Monday, this weeks blog will focus on the Cheltenham Festival primarily.The racing on Monday was a usual quiet. We start at Stratford , there was a £15K handicap hurdle which went the way of Midnight Maestro for Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson. Midnight Maestro saw of Brotherly Company by four lengths. Brotherly Company was advised to our members 1pt each way at (7/1).At Plumpton, there was a treble for trainer Chris Gordon with Starkie, Ballyheigue Bay and Funny Oyster. At Chepstow, Evan Williams was on the mark with Sutter's Mill in the handicap hurdle. At Chelmsford, there was a winner for Ryan Moore with Qaffaal.
Tuesday, I will be focusing on Cheltenham only for the next four days. The Supreme novice was first up. The race went to Labaik for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy Labaik had refused to race twice this season already. Labaik did this well powering away from the favourite Melon who ran a fine race in second. River Wylde traveled and ran really well before fading into third. Balllyandy never looked happy in fourth and was flat out all the way. Cilaos Emery and Beyond Conceit ran lovely races in fifth and sixth. Bunk Off Early was a massive disappointment in twelfth. River Wylde was advised 1pt each at (10/1) to our members was placed. The Arkle was next up the highly anticipated appearance of Altior. The race itself saw Charbel take them on at a very good pace. Charbel was still bang in contention when he fell two out. Altior to be fair was right on the scene. Altior went clear to win by six lengths from Cloudy Dream and Ordinary World who ran very creditable races. Altior remains undefeated over obstacles. The world is his oyster from here and the clash with Douvan will be something everyone will mark time towards. The Ultima handicap chase went to Un Temps Pour Tout for the second year in succession. This race turned into a terrific finish with the strong travelling Singlefarmpayment going down by a short head. Noble Endeavor and Buywise with Go Conquer landing the fifth place concession for many punters. The Druids Nephew and The Young Master ran good Grand National prep races. Holywell and Ibis Du Rheu ran below par races. Un Temps Pour Tout will be trained for the Gold cup next season. Singlefarmpayment was advised 1pt each way at (8/1) to our members.
The Champion Hurdle was a race which all the talk beforehand was about who was not running.The race itself produced a brilliant winner in Buveur D'air who went through this race like a really top class horse. The sight of Noel Fehily sitting motionless as the tempo increased is one of my memories of the week. Buveur D'air ran out a four and a half length winner from the gallant My Tent Or Yours, who was a runner up in the champion hurdle for a third time. Petit Mouchoir ran well in third despite jumping badly. Footpad came storming home but too late. The eclipse of Yanworth was striking, completley outpaced from three out . Yanworth trailed in for seventh. Brain Power was never a factor and Moon racer pulled up. Buveur D'air was advised to our members 2pts each way at 5/1. The Mares Hurdle was up next , this produced one of the races of the week . Apples Jade , Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini all came to the last together. An epic battle unfolded up the hill , Limini missed the last however Apples Jade powered away to win by a length and a half from Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini a nose back in third. Jer's Girl crashed out at the third last taking an X rated fall when still going well.
The Four Mile novice chase was up next this year named after JT McNamara. The round of applause and reverence on the lawn as the Cheltenham faithful paid its own tribute to one of its favourite sons was poignant and special to be part of. The race itself went to former triumph hurdle winner Tiger Roll who moved beautifully through the race. This gave Lisa O'Neill a first Cheltenham winner and a treble for Gordon Elliott on the day. Missed Approach ran on for second , Haymount was third and Arpege D'alene in fourth. A Genie in Abottle was flat out the whole way and never got competitive in fifth. I thought Beware The Bear ran very well considering his mistake that made Sam Waley- Cohen lose his irons. Edwulf went wrong on the run in but a remarkable effort by Cheltenhams veterinary team including a police escort to the equine hospital saved Edwulf's life. The Close brothers novices handicap chase concluded the card. This race was run at a ferocious pace with many horses pulling up. The race went to Tully East for Alan Fleming and Dennis O'Regan who overcame trouble in running to run out a smooth winner by a length and a quarter from Gold Present with Two Taffs who came from a long way back for third, Powersbomb ran well in fourth. Bun Doran may have gone very close but for a mistake at the second last. Two Taff's was advised to our members 1pt each way at 16/1.
