PART II

DIARY – CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2014

DAY TWO

FEATURING THE QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE

WEDNESDAY 12 MARCH 2014

 

 

 

race 4 h.jpg

 

My overall ‘Winning Star’ of the 2014 Festival is Sire De Grugy

who won the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

This was jockey Jamie Moore’s first Cheltenham Festival winner,

and his father Gary’s second.

 

Click here to read Day 2 Diary Part I

 

It was now time for the feature event of the day, the Queen Mother Champion Chase. 

 

The favourite for today’s event was popular chestnut and this season’s Tingle Creek winner, Sire De Grugy, ridden by Jamie Moore and trained by father Gary; price 11-4.  Obviously there was no Sprinter Sacre in this year’s race, winner of last year’s renewal, due to the horse’s heart-related health scare earlier in the season.  Not that I mind in the least ... I’d far rather own Sire De Grugy than Sprinter Sacre!  I just love the underdog!

 

The 2011 Champion Chase winner, Sizing Europe, was wearing first time cheek-pieces today.  There was also a second-season novice in the race, namely Hinterland.

 

As with each of the feature events, there was a pre-race parade; the horses exited onto the course and formed into number order before the parade began.  Having been led up the home straight towards the winning post, the horses were released to canter back down the turf to enter the all-weather strip and travel to its termination in order to reach the two mile starting gate. 

 

Race 4

Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles (13 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

11

Arvika Ligeonniere, Baily Green, Captain Conan, Hinterland, Kid Cassidy, Module, Sire De Grugy, Sizing Europe, Somersby, Special Tiara, Wishfull Thinking

 

Then they were off first time and heading to the first of the 13 fences.  The runners were led away by Special Tiara, from Sizing Europe to the outside, Arvika Ligeonniere between them and Somersby, who had been sweating up a treat, to the inside.  Baily Green jumped out to his right over the first, Captain Conan was less than fluent and Kid Cassidy, held up in rear, was a little slow too.  Not surprisingly for the two-mile Champion event, the pace was good as Special Tiara led the runners over the second; Sizing Europe, Arvika Ligeonniere and Somersby close on his heels before a break in the field to Baily Green, Module and the remaining runners. 

 

Having cleared the first two fences, the horses passed through the temporary gap in the rail which separates the hurdle from chase track and joined the Old Course proper.  The leader got a little close to the third; Baily Green blundered having taken off too soon, and near the rear of the field Hinterland hit it too. 

 

Special Tiara took off too soon at the fourth, didn’t get the distance required and thus stepped through it; jockey Davy Russell had to re-gather his ‘knitting’ and he lost the lead to Somersby and Arvika Ligeonniere for a brief spell before rejoining this duo as they approached the uphill fence.  Baily Green in mid-field continued to jump out to his right; Wishfull Thinking in his wake followed suit, and Captain Conan was ridden away from the fence. 

 

The runners entered the back straight.  Arvika Ligeonniere under Ruby Walsh held a two lengths advantage over a small group consisting of Special Tiara, Somersby and Sizing Europe as the runners cleared the sixth fence.  There was then a gap in the field of four lengths to Baily Green and Module, and then same to the remainder headed by Sire De Grugy.  Having jumped this fence, Barry Geraghty decided to call it a day aboard the struggling Captain Conan.             

 

The field cleared the water-jump without incident.  Arvika Ligeonniere took off a little early at the first of the open-ditches and landed back on his hocks as a result.  He thus lost momentum and was soon headed by Somersby.  Kid Cassidy brought up the rear until Wishfull Thinking put in a slow leap at the ninth.  After the dog-leg turn and heading to the final open-ditch, the order was Somersby, Arvika Ligeonnaire, Special Tiara, Sizing Europe, Module with Baily Green to his outside, Sire De Grugy, Hinterland, Kid Cassidy, and Wishfull Thinking in rear.

