Thursday, 2 November 2017

Cheltenham Festival 2004: Time for Rupert


With all due respect to Paul Webber’s charge, Time For Rupert, who ran in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, the RSA Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in his time, the titular Rupert, in this case, is Rupert ‘Ruby’ Walsh. In his second full season as stable jockey to Paul Nicholls – who was to become leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival for the second time – Walsh announced his arrival on the Festival stage by winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Azetyuiop, the Grand Annual Chase on St. Pirran and the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle on Sporazene. Three winners were enough to make the Irishman top jockey for the first time.



Elsewhere, Hardy Eustace sprang a surprise in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle, seeing off the reigning champion Rooster Booster by 5 lengths. The ill-fated Total Enjoyment was a ready winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper and Iris’s Gift reversed the previous year’s form with Baracouda when winning the Bonusprint Stayers’ Hurdle, but the Festival is probably best remembered for Best Mate, who made history by becoming the first horse since the legendary Arkle to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup three years running.

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