The Christmas eve for racing fans the night before Cheltenham. The rain continues to dominate the build up. We start at Taunton, there was a double for Nick Scholfield on board Garrane and Nelson's Touch. The feature race went in good style to Regal Flow who was a very good winner. Regal Flow was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 11/2. Regal Flow was to have a great finish to his week more of that later. At Plumpton, there was a double for Tom O'Brien on board Duhallow Lad and Snippetydoodah. At Dundalk, there were three well-backed winners. They were, Highly Approved, Port Lions and Sir Danilo.
Tuesday, it finally arrived the Cheltenham Festival 2018. The opening race the Supreme kicked us off. It looked open beforehand and so it proved. The race was run on testing ground Getabird refused to settle and totally blew out. First Flow got involved with Getabird and ruined his own chances as a consequence. Kalashnikov looked like he had made a decisive move going over the last. Summerville Boy under Noel Fehily stayed on really strongly, getting up to nail Kalashnikov late on by a neck. Mengli Khan ran a lovely race in third as did Paloma Blue in fourth. Paloma Blue nicked a place for us (special) to get us started. The Arkle was next up for decision it looked a good contest beforehand.Saint Calvados and Petit Mouchoir went off like the hammers of hell it was a crazy gallop in the ground. Ruby Walsh was off the two leaders by about ten lengths. Saint Calvados checked out at the third last. Footpad picked up the leaders three out powering clear from that point to win by fourteen lengths from Brain Power who was never in the race. Footpad looks a potentially top-class chaser.
The Ultima chase saw a smaller field than normal. It saw Lizzie Kelly get the first win at the festival on board the well-backed Coo Star Sivola seeing off Shantou Flyer by a neck. The placed horses are all interesting going forward Vintage Clouds, Beware The Bear (Scottish National) and Singlefarmpayment. It was a good race for our members. Coo Star Sivola was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 6/1. We also had Singlefarmpayment advised to our members' 1pt each way at 8/1. The next race was the feature race the Champion Hurdle. Buveur D'air was a strong favorite. Faugheen led until the second last where he checked out. The eye was drawn to Melon who moved superbly through the race. As they came to the last Buveur D'air and Melon fought it out. Buveur D'air saw off Melon by a neck. Buveur D'air had to fight for it, Melon ran a blinder and clearly likes Cheltenham. Mick Jazz ran a blinder in third. Faugheen was poor and is surely gone over two miles now. Buveur D'air is a good champion and will surely come back next year.
The Mares Hurdle saw Apples Jade go off very short at 1/2, front-running was hard on Tuesday. Apples Jade never got away from them. Ruby gave Benie Des Dieux a wonderful ride producing his mount at the right time to beat Midnight Tour by a half-length from Midnight Tour with Apples Jade back in third. The four-miler was up next. The race went to Willie and Patrick Mullins as Rathvinden headed MS Parfois late on to win by a half-length. It was twenty-one lengths back to Sizing Tennessee. The win for Rathvinden completed a treble for Willie Mullins. There was a sad postscript to the four-miler as Mossback lost his life. The finale on day one was the Close brother's novice handicap chase. The race went to Mister Whitaker who held of Rather Be by a head with Rocklander and Barney Dwan filling out the places. Barney Dwan was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 6/1. Mister Whitaker was a festival winner for Mick Channon and Brian Hughes two top men.
Wednesday, we start with the Ballymore. This was the race that was to see Samcro show his class to everyone. Samcro delivered on his promise in no uncertain style. Samcro put the race to bed by two and a half lengths from Black Op. It was a further five lengths back to Next Destination who looks like he will make a nice chaser. Scarpeta, Duc Des Genievres, and Vision Des Flos all ran lovely races. Samcro was advised to our members' 4pts win at 8/11. It was all about Samcro though who looks a lovely horse and won despite losing a shoe. It will be fun to see where Samcro goes from here. The next race up was the RSA which was hugely anticipated. It saw Presenting Percy and Monalee clash. The race itself was brilliant. Presenting Percy produced a wonderful performance winning by seven lengths from Monalee. It was another seven lengths back to Elegant Escape. There was a fall for Al Boum Photo at the last which resulted in Ruby Walsh breaking his leg. Presenting Percy looks to be the real deal, god willing will return to Cheltenham to have a crack at the Gold Cup. Monalee ran a great race, however, connections surely should have considered the JLT. Presenting Percy was advised to our members' 4pts win at 5/2.