 

There was almost carnage at the next, the final open-ditch, as Baily Green fell when placed just behind the leaders.  Fortunately his tendency to jump to the right took his body in that direction and thus Sire De Grugy had sufficient room to sneak through between the fallen horse and the rails.  Hinterland wasn’t so fortunate, as Baily Green fell directly into his path; the novice managed to jump the prostrate horse and remain on his feet, but jockey Noel Fehily was ejected over his head. 

 

Meanwhile, Special Tiara had re-gained a narrow advantage over Somersby and Sizing Europe as they travelled around the far turn; Module and Sire De Grugy completed the leading group and they had drawn well clear of the remainder which was headed by the weakening Arvika Ligeonnaire.  Somersby was the least fluent of this group jumping the third last; Sire De Grugy had moved into fourth place and was now on the heels of the leading trio as they headed towards the final bend.  Module had dropped away having been outpaced in fifth.

 

Jamie Moore’s mount nipped up the inside of Special Tiara as they turned the corner into the home straight and loomed up between Somersby to his inside and Sizing Europe to his outside as they headed to the penultimate fence.  Having cleared the fence, Sire De Grugy took the lead and was a length up on Somersby as they jumped the last. 

 

The leader then powered away from his rivals as he headed up the hill to the line, winning by 6 lengths.  Module stayed on and almost stole 2nd place from Somersby, the margin a neck.  Sizing Europe completed in 4th, Wishfull Thinking claimed 5th, Special Tiara faded into 6th and Kid Cassidy finished last of those which completed.  Ruby Walsh had pulled up Arvika Ligeonnaire before 2 out.

 

Paddy Brennan patted Jamie on the back as they pulled up at the top of the course; and Jamie put his arms around Sire De Grugy’s neck, giving the horse a hug.  There were further congratulations from the other jockeys, and Paddy even planted a kiss upon the winning jockey too!  Then additional hugs, pats and kisses for the horse from his thrilled jockey. 

 

It was jockey Jamie’s first Cheltenham Festival winner and father Gary’s second. 

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Sire De Grugy

Jamie Moore

Gary Moore

2nd

Somersby

Dominic Elsworth

Mick Channon

3rd

Module

Paddy Brennan

Tom George

4th

Sizing Europe

Andrew Lynch

Henry de Bromhead

 

I stayed beside the course-side rails initially, to take a photograph as the winning partnership passed by.  I then decided to return to the Winners’ Enclosure, it was absolutely choc-a-bloc on the steppings.  Many of Jamie’s colleagues had come out of the Weighing Room to congratulate him as he was led through the Paddock.  I had to walk all the way around to the far side of the steppings and still only managed to get a small glimpse of proceedings.  On the RUK coverage I saw Aidan Coleman raised upon shoulders to give Jamie a high-five, Sam Twiston-Davies on the other side too; Choc were there, although I was unable to see him in shot.

 

It was a victory for the little guys; Jamie explained that he loves the horse more than anything else in the world apart from his daughters Lola and Roxy and wife Lucie.  He rides the horse out each day too.  

 

Jamie explained that at the top of the hill Ruby Walsh had offered useful advice, telling him to follow Special Tiara and take his position when the rival began to tire.   

 

Brother Ryan was also in attendance, but overshadowed today.  Trainer Gary Moore was joking that he’d probably re-broken his recently broken thumb having shaken so many hands today.

 

WHY THEY RAN BADLY:

Ruby Walsh, the rider of ARVIKA LEGEONNIERE (FR), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding ran too free. The Stewards ordered ARVIKA LEGEONNIERE (FR) to be routine tested.

Barry Geraghty, the rider of CAPTAIN CONAN (FR), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding was never travelling. The Stewards ordered CAPTAIN CONAN (FR) to be routine tested. The Veterinary Officer subsequently reported that during routine testing he found that CAPTAIN CONAN (FR) was lame behind.

It was later discovered that Captain Conan had sustained a non-displaced fractured pelvis; a month’s box-rest was prescribed. 

