CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL BLOG 2015

DAY FOUR

 

 

 

Friday 13 March 2015

Here is my round-up of Day Four of this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

 

I took numerous photographs – Day One 255, Day Two 134, Day Three 311 and Day Four 145 – so it’s going to take a while to select the best, although quite a few did suffer due to the poor light conditions during the final three days.  However I have added a number to this Cheltenham blog as a fore-taster. 

 

Karezak & Pain Au Chocolat.jpg

Peace And Co.jpg

 

The Alan King entries for the

Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle. Karezak

ridden by Wayne Hutchinson and

Pain Au Chocolat ridden by Aidan Coleman.

 

The winner of the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle.

Peace And Co trained by Nicky Henderson

and ridden by Barry Geraghty.

 

Wicklow Brave.jpg

Martello Tower.jpg

 

Following two efforts earlier this

season in the UK when disadvantaged

by a standing start, the Willie Mullins-trained,

Paul Townend-ridden Wicklow Brave

wins the County Hurdle.

 

 

Another Irish victory, Martello Tower trained by

Margaret Mullins and ridden by Adrian Heskin,

wins the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

 

Smad Place & The Giant Bolster.jpg

Smad Place.jpg

 

Smad Place (Wayne Hutchinson) and

The Giant Bolster (Tom Scudamore)

parade ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

Smad Place returns having

finished 8th in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

Coneygree.jpg

Foxhunters.jpg

 

And the winner is ...

novice Coneygree, trained by Mark Bradstock

and ridden by Nico de Boinville

 

 

The winner of the Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup

for Amateur Riders.

On The Fringe, trained by Enda Bolger

and ridden by Nina Carberry

 

Killultagh Vic.jpg

Turn Over Sivola.jpg

 

The winner of the Martin Pipe

Conditional Jockeys’ Conditional Hurdle.

Killultagh Vic trained by Willie Mullins

and ridden by Luke Dempsey

 

 

The AP McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase.

The Alan King-trained Turn Over Sivola

(Denis O’Regan) heads to the start.

 

Grumeti.jpg

Next Sensation.jpg

 

The AP McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase.

The Alan King-trained Grumeti

(Wayne Hutchinson) heads to the start.

 

 

The AP McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase

is won by Next Sensation, ridden by

Tom Scudamore and trained by

brother Michael Scudamore.

 

 

 

Today I left home at 06:02.  Being earlier than on all the previous three days, there were no traffic problems and I gained time during the journey; although on the section between Burford and the dual carriageway down the Cotswold escarpment, a lorry was holding up the traffic by travelling at only 40mph. 

 

It also dawned on me during the journey that I’d forgotten to tape Channel 4’s Cheltenham coverage today; there was no excuse for forgetting, as I should and could have set up yesterday’s and today’s programmes on one 8-hour, long play tape on Wednesday evening before I turned in for the night.  Damn.

 

I arrived at the racecourse at around 08:25 but, having decided I’d enter the top field from the Evesham Road, I encountered cones blocking the entrance driveway.  Typical.  A tardy steward began to walk down towards me but it was too late, I had to move on because I was blocking the roadway.  Great.  I had no idea where I was heading but hoped to find another entrance along the road as I headed north.  No such luck; there was a members’ only entrance and a coach entrance but no car park for the general public.

 

I continued along the road until I reached a crossroads with traffic lights.  I later checked the map and discovered it would have been best to turn left, but I turned right to head to Southam.  There was an entrance to the north car park prior to the village, but I really didn’t wish to park in that one.  So I continued through the village and out onto the B4632, then drove through Prestbury to arrive at the mini-roundabouts at the end of Bouncers Lane once more.  Take two.

 

I headed back to the racecourse, this time continuing across into Swindon Lane.  I entered the bottom field but it was full.  Despite me showing my car parking pass, I was directed to park in the staff car park once more.  Why the hell won’t they let me park in the top field?  They did on Tuesday so why isn’t it okay on Friday?  I parked up at 08:45. 

 

However, due to the overnight rain, the grass in the furthest Swindon Lane field was cutting up badly and areas could not be used.  I ended up parked near the top of the slope, sideways on, with fingers firmly crossed than I’d not require a tractor to pull me out at the end of the day!  It wasn’t fun making my way across the grass by foot either, very slippery; I didn’t realise until later that my burgundy ankle boots, although ‘clumpy’, have no tread on the soles! 

   

I set off to the entrance early, and chatted with the ‘Taunton guys’ today.  Having encountered rain at the Oxfordshire border, it had stopped as I entered Gloucestershire.  However, at 10:00 it decided to begin again, and it was heavy.  The gates opened at 10:30 as expected.

