Supreme Novices Hurdle:
Constitution Hill put in an emphatic display, breaking the track record which when you consider the winners over this trip at previous Festivals, speaks volumes. A 22 length victory over Jonbon and Kilcriut, the winner quickened like a top class horse when asked to go about his business as they turned for home. He’s a hugely exciting animal and we’ll all be looking forward to seeing where he goes next and what his targets will be in future seasons. He could be a major Champion Hurdle contender or an equally exciting chaser. This was a performance that will live in the memory.
Perhaps not a vintage renewal of the race, but all credit to Edwardstone who powered up the hill to win, having travelled and jumped really well. Gabynako seemed to appreciate the drop back to 2 miles, whilst Blue Lord wasn’t quite good enough. With the winner having since been beaten at Aintree, this certainly doesn’t look likely to be a key race when looking at the Champion Chase next year.
Ultima Handicap Chase:
A remarkable performance from Corach Rambler who came from miles off the pace to finish best of all and win going away, and an equally remarkable ride from Derek Fox who had to negotiate all sorts of trouble rounding the home turn. He’s been raised 8lbs for this win, but that was only his 6th start over fences and he has potentially a good deal more to offer. Gericault Roque found himself as a runner up for the 4th race running, he’s improving all the time and is another who’ll have plenty more to offer next season.
Honeysuckle regained her crown in decisive fashion taking her record to an unbeaten 15 from 15. She again won the race with her turn of foot just as the approached the home straight and wasn’t for catching. Epatante ran really well and has since boosted the form at Aintree, showing how good the undefeated Champion Hurdler really is. Saint Roi ran a personal best in 4th place and clearly likes it around Cheltenham, whilst Appreciate It was disappointing on his 1st run since last years Festival.
Telmesomethinggirl was still travelling extremely well when bought down at the 2nd last and would certainly played a part in the finish and if recovering from her fall, will be of interest of sent to Punchestown at the end of April. Maries Rock took full advantage showing a really nice turn of foot to deny Queens Brook. Mrs Milner finished really well over a trip shy of her best.
A fair effort from Brazil who battle on well up the hill to get the better of Gaelic Warrior, despite having met trouble in running, partly caused by the runner up jumping right at times. Whilst you never want to take the praise away from the winner, this was one that got away from team Mullins and Ricci, as the runner up is almost certainly going to prove the best horse from the race. Having travelled very well, he quickened away by a couple of lengths, but a combination of a poor jump at the last, inexperience and perhaps a little weakness with his big frame saw him caught close home. He’s a really imposing sort, will improve massively for this run and if missing Punchestown and keeping his novice status for next year, will a major player back here again in 12 months time, with the Ballymore over 2m5f most likely to be the most suitable option. Iberique Du Seuil ran a nice race from off the pace, when being handy proved an advantage and he’d have finished closer but for an error at the last. He could prove to be fairly handicapped and seemed to appreciate the better ground. (Won since at Fairyhouse, so one that got away)
National Hunt Chase:
Stattler outclassed his field in what was a bit of a disappointing renewal of the race. He’s a nice staying chaser and has improved with each run, but the runner up is a bit of a rogue, the 3rd hasn’t taken to fences at all, so it’s hard to get enthused about the performance.
Ballymore Novices Hurdle:
Sir Gerhard now a double Cheltenham Festival winner having landed the Bumper last year. He showed real class here, travelling extremely strongly and he jumped really well too. He stayed the trip in the soft ground well and showed himself to be a real class act. Three Stripe Life just couldn’t match the pace of the winner, but he ran a great race and looks a thorough stayer. He backed this up at Aintree and whilst Sir Gerhard promising to be a really exciting novice chaser for next season, the runner up makes plenty of appeal for that sphere as well over longer distances.
Brown Advisory Novices Chase:
A bold ride from Charlie Deutsch on L’Homme Presse considering he has his stamina to prove, and he jumped superbly well and that probably made the difference, as Ahoy Senor wasn’t nearly as fluent at times. The ground perhaps suited L’Homme Presse more, as we’ve seen at Aintree the runner up turned the form around on better ground. Two very good staying chasers for next season. Farouk D’alene would have been involved at the finish but for a fall at the 2nd last and is another to look forward too next season.