It was now time for an excursion to the centre of the racecourse, ahead of the cross-country race.  As had been the case recently, I decided to find a vantage point upon the crown of the bend, opposite the water-jump, rather than head to the mound above the brook as had been my chosen position during earlier Festivals.  I was well prepared too, as had worn my ankle boots today; although I do recall heading out into the centre course enclosure in shoes later in the week!

The favourite for this race was Big Shu, the easy winner of last year’s race; priced 3-1.  Also taking part was the admirable Balthazar King; he was second favourite.  And Martin Keighley also had a runner in this race, Any Currency (aka Woody) ridden by Ian Popham.  

Race 5

Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country)

Distance

3 miles 7 furlongs (32 fences)

No. of Runners

16

Balthazar King, Uncle Junior, Big Shu, Quantitativeeasing, Love Rory, Hey Big Spender, Sire Collonges, Sizing Australia, Bishopsfurze, Duke Of Lucca, Quiscover Fontaine, Diamond Harry, Any Currency, A Stray Shot, Sin Palo, Star Neuville

 

The sixteen runners circled within the small starting area and then they were off, first time.  The runners were led away by the sole grey Sire Collonges, he was followed by Duke Of Lucca and Any Currency.  At the rear of the field was Big Shu.  Having cleared the bank with hedge, the field took a left-hand bend to head to the ditch/railed hedge.  On the outside in mid-field, Bishopsfurze sprawled on landing over this; the partnership survived, although in his wake Star Neuville was hampered.

 

The third fence is the birch island fence, there being the option to jump either the inside left-hand section, or the outer right-hand section.  Richard Johnson aboard Balthazar King one of only two to choose the latter path.  The runners then travelled across the beginning of the mid-course chute, before jumping the Aintree Canal Turn style fence, the pilots having to steer their mounts sharp left having cleared it.  Sire Collonges still led the runners; Bishopsfurze following his error was a distant last.  

 

The runners were already well-strung out as they reached the fifth fence, a bank with hedge; this is the first of a line of three.  They cleared this, returned across the mid-course chute, and jumped the double bank with hedges and the hedge/log fence prior to galloping across the downhill section of the Old Course.  A matter of strides thereafter the competitors cleared the double bank with hedge before making a sharp right-hand turn, uphill, the reach the American-style timber rails.  This fence is negotiated just once during the race, as are the next two; Sire Collonges still led but jumped out slightly to his left as he did so.  Any Currency travelled in second place, Duke Of Lucca to his outside in third, followed by Balthazar King and Sizing Australia; at the rear of the field were Uncle Junior and Bishopsfurze.

 

The horses crossed the mid-course chute again, the section which runs between the Old and New courses, continuing to travel uphill before jumping the railed hedge fence.  Then it was back across the downhill section of the Old Course on a fairly long, also slightly downhill journey to fence number eleven; ditch with railed hedge.  The runners then negotiated a dog-leg turn to their right to jump the pole and railed hedge; Sire Collonges continued to lead the way. 

 

A further dog-leg turn took the runners back across the mid-course chute in order to jump the ditch with raised platform bank and hedge.  There was a mistake by the one of Willie Mullins’ trio, Sin Palo, who was taken by surprise by the drop on landing.  The next fence is the water-jump, located at the bottom of a small gulley which runs across the racecourse.  Having cleared this, the runners now more closely grouped.  The horses then took a sharp left-hand turn right in front of where I was standing and headed towards the cheese-wedges, fences 15 and 16; Balthazar was a little awkward when negotiating the latter part. 

 

And still Sire Collonges led from Any Currency, Duke Of Lucca, Balthazar King and Sizing Australia.  Having completed what is termed the first circuit, which involves jumping half of the 32 fences, the runners set off around a long sweeping left-hand turn to reach and jump the ditch/railed hedge for the second time.  Sin Palo was now last but one, Uncle Junior the back marker.  Following a further left-hand turn, the runners negotiated the ditch with raised platform bank and hedge; this was originally jumped as fence 13 but now taken at right-angles as fence 18. 

