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Cheltenham Day Two Tips – Altior takes Champion Chase crown

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Cheltenham Day Two tips

Punters went into Wednesday with profits in their pockets and looking to land another body blow on the bookies. If they had learned anything it was to oppose the market in the biggest races.

Cheltenham Day 2 Tips & Results

TimeRaceWinner
13:30Ballymore Novices HurdleCity Island 8/1
14:10RSA ChaseTopofthegame 4/1
14:50Coral CupWilliam Henry 28/1
15:30Queen Mother Champion ChaseAltior 4/11
16:10Glenfarclas ChaseTiger Roll 5/4
16:50Juvenile Handicap HurdleBand of Outlaws 7/2
17:30Champion BumperEnvoi Allen 2/1

Cheltenham Festival Day Two Wednesday

Wednesday 13 March brought us many more delights with another seven-race card headlined by the Queen Mother Champion Chase, one we had all been looking forward to in the build-up.

As well as the bill-topper, day two served up a host of Grade 1 contests,including the Ballymore Novices Hurdle which brought the curtain up and the RSA Novices Chase.

Plenty to get through and the results of the previous day suggested making a profit would be like shooting fish in a barrel, but the sport of gentleman rarely goes to plan and, as experienced backers, we know bookmakers don’t like to make things easy for us.

Lets peel back the results and look at the winners and losers on day two at Prestbury Park.

13:30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle

Day two picked up where day one left off – the Ballymore resulting in yet another beaten favourite and a punter friendly winner.

City Island was included in a 16-runner pack that went into this renewal and traders attached an 8/1 price tag to Barssil’s competitor, suggesting it stood a decent chance of grabbing a place but looked up against it if wanting to claim a spot in the history books.

Following a 2m 5f battle on improving ground, the six-year-old gelding proved his doubters wrong when scooting home to win by two lengths ahead of runner-up Champ at 9/2 with Bright Forecast completing the top-three for Pauling and de Boinville off an SP 25/1, a further s 2 lengths off the pace, staying on doggedly without ever troubling the winner.

City Island’s win was made all the more impressive by the fact he encountered his fair share of traffic and trouble along the way, finding racing room difficult to come by when trying to lay down a challenge, before being untimely hampered three from home.

When he did get the space needed and Walsh kicked him on, there only ever looked to be one winner.

Battleoverdoyen went to post as the race favourite but Gordon Elliott’s runner failed to complete the trip when being pulled up by Kennedy after weakening through the field. Something was obviously not right, and he was saved from inflicting any further damage.

A dozen of the original 16 finished, the fav joined by Beakstown, Castlebawn West, and Dunvegan.

Ballymore Novices Hurdle Result:

  • 1st City Island 8/1
  • 2nd Champ 9/2
  • 3rd Bright Forecast 25/1

14:10 RSA Insurance Novices Chase

The popular Grade 1 was decided over the three-mile trip and with the sun shining and the ground drying marked as good to soft in places we had all the ingredients for a spectacular renewal of this race. All we needed was the entrants to play their part to ensure the contest lived up to the hype and we’re glad to say they all did their bit, and then some.

A dozen runner list was headed by Delta Work in the betting and Gordon Elliot’s hope was sent off as one of the shortest prices of the week at 15/8, but it was another that failed to do the business and the small number of players still placing their trust in the betting once again had their fingers burnt.

Russell sat on the jolly and the pair didn’t do a lot wrong, leading the field three from home but they were passed at the business end of the contest and eventually done for speed.

Delta Work had a few bumps and scrapes in the closing stages, but he stayed on at the one pace, lacking the change of gear needed and that meant he finished in third, with nothing challenging in behind, fourth placed Mister Malarky 16 lengths away in eth distance.

That left Topofthegame and Santini in a two-way battle for the prize and it was the former who came good, scoring by a length in a gripping run-in. Paul Nicholls’ star landed backers a 4/1 gamble and we saw flashes of his grit and determination to stick is head in front. Henderson’s Santini wasn’t disgraced in defeat, jockey Nico de Boinville held by the narrowest of margins.

Three horses were pulled-up, On The Blind Side, The World’s End and 100/1 poke Drinks Interval but they were expected to challenge. Sean Quinlan had hoped Top Ville Ben would fare better than his 33/1 price and he was prominent, before falling at the sixth obstacle.

RSA Chase Result:

  • 1st Topofthegame 4/1
  • 2nd Santini 3/1
  • 3rd Delta Work 15/8

14:40 Coral Cup

Not in the same league as the two that went before it on Wednesday, the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle is a Grade 3 race over 2m 5f, but fans really do seem to value this one and that’s down to the big fields and value in the betting, with the antepost and pre-race market often wide-open.

It’s one that sees bookies price up their thoughts, leaving plenty of room for manoeuvre, before sitting back and letting punters have their say. That’s music to the ears of backers who enjoy taking advantage of any indecision on the trading floors.

In the end, the winner was a fair reflection of just how competitive this race is, with William Henry banking the £56,000 prize money for connections, while supporters saw their betting balances swell with the proceeds from a 28/1 winner.

The champion was impressive, no doubt about that, but he was made to work every inch of the way for his prize, eventually crossing the line a short-head better than Wicklow Brave in second, a 28/1 play himself.

A stunning battle to the line, William Henry was delivered to perfection by Nico de Boinville, hitting the front and staying on strongly when push came to shove, leaving rival Wicklow Brave with a bitter feel of what could have been.

Connections found it a hard pill to swallow but they know their runner performed admirably and will come on for the experience.

Ballyandy was third at 14/1 in a bunch finish, ending a length behind the first two for the Twiston-Davies team. Where was the favourite? Nowhere to be seen, again, but it’s difficult to be too hard on 13/2 shot Uradel as he headed what was a fiercely competitive betting market.

Despite being trained by Willie Mullins and having Ruby Walsh in the saddle, backers got no better than seventh for their stake money. 16/1 shot Erik Le Rouge was one of six who failed to finish.

Coral Cup Result:

  • 1st William Henry 28/1
  • 2nd Wicklow Brave 28/1
  • 3rd Ballyandy 14/1

15:30 Champion Chase

Race of the day went to post at 3.30pm with a snappy nine-runner field printed in the programme.

With over £225,000 paid to the winner, it was no major shock to see the sport’s biggest names in attendance, including Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls, Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty.

We had to wait until race six for the first winning favourite on Tuesday but leg four gave us a champion jolly on Wednesday, and what a champion it was.

The 2019 Queen Mother Champion Chase Grade 1 over 1m 7f was won by Altior who had dominated the antepost betting of this race and a few others at the festival. It wasn’t immediately clear which contest he would run in, but handlers picked this out as his best chance of landing the winner’s cheque and that proved to be spot-on.

Sent off a 4/11 shot and talked about like he had the race wrapped up before a stride was made, the victor certainly didn’t disappoint. Altior is a well-bred runner who seems to get better with every outing.

He has experience in some of the most important races and just oozed class on the day. It’s not often we see a favourite win this race as easily as Altior did, but he strolled across the line king of the day, making headlines in every major sports publication and website.

Nico De Boinville sat proudly in the saddle of this machine and had to settle his nerves after a few iffy jumps in the early part of the race, but once Altior hit his stride there really was going to be only one outcome.

Known for his guts as well as his ability, the eventual winner had a fight on his hands in the final few furlongs and was briefly headed by runner-up Politologue, but he stayed on well, showcasing his speed to pop back in front when it mattered.