A real test under the conditions and won by a stayer in Commander Of Fleet off a mark of 152. A race that certainly suited those that ran up with the pace with the first four home all racing prominently, with nothing really getting involved from off the pace. Ganapathi could be marked up as he moved into the race from off the pace smoothly before getting tired, he acts well in soft ground and could be seen to better effect back to 2 miles. He has been a little disappointing when 3rd at Cork since though, where again he travelled well but didn’t get home in the very heavy ground. Perhaps better ground or a fence will see him fulfil his potential.
Such a pity Shishkin didn’t run his race and Chacun Pour Soi took a tumble, but no taking away from Energumene who bolted up. Whilst he only defeated a depleted field the winner is a very good chaser, especially when encountering a soft surface. He was also ridden more patiently here, so can race from the front or from behind and he’s now the one to beat in all the top 2 mile events, with Shishkin hopefully able to bounce back and renew the rivalry.
Cross Country Chase:
What a spectacle and whilst we didn’t get the fairytale story with Tiger Roll, he ran his heart out and went out with his head held high. What an absolute star he’s been over the years. Quite ironic that Gigginstown themselves somewhat spoilt the party with Delta Work getting the better of “Tiger” and good to see a high class chaser get his head back in front, and then run a cracker when 3rd in the Grand National. Despite the result not quite what everyone may have wanted, it was a brilliant battle and brilliant finish. Happy retirement Tiger…
Grand Annual Chase:
A return to form for Global Citizen who went into this a very well handicapped horse. He pretty much made all but for being headed briefly by Editeur Du Gite and found plenty for pressure to deny the gamble on Andy Defresne. The runner up travelled ominously well for much of the race, but just couldn’t concede lumps of weight to the winner.
A classy performance from Facile Vega on ground that would have been softer than ideal and it’ll be fascinating to see what this son of the mighty Quevega goes onto do over hurdles. He’s got a blend of speed and stamina, so it’ll be interesting to see what trip the end up over as it’d be a surprise if he doesn’t return here next year for one of the Novice Hurdle races. American Mike the runner up also looks an extremely exciting horse as does the 3rd James’s Gate who came here after just one run, lacking in the experience of the front two.
Turners Novices Chase:
The match between Bob Olinger and Galopin Des Champs, just such a pity the later fell at the last as the way he simply ran and jumped a top class horse like “Bob” into the ground was just extraordinary. Whilst he is a more fluent jumper of a fence that the eventual winner and he must have some engine to do that to a genuinely top class horse. Wherever he goes for the remainder of this season, next season and the years to come, he’s the most exciting chaser in training at present.
Not quite sure of what to make of Bob Olinger, was he about to be beaten by a monster, or is he just not quite as good over fences, we may find out at Punchestown.
A gruelling test where Third Wind basically outstayed Alaphilippe and Mill Green. Honest Vic ran a cracker on ground softer than ideal and whilst he’ll be a 10yo next season, he’s on a mark he can win off when encountering a better surface. The runner up, Alaphilippe has been raised 4lbs and is still potentially ahead of the handicapper, as he’s still relatively lightly raced for an 8yo.
Another imperious display from Allaho in this race, following his annihilation of his field last year. Again he set his mark out from the front, jumping superbly and running his rivals into the ground, in what were softer conditions than last year. It would be fascinating to see Allaho and Galopin Des Champs take each other on over this course and distance, and we’ll have to wait and see if that ever happens. Janadil just got the better of Eldorado Allen for 2nd place, although credit must go to the 3rd, who put it up to Allaho up front and did well to still finish his race off pretty well. Conflated would probably have finished 2nd himself, had he not fallen at the 2nd last fence and has subsequently ran really well at Aintree when 2nd to Clan Des Obeaux; which itself puts into perspective the run from Allaho here. Another breath-taking performance.
Another superb frontrunning display from Flooring Porter in defending his Stayers Hurdle crown. A well judged ride from Danny Mullins, the winner is a really tough, high class staying hurdler. It was great to see Paisley Park run such a good race, staying on strongly into 3rd place, with gallant efforts from Thyme Hill, Champ and Klassical Dream, but this was once again a victory for the enigma that is Flooring Porter, who won his handicap debut over hurdles off a rating of 105!
