Saturday, 11 May 2019

Cheltenham Festival – ‘Championship’ Races 2015

cheltenham festival 2015
Champion Hurdle

The 2015 Champion Hurdle featured an historic achievement by trainer Willie Mullins, who saddled Faugheen, Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly to fill the first three places. Faugheen, ridden by Ruby Walsh, justified favouritism, at 4/5, keeping on well to beat Arctic Fire – the outsider of the Mullins’ trio at 20/1 – by 1½ lengths, with previous dual winner Hurricane Fly 5 lengths back in third.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

Defending champion Sire De Grugy, 2013 winner Sprinter Sacre and 2011 winner Sizing Europe all lined up for the 2015 renewal, with Sprinter Sacre – who’d been beaten 3 lengths by Dodging Bullets in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on his first run for over a year – sent off 9/4 favourite to make up for lost time. However, it was Dodging Bullets who prevailed once again, asserting close home to beat Somersby and Special Tiara by 1¼ lengths and 1¾ lengths. Sprinter Sacre was pulled up before the final fence after a shortlived effort coming down the hill.

Stayers’ Hurdle

The Stayers’ Hurdle, run, for the last time, as the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, featured 16 runners and looked a wide open affair on paper, with bookmakers betting 5/1 the field at the off. The race was won by Cole Harden, trained by Warren Greatrex and ridden by Gavin Sheehan, who made all the running and stayed on strongly up the hill to win by 3¼ lengths. The Paul Nicholls-trained pair Saphir Du Rheu and Zarkandar finished second and third, respectively.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

The 8-year-old Coneygree, having just his fourth start over fences, made all the running and stayed on gamely to beat Djakadam by 1½ lengths, with Road To Riches 2 lengths further back in third. Trained by Mark Bradstock and ridden by Nico De Boinville started joint second favourite, at 7/1, despite his inexperience, to become the first novice since Captain Christy, in 1974, to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Favourite Silviniaco Conti was beaten coming down the hill for the final time and trailed in seventh of the 11 finishers, beaten 27 lengths.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Cheltenham Festival – ‘Championship’ Races 2014

cheltenham festival 2014
Champion Hurdle

Hurricane Fly, the winner in 2011 and 2013, started 11/4 favourite to complete a hat-trick at the age of ten but, while he travelled well for much of the way, but proved vulnerable to younger legs in the closing stages. The finish was dominated by horses owned by John P. McManus, with Jezki, trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Barry Geraghty, edging out My Tent Or Yours, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by A.P. McCoy, by a neck. The race was overshadowed by the death of Our Conor, who was humanely euthanised after injuring his back when falling at the third flight.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

In the absence of reigning champion Sprinter Sacre, sidelined with an irregular heartbeat, 11/4 favourite Sire De Grugy, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by his son, Jamie, ran out a comfortable 6-length winner from Somersby, with the fast-finishing Module just a neck behind in third. Second favourite Captain Conan was never travelling after a slow jump at the fifth fence and was pulled up lame two fences later.

Stayers’ Hurdle

Four-time winner Big Buck’s, who’d missed the whole of 2013, was back, as an 11-year-old, for one “last hurrah”, but could do no better than fifth, beaten 13½ lengths, behind the winner, More Of That, and was promptly retired. Annie Power finished second, beaten 1½ lengths, and At Fishers Cross – owned, like the winner, by J.P. McManus – third, beaten a further 6 lengths.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

The 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup produced a thrilling finish, with less than 2 lengths covering the first four home and the winner, Lord Windermere, having to survive a stewards’ inquiry. The 20/1 outsider, trained by Jim Culloty and ridden by Davy Russell, hung badly right in the closing stages, impeding runner-up On His Own, who was only a short head behind at the line. The Giant Bolster finished third, just three-quarters of length further behind. Jim Culloty, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times as a jockey on Best Mate, became one of just a handful of men to have ridden and trained a winner of the race.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Cheltenham Festival – ‘Championship’ Races 2013

cheltenham festival 2013
Champion Hurdle

Hurricane Fly was beaten fair and square by Rock On Ruby in 2012 but, back on his favoured soft ground, the 2011 winner reversed the form with his old rival, to the tune of 7½ lengths, running on strongly in the closing stages. In so doing, he became the first horse since Comedy Of Errors in 1975 to regain the hurdling crown.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

The 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase revolved around just one horse, Sprinter Sacre, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty, who started the shortest-priced favourite, at 1/4, since Flyingbolt in 1966. The 7-year-old laughed at the opposition, effortlessly drawing away in the closing stages, still on the bridle, to beat 2011 winner Sizing Europe by 19 lengths.

Stayers’ Hurdle

If ever a race highlighted the talents of jockey Paul Carberry, it was the 2013 Stayers’ Hurdle. In the absence of four-time winner Big Buck’s, sidelined with a leg injury, Carberry rode the perfect waiting race on Solwhit who, himself, had been off the course for almost two years before returning to action at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve. Once produced at the last, Solwhit had too many guns for 40/1 outsider Celestial Halo and was driven out to win by 2½ lengths at odds of 17/2. Smad Place, third in 2012, was third again, beaten a further 3 lengths. Favourite Oscar Whisky ran no sort of race and was tailed off when pulled up before the final flight.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

The 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup featured just nine runners – the smallest field for 21 years – but that shouldn’t detract from the performance of 11/4 favourite, Bobs Worth, who finished strongly to beat Sir Des Champs by 7 lengths, with 2011 winner Long Run 4 lengths away in third. The winner, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty, was recording his third consecutive victory at the Cheltenham Festival, having won the RSA Chase in 2012 and the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2011.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Cheltenham: The Festival and the Facts

It seems like it was only yesterday that we were caught up in the thrill of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, which experienced record breaking crowds of over a quarter of a million over the four day festival (with 70 thousand+ on Gold Cup day alone). With a Gold Cup win from the Colin Tizzard trained Native River, and odds on shot Buveur D'Air in the Champion Hurdle, there was plenty of excitement to appreciate for fans of top drawer racing.

Without a doubt the Cheltenham Roar will be of equal or higher volume during the 2019 Cheltenham Festival (starting March 12th), where the cream of the crop of racing talent will once again go head to head to see who's going to be this year's history makers. We're sure you'll be be tuning in for this unmissble four day festival and most likely having a flutter too (and who can blame you!). We'll be checking out Cheltenham tips from the experts at closer to the Festival start date and highlighting ones to watch. Current favourite for the showpiece event, the Gold Cup, is Presenting Percy at 3-1 (Native River is 5-1).

Ten Cheltenham Festival Facts

- The fastest Gold Cup victory was in 2011, when Long Run completed the course in just 6 minutes 29 seconds. Native River took 7 mins 2 seconds in 2018.

- Last year's total Cheltenham prize money was a mind boggling £4,590,000. Over £1,000,000 each day for the first time

- The Festival is said to be worth around £100,000,000 to the Gloucestershire community

- Prize money for the Cheltenham Gold Cup alone in 2018 was £625,000, up from £575,000 the previous year

- The Cheltenham Gold Cup was first run in 1924 where prize money was just £700

- Only seven horses have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup more than once, with Golden Miller winning the race a stunning 5 times in a row

- Dawn Run holds the honour of being the only horse ever to have won both the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup.

- The most successful trainer at the event is Tim Dreaoer with five Gold Cup wins on three horses (Prince Regent, Arkle and Fort Leney).

- The 2001 Foot and Mouth disease was the only non war related reason the Cheltenham Festival has ever been called off.

- A stand out jockey achievement at the Festival occurred in 2009 when Ruby Walsh rode seven winners over the course of the four days