 

Another left-hand dog-leg turn took the runners across the downhill section of the Old Course and over the double bank and hedge for the second time.  Instead of heading up the hill like previously, the horses turned left again to jump a ditch with railed hedge for the one and only time, before heading uphill and returning across the Old Course and jumping a ditch with boarded hedge, also for the one and only time. 

A couple of horses caught out at this one due to an unexpected drop on the landing side were Any Currency and worse still, back in the field, Star Neuville.  Ian Popham gave Any Currency a smack with the whip following this; the horse is always a hard ride for his jockey!

 

The horses turned right and headed to the water-jump for the final time.  Any Currency and Sire Collonges disputed the lead, from stable-mates Balthazar King and Duke Of Lucca, they were followed by Love Rory, Hey Big Spender, Sizing Australia, Quiscover Fontaine sporting the JP McManus first colours, Big Shu, A Stray Shot, Star Neuville, Quantitativeeasing with the jockey wearing the McManus second colours, Sin Palo, Bishopsfurze, Uncle Junior and Diamond Harry.  Solely the tops of the jockeys’ heads were visible on the RUK coverage as they jumped the water; I got a far better view of the runners from my vantage point opposite.  

 

The horses took a sharp left and headed into the oncoming rays of the sun as they travelled to fence number 23, the double-spread hedge; at the rear of the field, Diamond Harry was pulled up before this obstacle.  Following a left-hand bend, the horses then jumped the bank with hedge; this had been the first fence also and they were now on what was classed as the third and final circuit.  Sin Palo had clambered over the fence and was pulled up, and Bishopsfurze pulled up here too. 

  

Having negotiated a long sweeping left-hand turn the horses headed over the ditch and rail hedge; Sire Collonges and Any Currency holding a clear lead over the others, and despite the latter being bumped along.  The following fence is the birch island fence; both Balthazar King and Duke Of Lucca deciding to take the outside option, as opposed to the inner one as per the leading duo.  Any Currency had taken the lead as they crossed over the beginning of the mid-course chute to approach the Aintree fence once more.

 

Balthazar King closed upon the leader by dint of taking the turn at a sharper angle and despite not jumping it as well as Any Currency, and Sire Collonges took an even shorter route to the inside.  Having jumped fence 28, the bank with hedge, where Balthazar King narrowly led, the runners returned across the chute to jump the double bank with hedges followed by the hedge and log fence.  Behind the two leaders were Duke Of Lucca and Big Shu, Sire Collonges having weakened into fifth position by this stage of the race.

 

Having jumped fence 30 it was soon time to negotiate a left-hand turn and head onto the Old Course in order to complete the race; the final two obstacles being stuffed hurdles.  These are the usual hurdles but with lots of additional greenery to disguise them!   Richard Johnson’s mount led over the first of these before heading around the bend and into the home straight.  However, he had not totally thrown off the challenge from his rivals, the rallying Any Currency, with Big Shu and Duke Of Lucca; there was no more than three and a half lengths covering the leading group.      

  

Any Currency swung wide around the final bend, but he still wasn’t giving up under a strong drive from his jockey.  They cleared the last, Balthazar King with a half a length advantage over Ian Popham’s mount and last year’s winner also challenging to the inside; Duke Of Lucca was now booked for 4th.  The next to capitulate was Big Shu.  It was then nip and tuck to the line, Any Currency very slowly but surely beginning to reduce the margin.  Photograph.

 

Martin Keighley threw his race-card across the Parade Ring in frustration when the result was announced.  The 2012 winner and top-weight Balthazar King had won by a short-head. 

