Monday 13 December 2021

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2022

The 2022 renewal of Cheltenham Gold Cup is scheduled for Friday, March 18 so, at the time of writing, is still a little over three months away. The picture will, no doubt, become clearer after the two key trials over the festive period, the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park and the Savills Chase at Leopardstown, but the ante-post market for the Cheltenham Gold Cup is already well formed.

Last year's runner-up, A Plus Tard (3/1), trained by Henry de Bromhead, was promoted to favouritism after an impressive, 22-length victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on his reappearance in November. However, with three of the seven runners, including Bristol De Mai, failing to complete the course, he may have been flattered and it'll be interesting to see how he fares in defence of the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

Last year's winner, Minella Indo (5/1), a stable companion of A Plus Tard, reportedly caught out his trainer by how badly he needed his reappearance, when only third of five, beaten 5 lengths, behind Frodon in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal in October. De Bromhead said afterwards that he looked forward to taking the winner on again 'some day', which may well be Boxing Day at Kempton Park. Minella Indo has done precious little wrong at the Cheltenham Festival, winning either side of an agonising defeat in the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase in 2020, and must have every chance of defending his Gold Cup crown.

Beyond the market leaders, Al Boum Photo (20/1), trained by Willie Mullins, appears to have been all but written off by the bookmakers. The winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019 and 2020 and third last year when, according to his trainer, '...he didn't fire as well as he has', Al Boum will be a 10-year-old by the time the 'Blue Riband' rolls around. If he were to win, he would become the oldest winner since Cool Dawn in 1998 but, with Mullins plotting a 'different route' for him this season, stranger things gave happened.

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Mick Fitzgerald


Nowadays, Mick Fitzgerald is best known as a television presenter on ITV Racing but, in his younger days, was one of the most successful National Hunt jockeys of his generation. Before being forced into retirement after sustaining neck and knee damage in a fall from L'Ami in the 2008 Grand National, Fitzgerald rode 1,295 winners, including 14 at the Cheltenham Festival.

Fitzgerald was leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival twice. On the first occasion, in 1999, he achieved a notable double on Call Equiname and See More Business, both trained by Paul Nicholls, in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, respectively. That year, he also won the Triumph Hurdle on Katarino and the now-defunct Cathcart Challenge Cup on Stormyfairweather, both for Nicky Henderson. On the second, in 2000, he won the Arkle Challenge Trophy on Tiutchev, the Festival Trophy on Marlborough, the Stayers' Hurdle on Bacchanal and the Cathcart Challenge Cup on Stormyfairweather again; all four winners were trained by Nicky Henderson.

Remarkably, despite a 15-year association with Nicky Henderson – who is, nowadays, the leading trainer in the history of the Champion Hurdle, with eight wins – Fiztgerald never won the two-mile hurdling championship. In fact, in twelve attempts, two third places, on Blue Royal in 2000 and Afsoun in 2007, were the best he could muster.

Thursday 14 October 2021

Cheltenham Festival 2021 Results: Day Four

 13:20 Triumph Hurdle

Quilixios (Rachael Blackmore) 7/4

Adagio (T Scudamore) 17/2

Haut En Couleurs (P Townend) 14/1

13:55 County Handicap Hurdle

Belfast Banter (KC Sexton) 33/1

Petit Mouchoir (J C Gainford) 22/1

Milkwood (RT Dunne) 28/1

14:30 Novices’ Hurdle

Vanillier (MP Walsh) 14/1

Oscar Elite (Jonjo O’Neill Jr) 40/1

Streets of Doyen (SD Torrens) 10/1

15:05 The Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase 2021

Minella Indo (JW Kennedy) 9/1

A Plus Tard (Rachael Blackmore) 3/1

Al Boum Photo (P Townend) 9/4 Fav

15:40 Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase

Porlock Bay (Lorcan Williams) 16/1

Billaway (P Townend) 2/1 Fav

Staker Wallace (MP Walsh) 9/1

16:15 Mares’ Chase

Colreevy (P Townend) 9/4

Elimay (MP Walsh) 6/5 Fav

Shattered Love (JW Kennedy) 6/1

16:50 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Galopin Des Champs (SF O’Keefe) 8/1

Langer Dan (Lorcan Williams) 13/2

Floueur (Paul O’Brien) 33/1

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Cheltenham Festival 2021 Results: Day Three

