Thursday 12 March 2015

Here is my round-up of Day Three 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 foretaster. 


Replay 2006.jpg



Ahead of racing, replays of previous winners

of the World Hurdle are shown on the big screen.

Here is My Way De Solzen

and Choc winning the race in 2006.


Vautour and Ruby Walsh win

the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase


The Tourard Man.jpg

Pertemps Finish.jpg


The Alan King-trained The Tourard Man,

with Wayne Hutchinson aboard, head

to the start of the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle


Having cleared the last,

the Pertemps competitors head to the line.

Right to left are Call The Cops (winner), 

Unique De Cotte (2nd), Brother Brian (6th),

Henryville (4th) and The Tourard Man (3rd).


Winning Bet.jpg



And look what I’ve got ... an eachway

betting slip for The Tourard Man, a 20-1 shot!

My only bet of the Festival



The Alan King-trained Balder Succes

and Wayne Hutchinson

head to the start of the

Grade 1 Ryanair Chase



Uxizandre 2.jpg


The Alan King-trained Uxizandre makes

all to win the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase,

AP McCoy aboard



Uxizandre is a very photogenic horse!


Saphir Du Rheu.jpg

Cole Harden.jpg


Ahead of the Grade 1 World Hurdle,

the Paul Nicholls-trained Saphir Du Rheu



And the World Hurdle winner is ...

the Warren Greatrex-trained,

Gavin Sheehan-ridden, Cole Harden.

The first Cheltenham Festival winner for both.


Hollow Penny.jpg



The Alan King-trained Hollow Penny

ahead of the Brown Advisory &

Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Chase)



The Martin Keighley-trained Champion Court

ahead of the Brown Advisory &

Merriebelle Stable Plate





Darna, trained by Kim Bailey and

ridden by David Bass wins the 

Brown Advisory &

Merriebelle Stable Plate



The Martin Keighley-trained Benbane Head (Benny)

ahead of the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir

Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

(for Amateur Riders)


The Package.jpg

Charity Race.jpg


The Package, trained by David Pipe and

ridden by Mr Jamie Codd,

wins the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir

Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

(for Amateur Riders)



The winner of the

St Patrick’s Day Derby Charity race

 in aid of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund:

Knight’s Parade ridden by James Collins

and trained by Gordon Elliott



Today I left home at 06:08 today and arrived at 08:38.  I normally travel via Aylesbury’s northern ring-road but, on this occasion, I took the southern route because there was a slow moving vehicle just ahead of me and they took the northern route!  And, despite being earlier, I had the impression that the levels of traffic on the A41 after Bicester were heavier today.  I thus joined the locals to travel via the village of Wendlebury, therefore bypassing the M40 junction and rejoining my usual route further along the A34.


Arriving at this time meant there was enough space for me to park in the bottom field, although I was almost at the top of the hill therein. 


The gates opened 10 minutes early today and the races went as follows:


Another win for the Irish in the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase, with the Willie Mullins-trained, Ruby Walsh-ridden Vautour trouncing his 8 rivals by 15 lengths.  The two other Irish raiders filled 2nd and 3rd places, with just crumbs left for the GB runners.  More


The Pertemps Network Final was won by Call The Cops, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Andrew Tinkler; it was Andrew’s second Festival success, his first being Greenhope in the Grand Annual in 2006.  There was a sole Irish raider, Edeymi, trained by Tony Martin and he finished 18th.  More


As you know, I (almost) never bet apart from the National Lottery and occasionally on the Grand National, but I decided to take on the challenge of selecting a winner in this 23-runner handicap.  After all, there’s no fun if there’s no challenge.  So The Tourard Man became my one and only bet of the 2015 Festival; his price 20-1.  I knew that Alan King was keen for the horse to get into the race (ie. not balloted out), believing him to have a good chance; I’ve also seen the horse run well a number of times in qualifiers on TV.  And I recall Alan saying earlier in the season that they needed to run The Tourard Man regularly because he becomes dangerous when too fresh!  Anyway he finished 3rd so, for an eachway outlay of £10, I received back £28.50!  Although if he’d won, I’d have got a whole lot more.


Alan King had two representatives in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase, Balder Succes and Uxizandre.  The race is not classed as Thursday’s feature event but does offer a bigger first prize than the World Hurdle; £136,623 compared to £130,740.  Again Balder Succes had no luck at Cheltenham; he blundered away his chance at the second fence.  However, it was an entirely different story for Uxizandre who jumped like a stag and made all to win by 5 lengths from that admirable mare Ma Filleule.  It was also a 31st Cheltenham Festival winner for AP McCoy and, as it turned out, his final one before retirement.  The horse was priced at 16-1.  Just one Irish runner in the frame, namely Don Cossack who claimed 3rd prize.