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Balthazar King

Richard Johnson

Philip Hobbs

2nd

Any Currency

Ian Popham

Martin Keighley

3rd

Big Shu

Paul Carberry

P Maher

4th

Duke Of Lucca

Tom O’Brien

Philip Hobbs

 

‘A good few hundred go out onto the course to watch the race’ said RUK’s Stewart Machin ... I think you’ll find it’s more than that!  Especially in view of the amount of time it takes for everyone to file back to the enclosures following the race.  I know the spectators have to wait until the racecourse is clear of horses, but it still takes ages to return.  

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:

 

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Richard Johnson, the rider of the winner, BALTHAZAR KING (IRE), from the second last fence. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found him in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that he had used his whip above the permitted level. The Stewards suspended Johnson for 4 days as follows Wednesday 26, Thursday 27, Friday 28 and Saturday 29 March 2014.

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Ian Popham, the rider of ANY CURRENCY (IRE), placed second, from the sixth last fence. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found him in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that he had used his whip above the permitted level. The Stewards suspended Popham for 4 days as follows Wednesday 26, Thursday 27, Friday 28 and Saturday 29 March 2014.

Having finally reached the Members’ Lawn I returned to my vantage point close to the half furlong post ahead of the next race.

The favourite for this event was the Nicky Henderson representative, the grey Dawalan, ridden by Barry Geraghty.  There were two other greys in the race, namely Cadoudoff and Keltus.  This race is the ‘Division Two’ for juvenile hurdlers, ‘Division One’ being the Triumph Hurdle run on Friday.

The starting gate for the extended two mile trip is located at the far end of the home straight.  Therefore the runners headed up the all-weather strip in front of the grandstands before returning down the turf and re-entering the all-weather strip to travel to its termination. 

Race 6

Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

Distance

2 miles 110 yards (8 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

24

Noble Inn, Gerdago, Le Fin Bois, Ivan Grozny, Arzembouy Premier, Solar Impulse, Ballyglasheen, Dawalan, Baradari, Clarcam, Cadoudoff, Goodwood Mirage, Katgary, Hawk High, Astre De La Cour, Violet Dancer, Handiwork, Azza, Vandross, Keltus, Certification, Raven’s Tower, Orgilgo Bay, Akdam

 

Then they were off, first time.  The runners were led away by the first-time visored Ballyglasheen to the inside and Azza the outside; having cleared the first without incident, these were followed by the hooded Orgilgo Bay, Astre De La Cour and Clarcam.  The 24-strong field then headed up the home straight towards the grandstands and the second flight; at the rear were Baradari and Gerdago. 

 

Holding runner-up spot jumping this flight was the Wayne Hutchinson Astre De La Cour and he fell; causing havoc to the pursuing horses.  Ballyglasheen was severely hampered having been travelling just behind him.  Then, further back in the field, Goodwood Mirage was brought down.  Also hampered by one or the other, or possibly both, were two of the three Paul Nicholls runners namely Keltus and Solar Impulse, plus Violet Dancer, Noble Inn and Arzembouy Premier, Certification was bumped.  Ballyglasheen, having totally lost his place and dropped to the back of the field, was soon pulled up.  Wayne Hutchinson was fine and got up and walked away, AP McCoy less so; he was down for a while and there was a round of applause as the Champion rose to his feet, but he was noticeably lame.

 

Meanwhile, having negotiated the uphill section of the course, they took the left-hand bend and entered the back straight.  A good pace was being set, with Azza holding two or three lengths advantage over Orgilgo Bay, Clarcam and Hawk High; on the inside, to the rear of mid-field, Noble Inn made an error at the third flight.   

 

The runners headed over flight number four without incident, negotiated the dog-leg turn and faced up to the next which they all cleared safely too.  There was still no change at the head of affairs as the field turned the far corner and headed downhill to three out; Orgilgo Bay was still fighting for his head in second position, behind him Hawk High and Clarcam.  The field was closely packed as they jumped the flight, with Orgilgo Bay and Clarcam now taking a narrow lead.  They raced down to the penultimate hurdle.

