Thursday 14 September 2017

Cheltenham Festival 2000

There was a strong element of déjà vu about the Cheltenham Festival in 2000, with Istabraq and Stormyfairweather returning to Prestbury Park to repeat their victories in the Champion Hurdle and Cathcart Challenge Cup, respectively. Monsignor, who’d won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper in 1999, took his record over hurdles to six from six when pushed out to beat No Discount by 8 lengths in the Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle while Looks Like Trouble, who’d turned the Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Chase into a procession the previous year, repeated the feat in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, jumping well and coming home unchallenged to beat Go Ballistic by a distance. Mick Fitzgerald, winning jockey on Stormyfairweather, recorded three more victories to become leading jockey for the second year running. Other notable victories included Edredon Bleu in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Bacchanal in the Bonusprint Stayers’ Hurdle and Joe Cullen in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

Sunday 3 September 2017

Cheltenham Festival 1999: Nicholls Breaks Through

The Cheltenham Festival in 1999 proved memorable for Paul Nicholls, who collected the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Call Equiname, the Arkle Challenge Trophy with Flagship Uberalles and the Cheltenham Gold Cup with See More Business. The latter was all out to beat 66/1 outsider Go Ballistic by a length, but ultimately did just enough to make Nicholls leading trainer at the Festival for the first time. Mick Fitzgerald, who rode Call Equiname and See More Business, also added Katarino in the Triumph Hurdle and Stormyfairweather in the now-defunct Cathcart Challenge Cup for Nicky Henderson to become leading jockey.

Elsewhere, Istabraq was long odds-on (4/9) to win the Champion Hurdle for a second year running and did so with a minimum of fuss, beating Theatreworld by 3½ lengths having led going well at the second last flight. The Stayers’ Hurdle produced a surprise, with 40/1 chance Anzum producing a strong finish to edge out 2/1 joint favourite Le Coudray by a neck. So, too, did the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, with 50/1 chance staying on gamely under Brendan Powell Snr. to beat Golden Alpha by 1½ lengths.