 

I sought out shelter close to the Winners’ Enclosure.  Luckily there was cover available between the First Aid point and the Betfred shop, where I waited for the rain to stop.  I was accosted by a representative of Somerset radio who was collecting interview snippets for a programme about AP McCoy.  I stated that he was a great ambassador for racing but I was pleased that, with his retirement, it might give Richard Johnson an opportunity to win the Champion jockey title before a youngster such as Sam Twiston-Davies assumed the role.  

 

Fortunately the rain decided to stop by noon and stayed dry for the remainder of the day; although it remained overcast. 

 

Today I’d arranged to meet up with a fellow Choc fan, Sally Meek, so I enjoyed a chat with her; she was accompanied by her husband today.   At around 13:00 I took my leave and headed down to the course-side rails to reserve my place ahead of racing. 

 

And this is how the stories of the final day’s races developed ...

 

The Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle was a benefit race for Nicky Henderson, with Peace And Co and Barry Geraghty taking the honours from another Henderson runner, Top Notch ridden by Daryl Jacob.  Hargam completed in third; yet another Henderson runner.  Fourth place went to the John Ferguson-trained Devilment.  Alan King ran Karezak and Pain Au Chocolat in this race and they finished 11th and 12th respectively.  More

                       

GB versus Ireland now stood at 12-9.

 

But disaster for the home team in the County Handicap Hurdle, with the first six finishers being Irish-trained runners.  Baltimore Rock was the first Brit home for David Pipe.  The winner was Wicklow Brave, ridden by Paul Townend for Willie Mullins.  Although, admittedly, the horse had been unlucky in both Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle and Sandown’s Imperial Cup when being disadvantaged by standing starts.  More

 

GB versus Ireland 12-10.

 

The whitewash was almost as bad in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle with Irish runners filling the first four places.  The winner was Martello Tower, ridden by Adrian Heskin and trained by Margaret Mullins.  It was the jockey’s second Cheltenham Festival career winner, having ridden A New Story to victory in the 2010 Cross Country event. The first Brit home was Value At Risk for Dan and Harry Skelton.  More

 

GB versus Ireland 12-11.

 

What can I say about the Gold Cup?  There were only two horses in the race who I would have been delighted for if they’d won – namely the Mark Bradstock-trained Coneygree and the Alan King-trained Smad Place.  So it was an excellent result for me.

 

I’ve been a fan of Coneygree since I saw him jump his rivals into the ground in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (formerly the Feltham Novices’ Chase) at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.  Having said that, I wasn’t sure that connections had made the right decision in running a novice in the Gold Cup... but I was delighted to have been proved very wrong!  The horse is already an 8-year-old, having missed 671 days between late January 2013 and November 2014 due to a freak accident when he sustained a bad cut to a hind-leg when at home, so he is more mature than a lot of novices.  I presume that is why he wears bandages on his hind-legs. 

 

His regular jockey, Nico de Boinville did an excellent job, taking up the running after the first fence and getting the pace just right to put pressure on his 15 rivals.  By the time they turned into the home straight, just two runners, Irish challengers Djakadam and Road To Riches, were dangers; the remainder of the experienced top-class chasers had come to the end of their tethers!

 

I became animated as Coneygree headed to the line, willing him to hold on which, of course, he did.  It’s great for a small yard to have such a high profile victory and proves that, occasionally, you don’t have to spend a great deal of money on horses to own a special one.  Coneygree is a home-bred half-brother to Carruthers, and also Flintham.  Their dam, Plaid Maid, was purchased by the Oaksey family for just £3,000.  

 

This was only his 10th race, 4th steeplechase.  And would he have won an extra bonus for winning a race at Plumpton before going on to triumph at the Festival had an on-course vet not prevented him from running in his intended debut race over fences because they thought at the time that he was unsound ...   

 

For the record, Smad Place finished in 8th place, just a head behind Silviniaco Conti. 

 

Here is the article regarding the victory as published on the At The Races website.  More

 

And news of the Gold Cup also-rans too.  More

 

And Gold Cup trivia ... a new Cheltenham Gold Cup is minted each year and there are 10 ounces of gold in the trophy – making it worth around £10,800.

 

GB versus Ireland 13-11.

 

The Foxhunter Chase was won by the second favourite, On The Fringe, ridden by Nina Carberry and trained by Enda Bolger; another victory for Ireland.  More

 

GB versus Ireland 13-12.

 

Not satisfied with a mere 7 winners at this year’s Festival, the Willie Mullins-trained Killultagh Vic won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.  Another clean sweep for the Irish; the first Brit home was Shelford in 5th place for Dan Skelton and Matt Griffiths.  More

 

With victory in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ race, Willie Mullins broke Nicky Henderson’s highest number of Cheltenham Festival winners in any one year record, having now attained eight winners this week. More

 

It was now neck and neck in the GB versus Ireland competition; 13 apiece, with the final race winner deciding the destination of the title. 

