cooper added: “Road To Respect travelled real well. He was running in good novice races all winter long and that has probably stood to him.

 

“I was a bit worried about experience and he kind of over jumped the first. After that, he was very good. I gave him a bit of room to give him confidence and he bolted up.

 

“It is pleasure to be able to ride for Noel. I had a lot of luck for him in the first part of the job, but I have struggled to ride a winner for him the last couple of years. Thankfully, I have paid him back now.”

 

MEADE HITS THE HIGH ROAD

 

Road To Respect gave trainer Noel Meade a first victory over fences at The Festival to add to his four over hurdles.

 

Owned by Gigginstown House Stud and ridden by Bryan Cooper, 14/1 shot Road To Respect – a three-parts brother to dual Grade One winner Road To Riches – came home a comfortable six lengths clear of second-placed Baron Alco.

 

Meade said: “I thought we had three good chances to be in the money today. I was a bit disappointed with Snow Falcon, but I thought Road To Respect had a great chance. I actually wanted to run him in the RSA Novices’ Chase, but Gigginstown had something else for that and this race made sense, given the way the handicapper assessed him.

 

“The ground was a big help to me. We’ve always thought of him as a very nice horse. On his second chase run, in the Grade One Drinmore Novices’ Chase at Fairyhouse, he was very disappointing – he was only third or fourth, and I thought he might win. He came here and was clearly well-handicapped!

 

“I thought early on maybe he didn’t get the [two and a half mile] trip and I dropped him back to two miles, which was probably a mistake. We went for three miles last time at Navan when the ground was very bad, and Sandra Hughes’ horse [Acapella Bourgeois] got away. We beat the rest of them a long way that day and he stayed galloping to the line, so we were happy with that.

 

“I didn’t realise that was our first chase winner at The Festival. I’ve always thought maybe I would have won more here if I’d run more in handicaps rather than the good races, but I always think this is the championships and we try to come and win a championship. Maybe Harbour Pilot would have won a handicap chase here the first year he ran in the Gold Cup [2003, when he was third to Best Mate], but he was placed in two Gold Cups and that’s the way I’ve always approached it.”

 

BARON GOES DOWN FIGHTING

 

Trainer Gary Moore was proud of 10/1 shot Baron Alco, who finished the six-length second to Noel Meade’s 14/1 winner Road To Respect, in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, the fifth race on day three, St Patrick’s Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

 

Always at the front of the field, the six-year-old son of Dom Alco kept on gamely in the closing stages but was no match for the winner, who quickened up smartly in the closing stages under Bryan Cooper.

 

Paul Nicholls’ Bouvreuil (10/1) was a length and three-quarters back in third, with a further two and three-quarter lengths to Thomas Crapper (7/1) in fourth.

 

Horsham handler Moore said: “That was a very good run – it’s just a shame he got beat. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is a really genuine horse.

 

“Just watching him there, I do think he would stay three miles, but I just hope he’s ok as he was a little bit sore afterwards.”

 

As for future plans, Moore commented: “We would have to see how he comes out of the race before we make a decision on where we go with him.

 

“I would say Aintree would come quick enough with him but a novice race if we could find one, we may do that as he has only won two novice events so I would like to win another one.

 

“I would say he would hopefully be handicapped to win a decent race in the future.”

 

Rider Jamie Moore said: “He wears his heart on his sleeve, it’s great for the owners, he jumped really well but it’s just annoying to finish second, it does my head in but there you go.”

 

4.10pm Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Grade 3)

1 ROAD TO RESPECT (Gigginstown House Stud) Noel Meade IRE 6-10-13 Bryan Cooper 14/1

2 Baron Alco (John Stone) Gary Moore 6-11-00 Jamie Moore 10/1

3 Bouveril (J P McManus) Paul Nicholls 6-10-13 Sam Twiston-Davies 10/1

4 Thomas Crapper (Apis.uk.com) Robin Dickin 10-10-01 Charlie Poste 7/1

 

Distances: 6, 1¾, 2¾

 

5/1 Fav Diamond King (PU)

Tote Win: £12.00 Places: £3.20, £4.40, £2.90, £17.80 Exacta: £271.70

 

Noel Meade – 5th winner at The Festival

Bryan Cooper – 8th winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 19 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 13


THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE.

