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Welcome to arseonlineracings Cheltenham Festival review of the 2019 meeting, held at Prestbury Park…..

Where do we start? Bryony & Frodon? Espoir D’allen? Tiger Roll? Paisley Park? Willie Mullins breaking his Gold Cup hoodoo? The Stewards handing out bans galore? The false starts??

So many stories, from the opening day roar, that was even more raucous due to the false start….
The festival kicked off in the usual way with Willie Mullins & Ruby Walsh landing the opener with Klassical Dream, Willie was again in the winners enclosure when teaming up with Paul Townend to land the Arkle Chase with Duc Des Genievres… Two from two for the Irish champion trainer…. The Ultima went the way of last seasons UK champion trainer Nicky Henderson, when Beware the Bear took the spoils with a fine ride from the underrated Jerry McGrath….

The feature race of the first day, the Champion Hurdle was landed by the Irish… Not by one of the main threats, with the race in full flow Buveur D’Air fell when moving through the field, Apple’s Jade failed to fire and fellow mare Laurina started to fade. It was left to Espoir D’Allen to take the title back to Ireland under a fine ride from Mark Walsh and for trainer Gavin Cromwell..

The Mares Hurdle title went to Roksana for Dan & Harry Skelton, with Rachael Blackmore landing the Close Brothers Chase on A Plus Tard.

The final race of day one was the Challenge Amateur Riders’ Novice Chase, which was won by Jamie Codd or the Codd father as he is known in Ireland. Jamie Codd has won a race at the last few festivals and is one of, if not the best Amateur jockey around…. The race is run over almost 4 miles and sadly resulted in only 4 runners finishing. The stewards deemed that some of the jockeys deserved bans…

We also had a few false starts thrown in to boot… Day one done….

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DAY TWO…..

Day two started with the Ballymore Novice Hurdle, Battleoverdoyen going off as favourite… Sadly he was pulled up but we were served up a treat as City Island battled it out with Champ and City Island landing the spoils, which saw Mark Walsh enter the winners enclosure for the second time in as many days…

Paul Nicholls failed to land a winner on day one but soon made up for that when taking the RSA Novices’ Chase with Topofthegame as he out battled Santini and Favourite Delta Work on the run to take the Grade 1….

The Coral Handicap Chase went to Nicky Henderson, in some what was a shock… William Henry took to the winners enclosure accompanied by jockey Nico De Boinville and Nico was soon to be taking the cheers of the crowd again very soon…

The feature race of day two was the Queen Mother Champion Chase… Altior was looking to make it 18 wins on the bounce and the 4/11 favourite duly obliged, despite having to dig deep with the challenge coming from Politolgue and Sceau Royal, in what was a thrilling finish up the hill and it was Altior, who took in the acclaim from the crowd…

Grand National winner Tiger Roll was next on the star studded bill on day two and boy did he deliver… Taking the Cross Country chase by storm and, pardon the pun, winning by a country mile as he stormed away from the field. A stunning performance from the tiny fella and the Tiger goes to Aintree, looking to become the first horse since Red Rum to retain the Grand National…..

The Joseph O’Brien trained Band of Outlaws took the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle, to add another graded race to his spoils from the flat, with JJ Slevin giving the favourite a smart ride…

The Finale of day two was the Champion Bumper(NH flat race) and saw Jamie Codd in the winners enclosure once again, when landing the bumper on Envoi Allen, the 2/1 favourite, who won with ease…

 

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DAY THREE….

The opening race of festival Thursday started with the JLT Novices’ Chase and went the way of favourite Defi Du Seuil and Barry Geraghty after out battling Lostintranslation up the hill, the pair went into the race with one win a piece against each other and it was the JP McManus owned Defi Du Seuil got the better of Colin Tizzards charge…

JP soon had another winner as Sire Du Berlais and Barry Geraghty took the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle from Tobefair, who ran a fantastic race for his connections…

The Ryanair Chase was next on the bill… With some big names in the field, Un De Sceaux, Monalee, Sub Lieutenant and Frodon… Aso had finished in the places last season and headed along with Frodon as the front two set about leading the high class field… The front two galloped and duelled all the way, Frodon was headed on the run but rallied under jockey Bryony Frost to land the Grade 1 and another winner for Paul Nicholls in his quest for the champion trainer title this season…..