 

The final race, re-titled as the AP McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase for this year only to mark the Champ’s impending retirement, was won by Next Sensation ridden by Tom Scudamore and trained by his brother Michael Scudamore.  AP was given a great send off, with much applause as he rode to the start aboard race favourite Ned Buntline and also when he returned to the Winners’ Enclosure having completed in fourth place.  However, I thought it did rather overshadow the Scudamore’s celebrations, it being Michael’s first Festival winner. 

 

The first of Alan King’s two representatives in this race, Turn Over Sivola, ran well to finish a close 5th and Grumeti was pulled up having lost his place before being hampered four out.  More

 

But the very good news was that the GB versus Ireland competition for the most winners at this year’s Festival was won by us; the scores on the doors 14-13.  Although the Irish did win the charity race but, fortunately, that doesn’t count. 

 

My own highlight on Day Four was Coneygree’s victory in the Gold Cup.  No surprise there then.     

 

My low lights ... I can’t think of any today.

My boots were the muddiest that I observed all afternoon; I really have no idea why, because I only walked across the car park and the members’ lawn.  And, this year, I didn’t venture out into the centre of the racecourse; not even for the cross-country race on Wednesday.  My reason that day was not to get stuck out there just in case Any Currency won. 

 

I usually wait until around 19:30 to leave at the end of the final day, hoping that the traffic jams will clear by then.  However, as the field was now fairly empty and the driveway clear too, I decided to set off at 18:20.  As feared, my car tyres were having problems getting traction in the mud; I didn’t get stuck as such, but had to head down the grassy slope in gear without any brakes!  And I know the brakes weren’t working in the conditions ... because I tried them.  It was pretty scary and very fortunate there were no vehicles in my path! 

 

I made it to the gravel track, hoping that I’d have no call to stop prior to exiting the gate.  Fortunately the traffic policeman beckoned me to exit immediately; I turned right as directed and headed along Swindon Lane.  The roadway was caked in mud; grit and gravel rattled beneath my car as I proceeded in a westerly direction.  I headed down Windy Ridge but, unlike Wednesday, there was no long queue of traffic at the far end today. 

 

I made my way back eastwards towards the Evesham Road.  However, I encountered a tailback from the traffic lights thereon and had to wait for what seemed like ages before I was able to drive into Clarence Road.  Ambulance staff had been attending to someone; there were also police officers and a small crowd of people gathered on the pavement to the left-hand side of the road.  I presume that a pedestrian had been knocked down and injured. 

 

However unfortunate, I’m not in the least bit surprised because people walking to the town from the racecourse pay absolutely no attention to traffic heading in their direction.  But having said that, I cannot understand why there is no pedestrian crossing at that point, because there is on the other side of the junction.  I’ve also frequently heard abusive language between pedestrians and drivers at this location; come to think of it, I may have sworn at them myself on previous occasions too!  Idiots ... often drunken idiots.   

 

Anyway, I still made it to Sixways by 18:55.  I travelled out of Cheltenham behind a minibus and just couldn’t be asked to overtake it; I had no time constraints today, being in no particular hurry to get home.  I followed the vehicle until I reached the Witney bypass before overtaking.  I was seriously considering the ‘scenic’ route home, via Bicester and Aylesbury but, as I didn’t feel particularly tired, yet again I return via the M40 and M25. 

 

I left the M25 at Junction 22, but not before I’d seen a lunatic speed past me on the motorway, weaving in and out of the traffic.  I sincerely hope the police were able to catch him before he killed someone. 

 

There was no need to drop in to the petrol station this evening, so I arrived home at 21:00. 

 

I had survived the Cheltenham Festival 2015 and Friday the 13th proved to be a good day! 

 


 

 

The GB versus Ireland winners have been summarised below.  However, interestingly, the GB won all three senior Grade 1 chases – the Champion Chase, the Ryanair and the Gold Cup (although the latter with a novice).  But, worryingly, this year’s Grade 1 novice chase winners, all representing Ireland, will move into the senior category next year – namely Un De Sceaux, Vautour and Don Poli; all three to be very much feared on current form.   

 

 

Grade 1 Chases

Grade 1 Hurdles

Grade 1 (Bumper)

Handicap

Chases

 

Handicap

Hurdles

Cross Country (Handicap)

Handicap Chases (Amateur)

Other

(Foxhunter)

GB

3

2

1

4

3

0

1

0

Ireland

3

5

0

0

2

1

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOCKEYS’ TABLE

Pos.