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

MAESTRO MULLINS IN 179/1 FOUR-TIMER WITH RUBY

 

Let’s Dance, under a sweetly-timed ride by Ruby Walsh, swept through late in the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle to bring up a 179/1 four-timer for himself and trainer Willie Mullins.

 

It was the first time a jockey had completed four winners in one day at The Festival, although it was not a new experience for Mullins – he and Nicky Henderson had achieved it in past Festivals, although Let’s Dance’s win in the colours of Rich Ricci completed a volte-face for owner, trainer and jockey, who had all been winless on the first two days of the meeting.

 

Mullins said of Let’s Dance: “Looking at where she was turning for home a lot of things had to fall right, but they had gone a huge gallop and you probably don’t expect mares to keep that up – and so it was. She was a second-season novice, too, which meant she had a better chance of jumping the last and flying away from it. Experience told.

 

“I wouldn’t like to tell you what was going through my mind last night, but with the exception of Douvan, who had a veterinary issue, nothing else that was beaten should have won. Different tactics in the [OLBG] Mares’ Hurdle might have made a difference, but losing to Apple’s Jade was fair enough. There cannot be anything wrong with the horses because they were running well.

 

“Today I would have accepted just one winner. Yorkhill was in my mind, but people expect us to have winners here – we hope to have winners here. If it was that easy there would be no pressure and no fun in it. The last two days show you that. It’s a tough place to win and we respect the place and the opposition here. We don’t have a God-given right to win races, so to get a winner and get on the board was great, and it’s been a huge bonus since.

 

“To have Ruby on our side is worth so much, because he can change his mind two or three times in races when things are not going to plan – he can read races and do what needs to be done and take a chance. He’s a huge asset.

 

“Four winners today shows how good he is – we’ve been lucky in our time to witness Sir A P McCoy and Ruby Walsh, two fabulous jockeys with different styles, but at the top of their profession. Ruby’s confidence was great, and that’s why he was able to give Yorkhill the ride he did. He’s not going to lose confidence just like that. He gave those horses some rides to win from positions they did today, because in the previous two days horses weren’t winning from there.

 

“He didn’t think about yesterday, he just rode today’s horses as he saw them, and that’s what he does so well.”

 

RICCI DELIGHTED AS DANCE PUTS HER BEST FOOT FORWARD

 

American owner Rich Ricci was delighted to register his first victory of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival after the Willie Mullins-trained Let’s Dance (11/8 favourite), was a ready winner of the Grade Two Trull House Stud Mares’ Novice Hurdle under Ruby Walsh.

 

Always travelling well under Walsh, who along with Mullins, was completing a 178.6/1 four-timer, the five-year-old daughter of Poliglote made stealthy headway through the field entering the home straight and quickened clear impressively to score by two and three-quarter lengths ahead of Gordon Elliott’s Barra in second, with a neck back to Dusky Legend, trained by Alan King, in third.

 

The trio also took the inaugural running of the two-mile contest last year with Limini.

 

A delighted Ricci said: “We are late to the party but we have bought the music! First of all, I am delighted for the staff because of the 50,000 euro bonus (Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Stable Staff Boonus). I am delighted for the yard – it has been a brilliant today (four winners).

 

“Joe Chambers deserves credit because Christmas time last season Let’s Dance was second to Ivanovic Gorbatov and Joe said why not campaign her the rest of the way in Grade Ones.

 

“If she wins, she wins but if she doesn’t, we can keep her a novice for next season and it has worked. She’s got bigger and stronger and it has paid off.