The Coral Cup was the usual helter-skelter contest.It went to Willie Mullins with Blue Berry who held Topofthegame off by a neck. Barra ran a cracker in third.It was a good race for our members. William Henry was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 9/1. The Organist was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 33/1 (5th place special). The feature race was the Champion Chase. The much-anticipated clash between Douvan and Altior finally materialized. The race itself was shaping up really well. Douvan went to the front under Patrick Mullins. Douvan was winging the fences and really traveling. The fourth last was crucial as it often is. Douvan crashed out it was a real shame. Min went through the race really well and led over the last. Altior had not traveled well through the race, however, at the second last, he surged into it. Altior winged the last and picked Min up running out a seven-length winner. Altior is truly an exceptional racehorse. The crowd loved it. I sincerely hope Altior stays fit. I would love to see Altior and Douvan clash at Punchestown.
The Cross Country went in emphatic style to Tiger Roll who beat off Urgent De Gregaine with The Last Samuri back in third. Auvergnat was up for fourth advised to our members 1pt each way 10/1 ( landing the place special). The Fred Winter handicap hurdle saw my most satisfying result of the festival. The race went to Veneer Of Charm who got the job done at 33/1 winning by three lengths from Style De Garde, Nube Negra ran very well in third. Veneer Of Charm was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 33/1. It was a tremendous result. It completed a treble on the day for Gordon Elliott. The Bumper concluded the day. It went to Willie Mullins with Relegate under Katie Walsh. Relegate held off Carefully Selected and Tornado Flyer to complete a 1-2-3 for Willie Mullins. I thought it looked a decent race. Acey Milan was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 8/1 (4th place special). The day was remarkable in terms of the racing and our own results on the day.
Thursday, day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival. The opening contest was the JLT novice chase. It went in spectacular fashion to Shattered Love winning by seven lengths from Terrefort, with Benatar up for, third place. Invitation Only looked really well beforehand, however, did not appear to like the track. Shattered Love showed what the mares can do if allowed to take their chances against the boys. Shattered Love jumped economically and looks very talented. Shattered Love was advised to our members 1pt each way at 10/1. The Pertemps Hurdle was up next a race I normally do well in I got it totally wrong this year. The race went to Delta Work who saw off Glenloe in an epic finish by a neck. Connetable and Taj Badalandabad filled out the places. The Ryanair Chase was the feature race it saw Un De Sceaux look to retain his crown it was not to be. Un De Sceaux set off at the usual hard gallop, however all the time the eye was drawn to the strong traveling Balko Des Flos. At three fences out Balko De Flos went on readily putting the gallant Un De Sceaux to the sword. It was a tremendous result for our members who had Balko De Flos 1pt each way at 8/1.
The Stayers hurdle saw the training performance of the week as Willie Mullins produced Penhill to win on seasonal debut. The race was run at a funny pace and there were twelve horses in a line between the last two hurdles. Penhill got the better of Supasundae by two lengths. Wholestone charged on for third. It was good news for our members who had 2pts each way Wholestone at 14/1. The next race saw Gordon Eliott and Davy Russell complete trebles in the festival plate as the Storyteller won. The race was run at the usual fierce gallop. The Storyteller came home best to see off Splash Of Ginge who gave everything in second. Kings Odyssey,Ballyaton and Kings Socks ran good races to fill out the places. The Dawn Run Novice hurdle saw a breathtaking performance from Laurina who won by eighteen lengths from Cap Soleil with Champayne Lady in third. Laurina was advised to our members' 4pts win at 1/1. The unlucky horse of the race was High School Days who was backed from 25/1 into 9/1 had to be pulled up after nearly being brought down. The finale was the Kim Muir. It saw an epic battle with Missed Approach seeing off Mall Dini by a half-length. Squouateur was third. The result was an incredible one for our members who had 1pt each way Missed Approach at 14/1 and 1pt each way Mall Dini at 6/1. The day was nearly incredible as our members had a 0.5pt each way double Balko Des Flos 8/1 and Mall Dini 6/1. A great day for Ireland as well as our members.