Politologue ended just shy of two lengths behind the winner who seemed to be running away from him at the finish, but he came out of the day with credit and will win his share of big races next season.

Sceau Royal made up the top three when 1 behind, but six better than Hells Kitchen back in fourth. Altior joined an exclusive list of winners who have tasted glory in this steeplechase, with the history stretching all the way back to 1959.

Quita Que was entered into the history books as the first winner, with Altior doing the business in each of the last two years. Will he be aimed at the hat-trick?

The most successful horse in this race over the years has been the famous Badsworth Boy who was victorious in 1983, 1984 and 1985. Altior to match that in 2018, 2019 and 2020? You’ll find early betting at major bookmakers on him achieving what would be a remarkable feat.

Champion Hurdle Result:

  • 1st Altior 4/11
  • 2nd Politologue 11/1
  • 3rd Sceau Royal 16/1

16:10 Glenfarclas Chase

The cross country chase may be one for the sport’s purists but bookmakersm did their bit by going up early with an antepost book and offering value to those who wanted to spice up the 3m 6f slog with an interest on the outcome.

Tiger Roll coming off the back of last year’s Grand National success and a few weeks before we was to go on to make history for two-in-a-row at Aintree was the obvious favourite and it’s fair to say he lived up to the billing.

Gordon Elliott has a real horse for the ages here and he would’ve known that before the 2018 Grand National.

With the public now aware of what to expect from Tiger Roll the majority of the early money came for him winning at Prestbury Park, as well as plenty more of the day.

After an engrossing contest, the horse entrusted to the capable hands of Donoghue was declared champion by an almost unbelievable 22 lengths.

Keeping this result in mind, we can’t say we weren’t warned his Aintree success was in the pipeline and one group who certainly took note was bookmakers who had him priced at 5/4 to win the Cross Country and short odds to add the Aintree prize.

All the talk before the start was about Tiger Roll’s quality, and all the talk at the end concerned just how far this supremely talented nine-year-old gelding can go in the game. There were 14 other runners in the race, but you would be forgiven for not knowing it.

Josies Orders finished second at 15/2, with Urgent De Gregaine third off a decent 17/2 starting price.

That left shrewd backers to pick through the best of the rest and Josies Orders did put in a decent effort, despite failing to land a blow on Tiger Roll, which is easy to forgive. Bolger’s 11-year-old will win again in future, as long as he’s kept well-clear of the champion, which we imagine he will be.
15 runners went into the race but only 10 finished.

Auvergnat was pulled up by McInerney, joined by Bless The Wings, Devils Bride and the fancied Ultragold, while Tea For Two dumped rider Lizzie Kelly on the seat of her pants at the 21st, something many saw coming following a nervy round of jumping.

It’ll be very interesting to see where Tiger Roll goes from here. Does he still have something to prove?

Could he go back in a bid to join Red Rum as a three-time winner of the Grand National and will he be back delighting crowds at the Cheltenham Festival. Perhaps, with the great horse owing them nothing, Gigginstown may think Tiger Roll has done his bit for the cause and deserves to run out his days in retirement.

That’s a story well worth following and punters can act quickly and get in to back him to win the 2020 Grand National, as well as races of note at next year’s festival.

Glenfarclas Chase Result:

  • 1st Tiger Roll 5/4
  • 2nd Josies Orders 15/2
  • 3rd Urgent De Gregaine 17/2

[block]14[/block]16:50 Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Registered as the Fred Winter, a sizeable portion of the crowd remained in place to watch the running of this year’s two-mile Grade 3, resisting the urge to go off and celebrate another great win for Tiger Roll at a starting price that looked to be on the generous side judging by his winning margin.

Punters were challenged to pick the best of a 21-runner field and they got, for the second day on the trot, a winning favourite in the penultimate leg.

JP O’Brian’s Band of Outlaws was sent off 7/2 favourite and he encountered little trouble when winning the race, finishing two lengths ahead of nearest rival Coko Beach, who crossed the line in second at 14/1.

The victor was the quickest of the pack and proved it beyond doubt when recovering from a lack of racing room – having to switch sides late before going on to lead and put the race to bed well before the finish.

He appeared in a fair few accumulators and did his bit for the cause. Coko Beach did well to end as the nearest challenger under the ride of Jack Kennedy and he led during the early exchanges, but trainer Gordon Elliott could ask to more from his runner, with all concerned knowing they had been beaten by the more talented horse on the day.

Ciel De Neige was third at 17/2, crossing just shy of two lengths behind the second for the famed Mullins/Walsh partnership, a pairing who would’ve secretly hoped for a bit more.

Of the original 21 runners, most managed to complete the trip and, at the very least, give backers a run for their stake money, but there were two who failed to get home and another one who was scratched as a non-runner. 16/1 shot Beat The Judge had been nibbled at on the approach to the off and backers were let down when we was taken out of the race.

The two pulled up were 14/1 runner Dogon for Nicholls and Cobden and 33/1 poke OI The Club Oi’s for Williams and O’Brien.

Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Result:

  • 1st Band of Outlaws 7/2
  • 2nd Coko Beach 14/1
  • 3rd Ciel De Neige 17/2

17:30 Champion Bumper

The final race of what was an incredible Wednesday that seemed to have something for everyone.

The bookies got a few favourites beat, lovers of an outsider had plenty to cheer, followers of the market picked up a profit by throwing together a couple of market leaders, we got a major clue as to the winner of the 2019 Grand National and we also saw Altior move a step closer to the Queen Mother Champion Chase history books. It’s little wonder the Cheltenham Festival has a special place in the hearts of sports fans and casual followers of the horse racing scene.

The Weatherbys Champion Bumper is Grade 1 National Hunt flat race that pulled the shutters down on Wednesday’s spectacle. Another race where the favourite did a bit for multiple backers and helped close the gap between the outsiders and favs, the latter still lagging behind at this point of the week but looking like a catch up was fast approaching.

Gordon Elliott trusted his Envoi Allen to the experienced hands of Wexford jockey Jamie Codd and that was to prove a wise move as the team were the last to be paraded in the winner’s enclosure on day two of the festival.

The edge may have been taken off the excitement by this time, with a few of the major television stations who were beaming pictures live across the world packing up for the day, but there was a treat for those who kept tabs on this one.
Envoi Allen was given a patient ride by Codd before challenging three out. He has the speed and skill to call upon and did just that when responding to encouragement from his rider.

The five-year-old gelding moved through the gears to hit the front in the final furlong and was pushed out to the line, leaving Blue Sari a length back as a 7/2 runner-up. Thyme Hill ended third in the final order, each-way backers collecting the place money from an SP 20/1. 14 runners went and all 14 got home safely, which was a fitting way to end what had been a difficult day for some owners and trainers.

The jolly did as was predicted by traders but those paying close attention would’ve marked down Blue Sari as one to keep on the right side of next season following a decent showing.
Ridden by Geraghty for Mullins, the progressive four-year-old had run only once before and that was when winning on debut at Gowran earlier that year in a two miles flat race, hammering pre-race favourite Front View by 11 lengths.

He absolutely dazzled that day and didn’t look out of place when pushing the winner hard at Cheltenham in a massive step up in class. More to come from this one.

Champion Bumper Result:

  • 1st Envoi Allen 2/1
  • 2nd Blue Sari 7/2
  • 3rd Thyme Hill 20/1

Author Biography: . I have written for a number of publications for the last 20 years. You can contact me via email here, or follow me on twitter or view my linkdin profile.

