Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2019

The much anticipated 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup (aka the Magners Gold Cup) was the 91st running of the Cheltenham Gold Cup race,  held each year at  the Cheltenham Racecourse, in Gloucestershire, England. The race took place on 15th March 2019 as part of the wider four day Cheltenham Festival and featured 16 runners. The going on the course was good to soft.

Al Boum Photo, ridden by Paul Townend and trained by Willie Mullins won the race (and the £350,000+ prize money), much to the delight of the trainer. The race was won in a time of 6m 39.06s.

It had almost become something of a running joke that Willie Mullins had won everything worth winning over this three decade National Hunt career, aside from the Gold Cup. From the Grand National (Hedgehunter) to achieving more Cheltenham Festival wins than anyone else, he'd done and won it all. As far as the Gold Cup was concerned though, it was a case of 'better luck next time' as he had previously been runner up in the event an astounding six times in total. As they say though, good things come to those who wait, and this long awaited win is certainly the cherry on the cake for the Irishman.

"I had probably resigned myself to the fact I would not win the Gold Cup" said Mullins after the race. How sweet this victory must have been.

The win was also a stark change of fortunes for jockey Paul Townend, who the previous year had received a 21-day ban for dangerous riding after crashing through the barrier at the Punchestown Festival in April 2018. It was a costly and yet uncharacteristic lapse of concentration, that clearly didn't sway Mullins from making him the man for the job here.  Bad luck had also whirled around winning horse Al Boum Photo, as Ruby Walsh had broken his leg on the horse during the previous Cheltenham Festival. Nevertheless all of this bad luck ebbed away during the 2019 Gold Cup, to bring about an impressive and memorable victory.

Seven year old Al Boum Photo won at odds of 12-1, after taking the lead with two fences to go. His closest challenger had been the Tony Martin-trained Anibale Fly at 22-1, with  Bristol De Mai finishing third at 18-1. Native River placed fourth.

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