 13:20 Novices’ Chase

Chantry House (Nico de Boinville) 9/1

Fusil Raffles (DA Jacob) 14/1

Asterion Forlonge (P Townend) 14/1

13:55 Pertemps Network Final

Mrs Milner (BJ Cooper) 12/1

The Bosses Oscar (JC Gainford) 10/3 Fav

Come On Teddy (JJ Burke) 10/1

14:30 The Ryanair Steeple Chase

Allaho (Rachael Blackmore) 3/1 Fav

Fakir D’Oundaires (MP Walsh) 11/2

Tornado Flayer (DE Mullins) 25/1

15:05 Stayers’ Hurdle

Flooring Porter (D Mullins) 12/1

Sire Du Berlais (Mark Walsh) 5/1

Paisley Park (Aidan Coleman) 9/4 Fav

15:40 Stable Plate

The Shunter (JC Gainford) 9/4 Fav

Farclas (JW Kennedy) 5/1

Top Notch (Luca Morgan) 50/1

16:15 Mares Novices’ Hurdle

Telmesomethinggirl (Rachael Blackmore) 5/1

Magic Daze (RM Power) 22/1

Mighty Blue (JJ Slevin) 12/1

16:50 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup

Mount Ida (JW Kennedy) 3/1 Fav

Cloudy Glen (RT Dunne) 33/1

Shantou Flyer (H Cobden) 11/2

Wednesday 11 August 2021

Cheltenham Festival 2021 Results: Day Two

 13:20 Novices’ Hurdle

Bob Olinger (Rachael Blackmore) 6/4 Fav

Gaillard Du Mesnil (P Townend) 9/4

Bravemansgame (H Cobden) 4/1

13:55 Novices’ Steeple Chase

Monkfish (P Townend) 1/4 Fav

Fiddlerontheroof (RM Power) 40/1

The Big Breakaway (H Cobden) 12/1

14:30 Handicap Hurdle

Heaven Help Us (RJ Condon) 33/1

Craigneiche (Tom Cannon) 17/2

Tea Clipper (JJ Burke) 33/1

15:05 Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase

Put The Kettle On (Aidan Coleman) 17/2

Nube Negra (Harry Skelton) 11/1

Chacun Pour Soi (P Townend) 8/13 Fav

15:40 Cross Country Steeple Chase

Tiger Roll (KM Donoghue) 9/2

Easyland (Felix de Giles) 1/1 Fav

Some Neck (R Johnson) 17/2

16:15 Grand Annual Handicap Chase

Sky Pirate (Nick Scholfield) 14/1

Entoucas (MP Walsh) 7/1

Ibleo (Charlie Deutsch) 9/1

16:50 Champion Bumper

Sir Gerhard (Rachael Blackmore) 2/1

Kilcruit (P Townend) 10/11 Fav

Elle Est Belle (Harry Skelton) 16/1

Sunday 11 July 2021

Cheltenham Festival 2021 Results: Day One

 13:20 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Appreciate It (P Townend) 8/11 Fav

Ballyadam (JW Kennedy) 6/1

Blue Lord (DA Jacob) 11/1

13:55 Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase

Shiskin (Nico De Boinville) 4/9 Fav

Eldorado Allen (H Cobden) 33/1

Allmankind (Harry Skelton) 5/1

14:30 Handicap Steeple Chase

Vintage Clouds (Ryan Mania) 28/1

Happygolucky (David Bass) 10/3

Aye Right (R Johnson) 11/2

15:05 Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

Honeysuckle (Rachel Blackmore) 11/10 Fav

Sharjah (P Townend) 11/1

Epatante (Aidan Coleman) 4/1

15:40 The Mares’ Hurdle

Black Tears (JW Kennedy) 11/1

Concertista (P Townend) 10/11 Fav

Roksana (Harry Skelton) 3/1

16:15 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

Jeff Kidder (SW Flanagan) 80/1

Saint Sam (P Townend) 9/2 Fav

Elham Valley (PJ Brennan) 66/1

16:50 The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup

Galvin (J W Kennedy) 7-2

Next Destination (H Cobden) 3-1

Escaria Ten (Adrian Heskin) 11-4 Fav

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Brave Inca

Trained by Colm Murphy in Co. Wexford, Ireland, Brave Inca made a total of five appearances at the Cheltenham Festival. He established himself as one of the leading novice hurdlers in Ireland by winning his first four starts of the 2003/04 season, including the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown, and headed to the Cheltenham Festival as a leading fancy for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Sent off 7/2 favourite, he had to be hard ridden in the closing stages, but was urged ahead near the finish to beat War Of Attrition – winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup two seasons later – by a neck and came back to a tumultuous reception.

Rather frustratingly, Brave Inca finished second on each of his first four starts of the 2004/05 season, including behind Macs Joy, trained by Jessica Harrington, on three separate occasions. Nevertheless, He headed back to Cheltenham for his first attempt at the Champion Hurdle, for which he was sent off 10/1 sixth choice of 14 runners. Having racing prominently, he was driven to challenge at the second-last flight and ran on to finish third, beaten a neck and the same, behind defending champion Hardy Eustace and the talented, but quirky, Harchibald, who did not go through with his effort in the closing stages.

In 2005/06, as a seven-year-old, Brave Inca was at the peak of his powers, winning four of his first five starts, all under Sir Anthony McCoy, en route to a second crack at the Champion Hurdle. Sent off 7/4 favourite at Cheltenham, he benefited from a vintage McCoy ride to beat his old rival Macs Joy by a length, with the hat-trick-seeking Hardy Eustace a further 3½ lengths back in third place. He returned to Cheltenham, as defending champion, in 2007 and, while he could not quite keep tabs on the winner, Sublimity, in the closing stages, he kept on bravely to finish second, beaten 3 lengths. Having missed the whole of the 2007/08 season through injury, he returned to the Cheltenham Festival in 2009, but his 'last hurrah' in the Champion Hurdle ended in disappointment, as he trailed in eighteenth of the 23 runners, beaten 58 lengths.

