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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are this year’s statistics:
And my placepot results:
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.
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As mentioned earlier, Friday was Comic Relief Red Nose Day and here is the link to the Bodyguard spoof:
OMG … I love this GIF: