Tuesday 9 April 2019

Cheltenham Festival – ‘Championship’ Races 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.

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