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Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham Day Four Tips – Al Boum Photo Takes the Festival Crown

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Cheltenham Day Four Tips

Day four of the Cheltenham Festival is a particularly special one. It draws the biggest crowd in terms of TV audience and, as they did for the three days previous, the paying public packed the stands.

 

Cheltenham Day 4 Tip & Results

TimeRaceWinner
13:30JCB Triumph HurdlePentland Hills 20/1
14:10County Handicap HurdleChitibello 12/1
14:50Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Frodon
15:30Cheltenham Gold CupAl Boum Photo 12/1
16:10Foxhunter Challenge CupHazel Hill 7/2
16:50Grand Annual Challenge CupCroco Bay 66/1
17:30Conditional Jockeys Handicap HurdleEarly Doors 5/1

Cheltenham Festival Day Four Friday

Four days of some of the best horse racing we see all year came to a close on Friday 15 March as the Cheltenham Festival results were added to the books for another year.

Attentions would soon turn to the Grand National, Scottish Grand National and Irish Grand National that took place over the next couple of weeks at Aintree, Ayr and Fairyhouse, but not before one final spin around the famous old Prestbury Park course.

The biggest National Hunt races, the best-bred horses and top names in the game, all played out in beautiful springtime conditions against a breath-taking Gloucestershire backdrop, it’s little wonder the UK stands still for the top races on the card.

Those who couldn’t attend the meeting in person staked a record number of bets on the outcome of each race, following the live TV action at home, in the pub, even at work or through one of the many modern sportsbook betting apps that have become available in recent times.

The ability to watch live racing on your mobile or tablet device anywhere in the country means backers will never again be forced to bet blind, left updating a results service.

The convenience of being able to bet on the move and watch live sport through a faultless, HD quality app on your phone is one of the reasons we see more bets placed on the Cheltenham Festival every year.

That will surely continue as improvements in technology bring us ever closer to the action, which is great news for both punters and bookmakers.

Friday’s card got going with the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle at 1.30pm, a perfect way to start the day and the market gave punters the chance to land a nice price winner to give them an edge over traders.

Next up was the Grade 3 County Handicap Hurdle at 2.10pm, before the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle, Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase – the main attraction of the week – Foxhunter Challenge Cup and the Grade 3 Grand Annual Challenge Cup.

The show was brought to a close, as is tradition in recent years, by the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle.

There was lots to get through and if punters thought they had witnessed drama so far, it was nothing when compared to what we saw on Friday. A top-of-the-bill day designed to remind us just why sports fans can’t get enough of the Cheltenham Festival.

We had seen an even split of big priced winners and victorious favourites in the three days that had gone before this, but there was plenty more drama to come.

Let’s look back on some of the talking points thrown up by Cheltenham Festival day four. .

13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle

Organisers at the Cheltenham Festival always like to make an entrance and they did so again with the first race of the day being the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle, a real favourite with fans.

This two-mile battle was played out on good to soft ground and the bulky prize pot ensured we saw a talented 14-runner field go to post for this year’s renewal.

All the day pre-race, both in the antepost markets weeks before the end and on the day of the contest, focussed on Sir Erec and the JP O’Brien and Ruby Walsh contender was sent off an 11/10 favourite, a price that told us connections already had one hand on the trophy.

Punters responded, having seen multiple winning favourites in the latter part of Tuesday and most of Wednesday, by adding him to Friday accumulators but multiples, such as Lucky 15s and Yankees went up in smoke at the earliest opportunity. Sir Erec, despite being one of the shortest priced runners of the week, failed to complete the course and was pulled up by Walsh after the fourth.

The pair looked to be easing their way into the race and there was nothing out of the ordinary to the untrained eye, but things quickly turned for
this runner and he was taken out quickly.

Unfortunately, following the race, light was shed on what went wrong with Sir Erec, handlers having the difficult task of telling the public their pride broke a leg and had to be put down.

A sombre start to the day for all concerned.

At the other end of the field, and on a happier note, there was an unexpected win for Pentland Hills who scored at 20/1 for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville.

The champion finished three lengths ahead of another 20/1 runner in Coeur Sublime for Elliott and Russell, with Gardens Of Babylon coming home in third to complete the major places at 9/1, Geraghty doing a job for O’Brien.

JCB Triumph Hurdle Result:

  • 1st Pentland Hills 20/1
  • 2nd Coeur Sublime 20/1
  • 3rd Gardens Of Babylon 9/1

14:10 County Handicap Hurdle

The Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle took us down to Grade 3 level following a pulsating start to the day and this race more that did its bit to keep the heartrate ticking over.

24 runners lined up and were separated by two miles of Hunter Chase racing and with more than £55,000 promised to connections of the winner, it was no real shock to see some of the game’s top names throw their hat into the ring, intent on sealing glory.

Favourite backers pinned their hopes of Willie Mullins’ Whiskey Sour and, on paper, it looked to be a runner who had all the ingredients to book a place in the winner’s enclosure.

The 5/1 starting price suggested we should prepare for a competitive contest, however, and that’s just what we got. The jolly failed to land a blow on the prizes, ending back in fourth place.

He was in contention turning for home but the money proved to be misplaced when the fav stayed on at the one pace on the spring to the finish, while rivals pulled away.

Of the three who finished ahead of Whiskey Sour that day, Ch’tibello was the best of them, Dan Skelton’s eight-year-old gelding showing the turn of foot needed to accelerate for home.

Harry Skelton didn’t put a foot wrong on the winner and sat like a man who knew his ride had a change of gear to come when asked.

The pilot did encourage improvement after a slight mistake at the last and he got it.

Chitibello stuck to his task and finished a deserving winner, with nearest rival We Have a Dream 1 and a half lengths behind under the ride of Daryl Jacob. Countister ended third at 18/1 and was one of the standout performers of the race, out-running his price, narrowly missing out on the silver medal by a head.

There’s more to come from Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old mare, that’s for sure, and she had no trouble seeing off the favourite.

Just two failed to finish, Eclair De Beaufeu at 8/1 and 33/1 shot Mitchouka.

COUNTY HANDICAP RESULT:

  • 1st Chitibello 12/1
  • 2nd We Have A Dream 14/1
  • 3rd Countister 18/1

14:40 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

We were back in Grade 1 company for the 2019 Albert Bartlett Novices Chase where 20 ran over 2m 7f on good to soft ground.

Another convincing favourite became another convincing beaten favourite with Commander Of Fleet finishing second behind 50/1 winner Minella Indo, two lengths the winning margin in that duel.

Henry de Bromhead’s six-year-old gelding went into the day as a supposed no hoper, showing a CV of no wins in three starts.

The clues were there for all to see that Minella Indo was fast-approaching a win but he looked out of his depth in this company and the traders didn’t give him a chance of landing a place, let alone the title.

Two thirds followed by a second showed improvement, but few expected the kind of run we saw from this outsider.

To make it more impressive still, the victor seemed to take it all in his stride, racing freely in the early stages before switching to the stands side to get a bit more racing room and then, again all expectations, finding more in the tank to kick-on.

Sometimes we see a horse come out of nowhere and show he is improving quickly, and this was one of these occasions.

Connections knew exactly what they were doing, but even they must have been surprised by just how easy it looked to the champion.

He crossed the line a 50/1 winner, beating runner-up Commander Of Fleet and Jack Kennedy by a couple of lengths, the favourite never looking like winning the race.

Allaho finished third for Willie Mullins at 8/1. That win may have caught us off-guard, but it was a sign of things to come in the short-term future and Minella Indo went on to win the Grade 1 Irish Novice Hurdle at Punchestown next time out, scoring at 5/1 ahead of SP favourite Allaho.