Friday, day 4 of the Festival Gold Cup Day. The triumph hurdle got us underway.It saw Apples Shakira got to post the best-backed horse of the week. I was against her I must admit to being concerned before the off. Apples Shakira did not settle at all making her vulnerable. Stormy Ireland ran a creditable race until she crashed out at the last taking a heavy fall. Farclas and Mr. Adjudicator swept through they had fought an epic finish at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival. The two horses did the same here. This time the result was reversed with Farclas getting the better of Mr. Adjudicator this time. It was a great result for our members who had 1pt each way Farclas at 9/1 and 1pt each way Mr. Adjudicator at 8/1. The County hurdle saw a lovely moment as Bridget Andrews steered Mohaayed to glory beating off Remiluc, Whisky Sour, and Chesterfield. There was a dead heat for fifth between Lagostovegas and Spiritofthegames. The Albert Bartlett was the next race off. I must say I can't understand what Chris's Dream and Fabulous Sagas jockeys were at. They went a crazy gallop and could not get home. Kilbricken Storm plowed on through to beat OK Corral and Santini. I thought Ballyward, Tower Bridge, and Robin Waters ran nice races.
The feature race of the week the Cheltenham Gold Cup saw an epic battle. The race developed into a battle between Native River and Might Bite. They served up an incredible battle Native River made every yard of the running. Might Bite fought very hard, however on the softer ground he just could not get past Native River who ran out a four and a half-length winner. Anibale Fly ran really well in third. Road To Respect appeared not to stay in fourth, he still ran well. I thought Total Recall may have got into the frame when falling. Djakadam ran well in fifth. It was a deserved day in the sun for Colin Tizzard who is a great trainer he enjoyed a Gold cup day double. The Foxhunters was another crazy gallop. The race went to Pacha Du Polder. Harriet Tucker rode the winner with a partially dislocated shoulder to beat Top Wood by a neck. It was a welcome win for Paul Nicholls. The Martin Pipe saw a front-running masterclass by Donagh Meyler on board Blow By Blow. The Irish horses filled out the places Discorama, Early Doors, and Sire Du Berlais. It was a great result for our members who had a 1pt each way Blow By Blow at 14/1. The race to finish the meeting The Grand Annual sadly saw three fatalities which were very sad.The race went to Le Prezien for Paul Nicholls and Barry Geraghty. The places were filled out by Gino Trail, Top Gamble, Theinval and Three Stars for the fifth place special. Three Stars was advised to our members 1pt each way at 25/1. The festival was a tremendous success for our members with a profit of 115 Points. I enjoyed the four days in Cheltenham. The racing was brilliant and the craic mighty as always.
Saturday, it was Midlands Grand National day. The feature race went to Regal Flow who was winning for the second time in the week. It gave Robert Buckler and Sean Houlihan. There was a double for Brian Hughes on board Just Don't Ask and Jaune Et Bleue. At Kempton, the feature race went to Kildisart for Ben Pauling and Daryl Jacob. The Silver Bowl Chase went to Venetia Williams with Cepage. Bundoran placed for our members 1pt each way at 6/1. At Fontwell, Magoo was on target for Paul Nicholls. At Wolverhampton, Karl Burke was on target with Made Of Honour in the feature race. At Wexford, there was a double for Denis O'Regan on board Speaker Connolly and Brave Out. I thought Willie Mullins produced a very interesting winner in Msassa who bolted up.
Sunday, there was no racing in the UK or Ireland due to snow.