Monday 22 March 2021

Gold Cup: Minella Indo wins historic treble at Cheltenham


Minella Indo emerged victorious in a fantastic Cheltenham Gold Cup under rider Jack Kennedy to deny Blackmore’s A PlusTard in a 1-2 for trainer Bromhead.

The win completed a historic treble for the Irish horse trainer, who also won the Champion Chase and Champion Hurdle.

The 9-1 chance Indo emerged victorious by only one and a quarter length with 2-time champion Al Boum Photo in third place.

Blackmore, who happens to be the top 2021 Cheltenham rider with six victories - was hoping to emerge the first female horse jockey to win.

Selecting A PlusTard ahead of Minella Indo was perhaps trailblazing Blackmore's only wrong choice of the racing week, but it was indeed an emotional triumph for Kennedy.

The 21-year-old jockey, who has sustained a broken leg on four occasions in his brief career said: "I can't believe it. This is what I have dreamed of as a child,"

"It could always be lot worse - broken legs and broken collarbones will heal. It's obviously unfortunate, but you have to get on with it.

"It's definitely the best day of my life. I know I'm still young, but I suppose I have been in the position where I could have been winning them for a couple of years, so to get it done is brilliant."

Happy De Bromhead, who emerged victorious at Queen Mother Champion Chase with Put the Kettle On, on Wednesday, was left to absorb what he had achieved at Cheltenham.

The 48-year-old who trains his horse at Knockeen said: "It's all come together here and it's fantastic,"

"To win a Cheltenham Gold Cup is something you dream about. I think I'm still in my hotel, it's Monday evening and I'm about wake-up and nothing's even started yet. That's where I'm at at the moment, it's brilliant."

Native River, the 2018 winner, came fourth and Frodo emerged fifth, while last year's RSA Chase victor Champ and the runner-up at 2020 Gold Cup,Santini, pulled up, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise as BoyleSports horse racing already included them in their odds.

Blackmore was handed a 2-day suspension for making use of her whip above the authorized level from turning in.

A total number of twelve runners went to post, and Bryony Frost was the early leader from the front on the 6-time Cheltenham victorFrodon.

The 2019 and 2020 winner Al Boum Photo was one of many traveling fluidly, along with his Willie Mullins-trained mate Kemboy, as the race evolved.

Blackmore, who emerged the first female rider to win the Champion Hurdle after triumphing with Honeysuckle during the week, was another going pretty well on her A PlusTard.

Frodo started to fade two fences from home and Minella Indo, placed second to Champ at Cheltenham in 2020, overtook and could not be caught even up the hill.

Cheltenham Festival-winning jockey, Katie Walsh, said on BBC Radio 5 Live that Jack Kennedy is a great rider and has been riding out his heart out. Although he had suffered horrible injuries in the past but is a fantastic Irish talent who deserved the win.

The last day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival followed the same pattern of the last three days with Irish horses taking full control.

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2013

The 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, sponsored by Betfred, featured nine runners and was won, in convincing style, by Bobs Worth, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty. In so doing, the 11/4 favourite was completing a notable Cheltenham Festival treble, having won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2011 and the RSA Chase in 2012.

Bobs Worth ran just twice during the 2012/13 season, readily accounting for Tidal Bay by 3¼ lengths in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on his seasonal reappearance in December before lining up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup 104 days later. His main opposition came from stable companion, and King George VI Chase winner, Long Run, who started 7/2 second favourite, and Betfair Chase winner Silviniaco Conti and Irish Hennessy Gold Cup winner Sir Des Champs, who were sent off at 4/1 joint third favourites.

Early on the second circuit, Long Run was in the lead, jumping well, although hotly pursued by Sir Des Champs in a close second. Silviniaco Conti fell at the third last, when still travelling well and, in so doing, hampered Bobs Worth, who was 8 lengths down at that point. Briefly, it appeared that Long Run and Sir Des Champs may have the race between them, but Bobs Worth came with a strong run approaching the second last, jumped the final fence in front and powered clear on the run-in to beat Sir Des Champs by 7 lengths, with Long Run a further 2¾ lengths in third.

Winning trainer Nicky Henderson had always expressed his concern that Bobs Worth would be better on good going, rather than the prevailing soft going. That sentiment was echoed by a nonetheless delighted Barry Geraghty, who said of Bobs Worth, “He’s a great attitude, he struggled on the ground but he kept fighting. I was hunting and I knew coming into the second last I would win. He's as game as a lion and he loves the job.”

Hailed by Henderson as “amazing, an absolute legend”, Bobs Worth was retired from racing in 2016 and has since enjoyed a happy retirement with Tracy Vigors at Hillwood Stud.