Bookmakers obviously hadn’t learned their lesson but we’re sure to see them afford Minella Indo more respect this year.

Albert Bartlett Result:

  • 1st Minella Indo 50/1
  • 2nd Commander Of Fleet 4/1
  • 3rd Allaho 8/1

15:30 Cheltenham Gold Cup

The main attraction of the week, the reason for the Cheltenham Festival and one of the biggest races of the year.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is watched by a worldwide audience, bringing the UK to a standstill will keeping viewers in all sports loving nations glued to the live coverage beamed out by dozens of television cameras camped at the racetrack.

This Grade 1 steeplechase run over 3m 2f has a history that can be traced all the way back to 1819, the first running taking place at nearby Cleeve Hill.

Since relocating in 1924 the list of winners reads like a who’s who of the game. Red Splash claimed glory in 1924 for Fred Withington and the 2018 version was won by Native River out of the Richard Johnson yard.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup’s most successful horse is Golden Miller who boasts no less than five titles, all won between 1932 and 1936.

We’ve never seen a jockey as devastating as Pat Taafe who stands as the top rider on four wins, with Arkle responsible for three of them. Tom Dreaper is the one the trainers must beat with five gongs to his name, although Arkle’s treble plays a huge part in that also. Dorothy Paget has owned seven Gold Cup champions, Golden Miller chipping in with five between 1932 and 1936, Roman Hackle scoring in 1940 and Mont Tremblant 1952.

There wasn’t a lot for followers of the trends to go on in 2019 but backers were aware favourites don’t have the best record in this contest with Don Cossack the last winning jolly back in 2016. Native River won in 2018 as an eight-year-old and was the fourth champion to carry that age in six years.

It’s incredible how often following the trends will lead you to a winnerand the favourite, again, failed to deliver, but we didn’t get the 8YO we expected. Presenting Percy went in as the market leader but finished eighth of the nine that got home, following a bitterly disappointing run. Favourite backers couldn’t say they weren’t warned, however.

At the opposite end of the pecking order we saw Al Boum Photo win for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, supporters cheering home a stunning 12/1 champion.

Thought of as one with a chance of landing each-way backers place money, the seven-year-old gelding ran the race of his career to see off 22/1 rival Anibale Fly by 2 and a half lengths. As far as winners go, that’s convincing. Bristol De Mai made up the prizes when crossing the line in third, a further 3 three-quarter lengths back.

This race didn’t follow the expectations of traders in the slightest, but it was one that’ll live long in the memory and we got a champion worthy of the title.

16 runners started the race but only nine were able to get home, chased by Jack Kennedy on board 20/1 shot Shattered Love.

Bellshill pulled up and was joined by Double Shuffle, Might Bite and Thistlecrack.

Definitely Red was brought down when prominent, Invitation Only fell
and Kemboy unseated his rider for Team Mullins.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Result:

  • 1st Al Boum Photo 12/1
  • 2nd Anibale Fly 22/1
  • 3rd Bristol De Mai 18/1

16:10 Foxhunter Challenge Cup

The favourites finally got going again when Hazel Hill won at 7/2 for Philip Rowley and Alex Edwards.

A gruelling contest over three miles and two furlongs, The 11-year-old gelding went to post as the most fancied runner with both punters and bookmakers and had little trouble living up to expectations.

He won again at HQ next time out when claiming the Gold Cup Final Hunter Chase and that took his record to a stunning five wins from as many starts. One that’ll get better during the break and is sure to return intent on winning more prizes in the 2019/20 season.

Hazel Hill was followed home by runner-up Shantou Flyer who certainly didn’t disgrace himself in defeat, although Richard Hobson trainer second didn’t pressure the victor.

Backers who have him backed each-way got the place money about a 7/1 shot.

Top Wood came good in third, despite carrying the burden of a 33/1 price.

24 started but only nine finished, with 7/1 shot Caid Du Berlais pulled up, and better expected of 16/1 play Pacha Du Polder who was pulled up by Tucker when struggling, having never settled into the race. Ucello Conti was expected to run a big race for Gordon Elliott but managed no better than fifth, despite going into the day as one to be respected at 4/1.

Foxhunter Challenge Cup Result:

  • 1st Hazel Hill 7/2
  • 2nd Shantou Flyer 7/1
  • 3rd Top Wood 33/1

16:50 Grand Annual Challenge Cup

19 runners laid claim to the winner’s cheque just shy of £62,000 in this year’s Grand Annual Challenge Cup, due to post at 4.50pm but the betting told us some would go close, while others didn’t have a chance and were merely there to make up the numbers and give the market leaders something to keep them interested in the early stages.

If this year’s Cheltenham Festival taught us anything, however, it was that we can never write off an entry at this level.

All sent in hold claims and that was proven again with a big priced winner.

Croco Bay lined up as a 66/1 shot – one of those there to fill a gap, supposedly – but the horse wasn’t too aware of his price and, even if he was able to understand it, he looked one who paid little attention to the expectations of others.

This ballsy 12-year-old gelding had followers of the form shaking their head when coming home 1 and half lengths ahead of runner-up Bun Doran, with Brelan D’As back in third, an 8/1 shot following home an 11/1 play.

The final result was another one chalked up for the outsiders, but it was just as surprising to see pre-race favourite Magic Saint – a 7/2 SP – manage no better than 10th place, having never looked like he was capable of winning.

Paul Nichols entrusted Harry Cobden with the ride and the pilot kept his machine in touch as best he could, but Magic Saint failed to respond when asked the question and that saw the nine in front of him pull clear.

Of the others in the betting, Diakali was a non-runner at 25/1 for Team Moore, while four of those sent over the wall failed to finish. Gino Trail was pulled up by Richard Johnson at 14/1 and was joined by 7/1 play Mind’s Eye who was saved by Rachael Blackmore.

Mr Medic wasn’t fancied and lived up to expectations when PU by James Best, while Sheehan spotted the early signs that All Set To Go wasn’t in the mood to live up to his name and was sidelined before the 10th.

Grand Annual Challenge Cup Result:

  • 1st Croco Bay 66/1
  • 2nd Bun Doran 11/1
  • 3rd Drelan D’As 8/1

17:30 Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle

The final race of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and although the Graded action was over for another year and many punters saw that as a good time to file off to the bar or to beat the crowds and secure a space on the crammed trains, TV companies packing away their gear and the noise level taking a dip, many horse racing enthusiasts remained.

The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle is one for the purists, it’s fair to say, but it was the perfect way to sign off.

Just as we saw with the first race of the festival, the finale gave us another upset to enjoy, with those who had already learned their lesson to take on the favourite on the right path.

Dallas Des Pictons was fancied by the money men and attracted a fair share of interest in the betting ring, both antepost and on the day, but six-year-old owned by the Gigginstown House Stud was another of the week’s damp squibs.

Gordon Elliott’s contender finished second, after being headed by a more determined rival in a stunning climax.

The final horse to appear in the Cheltenham Festival winner’s enclosure this year was Early Doors who scored for JP O’Brien and Jonjo O’Neill Jr, something that made followers smile as we saw a rider who will achieve big thing this season. Backers were able to find plenty of 5/1 about Early Doors and he proved that to be a shrewd investment when beating the fav thanks to a gutsy effort in the final few strides.

The winner was seen chasing the leaders turning for home and he caught them too, before sticking to the task and nudging ahead on the flat.

He kept on at an honest pace and, looking back, few could argue withthe final result.

Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle Result:

  • 1st Early Doors 5/1
  • 2nd Dallas Des Pictons 7/2
  • 3rd Defi Bleu 14/1
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Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham Day Three Tips – Paisley Park lives up to the hype

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Punters had been treated to more than their fair share of big priced winners – Results so far ensured there was something for everyone – maybe except the bookies who were left licking their wounds.

Cheltenham Day Three Tips & Results

TimeRaceWinner
13:30JLT Novices ChaseDefi Du Seuil @ 3/1
14:10Pertemps Handicap HurdleSire Du Berlais
14:50Ryanair ChaseFrodon
15:30Stayers HurdlePaisley Park
16:10Plate Handicap ChaseSiruh Du Lac
16:50Mares Novices HurdleEglantine Du Seuil
17:30Kim Muir Challenge CupAny Second Now 6/1

Cheltenham Festival Day Three Thursday

Would it be more of the same on Thursday? Would the profits continue to roll, or would traders finally get a break and claw back some of their losses? An action-packed afternoon, it was a time to bet wisely and build your balance in good time for one final assault on Friday when the highlight of the week was scheduled, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Before looking ahead to the main attraction, punters had plenty to get through on the eve of the grandstand finale. The usual seven races took place, the action getting underway at 1.30pm with the JLT Novices, the curtain closing at 5.30pm with the Kim Muir Challenge Cup.

We saw the standard scattered approach from punters as they looked to line their pockets.

Some went for gold by placing one of the more popular Tote bets, such as Placepot or Jackpot, others took a little less risk, while still aiming high, shooting for multiples such as Lucky 15s and Yankees.

Then there were the shrewd investors who liked to bet race-by-race, nicking a profit over the course of the afternoon.

We even had the experienced backers who watched the action as mere spectators until their NAP of the card lined up. There’s no sure-fire way to guarantee profits at the Cheltenham Festival, unfortunately, but money was made that day.

Let’s take a look back at some of the winners and losers on Thursday.

13:30 JLT Novices Chase

A Grade 1 race to start the day and it proved to be a fantastic way to kick things off for favourite backers as the market leader followed the example set on Wednesday to storm into an early lead, delighting backers who had the jolly picked as the best way to get their noses in front.

Run over 2m 3f, 10 runners went to post but it was Defi Du Seuil who have proven to be most popular in the build-up, both on the day and during the antepost exchanges, and it was Defi Du Seuil who stood up to be counted. The six-year-old gelding out of the Philip Hobbs yard trotted to post as a 3/1 fav and certainly ran like one, showing his rivals the way home with runner-up Lostintranslation getting no closer than 2 ¼ lengths when it mattered.

Mengli Khan was back in third to complete the prize places, another seven lengths off in the distance.

Barry Geraghty gave a patient ride, waiting in second before asking his mount to respond, and he didn’t half, scooting to the front of the queue and putting the race to bed in the closing stages. Impressive, and it looked like he was pulling away from them too.

Of the 10 that started the race, only nine finished with Voix Du Reve being the one casualty. He unseated rider Ruby Walsh three from home, but the writing had been on the wall from the start, backers realising early they weren’t going to get a run for their money.

Willie Mullins’ hope blundered at the first before making another mistake near the first. The latter proved costly with Walsh re-introduced to the Prestbury Park turf. Ruby is no stranger to coming down but it’s the way he always bounces back that has won him the admiration of race
lovers over the years.

JLT Novices Chase Result:

  • 1st Defi Du Seuil @ 3/1
  • 2nd Lostintranslation @ 2/1
  • 3rd Mengli Khan @ 9/11

14:10 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

With followers of the favourites enjoying a run of success in the latter part of Wednesday and first race of Thursday they were to have plenty more to shout about in the second race on the card. The Pertemps Handicap Hurdle is a Grade 3 run over 2m 7f and we were treated to a competitive 24-runner field for this one.

When going to post there looked to be chances from all areas of the pack, but bookies had made their mind up early and had Sire Du Berlais pinned to the top of their betting charts, available at 4/1 just before the off. Followers of the form knew that was a price worth taking and, despite being the shortest of the lot, there was still enough value in the quote to make it worth a pop.

Those who did put their trust in Sire Du Berlais were cheering their selection all the way to the finish line with the Gordon Elliott trained star coming good. Ridden by Barry Geraghty, the jockey made it two from two on the day when pushing his mount to the finish, holding to beat Tobefair by a neck in what was a nail-biting climax.

The second was a 40/1 shot, but certainly didn’t run like one, with Not Many Left back in third at 16/1, landing each-way backers a return. Champers On Ice attracted bits and pieces of support and was expected to trouble the main finishers but it was a disappointing outing for the David Pipe runner who was pulled up by jockey Tom Scudamore before the finish, robbing supporters of a crack at an upset.

Made a couple of mistakes and it was obvious he was going backers, leaving his rider with little option but to save him from himself to go and run another day.

Pertemps Result:

  • 1st Sire Du Berlais
  • 2nd Tobefair
  • 3rd Not Many Left

14:40 Ryanair Chase

The Ryanair Chase rates as one of the best-loved races of the week and it’s little wonder fans flock to cheer the off, spending millions in wager attempting to predict the winner, as we’ve enjoyed some truly memorable renewals over the years.

Some of the horses included on the Ryanair roll of honours list are Our Vic, Imperial Commander, Albertas Run, Cue Card, Vautour and Un De Sceaux.

Ruby Walsh went into the 2019 version as the race’s most successful jockey on four previous titles, but he wasn’t able to build on that.

Paul Nicholls trained this year’s champion at that set him at the head of the pile for the most successful trainer on an impressive three gongs.

He had Frodon to thank for that with his 9/2 shot upsetting the market to win what was an incredible race from start to finish. Footpad went to post looking to complete the hattrick for the favourites but couldn’t complete the feat and, in the end, got no where near managing a treble, finishing last of the eight finishers.

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh had high hopes for Footpad, as did plenty of backers, but he was unable to quicken when asked and looked to be going backwards in the closing strides of the race. Frodon faired much better for Bryony Frost and Paul Nicholls, opening up to beat the field by at least 1 length.

The champion led early, jumped well and ran a strong race, making him a worthy winner of the prize money for connections.

Also was jotted down in the notepads of many shrewd backers when running on for second despite carrying a 33/1 label. Another 9/2 shot, Road To Respect, was third for Flanagan and Meade.

Certainly not disgraced in collecting the bronze medal.

Of the dozen starters, eight crossed the line, with Charbel at 40/1, Sub Lieutenant 66/1, Terrefort 20/1 and The Storyteller 20/1 failing to get home in one piece.

Ryanair Chase Result:

  • 1st Frodon
  • 2nd Aso
  • 3rd Road To Respect

15:30 Stayers Hurdle

The Sun Racing Stayers Hurdle is one of the more glamourous contests of the day and race-goers weren’t in the mood to sneak off to the bar or take a quick break during the build-up to the off.

It was a race that boasted a well-matched, talented field and backers struggled to predict where the winner was going to come from. That left the door open for backers to go and have a shot at the value, taking on the favourite but those who did were left disappointed as Paisley Park.

Bookies had this one picked from the start and he dominated the antepost betting, with many including Paisley Park in their accumulators for the week as a real hot-pot.

That confidence was shown to be well-placed as the victor, ridden by Aidan Coleman, lived up to the hype and then some.

He was sent off an 11/8 jolly and ran like one that could’ve been priced even shorter, beating Sam Spinner by almost three lengths. He trampled all over a star-studded field and entered the winner’s enclosure to the cheer and celebrations of the crowd as one of the most convincing champions of the week.