Wednesday, day two of the festival. A beautiful morning with the temperatures into the mid teens. The Neptune novice hurdle was first up . Neon Wolf was to go off favourite. This was to prove to be a tremendous race. Willoughby Court made all the running , Neon Wolf really pressed Willoughby Court from two out. Willoughby Court just kept finding on the run in, a slight peck from Neon Wolf when jumping the last cost a fraction. The overall impression for me was that the best horse won on the day in Willoughby Court. This was a pulsating contest with Neon Wolf losing nothing in defeat. Messire des obeaux ran a cracker in third despite a rough run in the race. Bacardys was badly interfered with in the fatal fall of Consul De Thaix, which also saw Mark Walsh miss the rest off the week. Messire des obeaux was advised to our members 1pt each way at (10/1) placed. The RSA was next up this was run at a blistering pace with Might Bite and Acapella Bourgeois stretching this field out all over Cheltenham. Might Bite saw off Acapella Bourgeois and going to the second last had a twelve length lead. Might Bite started to idle badly veering badly off to his right one furlong out coming to a stop. Whisper ceased the moment under Davy Russell surging to the lead. At that moment a loose horse crossed Might Bites eye line , Might Bite set off after the loose horse and got up on the line to deny Whisper. I reckon Might Bite only saw Whisper in the last twenty yards. It was a remarkable race and win. Bellshill plugged on for third with Alpha Des Obeaux fourth. The Coral Cup was up next, Supasundae took the race for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power. Taquin Du Seuil ran a blinder in second with Who Dares Wins and Monksland and Scoir Mear (the fifth place concession) filling out the places. Modus, Old Guard and Tin Soldier all ran good races in behind. Tombstone ran a shocker it was another dire moment for favourite backers.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase was the feature race with whole of Cheltenham ready to acclaim Douvan . As is often the case the script was torn up. Douvan ran no race at all and was subsequently found to have sustained a stress fracture in his pelvis. The race itself saw Special Tiara blaze along , jumping spectacularly. As they faced the last Special Tiara and Fox Norton fought out a tremendous battle. Special Tiara winning the day by a head over a very brave Fox Norton. Sir Valentino ran a cracker in third. Top Gamble and Gods Own should be spot on for spring targets now after this. Special Tiara deserved his turn in his fourth run in the race. Henry De Bromhead one of the games great men had a day to remember. The Cross Country was next up Cantlow went off 9/4 favourite however another JP McManus representative was to win the race. Cause Of Causes made it three wins in three years in three different races at the Cheltenham festival. Cause Of Causes came home nine lengths clear of Bless The Wings with a further one and a quarter lengths back to Cantlow who ran fine.Bless The Wings was advised 1pt each way at (14/1) to our members placed.
The Fred Winter always a real cavalry charge went to Flying Tiger for Richard Johnson and Nick Williams just holding off Divin Bere and Nietzsche by a neck and a neck. Project Bluebook was five lengths back in fourth. This was a race were many of the market leaders ran disappointing. Project Bluebook was advised to our members 2pts each way at (14/1) placed. The Bumper was the last race up on the day. It produced another remarkable finish as Fayonagh who got left at the start took the race. As the field turned for home Debuchet had kicked for home and looked like he would win. The whole time the eye was drawn to the red hat of Fayonagh who was staying on from a different postcode. As Debuchet entered the last furlong Fayonagh ran on through with a remarkable turn of foot to win by one and a quarter lengths . Of the others in behind Claimatakinforgan ran well in third. Next Destination became yet another perceived second string to outrun his better fancied stable mate Carter McKay who finished fifteenth . It was a remarkable result for our members as I had the 1-2. Fayonagh was advised to our members 1pt each way at 14/1 won the race. Debuchet was advised to our members 1pt each way at 12/1 placed.
Thursday, day three of the festival. As we faced into day, I felt personally the tide had turned for me after the last two races on Wednesday. The other team looking to turn the tide were Ruby Walsh an Willie Mullins who were remarkably looking for the first winner of the week. Yorkhill was my biggest bet of the meeting. I went down to the parade ring to look at him , I was happy with what I saw. The race saw a master class from Ruby Walsh as he switched Yorkhill off and and tried to settle his very enthusiastic partner. Balko Des Flos fell at the fourth last Yorkhill side stepped him neatly and it was game on. Yorkhill surged through on the inside two fences out , Top Notch missed the second last hitting it hard. Yorkhill and Ruby kicked on holding Top Notch by a length with Disko who ran a blinder three lengths back in third. Yorkhill had done it and the punters loved it. The result was a class one for me Yorkhill was advised to our members 5pts win at 6/4. Disko was advised to our members 1pt each way at 5/1. The performance from Ruby Walsh was one of genius and showed why Ruby is where he is. The next race up was the Pertemps. There had been much chat about Presenting Percy and his handicap mark in the build up to this race. It did not matter a jot as Presenting Percy powered away from Barney Dwan and Jury Duty who both ran blinders. Jury Duty traveled like a super horse again here. The Tourad Man ran on for fourth , with Sutton Manor grabbing the fifth place concession for many punters. The race was a great result for me personally. Presenting Percy was advised to our members 1pt each way 11/1. Jury duty was advised to our members 2pts each way at 10/1. It give me my second 1-2 in three races.
