It was once again a fantastic day for the Irish at Cheltenham – with five of the seven winners coming from emerald shores in an entertaining card of racing.
The day started as it proceeded to go on – with Jack Kennedy and the heavily-fancied Samcro romping home comfortably in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at 8/11, adding another big win to his latest in partnership with Gordon Elliott.
In race two – the RSA Insurance Chase, it was a cased of mixed fortunes from an Irish perspective. Davy Russell produced a magnificent ride on board Presenting Percy for Gary Kelly, turning on the burners at the home straight to see off the challenge of Monalee and make it two from two for the Irish. However, the talking point of the race will be the injury sustained by jockey Ruby Walsh – who limped off the track with a suspected broken leg after falling riding Al Boum Photo.
A jockey change resulting from Walsh’s injury saw Mark Walsh take the reins with twenty minutes notice on Bleu Berry for the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle, and it clearly did not affect him – as he navigated through the crowd excellently to finish strongly, edging Topofthegame at the line, securing a first win of the day for Wexford trainer Willie Mullins.
The big race of the day saw the almighty trio of Altior, Min and Douvan battle it out for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase – and it was a cagey encounter, with Douvan staying out in front early on before falling, allowing Altior and Min to battle it out – but it was the favourite who strode to the line with ease under the guidance of Nico De Boinville, giving Nicky Henderson a fifth win in this race – and the 60th Cheltenham win of the Englishman’s career.
But the story of the Irish was far from finished, Elliott’s Tiger Roll taking the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at 7/1 – seeing off the challenge of Urgent De Gregaine to take the victory, after earlier being put off by a fall from his stablemate Bless The Wings. Keith Donoghue guided him well over the jumps – to secure a fourth Irish victory of the day.
It was soon a hat-trick for Elliott’s yard, with Veneer of Charm scoring a great win in the Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at odds of 33/1. The stable was fancied for victory with the prospect of Mitchouka, but his challenge was badly hampered by the fall of another competitor, Lisp. Kennedy saw off a more-fancied Style De Garde, to make it two wins for him and three for his trainer.
To cap off an excellent afternoon’s racing, Katie Walsh took victory aboard Relegate to make it a 1-2-3 for Willie Mullins in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper – breaking away from the pack, with Carefully Selected and Tornado Flyer in second and third respectively. Relegate won at nice odds of 25-1 giving Mullins his ninth win in the bumper, and making it six from seven for the Irish cause on Day 2.
1.30pm – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle:
1. Samcro (8/11F)
2. Black Op (8/1)
3. Next Destination (4/1)
2.10pm – RSA Insurance Chase:
1. Presenting Percy (5/2F)
2. Monalee (10/3)
3. Elegant Escape (9/1)
2.50pm – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle:
1. Bleu Berry (20/1)
2. Topofthegame (9/1)
3. Barra (16/1)
4. William Henry (8/1F)
3.30pm – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase:
1. Altior (evens F)
2. Min (5/2)
3. God’s Own (40/1)
4.10pm – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase:
1. Tiger Roll (7/1)
2. Urgent De Gregaine (12/1)
3. The Last Samuri (11/4F)
4.50pm – Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle:
1. Veneer Of Charm (33/1)
2. Style De Garde (12/1)
3. Nube Negra (15/2)
4. Padleyourowncanoe (33/1)
5.30pm – Wheterby’s Champion Bumper:
1. Relegate (25/1)
2. Carefully Selected (6/1)
3. Tornado Flyer (14/1)
Here’s hoping for more of the same tomorrow.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena