Day 4 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

Gold Cup Day!

Rain fell on the final day of The Festival changing the ground to soft/good to soft and most likely changing the outcome for many of the competitors.

Ruby Walsh took an early lead in the JCB Hurdle with Dicosimo by five or six lengths, but Peace And Co and Top Notch stepped up as they approached the last, with favourite Peace and Co taking the win at the very end.

The Vince O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle was taken by outsider Wicklow Brave, who came from nowhere at the end to romp home at 25/1. Noel Fehily took a fall on Roman Flight, but both horse and rider were ok.

Mortello Tower just managed to hold on to his lead in the Albert Bartlett, with the team at Dan Skelton Racing (a favourite of Duralock) coming in 5th with the hotly tipped Value At Risk.

The hugely anticipated Gold Cup did not disappoint. Coneygree was first out and managed to fend off some serious competition throughout. Ending in an exciting three way sprint and becoming the first novice to win The Gold Cup since 1974!

The Foxhunters, had a false start, an aborted second start and a messy standing start before they finally got underway. On The Fringe, ridden by female jockey Nina Carberry, opened up a massive lead before winning by a street from Following Dreams.

The Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle was no less dramatic, starting smoothly, Bulgarry took a crashing fall at the second flight and the race ended with Killutagh Vic pronounced winner in a photo finish with Noble Endeavour.

The final race of the festival and Tony McCoy’s last at Cheltenham was The Grand Annual Chase. After a well fought battle, hampered by a fall from Dresden, he handed the trophy to the winner to a rapturous applause from the crowd. Maybe not the fairytale ending most people had hoped for, but he can certainly look back on the week with pride.

Two men who definitely can, are Champion Trainer Willie Mullins, who trained a record eight winners and Champion Jockey Ruby Walsh who rode four winners over the four day festival.

Festival over, we can all relax a little bit over the weekend and catch up on who’s in and out of pocket… until the Grand National!

Tony McCoy with Tom Scudamore, who rode the winner of the A P McCoy Grand Annual Chase at Cheltenham

Day 3 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

St Patrick’s Thursday.

Day three was another mixed bag for punters, in the first race the well backed favourite Vautour easily won the JLT Novices Chase by 15 lengths. Regal Encore and Tony McCoy were favourites in the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle but were beaten into third; Unique De Cotte looked to be striding on to win before being beaten up the hill by third favourite Call The Cops.

The Ryannair Chase saw Uxizandre, one of the lesser fancied of Tony McCoy’s Cheltenham rides at 16-1, finally provide him with his first winner in his last Festival.

The World Hurdle was a one horse race taken by Cole Harden who led the entire way.

The Brown Advisory and Meribelle plate proved to be the most exciting of the day. With 20 runners and a false start, Kings Lad ploughed through the first fence causing Daryl Jacob to lose his reins and end up off course. Champion Court and Make A Track battled it out in front with Hollow Penny in third. Outsider, Darna stormed the win right at the end coming in at a massive 33-1!

In the final race of day three, The Kim Muir Challenge, Standing Ovation lead over the first fence, with the favourite Champagne James in last. Sixty Something fell when going for home and bought down three others, leaving The Package in front, a £10,000 horse who at 12 years old pulled clear to win at a canter!

McCoy McCoy-563578

 

Day 2 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

Ladies Day.

With Tuesday being labelled as ‘favourites day’, Wednesday was a mixed bag. Windsor Park took the first race with the favourite Nichols Canyon in third. Don Poli ran an awesome race in the RSA Chase to finish first, appearing to idle the whole way up the straight and then pricking up his ears, dropping down a gear and storming to the finish. Aux Ptits Soins and Zabana pushed the favourite to third in The Coral Cup.

Dodging Bullets won the big race of the day, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, netting one brave punter £1/4million on a £50,000 bet at 5/1! The expected battle between Sire De Grugy and Sprinter Sacre never materialised as Sprinter Sacre was pulled up, trainer Nicky Henderson revealed he had been sent to be scoped by the vet and there has been no indication about retirement.

Rivage d’Or won the Cross Country, but the big story happened before the finish as Quantativeeasing and Toutancarmont crashed through the (Duralock) barriers and knocked down a photographer. This video shows how the racerail acts exactly as designed, separating without splintering or shattering and helping steer the horses to stay close to the course: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/racing/article-2990069/Cross-Country-carnage-Toutancarmont-Quantitativeeasing-crash-barriers-knock-photographer.html#v-4105254140001

Qualando won the Fred Winter at 25/1 with the favourite Moon Racer taking the Champion Bumper.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Wrynne, a milliner from Leitrim in West Ireland was crowned best dressed in a hat she designed and made herself.

Chelt 2015 XC 1 Chelt 2015 XC hats

 

Day 1 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

The roar!

The excitement at the start of the festival that has been heralded the Olympics of horseracing, is captured beautifully here by former Grand National winning jockey Marcus Armytage, writing for Betfair:

“At 1.30pm in the natural amphitheatre below Cleeve Hill, a roar will ring out across the north-eastern corner of Cheltenham that signals the start of the 2015 National Hunt Festival; four days, 27 races, Britain versus Ireland, punter versus bookmaker, the retiring A P McCoy against Ruby Walsh …” 

It looked to be Walsh’s day with a win in the first race, the Sky Bet Supreme Novice Hurdle on Douvan (and a win for the punter that placed £20k on him!). Followed up by a win in the Arkle on Un De Sceaux and to the cries of ‘Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby’ Faugheen wins the Stan James Champion Hurdle. The bookies were panicking, Twitter was alive with speculation on the massive losses about to be made as the fourth favourite Annie Power looked all set to take the win in the Mares Hurdle, jumping well and tucked in on the nearside, second to last she took the lead and on the final hurdle… disaster! Today’s photos look as if she jumped the shadow and landed too early, either way Ruby and Annie were out of the race and it was a photo finish with Glens Melody taking first. Everyone (especially the bookies) breathed a sigh of relief as it was confirmed that all involved were well. Cause of Causes wins the Toby Balding and the last race of the day is won by Irish Cavalier.

An exhilarating start to what is truly the greatest show on turf!

Annie P