The Ryanair was next up it was to produce a brilliant equine performance. Un De Sceaux was very heavily backed all morning from 5/2 into 7/4. Un De Sceaux raced keenly early on in the race however Ruby Walsh took the bull by the horns and let Un De Sceaux stride on. This proved to be the winning of the race. Un De Sceaux produced a scintillating round of jumping. The pace Un De Sceaux went seemed to really get Empire Of Dirt out of his comfort zone . Empire Of Dirt was never a factor here in truth. Un De Sceaux finished one and a half lengths clear of Sub Lieutenant with Aso six lengths back in third. Sub Lieutenant was advised to our members 1pt each way at 8/1. I must admit even though I backed the second horse here. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of Un De Sceaux. The run of Uxizandre appeared to suggest a bounce factor here.The Stayers hurdle was up next. Unowhatimeanharry was many peoples idea of the banker of the meeting, it was not to be once again for favourite backers. Cole Harden took the field along at a tremendous pace. Lil Rockerfeller went to the front between the last two flights. Unowhatimeanharry moved up to challenge and had every chance at the last. Lil Rockerfeller moved on and was then challenged by Nichols Canyon who stayed on relentlessly to win by three parts of a length from Lil Rockerfeller for Willie Mulins and Ruby Walsh. Unowhatimeanharry finished third.Of the others Cole Harden finished fourth, Snow Falcon fifth. Jezki traveled into the race tanking , however he did not stay and completely emptied on the run to the last. Nichols Canyon winning his eight Grade one was a worthy winner on the day, he could easily comeback here and defend his crown in twelve months time.
The Brown advisory plate is always run at a tremendous pace this renewal was no different. The favourite Diamond King was pulled up early. Baron Alco took the field along a tremendous pace. Three fences out Road To Respect took it up and powered clear to win by six lengths from Baron Alco with Bouvreuil one an three parts of a length back in third. Thomas Crapper ran on for fourth with Starchitect grabbing fifth for the extra place concession. This race gave me a tremendous result. Road to respect was advised to our members 1pt each at 16/1. Baron Alco was advised to our members 1pt each way at 14/1 placed. Bouvreuil was advised to our members 1pt each way at 10/1 placed giving me a 1-2-3.The next race up was the Trull house Mares novice hurdle. This race turned out to be good news for favourite backers. The race went to Let's Dance under a ultra confident Ruby Walsh, giving himself and Willie Mullins a remarkable four timer. Barra took second running a brilliant race and Dusky Legend placed for the second season in succession in third. Airlie Beach ran disappointing , however it was Let's Dance day. The race was a great result for our members again. Let's dance was advised to our members 4pts win at 6/4. Barra was advised to our members 1pt each way at 12/1 placed. The finale of the day was the Kim Muir it went to Domesday Book at 40/1 who saw off Pendra by three parts of a length. Premier Bond ran on well for third , Potters Legend was up for fourth and Mall Dini grabbed the fifth place concession spot. The race was run at a ferocious pace again. The big gamble was on Squotateur for the second year in a row he failed to deliver falling four fences from home. Mall Dini advised to our members 2pts each way at 7/1 placed capping a great day for me personally. The day will never be forgotten for the way Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins lit the whole day up with a four timer.
Friday, day four of the festival and Gold Cup day. The opening race was the Triumph hurdle. It went in really impressive style to Defi Du Seuil who ran out a comfortable winner by five lengths from Mega Fortune with Bapaume in third.Ex Patriot was up for fourth with Landofhopeanglory and Charli Parcs ran ok in fifth in sixth. I must admit in the aftermath to having the feeling everyone including myself over complicated the race. Defi Du Seuil should have gone off much shorter then 5/2. The County hurdle was up next . Wakea set the gallop going fifteen lengths clear at one point . The petrol gauge ran out on the run to the last . It was left to Arctic Fire and L'ami Serge to fight out a pulsating finish . Arctic Fire winning the day by a neck. Ozzie The Oscar ran a cracker in third, Air Horse One was up for fourth with Winter Escape grabbing the fifth place concession for many punters. The favourite Ivanovich Gorbatov was sixth and never nearer. North Hill Harvey was never a factor.Air Horse One advised to our members 1pt each way at 12/1 placed. The next race up was the Albert Bartlett, once again punters left their brains at home and sent Death Duty off at 13/8 he never looked like collecting. The race went in impressive style to Penhill who went away for a very impressive success giving Paul Townend and Willie Mullins a double on the day. Monalee and Wholestone both ran excellent races in second and third with Constantine Bay up for fourth.Augusta Kate did not jump well enough and was sixth. Wholestone was advised to our members 2pts each way at 13/2 placed. Monalee was advised to our members 1pt each way at at 8/1 placed.