What’s more, those who watched him put the contest to bed early were left utterly convinced there was more to come from this speedster and, to be fair to them, it did look like he had a bit spare.

Perhaps it was saved for another day. Taking his time during the early part of the running, he connected himself to the leading group two from home before Coleman kicked him on and he went through the gears with relative ease.

Paisley Park kept finding after the last bend and kicked on from there, leaving his rivals choking on the dust. Runner-up Sam Spinner was beaten by a better horse on the day, with Faugheen back in third running exactly how the traders said he would. Involved, without making too much of a nuisance of himself for the winner’s cheque.

18 started and 18 finished, Nautical Nitwit bringing up the rear.

Stayers Hurdle Result:

  • 1st Paisley Park
  • 2nd Sam Spinner
  • 3rd Faugheen

16:10 Plate Handicap

Backers who had been throwing their stake money on the favourites were already well up for the day and this race looked to give a chance for those keen on an outsider the chance to boost their kitty.

Janika went off as the 3/1 jolly for this Group 3 handicap run over 2m 4f and many backers continued to steam into Nicky Henderson’s rep right up until the off.

It proved to be wasted money, however, as he ended no better than second,staying on at the one pace when driven to the line, all but handing the race to Siruh Du Lac.

Lizzie Kelly was trusted to take the reigns by trainer Nick Williams and there were no complaints about that booking by connections, certainly not on the run to the line as Siruh Du Lac oozed class to claim over £60,000 in prize money for connections.

The six-year-old gelding signalled his intent early by making all as soon as the tape went up, stretching his rivals out and pulling them from their comfort zone.

You could see a few of the more respected names weren’t happy with thepace the race was run at, but the eventual winner didn’t give it a second thought.

He started well, was ridden strongly and stayed on gamely. At the conclusion it was difficult to fault what was a spectacular run from Siruh Du Lac and his jockey. He held on to keep Janika at arm’s length, beating the favourite by 3 quarters of a length with Spiritofthegames back in third at 6/1, a further 2 lengths behind the second.

The rest of the finshers seemed to fall into line, living up to their pre-race price, but one that disappointed was River Wylde for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville. Sent off a 10/1 contender, he was always towards the rear of the field and when not responding to encouragement, was pulled up before the ninth.

Others who failed to see out the trip that day were Kalondra at 12/1, Testify 33/1, Gardefort 28/1, King’s Odyssey at 20/1.

All runners mentioned there were pulled up, except the latter for Evan Williams and Adam Wedge who fell at the seventh when tracking the leaders and looking in a fine position to challenge.

Plate Handicap Result:

  • 1st Siruh Du Lac
  • 2nd Janika
  • 3rd Spiritofthegames

16:50 Mares Novices Hurdle

The penultimate race on the penultimate day of the Cheltenham Festival and punters were left reflecting back on what had been a bit of a mixed bag.

The favourites had done their bit for those building accumulators and the outsiders had chipped in with a few big priced winners to keep us ticking over. 22 runners went to post at 4.5pm for the National Hunt Breeders Supported by Tattersalls Mares Novice Hurdle and between the starting line-up and the 2019 champion lay two miles.

The going was good to soft, which was ideal racing conditions for a contest of this nature, although by the time this event went off the ground was cutting up and the sun breaking through the clouds was helping to dry things all the time.

Epatante was the pre-race favourite with Barry Geraghty expected to build on his early success when riding for Nicky Henderson, but those who followed the money and put their trust in the market were left to kick themselves as the jolly ended way down the field following a disappointing effort.

Despite being priced like a horse too good for this level, Epatante ended way back in ninth, having made a couple of mistakes in the early part of the running.

A lack of racing room was the final nail in the coffin and Epatante was forced to go through the motions in the final few furlongs.

That was a bit of a surprise as it looked a strong favourite, but it was nothing compared to the shock we got in seeing Eglantine Du Seuil come home as the winner off an SP 50/1. Willie Mullins trains this horse, but the price scared more than a few off.

As the old industry saying goes, the horse doesn’t know its price and that was certainly true of Eglantine Du Seuil who ran like the 15/8 shot Epatante was supposed to be. Noel Fehily held his ride up in the rear to avoid playing his hand too early, allowing the front runners to tire themselves out vying for position.

That worked a treat and when Fehily eventually shook up Eglantine Du Seuil he was delighted to see his mount was more than willing to go and have a crack at getting to the front of the pile. They stayed on well, passing rivals on the flat and went second in the closing stages.

That would’ve done for most, but this horse just kept on finding and stuck his nose in front at the post to leave followers gobsmacked and backers cheering what felt like a lotto win. The win really was some achievement but the second came out of the race with credit and was painfully unlucky not to hold on for the crown.

Concertista started as a 66/1 poke but came within a short head of winning and the performance led to backers noting Willie Mullins’ battler down for future reference.

A 50/1 shot leading home a 66/1 play with 40/1 Tintangle completing the top-three. That’s the beauty of the Cheltenham Festival and is part of the reason interest grows year-on-year, as well as money wagered on the races.

Mares Novices Hurdle Result:

  • 1st Eglantine Du Seuil
  • 2nd Concertista
  • 3rd Tintangle

17:30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup

The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders Handicap Chase was the final race of Thursday, with an off-time of 5.30pm.

23 runners laid down the gauntlet for a whopping prize pool with over £40,000 paid to the winner of this 3m 2f race. Gordon Elliott’s Measureofmydreams was the pre-race favourite, sent off as a 3/1 jolly with Jamie Codd on board, but the pair failed to deliver, and a poor run saw them finish down in eighth place.

Held up in the rear, a couple of early mistakes meant this well-backed runner was finished almost before it started, the writing on the wall from a very early stage. He did well to finish the race but there not too many positives can be taken from the outing. The one who stole the show was Any Second Now for Dereck O’Connor.

The 6/1 victor absolutely punished the field to finish just shy of four lengths better than Kilfilum Cross in second, the runner-up kept to his task by Alex Edwards. Kilfilum Cross led turning for home but lacked the turn of foot needed to protect the position and was easily passed when Measureofmydreams found more on the run in.

What’s worth noting is the champion seemed to be pulling clear of the field at the line. 22/1 shot The Young Master attracted attention in the latter part of the betting and Neil Mulholland’s experienced 10-year-old gelding did better than his price suggested he would, snatching third place and gifting followers an each-way pay-out.

He followed that third at the festival with a second behind Talkischeap at Sandown in the bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase next time out and he’s one worth keeping close this season.

Age and exposure suggests we’ve already seen the best of The Young Master but he still seems to have plenty of running left in him and has now finished in the top three in four of his last five.

Following that win at Cheltenham, Any Second Now’s connections made the bold move to stick their horse in the Irish Grand National at Punchestown the following month, but it was to prove a mistake as he fell in action packed race where only 12 of 30 runners managed to finish.

Any Second Now sat in mid division waiting to pounce but that’s always a dangerous tactic in such a crowded race and he fell at the eighth fence.

Kim Muir Challenge Cup Result:

  • 1st Any Second Now 6/1
  • 2nd Kilfilum Cross 7/1
  • 3rd The Young Master 22/1
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Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham Day One Tips – The Festival Roar is Back

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Cheltenham Day One tips

We look back at results from the opening day of four, including big priced upsets in both the Champion Hurdle and Mares Hurdle where the pre-race favourites failed to land a blow.

