CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2019

 

Day 4 – Friday 15 March

 

 

 

 

Picture of the Day

 

 

 

The Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1):

 

The winner – Al Boum Photo

trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townend

 

(I would have liked to publish a photo of the winner of the Grand Annual here ...

but I didn’t stay beyond the fourth race!!!

 

 

The alarm sounded and I actually got up almost immediately today.  There was no time for hanging around, as I needed to pack my belongings into my car today and also get to Cheltenham racecourse in good time.

 

I had a shower, washed and dried my hair and also applied my make-up before breakfast.  I took a number of bags to my car before reporting for breakfast, and others afterwards.  Having checked my room to ensure there were no belongings left behind, unlike last year when I’d lost my 4-way extension lead, I walked around to reception to return my key card.

 

I had been in two minds about booking overnight accommodation for 2020 ... as future racing plans feel a little up in the air right now, due to ‘Maddenitis’ ... but thought I’d ask anyway; besides I could always cancel at a later date.  However, it transpired that there was to be a refurbishment commencing in January 2020 so I was unable to book ahead!!!  Perhaps it’s a sign!!!

 

I left for Cheltenham at 08:55, taking my usual route and stopping off at the Sainsburys Supermarket in Priors Road to fill the petrol tank.  I also parked up in the same area of the car park as I’d done on the previous three days.  But it was raining heavily again, so I decided to wait in my car for a while before setting off to the turnstiles.

 

Once inside the enclosures, I popped to the loo, before deciding upon and placing my toteplacepot selections:

 

Toteplacepot selections

1st race

10. Quel Destin

2nd race

13. Crooks Peak

3rd race

2.   Ask Ben

4th race

12. Native River

5th race

17. Shantou Flyer

6th race

8.   Whatswrongwithyou

 

I headed to the upper steppings overlooking the Winners’ Enclosure, ahead of the first race.

 

The favourite for this event was Sir Erec, trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by Mark Walsh; price 11-10.

 

There was a delay at the start, because Sir Erec spread a plate prior to the race and the shoe had to be replaced. 

 

Meanwhile, this wasn’t the only panic ahead of the race.  A gentleman tripped down the steps, not far from where I was standing, and cracked his head open upon one of the metal supports which hold the Perspex barrier in place along the edge of the steppings.  Blood was flowing freely, onto the concrete, and the medics were called.

 

Meanwhile Sir Erec was re-plated and the runners set off.  However, having landed over the fourth flight, the favourite broke a leg and was quickly pulled up. RIP

 

The race was won by Pentland Hills, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville.  The owners of the Motivator gelding are Owners Group 031.

 

Race 1:

JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)

9 ran

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

1st

Pentland Hills

Nicky Henderson

Nico de Boinville

2nd

Coeur Sublime

Gordon Elliott

Davy Russell

3rd

Gardens Of Babylon

Joseph O’Brien

Barry Geraghty

4th

Nelson River

Tony Carroll

Harry Bannister

Fatality

P/U

Sir Erec

Joseph O’Brien

Mark Walsh

 

The second race of the day was the County Hurdle. 

 

The favourite was the Willie Mullins-trained Whiskey Sour, ridden by Ruby Walsh; price 5-1.  There were two runners of interest, for me, Lisp trained by Alan King and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson, plus Thistle Do Nicely, part-owned by Apple Tree Stud, trained by Jamie Snowden and ridden by Gavin Sheehan.

 

I suppose it should have come as no surprise that the race was won by Ch’tibello, trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by brother Harry.  This was the third time in four years the trainer had won this particular race!

 

My selections, Lisp and Thistle Do Nicely, finished 5th and 13th respectively.

 

Race 2:

County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

24 ran

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

1st

Ch’tibello

Dan Skelton

Harry Skelton

2nd

We Have A Dream

Nicky Henderson

Daryl Jacob

3rd

Countister

Nicky Henderson

Barry Geraghty

4th

Whiskey Sour

Willie Mullins

Ruby Walsh

Additional runner(s) of interest:

5th

Lisp

Alan King

Wayne Hutchinson

13th

Thistle Do Nicely

Jamie Snowden

Gavin Sheehan

 

The favourite for race three was Commander Of Fleet, trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Jack Kennedy; price 4-1. 

