On another fine day at Cheltenham the course Going was officially Good.
1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1): Distance 2m 1f: Fences 8: 15R
The back marker from the start was Footpad about three to four lengths behind the main field at the first fence. Big McIntosh made all the early running gaining a lead of three to four lengths over Let’s Dance by the second hurdle. Following behind came Clan Des Obeaux, Who Dares Wins, Sceau Royal, Apple’s Jade, Frodon, Ivanovich Gorbatov, Gibralfaro, Zubayr, Connetable, Leoncavallo, Consul De Thaix, Tommy Silver and lastly Footpad. As Big McIntosh remained at the head of the field Ivanovich Gorbatov kept a steady 8th/9th position in the pack. With three to go Apple’s Jade had caught the leader Big McIntosh with Gibralfaro in third. Only two from home and Ivanovich Gorbatov still remained further back in the field but was moving quickly to reduce the three length lead advantage that Apple’s Jade had with B J Cooper on board. Also finding space to travel through the field showing a deft touch was Ruby Walsh on Footpad. At the final flight Ivanovich Gorbatov was challenging Apple’s Jade out in front whilst Footpad had gone from last to third between the seventh and final fence! Ivanovich Gorbatov took victory by 1 ¼ lengths as 9-2 race favourite. In second came Apple’s Jade at 12-1 six lengths ahead of Footpad in third at 5-1 2F odds.
2.10 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3): Distance 2m 1f: Fences 8: 26R
SternRubin was off and running first along with Zamdy Man and an eager Great Field making the front three going into the second flight. MontBazon was a faller here and jockey Wayne Hutchinson received treatment as the race continued. This resulted in the final hurdle being by-passed but thankfully Hutchinson was able to walk off the course unaided. With six to go Superb Story was about half way down the field but travelling well alongside All Yours and Draco, as Great Field held the front position with SternRubin and Zamdy Man on the shoulder. Three out and Wait For Me was making ground and Superb Story was going strong. By this point SternRubin had taken the lead with Fethard Player moving into second and Great Field slipping to third. With only one hurdle remaining Superb Story managed to manoeuvre between SternRubin and Fethard Player to take them on. At the finishing post Superb Story at 8-1 was victorious by 2 ½ lengths over 33-1 Fethard Player. Three and a half lengths behind 33-1 SternRubin was third just a head in front of fourth placed 7-1 JF Wait For Me.
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (SPA) (Grade 1): Distance 3m: Fences12: 19R NR Solstice Star
Up For Review and Barters Hill met the first flight ahead of the field and formed a four horse wall with Atlantic Gold and Allysson Monterg by the second. With a circuit remaining the front of field read Up For Review, Barters Hill, Champers On Ice, Atlantic Gold, Allysson Monterg, Jonniesofa, Definite Outcome, Aurillac with UNoWhatIMeanHarry and Fagan off the pace. Long Dog ridden by Ruby Walsh took a bad tumble before the eighth from home and Bleu Et Rouge fell with five to go. UNoWhatIMeanHarry and Fagan had made great progress travelling through the field and occupied third and fifth place respectively two from home, as Champers On Ice took on the unbeaten Barters Hill as they charged for the final flight. Jockey Ruby Walsh standing beside the final fence indicated to the riders to move wide as they jumped, possibly due to something on the course he felt had caused his horse to stumble. On landing the last hurdle with the home straight looming it was UNoWhatIMeanHarry that had a small advantage over Barters Hill as Champers On Ice and Fagan followed. At the finishing post 1 ¼ lengths separated 11-1 UNoWhatIMeanHarry and 33-1 Fagan in second place. One and a half lengths behind the front two 20-1 Champers On Ice was third 1 ¾ lengths ahead of fourth placed Barters Hill at 4-1 2F odds.
3.30 Timico Cheltenham GOLD CUP Chase (Grade 1): Distance 3m 2 ½ f: Fences 22: 9R NR Road To Riches
At the first flight Smad Place blundered but kept poll position at the head of the field. With 15 to go Smad Place led O’Faolains Boy, Djakadam, Don Cossack, Cue Card, On His Own, Carlingford Lough, Don Poli and Irish Cavalier the back marker. Ten from home Smad Place had a two length advantage over O’Faolains Boy with Don Cossack, Djakadam and Cue Card forming a front five grouping, whilst Don Poli lagged around eight lengths behind amongst the others. But the early fast pace had a telling effect as Smad Place and O’Faolains Boy began to fade. Cue Card was challenging going into the third last fence but fell heavily leaving Don Cossack and Djakadam to fight for victory. As Brian Cooper drove his charge forward he opened up a three to four length advantage over Djakadam between flights 21 and 22. In the finishing home straight 9-2 Djakadam kept fighting but couldn’t reign in the 9-4 race favourite Don Cossack. The winning distance was 4 ½ lengths and ten lengths behind Djakadam in third place came Don Poli at 9-2 odds.
4.10 St James’s Palace Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup: Distance 3m 2 ½ f: Fences 22: 24R
Victoria Pendleton the Olympic cycling champion having taken up horse riding was aboard Pacha Du Polder in this race. She was last in the field beside Need To Know going into the first flight. Pendleton had slightly improved Pacha Du Polder’s position to third last followed by Morito and Camden with 13 to go. After the first circuit the main running order was Alskamatic, Major Malarkey, Current Exchange, Paint The Clouds, Impact Area, Cave Hunter, Richmond and Pacha Du Polder was fifth last at this point. Major Malarkey had gained a five length lead over Alskamatic ten from home and On The Fringe was around twelfth going into the back straight. Camden pulled up with about seven fences remaining. Five out and Major Malarkey had increased his advantage to around seven or eight lengths with Current Event in second Alskamatic third and Mendip Express fourth. But two horses not really in any contention so far were fast making up ground On The Fringe and Morito. Although Major Malarkey still had a good lead two from home against Current Event by the final flight On The Fringe and Morito were piling on the pressure and eating up the ground. At the finishing post 13-8 favourite On The Fringe won by a neck over 14-1 Marito. A length behind Paint The Clouds the 9-2 2F was third and Current Event at 14-1 odds came in a further length back. Pacha Du Polder having picked off the competition came in a credible fifth.
4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdele: Distance 2m 4f 56y: Fences unknown: 24R
Winner: Ibis Du Rheu 14-1 by 1 ¼ lengths over Second: Flying Angel at 8-1 2F odds. 1 ¼ lengths behind in Third: Sky Khan 50-1 six lengths in front of Fourth: Tully East at 50-1 odds.
5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup (Handicap) (Grade 3): Distance 2m 62y: Fences unknown: 24R
Winner: Solar Impulse 28-1 by 3 ¾ lengths over Second: Dandridge 8-1 J2F just half a length in front of Third: Rock the World 9-2 F by 1 ¾ lengths over Fourth: Savello at 25-1 odds.