 

Clarcam tipped the top of the flight and fell; he hampered Solar Impulse to his outside and Katgary to his inside, the latter being the third Paul Nicholls runner in the race.  Akdam, who was travelling not far behind, was brought down. This left Orgilgo Bay to lead the runners into the home straight, closely pursued by Azza; Hawk High, Solar Impulse and Raven’s Tower disputed third, ahead of Katgary, Gerdago, Violet Dancer, Keltus, Ivan Grozny and Baradari.   

 

Brian Hughes aboard Hawk High, who had been carrying his whip in his left hand, pulled it through to his right as he came to challenge the leader, Orgilgo Bay, approaching the final obstacle.  To the inside Katgary had also made headway to almost join them, although he was the least fluent of the three jumping to final flight.  Then, after the last, Hawk High began to assert, with Katgary staying on but never quite able to reach him as they approached the line.  The winning distance was three quarters of a length.  Orgilgo Bay claimed third having run too freely, with Keltus fourth and Baradari 5th.

 

Another jockey who’d won today having lost out aboard Attaglance the previous day.  Brian almost set off to return down the walkway a little too soon, losing his irons as he pulled the horse out onto the racecourse again; the winner is supposed to be the last one to return!

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Hawk High

Brian Hughes

Tim Easterby

2nd

Katgary

Daryl Jacob

Paul Nicholls

3rd

Orgilgo Boy

MJ Bolger

JC McConnell

4th

Keltus

Nick Scholfield

Paul Nicholls

 

There was misfortune for jockey Bryan Cooper, who broke a leg when Clarcam fell two out.  Also the sad loss of Akdam, who won the first juvenile hurdle race of the season and was brought down when Clarcam fell; I believe he broke a foreleg as he did get up and attempt to canter away but only got as far as the home turn before being caught and the green screens erected.  

 

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back before heading back to the course-side rails ahead of the final race of the day, the Champion bumper. 

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:


The Stewards considered the apparent improvement in form of the winner, HAWK HIGH (IRE), ridden by Brian Hughes, and trained by Tim Easterby, compared with its previous run at Haydock Park on 15 February 2014 where the gelding finish last of the six finishers, beaten 34½ lengths. They noted the trainer’s explanation that HAWK HIGH (IRE) jumped poorly at Haydock Park and never got into the race. They ordered HAWK HIGH (IRE) to be routine tested.

 

WHY THEY RAN BADLY:

Paul Moloney, the rider of BALLYGLASHEEN (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding was hampered by a faller.

 

The favourite for the bumper was Shaneshill, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh; priced 7-2.  Martin Keighley had a runner in this event, namely Coyaba sporting the blue and yellow colours of owner Liz Prowting.  Last year’s third placed horse, Golantilla returned for a second attempt in the race.

 

The starting gate for the extended two mile trip is located at the far end of the home straight.  Therefore the runners headed up the all-weather strip in front of the grandstands before returning down the turf and re-entering the all-weather strip to travel to its termination. 

Race 7

Weatherbys Champion Bumper

(Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles 110 yards

No. of Runners

22

Assam Black, Black Hercules, Definitly Red, El Namoose, Golantilla, Joshua Lane, Killultagh Vic, Mountain of Mourne, Neck Or Nothing, Oscarteea, Our Kaempfer, Shaneshill, Silver Concorde, Stack The Deck, Third Act, Value At Risk, Vigil, Zeroeshadesofgrey, Izzini, Coyaba, Modus, Royal Vacation

 

Then they were off.  Black Hercules was keen to get on with it; he bounded in at the start and immediately went into the lead, followed by another keen-going sort, Our Kaempfer to his inside.  At the back of the field, against the rail, was Coyaba.  As they headed up the home straight, the leading duo were followed by Definitly Red under AP McCoy, Value At Risk and Mountain Of Mourne; between the latter two was Third Act and he was nearly squeezed out as their courses converged at one point.  As they joined the main racecourse, the commentator reported that Coyaba was already being pushed along, having been outpaced at this early stage.