 

“It is great to have one on the board. It is such a relief. It has been a brutal season, but there is no future in history and you have got to keep looking forward.”

 

Ricci also commented on Douvan’s disappointing seventh-placed finish in yesterday’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, with the son of Walk In The Park subsequently found to be stiff behind after the race.

 

He said: “This game would tame a lion. When it is up, it is brilliant but when it is down, it is down.

 

“I never felt so low. It was just so deflating and crushing. Yesterday was just brutal and emblematic of the season we have had. It’s just been one of those years – it happens.

 

“He’s alright. I don’t think its career threatening. We have sent him for an MRI scan today but I’m hopeful it’s just a fracture or something.

 

“Ruby said he lost action behind after the second fence which he winged evidently, but it is just one of those things which happens and hopefully we have him back for next year.”

 

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

1 LET’S DANCE (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-07 Ruby Walsh 11/8 Fav

2 Barra (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-02 Bryan Cooper 12/1

3 Dusky Legend (Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes) Alan King 7-11-05 Wayne Hutchinson 20/1

 

Distances: 2¾, nk

Tote Win: £2.10 Places:£1.40, £3.70, £4.90 Exacta:£20.30

 

Willie Mullins – 52st winner at The Festival

Ruby Walsh – 56th winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 20 races

Great Britain 6

Ireland 14

 

BARRA COMES HOME STRONGLY FOR SECOND

 

Barra, trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Bryan Cooper, took second place behind the Willie Mullins-trained 11/8 favourite Let’s Dance in the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

 

Michael O’Leary, owner of Gigginstown House Stud, in whose colours 12/1 shot Barra runs, said: “She had a super run. I thought she couldn’t go with them for the first mile but she came home very strongly under a great ride from Bryan.

 

“The winner, Let’s Dance, is a Grade One mare and is entitled to win – Ruby [Walsh] gave her a peach of a ride and it has been Willie’s day. We are delighted to be second.”

 

Gordon Elliott added: “She is a nice mare, a nice mare for the future.”

 

Third was 20/1 chance Dusky Legend, who finished runner-up to Limini in the 2016 race.

 

Dusky Legend’s trainer, Alan King, said: “She’s run a marvellous race and we are thrilled with her. It was probably a stronger renewal with more depth to it this year. I wish they hadn’t watered last night, as she’s a proper good ground filly. But she’s run a smashing race.”

 

Jockey Wayne Hutchinson said: “An end-to-end two-mile gallop brings out the best in her, and she had the experience behind her. There looked more depth to the race this year and she’s probably improved again on the back of last year’s run.”


THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

DOMESDAY READS THE SCRIPT WITH BRAVE PERFORMANCE

 

40/1 shot Domesday Book provided trainer Stuart Edmunds with his first Cheltenham Festival winner after staying on strongly under jockey Gina Andrews to claim the concluding race on day three, St Patrick’s Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase.

 

In a thrilling finish, the seven-year-old son of Street Cry got up in the closing stages to claim victory by three-quarters of a length from Pendra (16/1).

 

Nicky Henderson’s Premier Bond was a further three-quarters of a length back in third, with another length to Potters Legend, trained by Lucy Wadham, in fourth.

 

Newport Pagnell handler Edmunds said: “Watching his other races, he has always been a horse that’s travelled a bit behind the bridle if he hasn’t got his own way but he battled today.

 

“Gina particularly suited him as she can be forceful. She made her mind up for him at his fences.

 

“It’s amazing to have my first Cheltenham Festival winner. It’s in a different league. I had a winner at the track with Wolf Of Windlesham but this is completely different. It’s great.”