 

There were two runners of interest, namely Ask Ben, trained by Graeme McPherson and ridden by Kielan Woods; plus Alsa Mix trained by Alan King and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson. 

 

The race was won by a 50-1 shot – Minella Indo, trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore.  It was the jockey’s second winner of the week and her first Grade 1 triumph.

 

Ask Ben finished 10th and Alsa Mix was pulled up.

 

Race 3:

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

20 ran

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

1st

Minella Indo

Henry de Bromhead

Rachael Blackmore

2nd

Commander Of Fleet

Gordon Elliott

Jack Kennedy

3rd

Allaho

Willie Mullins

Ruby Walsh

4th

Dickie Diver

Nicky Henderson

Aidan Coleman

Additional runner(s) of interest:

10th

Ask Ben

Graeme McPherson

Kielan Woods

P/U

Alsa Mix

Alan King

Wayne Hutchinson

 

It was now time for the feature race of the day ... and week ... the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

The favourite was Presenting Percy, trained by Patrick G Kelly and ridden by Davy Russell; price 10-3.

 

My runner of interest, and a particular favourite of mine, was last year’s winner Native River, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Richard Johnson.

 

And the winner was Al Boum Photo, giving trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Paul Townend their first wins in this race.

 

The race was marred by a fatal injury to another of Willie Mullins’ string, Invitation Only, who fell at the 10th fence.  Definitly Red was brought down in the incident but fortunately escaped unscathed. 

 

Race 4:

Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1)

15 ran

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

1st

Al Boum Photo

Willie Mullins

Paul Townend

2nd

Anibale Fly

Tony Martin

Barry Geraghty

3rd

Bristol De Mai

Nigel Twiston-Davies

Daryl Jacob

4th

Native River

Colin Tizzard

Richard Johnson

Fatality

Fell

Invitation Only

Willie Mullins

Mr Patrick Mullins

 

I left after the Gold Cup, as I wanted to get home before the Red Nose Day events commenced on BBC1 at 19:00!  I wouldn’t have cared, normally, but Richard Madden had filmed a Bodyguard spoof sketch for the programme ... and I couldn’t possibly miss him!!!  He’d filmed it on 11 and 16 February respectively ... I saw him in the flesh on 10 February, at the Film BAFTAs.

 

The favourite for the fifth race of the day was Hazel Hill, trained by Philip Rowley and ridden by Mr Alex Edwards; price 7-2.

 

And he duly obliged. 

 

Race 5:

Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

24 ran

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

1st

Hazel Hill

Philip Rowley

Mr Alex Edwards

2nd

Shantou Flyer

Richard Hobson

Mr David Maxwell

3rd

Top Wood

Miss Kelly Morgan

Miss Tabitha Worsley

4th

Road To Rome

J J O’Shea

Mr Sam Waley-Cohen

 

The favourite for the penultimate race of the Festival was the Paul Nicholls-trained Magic Saint, ridden by Harry Cobden; price 9-2.  The Grand Annual and Martin Pipe races having been swapped around this year.

 

There was a shock result, with the 12-year-old Croco Bay winning for trainer Ben Case and jockey Kielan Woods; price 66-1.

 

Race 6:

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

23 ran

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

1st

Croco Bay

Ben Case

Kielan Woods

2nd

Bun Doran

Tom George

Paddy Brennan

3rd

Brelan D’As

Paul Nicholls

Bryony Frost

4th

Forest Bihan

Brian Ellison

Danny Cook

 

The favourite for the final event was Dallas De Picton, trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Donagh Meyler; price 7-2.

 

And the winner was Early Doors for trainer Joseph O’Brien and jockey Jonjo O’Neill Jnr. 

 

This result meant that the Prestbury Cup honours were shared this year; the previous two years having been a whitewash for the Irish. 