Name

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

1

Ruby Walsh

4

1

1

2

2

Paul Townend

3

1

1

1

3

Barry Geraghty

2

2

1

2

4

Sam Twiston-Davies

2

2

0

2

5

Tom Scudamore

2

2

0

0

=6

Mr Jamie Codd

2

0

0

0

=6

Davy Russell

2

0

0

0

8

AP McCoy

1

1

1

4

9

Nina Carberry

1

1

0

0

10

Bryan Cooper

1

0

5

0

=11

David Bass

1

0

0

0

=11

Nico de Boinville

1

0

0

0

=11

Luke Dempsey

1

0

0

0

=11

Adrian Heskin

1

0

0

0

=11

Nick Scholfield

1

0

0

0

=11

Gavin Sheehan

1

0

0

0

=11

Andrew Tinkler

1

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRAINERS’ TABLE

 

Name

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

1

Willie Mullins

8

4

5

5

2

Paul Nicholls

3

3

1

2

3

Nicky Henderson

2

3

2

2

4

David Pipe

2

2

0

0

5

Gordon Elliott

1

2

2

1

6

Tony Martin

1

0

3

0

7

Alan King

1

0

1

2

8

Warren Greatrex

1

0

1

0

9

Rebecca Curtis

1

0

0

1

=10

Kim Bailey

1

0

0

0

=10

Enda Bolger

1

0

0

0

=10

Mark Bradstock

1

0

0

0

=10

Neil Mulholland

1

0

0

0

=10

Margaret Mullins

1

0

0

0

=10

Michael Scudamore

1

0

0

0

=10

Dermot Weld

1

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROLL OF HONOUR

Day

Event

Distance

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

1

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

2 miles ½ furlong

Douvan

Willie Mullins

Ruby Walsh

1

Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

2 miles

Un DeSceaux

Willie Mullins

Ruby Walsh

1

Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

3 miles 1 furlong

The Druids Nephew

Neil Mulholland

Barry Geraghty

1

Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)

2 miles ½ furlong

Faugheen

Willie Mullins

Ruby Walsh

1

OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

2 miles 4 furlongs

Glens Melody

Willie Mullins

Paul Townend

1

Toby Balding National Hunt Novices’ Chase (Listed) (Amateur Riders’)

4 miles

Cause Of Causes

Gordon Elliott

Mr Jamie Codd

1

CHAPS Restaurants Barbados Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed)

2 miles 4½ furlongs

Irish Cavalier

Rebecca Curtis

Paul Townend

2

Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

2 miles 5 furlongs

Windsor Park

Dermot Weld

Davy Russell

2

RSA Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

3 miles ½ furlong

Don Poli

Willie Mullins

Bryan Cooper

2

Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

2 miles 5 furlongs

Aux Ptits Soins

Paul Nicholls

Sam Twiston-Davies

2

Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)

2 miles

Dodging Bullets

Paul Nicholls

Sam Twiston-Davies

2

Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country)

3 miles 7 furlongs

Rivage D’or

Tony Martin

Davy Russell

2

Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

2 miles ½ furlong

Qualando

Paul Nicholls

Nick Scholfield

2

Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Standard Open NH Flat Race) (Grade 1)

2 miles ½ furlong

Moon Racer

David Pipe

Tom Scudamore

3

JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

2 miles 4 furlongs

Vautour

Willie Mullins

Ruby Walsh

3

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Listed)

3 miles

Call The Cops

Nicky Henderson

Andrew Tinkler

3

Ryanair Chase (Grade 1)

2 miles 5 furlongs

Uxizandre

Alan King

AP McCoy

3

Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Grade 1)

3 miles

Cole Harden

Warren Greatrex

Gavin Sheehan

3

Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

2 miles 5 furlongs

Darna

Kim Bailey

David Bass

3

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders’)

3 miles 2 furlongs

The Package

David Pipe

Mr Jamie Codd

4

JCB Triumph Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)

2 miles 1 furlong

Peace And Co

Nicky Henderson

Barry Geraghty

4

Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

2 miles 1 furlong

Wicklow Brave

Willie Mullins

Paul Townend

4

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

3 miles

Martello Tower

Margaret Mullins

Adrian Heskin

4

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1)

3 miles 2½ furlongs

Coneygree

Mark Bradstock

Nico de Boinville

4

St James’ Place Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’)

3 miles 2½ furlongs

On The Fringe

Enda Bolger

Ms Nina Carberry

4

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

2 miles 4½ furlongs

Killultagh Vic

Willie Mullins

Luke Dempsey

4

AP McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

2 miles ½ furlong

Next Sensation

Michael Scudamore

Tom Scudamore

 

 

 

 

 

 

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