 

5.30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase

1 DOMESDAY BOOK (J Humberstone) Stuart Edmunds 7-11-04 Miss Gina Andrews 40/1

2 Pendra (J P McManus) Charlie Longsdon 9-11-12 Mr Derek O’Connor 16/1

3 Premier Bond (Middleham Park Racing XI) Nicky Henderson 7-11-04 Mr Sam Waley-Cohen 9/1

4 Potters Legend (Mrs J May) Lucy Wadham 7-11-06 Mr Michael Legg 10/1

 

Distances: ¾, ¾, 1

Tote Win: £64.00 Places: £10.00, £6.00, £2.50, £3.20 Exacta: £1,423.70

 

Stuart Edmunds – 1st winner at The Festival

Miss Gina Andrews – 1st winner at The Festival

 

BetBright Cup – standings after 21 races

Great Britain 7

Ireland 14

 

ANDREWS LANDS ANOTHER BLOW FOR FEMALE JOCKEYS

 

Domesday Book gave jockey Gina Andrews a first Festival victory, overpowering top-weight Pendra by three-quarters of a length on the run-in in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase.

 

The 40/1 chance is trained by Stuart Edmunds and was bred by The Queen.

 

Andrews, 25, who has ridden around 200 winners under Rules and in point-to-points and who runs a yard with her husband Tom Ellis in Warwickshire, said: “It has been my lifetime ambition just to ride at The Festival, let alone ride a winner here.

 

“The first thing Stuart said to me was the horse would never be on the bridle, but to be honest he was never off it until I turned in, so it was a pleasant surprise. He gave me a great ride and travelled well. He rallied well on the run-in as well.

 

“Jumping the last I didn’t think I’d win, although I had thought I might jumping two out, but he rallied again, and he had the loose horse to help him. Normally you are willing the line to come to you, but I was willing it away so I could get to it. I’m delighted.

 

“The girls said to me when I left home this morning that if I won, they’d have a party organised for when I got back, so I’m coming!”

 

Andrews’ victory means that female jockeys have won both of the races for amateur riders run so far at The Festival 2017 – Lisa O’Neill took the J T McNamara National Hunt Chase on Tiger Roll for Gordon Elliott on Tuesday.


THE FESTIVAL, 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

NO CHANGE TO GOING DESCRIPTION

 

Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s clerk of the course, is leaving the going description as Good, Good to Soft in places on the New Course.

 

The track received between 8-10 millimetres of water on Wednesday night, and Claisse had no plans to water again tonight.

 

“We are forecast another dry night,” he said.

 

TOE THE LINE

 

Toe The Line, who came down on the flat after the second hurdle in the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, fractured a hind leg and was humanely put down.

 

HADRIAN’S APPROACH

 

Hadrian’s Approach, who fell at the 10th fence in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase, fractured a foreleg and was humanely put down.

 

Champion Day, Tuesday, March 14

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

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

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

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

Third race: 2.50pm. The Ultima Handicap Chase

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

Fourth race: 3.30pm.The Stan James Champion Hurdle

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

Fifth race: 4.10pm. The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

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

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

Amateur Riders Novices’ Chase

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

Seventh race: Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

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

 

Ladies Day, Wednesday, March 15

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

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

Second race: 2.10pm. The RSA Novices’ Chase

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

Third race: 2.50pm. The Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

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

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

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

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

Cause Of Causes (USA) (J P McManus) Gordon Elliott IRE 9-114tp Jamie Codd 4/1 9l

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

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

Seventh race: 5.30pm. The Weatherbys Champion Bumper

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

 

St Patrick’s Thursday, March 16, 2017

First race: 1.30pm. The JLT Novices’ Chase

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

Second race: 2.10pm. The Pertemps Network Final Hurdle

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

Third race: 2.50pm. The Ryanair Chase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

TODAY’S RECORD ATTENDANCE

 

The crowd on St Patrick’s Thursday, the third day of The Festival, today came to 66,200, a new record for the day since The Festival expanded to four days in 2005.

 

Last year 65,544 attended Cheltenham Racecourse on the third day, with 60,495 in 2015.


