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Thursday, 22 August 2019

Cheltenham Festival – ‘Championship’ Races 2018


2018 cheltenham gold cup
Champion Hurdle

Reigning champion Buveir D’Air, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty, started 4/6 favourite to retain his title, but had to work hard to do so, eventually edging out Melon by a neck in a driving finish. Mick Jazz, a 25/1 outsider, finished third beaten a further 3 lengths, but 2015 winner, and 4/1 second favourite, Faugheen, faded between the last two flights to finish sixth of the nine finishers.



Queen Mother Champion Chase



Altior, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville, was sent off even money favourite to win his thirteenth race in a row and did so in no uncertain terms, forging clear for an impressive 7-length win over Min. God’s Own, a 40/1 outsider, rallied to take third, a further 11 lengths away. Douvan, third favourite at 9/2, was still travelling well when falling at the fourth last fence.



Stayers’ Hurdle



Penhill, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townend was returning from a 323-day break, but that didn’t stop the 12/1 chance from winning by 2 lengths, going. Compatriot Supersundae finished second, while Wholestone fared best of the domestic contenders, staying on to take third, 3 lengths further behind. Favourite Sam Spinner could only keep on at one pace to finish fifth, 6¼ lengths behind the winner.



Cheltenham Gold Cup



The 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup had long been billed as a match between King George VI Chase winner, Might Bite, and the previous year’s third, Native River, although late support for Our Duke forced Native River out to 5/1 third favourite at the off. Native River and Might Bite did, indeed, dominate proceedings, with the former making all the running and outstaying the 4/1 favourite in the closing stages to win by 4½ lengths. Anibale Fly, unconsidered at 33/1, plugged on into a never-threatening third, a further 4 lengths away. Our Duke was never travelling after making two mistakes in mid-race and was pulled up at the top of the hill on the final circuit.




Thursday, 18 July 2019

Cheltenham Festival – ‘Championship’ Races 2017


queen mothers champions chase 2017
Champion Hurdle



The 2017 Champion Hurdle featured a 1-2 for trainer Nicky Henderson and owner John P. McManus, with 5/1 second favourite Buveir D’Air drawing clear in the closing stages to beat 16/1 chance My Tent Or Yours – who was finishing second for the third time – by 4½ lengths. Petit Mouchoir kept on at one pace to finish third, a further 3 lengths away, while favourite Yanworth finished a never dangerous seventh, only to be disqualified later after a banned substance was found in his system.



Queen Mother Champion Chase



Douvan, unbeaten in 13 starts over hurdles and fences since joining Willie Mullins and already twice a winner at the Cheltenham Festival, was sent off at prohibitive odds of 2/9 to complete what appeared, at least on paper, to be an easy task. However, the 7-year-old found little in the closing stages, trailing in seventh of the nine finishers and was found to be lame after the race. Special Tiara, third in 2015 and 2016, took advantage, holding on, all out, to beat Fox Norton by a head, with Sir Valentino 6 lengths away in third.



Stayers’ Hurdle



The 2017 Stayers’ Hurdle, sponsored by Sun Bets and reverting to the title by which it was known from 1972 onwards, produced a shock result. Unowhatimeanharry, trained by Harry Fry and ridden by Noel Fehily, had won 8-8 over hurdles since joining the Dorset handler and was sent off hot favourite, at 5/6, to maintain his unbeaten record for the yard. The 9-year-old held every chance jumping the last flight, but could find no extra in the closing stages and finish third, beaten 4¼ lengths. Nichols Canyon, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh, eventually prevailed, by three-quarters of a length, from gallant runner-up Lil Rockerfeller.



Cheltenham Gold Cup



Djakadam, runner-up in 2015 and 2016, started 3/1 favourite to win the Cheltenham showpiece but, having travelled well for most of the way, made a mistake at the second last when just in the lead, faded on the run-in to finish fourth, beaten 3¼ lengths. Meanwhile, Sizing John, trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Robbie Power powered home to beat Minella Rocco by 2¾ lengths, with second favourite Native River a further short head behind in third. Cue Card fell at the third last fence for the second year in a row.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Cheltenham Festival – ‘Championship’ Races 2016

cheltenham festival stayers hurlde 2016
Champion Hurdle

 
In the absence of defending champion Faugheen, sidelined by injury, the 8-year-old mare Annie Power, also owned by Susannah Ricci, was supplemented for the race at a cost of £20,000 to connections. The move proved a shrewd one, because Annie Power started 5/2 favourite and, having made most of the running, drew clear in the closing stages to beat My Tent Or Yours by 4½ lengths. Nichols Canyon, trained, like the winner, by Willie Mullins, finished a head back in third.


Queen Mother Champion Chase



Sprinter Sacre, a dominant winner of the race in 2013, but pulled-up in 2015 after missing the whole of 2014, returned to something like his best with a convincing 3½-length win over odds-on favourite Un De Sceaux. Special Tiara finished third, just a further head away, but previous winners Dodging Bullets and Sire De Grugy were never really involved in the race and finished seventh and eighth respectably.



Stayers’ Hurdle



Thistlecrack, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Tom Scudamore, was all the rage on his first appearance in the World Hurdle, newly sponsored by Ryanair, starting even money favourite. The market confidence wasn’t misplaced, with the 8-year-old taking the lead, while still on the bit, at the second last and drawing away in the closing stages to win, impressively, by 7 lengths. Alpha Des Obeaux finished second and Bobs Worth third, a further 22 lengths away, but neither held even the remotest chance of beating the effortless winner.



Cheltenham Gold Cup



Cue Card, chasing a £1 million bonus after winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the King George VI Chase at Kempton, had just taken the lead when crashing out at the third last fence. Favourite Don Cossack and Djakadam, runner-up in 2015, were left to fight out the finish and it was the former, trained by Gordon Elliot and ridden by Bryan Copper, who took command at the final fence and was pushed out to win by 4½ lengths.





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.