Thursday 21 December 2017

Cheltenham Festival 2007: Tastes Like Chocolate

Robert ‘Chocolate’ Thornton proved the jockey to follow at the Festival in 2007. His four winners – My Way De Solzen in the Irish Independent Arkle Chase, Voy Por Ustedes in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Katchit in the JCB Triumph Hurdle and Andreas in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase – were sufficient to make him leading jockey for the one and only time.

Aside from Andreas, Paul Nicholls saddled Denman in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase, Taranis in the Ryanair Chase and Kauto Star in the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup to become leading trainer for the second year running and the fourth time in all.

Other notable winners included Sublimity in the Champion Hurdle, Cork All Star in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper and Inglis Drever in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. Drombeag, in the Christies Foxhunter Chase, provided a first Festival winning for leading Irish amateur rider John Thomas ‘J.T.’ McNamara, who was paralysed after a fall at the Festival six years later and died in 2016 at the age of just 41.

Friday 1 December 2017

Cheltenham Festival 2006: Nicholls and Walsh Dominate

Ruby Walsh topped and tailed the week with a winner, making up fully 7 lengths on the run-in to win the opening Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Noland, but having to work much less hard on Desert Quest, who drew clear for an impressive 2½-length win in the closing Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle. In between, the Irishman also took the William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase on Dun Doire, trained by Tony Martin, and three winners were sufficient to make him leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival for the second time.

Along with Noland and Desert Quest, Paul Nicholls also saddled Star De Mohaison, ridden by Barry Geraghty, to win the Royal & SunAlliance Chase and picked up a second trainers’ title.

Other notable winners during the week were Brave Inca in the Champion Hurdle, Newmill in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Hairy Molly, who sprang a 33/1 surprise in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, My Way De Solzen in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and War Of Attrition in the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. All bar My Way De Solzen, who was trained in Wiltshire by Alan King, were trained in Ireland and contributed to a record-breaking nine wins at the Cheltenham Festival for Irish trainers.