 

 

THE FESTIVAL 2017

RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE

ST PATRICK’S THURSDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

THE IRISH INDEPENDENT LEADING TRAINER AWARD AT THE FESTIVAL

 

Trainer    1st   2nd   3rd

Gordon Elliott IRE   5   2   2

Willie Mullins IRE   4   2   3

Nicky Henderson   3   5   3

Henry de Bromhead IRE  1   1   2

Noel Meade IRE   1   -   1

Stuart Edmunds   1   -   -

Alan Fleming IRE   1   -   -

Jessica Harrington IRE  1   -   -

Patrick Kelly IRE   1   -   -

Ben Pauling    1   -   -

David Pipe    1   -   -

Nick Williams    1   -   -

Harry Fry    -   1   1

Tom George    -   1   1

Warren Greatrex   -   1   -

Malcolm Jefferson   -   1   -

Neil King    -   1   -

Charlie Longsdon   -   1   -

Gary Moore    -   1   -

Margaret Mullins IRE   -   1   -

Fergal O’Brien    -   1   -

Jonjo O’Neill    -   1   -

Colin Tizzard    -   1   -

Alan King    -   -   3

Enda Bolger IRE   -   -   1

Brian Ellison    -   -   1

Paul Nicholls    -   -   1

Dan Skelton    -   -   1

Venetia Williams   -   -   1

 

THE BOODLES LEADING JOCKEY AWARD AT THE FESTIVAL

 

Jockey    1st   2nd   3rd

Ruby Walsh    4   1   2

Noel Fehily    2   2   1

Bryan Cooper    2   1   2

Nico de Boinville   2   -   2

Mr Jamie Codd   2   -   -

Davy Russell    1   2   3

Jack Kennedy    1   -   1

Ms Gina Andrews   1   -   -

David Bass    1   -   -

Richard Johnson   1   -   -

Ms Lisa O’Neill   1   -   -

Denis O’Regan   1   -   -

Robbie Power    1   -   -

Tom Scudamore   1   -   -

Aidan Coleman   -   3   -

Paddy Brennan   -   1   1

Adrian Heskin    -   1   1

Daryl Jacob    -   1   1

Brian Hughes    -   1   -

Jeremiah McGrath   -   1   -

Mr Noel McParlan   -   1   -

Jamie Moore    -   1   -

Danny Mullins    -   1   -

David Mullins    -   1   -

Mr Derek O’Connor   -   1   -

Paul Townend    -   1   -
Trevor Whelan   -   1   -

Wayne Hutchinson   -   -   2

Danny Cook    -   -   1

Charlie Deutsch   -   -   1

Mr Patrick Mullins   -   -   1

Sam Twiston-Davies   -   -   1

Mr Sam Waley-Cohen  -   -   1

 

THE IRISH THOROUGHBRED MARKETING LEADING OWNER AWARD AT THE FESTIVAL

 