Plate Handicap Chase:
What a tough horse Coole Cody is, winning at Cheltenham for the 4th time and perhaps putting in a career best here. How he rallied and found extra after the last was quite something. He a remarkable horse. Imperial Alcazar ran really well under a big weight on ground we felt was softer than he wanted, as he’s seemingly relished the quicker surface when impressing the time before. He could certainly be competitive in graded company over this trip next season. Stolen Silver and Slate House have both come out and won since, giving the form a very solid look.
Mares Novice Hurdle:
Love Envoi did well to win in the style she did considering she raced wide for much of the race. She’s a tough customer, having improved with every run this season and really appreciated the underfoot conditions. Ahorsewithnoname ran a career best and she may well have been suited by the strong pace, whilst Grangee did best of those who raced from well off the pace.
Kim Muir Handicap Chase:
Considering Mr Coffey was almost bought down at the 2nd fence, he ran a remarkable race to even get involved in the race let along finish second to Chambard who as a 10yo ran a career best to land this competitive handicap quite comfortably. Stablemate to the winner, Didero Vallis ran well having been up with the pace for most of the race, but the one to take out of the race is certainly Mr Coffey. He’s proven to be a slightly quirky character and didn’t take to the Aintree fences on his next start, but this extended trip, on a left handed track with plenty of juice in the ground seemed to bring out the best in him, perhaps the Ladbrokes Trophy would be a target next season.
A very good winner in Vauban who has taken a step forward on each of his outings over hurdles, winning this on just his 3rd outing for the Mullins team. His jumping has improved with each run, he travels well and has an excellent turn of foot at the end of a race. Fil D’or and Pied Piper both ran excellent races and add real substance to the form. Porticello proved best of the home brigade and he’d probably have preferred slightly slower ground; he’ll make a lovely chaser when he’s switched to fences. Vauban has to come into the Champion Hurdle reckoning, although with Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle, it could be an above average renewal if they all get there.
State Man proved to be a bit of a handicap blot, travelling superbly well he quickened to the front and won pretty easily. Connections are likely to try him in Grade 1 level at Punchestown, he looks a really classy type and easily capable of being competitive at the top level. First Street really benefitted from a big field, settling better than he has done previously and was a bit unfortunate to bum into such a well handicapped winner. Of the others Ballyadam bounced back to some kind of form in 5th and seemed to appreciate the better ground, whilst Surprise Package travelled really well and would have preferred softer ground.
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle:
The Nice Guy stayed really well and pulled well clear of stablemate Minella Cocooner with another few lengths back to the staying on Bardenstown Lad in third. The winner came here having run and won just once over hurdles, so this was a fair effort. Sure to be sent over fences next year, he could prove to be a decent staying chaser.
The Gold Cup:
A devastating performance from A Plus Tard who having jumped the final fence upsides Minella Indo, put 15 lengths between him and the runner up at the line. That was after Rachael Blackmore had to sit and suffer around the home turn, before being asked to chase down the leader. With Galopin Des Champs now seemingly being aimed at next years Gold Cup, we could have a cracker, as this was a serious performance. Minella Indo ran really well at a track he excels at and Protektorat ran a personal best in 3rd, but the winner was in a league of his own.
You have to feel for Winged Leader who made a bold bid for victory and looked to have it in the bag until getting run down close home by Billaway. A power packed ride by Patrick Mullins on the winner and compensation for Billaway having finished runner up in this race the past two Festivals.
Elimay had to really dig deep to fight off the challenges of Pink Legend & Scarlet And Dove, with Zambella back in fourth place and Concertista who isn’t fluent over her fences back in fifth. Perhaps a slightly below par renew in terms of quality, but a cracking finish and having finished runner up last year, the winner deserved her moment in the sun.
Martin Pipe Hurdle:
Banbridge and Cobblers Dream both travelled well throughout the race and it was a good battle between the two, with he former just getting the better of the argument close home. Of those in behind, Adamantly Chosen who was eventually beaten 14 lengths into 11th place had travelled well and didn’t look to get home, so he may be one to keep an eye on when dropped back to 2 miles
We usually advise an early Ante Post advice or two for Cheltenham and will do so again this year, following the Punchestown Festival.