 

Black Hercules continued to lead the way as they passed to the outside of the penultimate fence on the steeplechase course, with Our Kaempfer, Definitly Red and Mountain Of Mourne disputing second.  Third Act and Value At Risk were just behind these, followed by Shaneshill, Killultagh Vic and Vigil.  Silver Concorde travelled close behind these to the inside; pursued by Zeroeshadesofgrey, Joshua Lane, Golantilla, El Namoose and Assam Black.  Then followed Coyaba, Neck Or Nothing, Stack The Deck, Oscarteea, Royal Vacation, Modus and Izzini. 

 

The runners galloped past the grandstand, headed up the hill and out into the country for the one and only time; Black Hercules continued to lead from Our Kaempfer and Definitly Red disputing second place.  As they travelled down the back straight, Shaneshill began to make ground upon the inside of the runners; as did Modus who continued to travel wide of the field.  The horses had soon reached the dog-leg turn, climbing to the top of the hill at the far corner of the track.  Mountain Of Mourne received a couple of backhanders having begun to lose his place amongst the leaders. 

 

And still Black Hercules continued to lead, from Our Kaempfer, Definitly Red and Third Act; the latter beginning to be pushed along.  The leading four were followed by Shaneshill, Value At Risk, Vigil and Modus.  They turned the bend and began the run down the hill.  At the rear of the field, Stack The Deck was eased, having lost his action; he’d suffered a fatal injury. 

 

Meanwhile, the race continued; Patrick Mullins’ mount still marginally ahead of his pursuers.  Stable-mate Shaneshill was travelling well in his slipstream, and behind him was Silver Concorde.  Third Act had lost ground quickly and now travelled near the rear of the field; in contrast, Joshua Tree under Barry Geraghty had loomed up behind the front-rank. Heading to the final turn, Black Hercules dug deep and remained at the head of affairs with, close up to his outside, Vigil.  Shaneshill, Definitly Red and Modus were just behind the leading duo.

 

Black Hercules swung a little wide around the turn, thus enabling Ruby Walsh to make his challenge up the inside; no surprise there then!  It took a while for Shaneshill to master the long-time leader; meanwhile, Silver Concorde had followed through in Ruby’s wake and mounted his challenge to the inside of them both.  Robbie McNamara’s mount proved to be the strongest and he galloped up the hill to win by 1½ lengths at the line; despite drifting towards the nearside rail under a right-hand drive. 

 

Ruby had switched his mount but to no avail and completed in second.  Joshua Tree kept on under pressure to claim third, with long-time leader Black Hercules in 4th, Vigil 5th and Killultagh Vic finishing in 6th.  The first home for the British team was Definitly Red in 7th followed by Modus in 8th.  Coyaba completed in 16th.        

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Silver Concorde

Mr Robbie McNamara

Dermot Welde

2nd

Shaneshill

Ruby Walsh

Willie Mullins

3rd

Joshua Lane

Barry Geraghty

EP Harty

4th

Black Hercules

Mr Patrick Mullins

Willie Mullins

 

It was the first Cheltenham Festival winner for amateur rider Robbie McNamara, cousin of the injured JT McNamara.   Trainer Dermot Weld promised the horse would return as a hurdler in the future, but not before exploring a career on the flat.  The fifth home, Vigil, was also trained by Dermot Weld. 

 

The second and fourth were owned by Andrea and Graham Wylie; the latter co-founded the Sage Group; he programmed the initial Sage accounts software himself.  He retired from Sage in 2003 and founded a new company Technology Services Group.   

 

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back.

Before leaving for the day, I popped to the loo; every day I seem to time this right, there being a queue of just two or three people ahead of me.  After that I set off up the concourse and, today, I decided to purchase a copy of the local paper from one of the sellers standing close to the main gate because they also provided a sheet containing the following day’s runners; price 60p.  I then set off back to the lower field of the car park to find my vehicle. 

