Royalty at Cheltenham for Day Two. JP wins three.
Day two of the Cheltenham Festival is officially ‘Ladies Day’ with the main race of the day, the Queen Mother Chase as the feature race. H.R.H. The Duchess of Cornwall attended Cheltenham to present the prizes for the feature race. The Nicky Henderson trained Altior was expected to be one of the highlight horses of the meeting and was expected to run in the Queen Mother Chase, but due to lameness, Nicky announced that the horse would not be running. Together with The Duchess of Cornwall, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne and her daughter and top event rider Zara Tindall also enjoyed the racing.
Following a dry night, the course conditions changed to ‘soft’ from soft to heavy on places. Day two dawned much brighter and less windy. Again we look at four races of the day. Three of which are Grade 1s and the fourth is the very popular cross country race over 3 miles 6 furlongs, last year won by the winner of the Grand National, Tiger Roll, and who again started this year as his prep race for the great race once again.
The Cheveley Park Stud are rather better known for their flat winners and flat bred stallions at stud rather than being in a national hunt race winner’s enclosure, but they had three runners today with two in the first two races. Their Envoi Allen was sent off favourite for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle (Grade 1) over 2 miles 5 furlongs with Davy Russell on board duly obliging to return the punters their money. The race winner was trained by Gordon Elliott, as was the second home, Easywalk ridden by Rachel Blackmore. There were 12 runners in the race. In keeping with the Cheveley Park flat racing credentials, the winner is by Muhtathir.
In the second race, another Grade 1, this time the RSA Insurance Novice chase, there were 10 runners over 3 miles and half a furlong with 19 flights of jumps to negotiate. There were three fancied runners; the Cheveley Park owned Allaho trained by Willie Mullins with Paul Townend in the saddle, Minella Indo trained by Henry de Blomhead with Rachel Blackmore riding and the J.P McManus owned Champ – so named after champion jockey Sir A.P. McCoy trained by Nicky Henderson with Barry Geraghty in the saddle. This was an exciting race with Allaho and Minella Indo in the lead for the whole race, first one in the lead then the other. After a mistake at the last by Minella Indo, the Cheveley Park runner looked like making it a double for them as both horses were well ahead of everything else. However, from nowhere as the two front runners started to slow, Champ loomed into view and passed both with apparent consummate ease. With Champ being the winner, Minella Indo took a well deserved second with Allaho in third. They were a good 15 lengths ahead of everything else. Barry Geraghty reported after the race that his horse went through the final stages better than the original leaders, but the ground was very tacky and hard work for the horses. Champ is bred in the purple. He is out of a half sister to Best Mate and by the successful jumps stallion Kings Theatre.
In the Queen Mother’s Chase, the feature of the day, as well as Altior, a second really fancied horse was pulled out at the last minute due to a stone in the foot causing a small amount if bruising – Chacon Pour Sio trained by Willie Mullins, who really has had not much luck so far this Cheltenham. This only left five runners for this prestigious race over 2 miles. The hot favourite was Defi du Seuil trained by Philip Hobbs and Barry Geraghty in the saddle. This, another owned by J.P McManus. With only five runners, this was always going to be a tactical affair.
The grey horse, Politologue owned by John Hales with Harry Skelton on board went off at a good true gallop, but not so fast as to run himself into the ground. The favourite Defi du Seuil stayed outside the other runners to keep out of trouble. As the race unfolded, the lovely grey just kept galloping. This was a remarkable achievement for a horse who had a wind operation last December and had had no run since. The trainer, Paul Nicholls told his owner at Christmas, that he would not see his horse out again until the Queen Mother at Cheltenham!! In the preliminaries, Politologue wore a red hood, a new idea from the BHA to indicate that the headgear worn would be removed before the off of the race. Politologue just kept going and won well with Dynamite Dollar coming second and Dun Doran in third. The hot favourite came fourth and jockey afterwards reported that Defi du Seuil just seemed flat and he knew from three out that he was going nowhere on this occasion. A foot note to this race was how Harry Skelton rode such a great winner for John Hales as his Olympic Gold Medallist father Nick Skelton won so many classes for John Hales in the show jumping arena. The winner is a French bred gelding by Poliglote out of a French mare.
In the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, there were 14 runners taking on the 3 mile 6 furlong race. The ground across the middle of the course, used for this race was very wet and trainer of Tiger Roll, Gordon Elliott was very concerned about the ground for the hot favourite. The first start was declared a false start, so there was a standing start to get the race going. The race was run at a comfortable gallop with the leader for the first 20 fences out of 30 being Arlequin D’Allier taking the lead with Easysland (sired by Gentlewave) in second. The favourite stood his ground well in mid division throughout. For the final 10 fences, Easysland took to the front and Tiger Roll threatened coming from mid dividion to fourth, then third and finally second, which is where he stayed as he was out run by the French Trained Easysland. The win gave J.P. McManus his third win of the day. The trainer was Johnathan Plouganou with the jockey, also from France, former French champion jockey D Cottin. After the race, trainer Gordon Elliot said that he thought Tiger Roll had run a good race and the outing he hoped would set the horse up well for the Grand National at Aintree in four weeks time. Tiger Roll is hoping to make history in being the only horse ever to win three Grand Nationals in a row. Even Red Rum couldn’t do that!!!
In the Prestbury Cup given for the best number of horses trained by Irish trainers against their UK counterparts, the UK trainer’s tally was three today with three to Ireland and France one. After two days, the UK trainers are on eight winners and the Irish are on five.In the final race of the day, Cheveley Park Stud again were the winning owners and Willie Mullins finally got off the mark with a win.
An excellent post, congratulations !!