Cheltenham Day One Tips & Results

TimeRaceWinner
13:30Supreme Novices HurdleKlassical Dream
14:10The Arkle TrophyDuc Des Genievres
14:50Ultima Handicap ChaseBeware The Bear
15:30Champion HurdleEspoir D’Allen
16:10Mares’ Hurdle (for the David Nicholson Trophy)Roksana
16:50National Hunt Challenge Cup ChaseA Plus Tard
17:30Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap ChaseLe Breuil

Cheltenham Festival Day One

Fans flocked to Prestbury Park for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and it was to be another thrilling instalment of the much-loved horse racing extravaganza.

After the build-up and antepost betting action, day one got underway with the Supreme Novices Hurdle, one of four Grade 1 contests run on Tuesday 12 March.

As ever, the off was greeted by that famous Cheltenham roar from the stands, fans getting two shots at it after a false start.

We look back at results from the opening day of four, picking through some of the more memorable points, including big priced upsets in both the Champion Hurdle and Mares Hurdle where the pre-race favourites failed to land a blow, upset by outsiders.

13:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle

The show opened with the Grade 1, contested over two miles by a talented 16-runner field.

All the talk in the build-up to this race made it a two-way shoot-out between Ffakir d’Oudairies and Al Dancer, the pair going to tape as 9/2 joint-favourites with bookmakers.

Punters were asked to take their pick, but this race served as a sign of things to come with neither of the fancied runners going close to gifting backers a return. JP O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies fared better of the two but did so crossing the line back in fourth, finishing more than 10 lengths off an impressive winner in Klassical Dream.

Disappointing for those who like to keep the market leader close, but they got more of a run for their money than those who had cash down on Al Dancer.

Team Twiston-Davies showed up well in the trends going into this race, but they stumbled across the line an uninspiring 10th-place finisher, starting well but soon losing place before falling down through the pecking order without offering too much resistance.

Going against the traders proved to be a shrewd move in the opener and punters who took the value about SP 6/1 shot Klassical Dream were cheering at the conclusion of what had been an engrossing renewal.

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh are no strangers to success at Cheltenham and combined to get this talented five-year-old gelding home 4 � lengths ahead of the chasing pack, banking connections over £70,000 in prize money.

Thomas Darby kept on to finish best of the rest when landing the silver medal, gifting each-way backers a return off an SP 28/1. Lovers of a price had plenty to smile about if betting on Itchy Feet to grab a top-three finish, Olly Murphy’s hope impressing when scoring third at a bulky 25/1, holding off the late attentions of Fakir D’Oudairies while applying pressure to the one in front.

Klassical Dream made the headlines as the team swaggered into the winner’s enclosure, but shrewd punters marked the second and third down in their notepads as horses to keep an eye on this year.

Supreme Novices Hurdle Result:

  • 1st Klassical Dream 6/1
  • 2nd Thomas Darby 28/1
  • 3rd Itchy Feet 25/1

14:10 Arkle Challenge Trophy

With over £100,000 promised to the winner of this year’s Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices Chase, it was no surprise to see the sports best and brightest in attendance as they looked to bank the lion’s share of the prize pot, while writing their names into the festival history books.

A Grade 1 run over the agreed 1m 7f distance, a dozen runners went to post, but only eight finished the race.

In an action-packed renewal, Glen Forsa and Kalashnikov got rid of Burke and Quinlan respectively, Lalor was pulled up four from home after struggling from the start and Ornua was the race’s only faller, coming down when looking to have every chance of pushing for the prize places.

The eight-year-old went off a 14/1 shot with traders and was looking like he would out-run his price when leading early in the race, before disaster struck. Connections will be left to contemplate what could’ve been with a better round of jumping and a bit more luck.

At the other end of the finishing order, the 2019 Arkle was won by another from the famed Willie Mullins string in Duc Des Genievres who finished a jaw-dropping 13 lengths ahead of nearest rival Us And Them. Ridden by Paul Townend, he carried a 5/1 starting price and wasted no time stamping his authority on the contest.

Given a patient ride by his pilot, Townend moved through the gears effortlessly on this talented six-year-old and the pair hit the front three out before going clear and sticking to their task in the final strides.

A thoroughly impressive ride and, judging by his performance, it looks like there’s plenty more to come from Duc Des Genievres and race fans will enjoy watching his progress next season.

The champion crossed the line unchallenged, backers counting their cash as soon as he cleared the last, and there was to be no drama in the closing stages for any of the major places in this race.

Us And Them was second for O’Brien and Slevin, landing backers the place money of each-way bets at 14/1 and that was achieved despite the gelding encountering no lack of trouble in the early part of the contest, a couple of jumping errors spoiling his chances.

He battled gamely to recover and finish second, leaving backers blaming a slow start for them missing out on their chance at a bigger pay-out. Would Us And Them have challenged Duc Des Genievres with a better start? We’ll never know, but that’s the beauty of horse racing at the top level and we’re sure to see an improved version of this horse in 2020. Articulum ended third but he was almost 17 lengths off the champion and 3 three quarters behind Us And Them.

An SP price of 25/1 suggested he wouldn’t feature but young David Mullins gave his mount every chance with a professional ride and the duo responded from a couple of set-backs, including being hampered at the sixth, to stay on and end third. Another who endured an incident packed race but another who came out of the contest with credit.

Arkle Challenge Trophy Result:

  • 1st Duc Des Genievres 5/1
  • 2nd Us And Them 14/1
  • 3rd Articulum 25/1

14:40 Ultima Handicap

A Grade 3 run over 3m 1f, we have come to expect big fields and wide-open betting markets for this race in recent times and the 2019 version was certainly no different with 24 runners going to post and three co favourites – Up For Review, Mister Whittaker and Coo Star Sivola all heading off as 8/1 shots.

An interesting one for punters to try to solve but those who took clues from the two races that went before this one were smart enough to avoid the head of the betting market.

Of the three favourites, neither got close to winning and marking up the first of the day for the betting. Up For Review fared best when ending down the line in eighth for Mullins and Townend, clattering the 12th obstacle and the third from the finish line.

Poor, but it was a good bit better than Mister Whittaker who was pulled up by Hughes three out having never featured. Coo Star Sivola suffered the same fate when Lizzie Kelly took him out of the running for his own good, the Nick Williams’s trained runner sinking without a trace.

There was more to shout about for followers of Beware The Bear who landed the prize money for connections, while gifting backers a fantastic 10/1 winner. Nicky Henderson’s in form nine-year-old won his second race on the bounce, following success at the same track the start before, crossing the line just over a length ahead of runner-up Vintage Clouds.

The victor rallied three from home and, after hitting the front over the last, he was ridden out by McGrath to get the job done.

A convincing winner but Vintage Clouds can take plenty of heart from his performance, Danny Cook’ss ride leading for most of the race before being headed at the last. He looked a bit one-paced in the closing stages but did rally to make things interesting, while ensuring second and backers wouldn’t have been too hard on him, especially with the place money of an SP 16/1 shot in their pockets.

Sue Smith’s battler went on to fall at the Grand National next time out and made no impression in the Scottish National, but he has more wins in him.

Ultima Handicap Result:

  • 1st Beware The Bear 10/1
  • 2nd Vintage Clouds 16/1
  • 3rd Lake View Lad 25/1

15:30 Champion Hurdle

Everyone was in their seats for the off of what promised to be a gripping Champion Hurdle and punters found Apples Jade as a 7/4 favourite with Laurina thought to be the main danger at 5/2. 10 runners lined-up for this two-mile Grade 1 race, but only seven crossed the finish line.