Before beginning my drive home, I ate the two remaining cheese rolls; it would be around three hours before I’d be able to eat my evening meal.  Cones had been set out in a line along the centre of the driveway, allowing cars from the top field to travel down either side thus doubling the queuing capacity if necessary when approaching the lane outside. 

However today it was actually very quiet and I exited from the field onto the driveway with ease; it was 17:50 when I drove out onto Swindon Lane, turning right as instructed by the traffic police outside.  Having found Windyridge Road to be an excellent way to bypass long queues of traffic despite being a longer route, I decided to drive straight on when I reached the mini-roundabout at the top of Tommy Taylors Lane.     

As I’d done yesterday, I took a left turn at the next mini-roundabout to head down the aforementioned Windyridge Road.  Three further left turns took me back to St Pauls Road which runs along the end of Tommy Taylors Lane/Folly Lane and thus takes me back to my familiar Cheltenham escape passage once more.  Having dodged the parked vehicles and oncoming traffic on this narrow part of my route, I arrived at Clarence Square and the traffic lights on the Evesham Road.

When the lights changed to green, I headed into the one-way Clarence Road, taking the left-hand option to drive up the Prestbury Road before taking a right-hand turn to travel around Pittville Circus and journey to the far end of Pittville Circus Road which was currently full of potholes!  Having reached Hewlett Road I turned left and soon arrived at the longabout at the end of Hales Road, where a left and a right took me up Harp Hill, followed by a right turn into Greenway Lane.

I drove through the two chicanes; traffic from the opposite direction having right of way due to their travelling up hill.  The surface of Greenway Lane was also in a bad state of repair, especially the heavily used upper chicane; it being a regular cut-through for local traffic.  There were more vehicles than usual using the route tonight and, to prove this point, it took around 10 minutes of queuing before I was able to exit onto the A40; the longest delay I’d ever experienced when using this route and resulting in it taking me 30 minutes to escape from the town.

Having joined the A40 I drove through Charlton Kings, past the Dowdeswell Reservoir and climbed the escarpment into the Cotswolds.  Traffic was moving well and at speed, delayed solely by the possibility of having to stop at one or both sets of traffic lights; the first on the Andoversford bypass where road-works were currently underway, the second at the junction with the road to Gloucester.

Having reached the short section of dual carriageway following the second set of lights, traffic is able to find its preferred speed level, faster vehicles overtaking much slower ones as they climb up to the top of the Cotswold escarpment.  But today, a number of cars having sped into the distance despite me travelling at around 60 mph, I began to catch up with them as my journey took me past the Puesdown Inn; there was a slow-moving vehicle ahead.

This meant that we travelled at 40 mph all the way to Burford; and upon the short stretch of road between the town and the beginning of the Witney bypass too.  After that, traffic was able to sort itself out once more and I’d soon arrived at the Wolvercote roundabout on the western edge of Oxford.  My route took me around their bypass and onwards to join the M40 at junction 8. 

Being mid-evening, traffic was flowing smoothly on both the M40 and the M25 and I arrived at Junction 22 of the latter motorway without a hitch.  Having used over half a tank of petrol once more, I visited the local Morrisons supermarket to fill up the car, arriving home at 20:35; 20 minutes earlier than on the previous day.  It cost me an outlay of £26.76 at the petrol station.  

As had been the case on Tuesday, once home I uploaded my photographs and copied website links into my blog in preparation for the next update.  Phones were re-charged, as were camera batteries.  I think my supper was Penne Mozzarella, but I’m not 100% sure.   And again I turned in at around 22:30.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Photos - Cheltenham Festival Day 2 – Races 1 & 2

Photos - Cheltenham Festival Day 2 – Races 3 & 4 (Champion Chase)

Photos - Cheltenham Festival Day 2 – Races 5 to 7

 

 

 

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