 

Race 7:

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

22 ran

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

1st

Early Doors

Joseph O’Brien

Jonjo O’Neill Jnr

2nd

Dallas Des Pictons

Gordon Elliott

Donagh Meyler

3rd

Defi Bleu

Gordon Elliott

Conor Brassil

4th

Champagne Court

Jeremy Scott

Rex Dingle

 

 

Here are this year’s statistics:

 

 

Prestbury Cup

Score at the end of the Festival

GB

Ireland

14

14

 

 

And my placepot results:

 

Toteplacepot selections

Placings

1st race

10. Quel Destin

5th

2nd race

13. Crooks Peak

20th

3rd race

2.   Ask Ben

10th

4th race

12. Native River

4th

5th race

17. Shantou Flyer

2nd

6th race

8.   Whatswrongwithyou

7th

 

 

 

LEADING TRAINER

Position

Trainer

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

1

Willie Mullins

4

5

4

4

2

Nicky Henderson

4

4

1

1

3

Gordon Elliott

3

4

5

2

4

Joseph O’Brien

2

2

1

1

5

Paul Nicholls

2

1

1

1

6

Dan Skelton

2

0

1

1

7

Henry de Bromhead

2

0

0

2

8

Philip Hobbs

1

0

2

0

9

Ben Pauling

1

0

1

1

=10

Ben Case

1

0

0

0

=10

Emma Lavelle

1

0

0

0

=10

Gavin Cromwell

1

0

0

0

=10

Martin Brassil

1

0

0

0

=10

Nick Williams

1

0

0

0

=10

Philip Rowley

1

0

0

0

=10

Ted Walsh

1

0

0

0

=30

Alan King

0

0

1

0

 

 

LEADING JOCKEY

Position

Jockey

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

1

Nico de Boinville

3

1

1

0

2

Barry Geraghty

2

3

2

1

3

Paul Townend

2

2

0

1

4

Mark Walsh

2

1

1

0

5

Rachael Blackmore

2

0

1

2

6

Harry Skelton

2

0

1

1

7

Mr Jamie Codd

2

0

0

0

8

JJ Slevin

1

2

0

1

9

Harry Cobden

1

1

0

2

10

Mr Alex Edwards

1

1

0

0

11

Ruby Walsh

1

0

3

2

=12

Bryony Frost

1

0

1

0

=12

Keith Donoghue

1

0

1

0

14

Aidan Coleman

1

0

0

1

=15

Mr Derek O’Connor

1

0

0

0

=15

Jeremiah McGrath

1

0

0

0

=15

Jonjo O’Neill Junior

1

0

0

0

=15

Kielan Woods

1

0

0

0

=15

Lizzie Kelly

1

0

0

0

=15

Noel Fehily

1

0

0

0

 

Meanwhile, whilst the final three races were being run, I was already on my way home to Hertfordshire. 

 

I had decided that I couldn’t risk returning via Oxford or the M40 / M25 motorways during the rush-hour so, with this in mind, I exited Cheltenham via my usual route of Harp Hill / Greenway Lane to begin my eastbound journey upon the A40. 

 

As I’d done on Tuesday evening, I decided to take a left-turn at the traffic-lights junction upon the Andoversford bypass, following the A436 towards Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold beyond.  My journey continued through Chipping Norton and Enstone, before turning off to the left to follow the well-worn route upon the B4030 through the Bartons, past Hopcrofts Halt and Rousham House, before driving through Middleton Stoney to reach Bicester.

 

I subsequently continued along the A41 to Aylesbury.  It was getting dark by the time I left the town ... my route continued along the A41 bypass to reach Hemel Hempstead.  I really didn’t enjoy driving in the dark, having managed to avoid this throughout the week.  Having reached St Albans, I headed around the ring-road and arrived back at 19:05.

 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

 

As mentioned earlier, Friday was Comic Relief Red Nose Day and here is the link to the Bodyguard spoof:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aKCpcQUDcg

 

OMG … I love this GIF:

https://twitter.com/i/status/1106703732295811072

 

 


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