The feature race of the week the Gold Cup which was keenly anticipated. Djakadam went off favourite .Bristol De Mai and Native River took the field along. Djakadam pressed on three out having jumped like a cat all race. Sizing John followed Djakadam through in second as they entered the straight. Djakadam belted the second last , Sizing John ceased the initiative and set sail for home pursued by Djakadam and Native River. Sizing John powered clear to hold off the late charge of Minella Rocco who finished like a train for second. Native River was third and Djakadam was fourth in a great race. Saphir Du Rheu and More Of that ran with credit in fifth and sixth. Native River was advised to our members 2pts each way at 4/1 placed. The Gold Cup went to Jessica Harrington with her first runner in the race. Jessica Harrington is a trainer I have long admired, it was a great result for racing . Jessica Harrington is a women who does things on her terms and the way she sees best that is to be admired. Jessica Harrington is without a doubt one of the greatest trainers Ireland has ever seen, Jessies record in the UK is excellent. Jessica Harrington only runs horses in races she believes they can actually win. I for one was delighted for Jessica and also for long time jockey Robbie Power who is also excellent.
The Foxhunters was up next . The race was run at the usual mad gallop . It went to Pacha Du Polder for Paul Nicholls who saw of his stablemate Wonderful Charm by a neck , Barrel Of Laughs was third at 100/1. On The Fringe looking for a third win in the race could never really get into it and finished fourth. The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys hurdle was up next. It went to Champagne Classic for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown. Verni was up for second , Runfordave third and Coo Star Sivola fourth. No Comment and Battleford just were not good enough on the day. The win for Champagne Classic secured the trainers title for Gordon Elliott at the festival. Gordon Elliott is an incredible trainer, who very generously invited his mentor Martin Pipe to collect the trophy with him. The last race came around it was the Grand Annual. The punters steamed into Le Prezien who went off 7/2 it went west again for favourite backers. The race was run at a fierce pace it went to Rock The World who ran a blinder in this last year. Rock The World stayed on strongly to see off Gardefort by one and three parts of a length. Theinval was third with Dandridge running another cracker in this race fourth. Croco Bay grabbed the fifth place concession for many punters. I thought Calipto ran a very eye catching race in sixth. Dodging Bullets ran no race and was retired after the race. The race was an excellent race for myself . Rock The World advised to our members 1pt each way at 14/1. Dandridge was advised to our members 1pt each way at 8/1 placed. The end result was a 47.75 points profit for me at the festival. It was a festival to remember in every sense of the word. The racing was fantastic , with four new champions going forward for next season. The final score was 19 winners for Ireland a remarkable story, confirming that when we are going racing in Ireland it is the best of horses and jockeys we are seeing.
Saturday, we start at Uttoxeter where it was midlands national day. There was a treble for Richard Johnson on board Broughtons Rhythm, Atirelarigo and Flobury. There was a brilliant performance from American in the novices handicap chase as he stormed to an eight length victory for Harry Fry and Noel Fehily. American was advised to our members 3pts win at 5/2. Chase The Spud came with a late run to lift the staying honours in the Betfred Midlands Grand National seeing off Mysterre by a length and a half. At Kempton , Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville had a double with Days Of Heaven and and Cultivator. Brio Conti picked up Kempton consolation hurdle seeing off Divine Spear by three and a half lengths after missing Cheltenham cut. Divine Spear was advised to our members 1pt each way at 8/1. At Limerick, trainer Ray Hackett had a double with Tidy Zag and Crackerdancer
Sunday, we start at Navan were Gordon Elliott had a five timer . The horses were Monbeg Notorious , Chirico Vallis, Sanibel Island, A Toi Phil and Minellafodollars. At Limerick, Elliott made it six winners on the day with Double Scores winning the beginners chase. There was a double for Willie Mullins with Kate Appleby Shoes and Daisys Gift . Paul Townend rode both of these horses he completed a personal treble on Donegal Tuesday.