JP McManus owns the horse, having purchased him on recommendation from Alan when he went to the sales at the end of a season having been owned by the Million In Mind syndicate; their horses are always sold after one season.  I don’t mind when JP’s horses win, unlike other Irish owners; he is very sporting, always makes a point of congratulating his rivals and is good for horse racing in general.  I remember being at Sandown Park and JP viewing a race from the general grandstand (not the premier grandstand) with ordinary members of the public, and not all owners would do that.  More


The World Hurdle was another demonstration of successful front running tactics; this time from the Warren Greatrex-trained Cole Harden, ridden by last year’s Champion Conditional jockey Gavin Sheehan.  The first Cheltenham Festival success for both trainer and jockey.  I fancied Cole Harden to win, because he’d had a breathing operation since his last run.  He was classed as an outsider today, being a 14-1 shot.  Saphir Du Rheu finished 2nd, with Zarkandar in 3rd; the latter’s chance possibly compromised by a bad blunder two out.  No Irish runners made the frame.  More


Darna rolled back the years for trainer Kim Bailey when winning the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate.  It was exactly 20 years since the trainer did the Champion Hurdle/Gold Cup double with Alderbrook and Master Oats, and 16 years since his last Cheltenham Festival winner with Betty’s Boy.  Having lost the ride aboard Kim’s other runner Un Ace to AP McCoy, David Bass claimed his first ever Festival winner aboard Darna instead!  Alan King’s runner, Hollow Penny, finished a close 5th and Martin Keighley’s Champion Court finished a very respectable 7th.  One placed Irish runner, Rawnaq in 3rd place.  More


The final race of the day, apart from the charity race, was the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase for Amateur Riders.  Martin Keighley had a runner in this race, namely Benbane Head (Benny) ridden by Mr Tom Weston.  The ex-Alan King trained Bless The Wings was a competitor in this event, ridden by Nina Carberry; the horse is now trained by Gordon Elliott. 


The David Pipe-trained, Mr Jamie Codd-ridden The Package won from Bless The Wings.  The Irish filled 2nd and 3rd places, with Colin Tizzard’s Grand Vision in 4th.  There was carnage at the tricky fourth last fence, with leader Sixty Something and Benbane Head falling independently.  Masters Hill, The Nephew and Across The Bay were all brought down in the incident.  All the horse casualties were okay, apart from the grey Masters Hill who completed the course while rider-less but limped to a standstill just before the line; hopefully the injury is not too serious.  More


However, jockey Tom Weston was airlifted to hospital in Bristol, delaying the start of the charity race.  It later transpired than Tom had punctured both lungs ... despite not having broken any ribs, much to the consternation of the doctors!  More 


The charity race was won by the favourite, Knight’s Parade, ridden by James Collins; the horse trained by Gordon Elliott.  Riders taking part also included Clifford Baker, who is Paul Nicholls’ Head Lad.  Also Hayley O’Connor, PR Representative of Ladbrokes in Ireland.  Simon Clare, PR Director of Coral; he only learnt to ride last September!  New Zealander Andrew Nicholson, international event rider.  And Phillip Clark, a Racing UK cameraman.  There were 12 competitors in total.


At the end of today, the GB versus Ireland competition stood at 11-9.  


My own highlights on Day Three were, of course, the Alan King-trained Uxizandre winning the Ryanair Chase ridden by AP Coy.  And Cole Harden winning the World Hurdle for one of the smaller stables, their first Cheltenham success. 


My low lights ... Ruby winning yet again and thoughts with Tom Weston who was airlifted to hospital following his fall from Benbane Head.   Wishing Tom a very speedy recovery.


Today I left the car park at 18:10 and had reached the Sixways junction on the A40 by 18:30.  My route out was via Tommy Taylors Lane once more.  However, things were going well until just prior to the roundabout on the Stow/Cirencester road; an emergency road repair, the workmen still carrying out work under cover of darkness.  I must have waited in the queue at the temporary lights for at least 10 minutes before it was my turn to move through. 


Then, to add insult to injury, the car in front of the coach in front (if that makes sense) was travelling so slowly that he lost touch with the ‘convoy’ and this allowed space for a tractor to pull out of a side lane in front of us.  So, for a number of miles, everyone was driving at just 35mph. 


Having already missed an opportunity to pass the coach on the escarpment dual carriageway because I’d got caught by a red light at the Andoversford bypass, I was finally afforded the opportunity to overtake it once I’d reached the beginning of the Witney bypass.


I chose to travel via the M40/M25 route again today and couldn’t believe my eyes when that damn coach overtook me on the dual carriageway heading down to the M40.  But I had him in my sights again by the time I’d passed the motorway’s central High Wycombe junction and overtook him once more.  I didn’t notice him again at any stage after that.


I continued on the M25 until Junction 22 today, filling up the petrol tank before arriving home at 20:45.  So I’d lost the time gained by a slightly earlier exit due to annoying delays today.




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