Brain Power was pulled-up by Nico de Boinville, the well fancied Buveur D’Air fell and Sharjah was brought down in the process, although the latter wasn’t expected to challenge.

Espoir D’Allen was thought of as little more than an also-ran by the trading teams of major bookmakers and he didn’treceive too much attention from punters in the parade ring either, but the five-year-old gelding pulled off a shock when landing the Champion Hurdle crown, doing so in some style too.

The eventual winner was held up in mid-division, ensuring he steered clear of any early drama and looked to be running the race that was earmarked for him, but there was more to come and those who remained patient with Cromwell’s sort saw him make his move four from home.

It may have gone unnoticed by those paying more attention to the leaders at the time, but it was a crucial twist and once asked for more, Espoir D’Allen responded.

He moved third three out and an incredible turn of foot saw him hit the front two from home. Drawing clear in the blink of an eye, the winner drifted to his right but had enough in the tank to get away with that slight error and he stayed on strongly to open-up a stunning 15-length lead over Melon in second.

It’s rare to see double-figure winning distances in this race and it’s even less likely we’ll see it from a runner carrying a 16/1 price.

Pundits raved about the performance of Espoir D’Allen, and it was little wonder.

That was his fourth win on the spin and there will likely be many more on the big stage. It was surprising to see the talented Melon go off a 20/1 shot that day and Mullins’s hope showed he has bundles of class in his locker when finishing second in the Champion Hurdle.

He led the race until two from home, but backers had little trouble admitting their pick was beaten by the better horse. Melon held on for second under heavy pressure from Silver Streak and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

The champion attracted plaudits from all angles, but the efforts of Silver Streak shouldn’t be overlooked.

The upstart out of the Evan Williams yard came within a neck of beating Melon to second despite being priced at 80/1, thought to be there to make up the numbers.

He made a mistake four out but continued to improve and, outside of Espoir D’Allen, he was the one that caught the eye.

Champion Hurdle Result:

  • 1st Espoir D’Allen 16/1
  • 2nd Melon 20/1
  • 3rd Silver Streak 80/1

16:10 Mares Hurdle

A contest both horse racing enthusiasts and the sport’s casual followers look forward to on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival and we’ve enjoyed some memorable renewals over the years. We were all hoping the 2019 version would live up to the hype and, thankfully, we got our wish.

The 2m 3f Grade 1 saw a 14-runner pack battle it out on soft ground and that made for a pulsating race from start to finish. Benie Des Dieux attracted all the support during the antepost betting and she went into race day priced like losing wasn’t an option, going off a 10/11 favourite and marked in the multiples of many punters.

Unfortunately for those who placed their trust in the betting, she failed to deliver. Mullins and Walsh saw the jolly crash at the final fence when seemingly pulling away from the chasing pack.

A dramatic finish and it left supporters with their head in their hands, remembering another recent agonising finish to this race.

Completely in command at the time of falling, backers had her marked down as a winner in their accumulators, but that late drama left the door open for Roksana to be promoted from likely runner-up to champion of the 2019 Mares Hurdle.

A gift-wrapped win but no one connected to the Skelton yard were heard complaining and there weren’t many grumbles coming from punters brave enough to take on the favourite with Roksana who was weighed in as a 10/1 winner.

Harry Skelton kept his mare in touch throughout the race and the pair were seen asking all the right questions before Benie Des Dieux opened up, leaving Roksana and the chasing pack for dust.

With the battle on for second, the race took a remarkable turn and that became a war for the title.

The eventual winner looked distracted in the closing strides of the race and gave her pilot a job to do to keep her right, but the pair eventually came home 2 lengths ahead of rivals. Willie Mullins had the second when Stormy Ireland followed Roksana home under the ride of Paul Townend, after leading for parts of the race.

She was well out-paced by Benie Des Dieux and didn’t give the winner too much trouble either, although she did show fight when staying on at SP 7/1 to chase the victor to the finish.

Back in third we had a 25/1 shot in Good Thyne Tara, another out of the Mullins stables. Rachael Blackmore took the ride and boosted her stock when helping her mount recover from being hampered at the last.

No impression on the two ahead of her in the finishing order but Lady Buttons in fourth was 12 lengths behind, ensuring there was little to worry about.

Mares Hurdle Result:

  • 1st Roksana 10/1
  • 2nd Stormy Ireland 7/1
  • 3rd Good Thyne Tara 25/1

16:50 Novices Hunt Chase

We finally had a winning favourite and it took until the penultimate race of the day for the jolly to get off the mark, achieved thanks to the efforts of A Plus Tard who claimed the Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase at an SP 5/1.

Henri de Bromhead trained the winner and the talented Racheal Blackmore went from third in the Mares Hurdle to first in this one, ending a staggering 16 lengths ahead of Tower Bridge in second.

The victor led from two out and was well clear approaching the last. There was to be no further late drama provided by this race, A Plus Tard staying on strongly to be marked down as one of the most impressive winners of the day.

This race followed the betting with JP O’ Brien’s Tower Bridge ending second at 6/1 and although well beaten, Slevin crossed the line with nothing about him, third-place Ben Dundee 4 lengths back in third at 33/1.

The bronze medallist made one or two minor errors but was prominent throughout and deserved his place.

20 runners were sent off but just over half finished the race. Eight were pulled-up in Cubomania, Lough Derg Spirit, Militarian, Walt, Good Man Pat, Solomn Grundy, Quamino and Dell Oro, while 10/1 shot Riders On the Storm was pulled-up by Hughes after failing to settle.

National Hunt Chase Result:

  • 1st A Plus Tard 5/1
  • 2nd Tower Bridge 6/1
  • 3rd Ben Dundee 33/1

17:30 Close Brothers Novices

This 18-runner field brought the curtain down on what was an engrossing first day but before the finish there was to be one final twist with another big price winner helping boost the betting balance of punters in plenty of time for day two.

A Grade 2 amateur riders novices chase, a testing 3m 7f lay between the starting field and a champion, all played out on energy-sapping soft ground, just to make things that little more interesting. A bulky prize pot was divided amongst the major players, with over £74,000 of that going to the winner.

That cheque was paid to connections of Le Breuil after the seven-year-old gelding, owned by Emma Palmer, battled to edge runner-up Discorama by a length, backers paid out at a cracking 14/1 if taking the starting price.

In a nail-biting climax, the balance of power swung between Le Breuil and Discorama but it was the former who held his nerve, staying on in a determined fashion to hit the front inside the final 100 yards.

Discorama didn’t do a lot wrong as a 9/2 second and handlers came out of the race knowing that, on another day, they would’ve got the rub of the green, taking confidence from the fact their progressive six-year-old will come on for the experience.

Jerrysback was third at 16/1 but got nowhere near the winner or runner-up, nicking the battle for bronze by a length from Clondaw Cian at a stunning 125/1.

Incredibly, those were the only four finishers of the 18 that started the race.

Pre-race favourite Ballyward was amongst those who failed to complete the circuit, making a mess of the fifth and coming down at the 17th. Ok Corral was fancied by many followers of the form, but Nicky Henderson’s runner was another to disappoint backers who had him picked at 4/1.

Ridden by Derek O’Connor, he was pulled-up after making a couple of mistakes and weakening through the field.

Ok Corral went into the race looking to land a hat-trick after winning at Plumpton and Warwick but will mark his Cheltenham effort down as one to forget.

Will we see him back at Prestbury Park in 2020?

Close Brothers Novices Result:

  • 1st Le Breuil 14/1
  • 2nd Discorama 9/2
  • 3rd Jerrysback 16/1
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