Owner    1st   2nd   3rd

Gigginstown House Stud  3   2   2

J P McManus    2   2   3

Andrea & Graham Wylie  2   -   1

Susannah Ricci   1   1   1

Ann & Alan Potts   1   1   -

Paul & Clare Rooney   1   1   -

Barry Connell     1   -   -

Maura Gittins    1   -   -

J Humberstone   1   -   -

Edward O’Connell   1   -   -

Aidan O’Ryan    1   -   -

Patricia Pugh    1   -   -

Sally Rowley-Williams  1   -   -

The Knot Again Partnership  1   -   -

Philip Reynolds   1   -   -

The Macaroni Beach Society  1   -   -

Prof Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew 1    -   -

Simon Munir & Isaac Souede -   1   1

Martin Broughton & Friends (1) -   1   -

Adrian Butler & S O’Connor  -   1   -

John & Barbara Cotton  -   1   -

Davies Smith Govier & Brown -   1   -

Mrs J Donnelly   -   1   -

Force Eight Syndicate  -   1   -

Chris Giles    -   1   -

N Griffith & H Haddock  -   1   -

Trevor Hemmings   -   1   -

Masterson Holdings Limited  -   1   -

John Stone    -   1   -

Alan & Andrew Turner  -   1   -

Walters Plant Hire Ltd  -   1   -

Mike Grech & Stuart Parkin  -   -   2

Chris Jones    -   -   2

Doone Hulse Susie Saunders & Lady Cobham -   -   1

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

HP Racing Who Dares Wins  -   -   1

Mrs M Hurley    -   -   1

Middleham Park Racing  -   -   1

Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes -   -   1

Sideways Syndicate   -   -   1

The Bellamy Partnership  -   -   1

Walters Plant Hire & James & Jean Potter  -   -   1

 

 

STEWARDS’ REPORTS

 

Race 1 – 1:30pm JLT NOVICES’ CHASE (Grade 1)

The Stewards noted that YORKHILL (IRE), trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs.

Noel Fehily, the rider of FLYING ANGEL (IRE), placed sixth, reported that the gelding was hampered by a faller five out.

The Veterinary Officer reported that TOP NOTCH (FR), placed second, trained by Nicky Henderson, lost its right hind shoe.

 

Race 3 – 2:50pm RYANAIR CHASE (Grade 1)

The Stewards noted that UN DE SCEAUX (FR), trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs.

 

Race 4 – 3:30pm SUN BETS STAYERS’ HURDLE (Grade 1)

The Stewards noted that NICHOLS CANYON and SHANESHILL (IRE), both trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs.

 

Race 5 – 4:10pm BROWN ADVISORY & MERRIEBELLE STABLE PLATE HANDICAP CHASE (Grade 3)

The Stewards noted that GERMANY CALLING (IRE), trained by Charlie Longsdon, would wear earplugs which would be removed at the start.

Davy Russell, the rider of DIAMOND KING (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding was badly hampered by a faller.

Liam Treadwell, the rider of COLD MARCH (FR), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding was badly hampered by a faller.

 

Race 6 – 4:50pm TRULL HOUSE STUD MARES’ NOVICES’ HURDLE (Grade 2)

The Stewards held an enquiry following a report from the Veterinary Officer that an employee of R. Collet, the trainer, brought into the stables a substance, Phosphalugel, a gastric antacid, which may have been allowed with the permission of the Veterinary Officer, but for which the trainer had not sought this permission prior to entry into the stables. They interviewed the trainer, the Veterinary Officer and the Equine Welfare Integrity Officer. Having heard their evidence the Stewards referred the matter to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority.

The Stewards enquired into the fall of TOE THE LINE (IRE), ridden by Denis O’Regan, on the bend turning away from the stands. Having viewed recordings of the incident the Stewards found that the fall was caused by the mare sustaining an injury. Being satisfied that no other horse or rider was involved the Stewards took no further action.

The Stewards noted that LET’S DANCE (FR), trained by W.P. Mullins, would wear earplugs and that LA BAGUE AU ROI (FR), trained by Warren Greatrex, 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.

 

Race 7 – 5:30pm FULKE WALWYN KIM MUIR CHALLENGE CUP AMATEUR RIDERS’ HANDICAP CHASE

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Miss Gina Andrews, the rider of the winner, DOMESDAY BOOK (USA), from the third last fence. Having heard her evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found her in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that she had used her whip above the permitted level and without giving her horse time to respond. The Stewards suspended Miss Andrews for 13 days as follows: Friday 31 March, and Sunday 2, Monday 3, Tuesday 4, Wednesday 5, Thursday 6, Saturday 8, Monday 10, Tuesday 11, Thursday 13, Saturday 15, Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 April 2017. Under Rule (B)54 the Stewards also fined the rider £400.

The Stewards noted that LA VATICANE (FR), trained by David Pipe, would wear earplugs.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave A Comment

© 2017 Racenews · One Bird Design · RSS Feed · Log in