The feature was the Stayers Hurdle, with hot favourite Paisley Park stepping up in class and taking on a field which included Faugheen, Yanworth and Supasundae. Paisley Park looked beaten at 2 furlongs out and somehow, under a fantastic ride from Aidan Coleman charged up the hill to take the crown in impressive style. It was all the more impressive knowing that Paisley Park almost lost his life due to illness a couple of years ago….. It was also Aidan Colemans first Grade 1 win!

Siruh Du Lac took the Brown Advisory Handicap Hurdle from 3/1 favourite Janika. Siruh was given a fine front running ride by the underrated Lizzy Kelly, another Graded winner for the jockey as the Grade 1 win still eludes her, but it’s probably not too far away….

The Mares’ Novice Hurdle threw up a shock, with a 50/1 winner, but that wasn’t the only shock… Noel Fehily led the applause as they headed to the winners enclosure and dropped the bombshell, that he was to retire from the plate in the next few weeks….

Derek O’Conner took the final race of the day, when guiding Any Second Now to victory in the Kim Muir Amateur Riders Challenge Cup…

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GOLD CUP DAY….

The final days opening race, the JCB Triumph Hurdle was delayed due to a re shoeing  issue to one of the runners, the race started and the market principles all jostled for position… The race was won by Pentland Hills for Nicky Henderson & Nico De Boinville but was marred by an injury to Favourite Sir Erec during the race…..

The County Handicap Hurdle was won by Dan & Harry Skelton, when Ch’tibello landed the spoils from We have Dream. Another nice winner for the underrated Skelton team.

But the biggest shock of the final day was just around the corner…

The Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle… Favourite Commander of the Fleet was beaten into 2nd by 50/1 shot Minella Indo, whose jockey Rachael Blackmore landed her second win of the meeting…

Next up was the race all the crowd had all come to see The Gold Cup… With Presenting Percy yet to jump a fence in anger and going off 3/1 favourite for the trophy and reigning champion Native River looking to retain his crown won in a duel with Might Bite 12 months ago, we were set for a real treat…..

The roar of the crowd could be heard for miles as the starter lowered his flag to let the race begin… Presenting Percy settled near the rear, while Native River was slow into stride and looking for rhythm for a fair while before finally getting going… Kemboy unseated his rider on the flat and when Invitation Only fell, he brought down Definitly Red and slightly hampered Thistlecrack… Native River got to the front with last seasons runner up Might Bite, but the latter was pulled up… Al Boum Photo was stalking the pace with Clan Des Obeaux and they were soon joined by Bristol De Mai… Paul Townends mount Al Boum Photo got to the front, flew over the last, chased by runner up Anibale Fly and 3rd Bristol De Mai and up the hill to give Willie Mullins his first ever Gold Cup and Paul Townend, who has been with the yard since he was a teenager the biggest win of his career….

Mr Alex Edwards landed the Foxhunters Challenge Cup with a fine ride on favourite Hazel Hill, who extended the unbeaten run, with Shantou Flyer finishing runner-up and placing at the meeting yet again…

The Grand Annual Challenge Cup threw up a shock, with 66/1 outsider Croco Bay, a veteran in years taking the prize under the guidance of Kielan Woods, to land him a first festival win with Bun Doran  finishing in second…

With the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ handicap Hurdle closing the meeting. With Early Doors taking the final race of the festival for jockey Jonjo O’Neill Jr, who’s father Jonjo O’Neill Senior, a former jockey landing the Gold Cup some 25 years or more before and giving Junior his first festival win, beating favourite Dallas Des Pictons up the Cheltenham hill….

The highlights of the 4 days were….

Gavin Cromwell landing the Champion Hurdle…

Bryony & Frodon, what a combination…

Jamie Codd adding more Cheltenham wins to his name..

Altior & the reception he got in the winners enclosure…

Tiger Roll, a genuine champion…

Rachael Blackmore, a fantastic jockey & champion jockey in waiting…

Paul Townend winning the Gold Cup…

The Low Points…

Losing 3 is too many….

The Stewards…

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We would like to thank ALL the Stable staff for working so hard and looking after the horses, the owners, the trainers & the jockeys for making this Cheltenham Festival a fantastic success… 

We would like to send our condolences to all connections of the 3 that didn’t make it home.. 

Finally, to our guest bloggers for taking the time to help us through the 4 days and last but not least our readers, for taking the time to visit our site…. 

ALL CHELTENHAM PHOTOS COURTESY OF FRAN ALTOFT PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

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