On another fine day at Cheltenham the course Going was officially Good.

A glorious site the cheltenham grandstand. image credit @Channel4Racing
A glorious site the Cheltenham Grandstand. Image credit @Channel4Racing

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.

Superb Story has a fairytale finish. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Superb Story has a fairytale finish. Image credit @Channel4Racing

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.

UNoWhatIMeanHarry being led into the winners enclosure. Image credit @Channel4Racing
UNoWhatIMeanHarry being led into the winners enclosure. Image credit @Channel4Racing

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.

Don Cossack leaps the final flight. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Don Cossack leaps the final flight. Image credit @Channel4Racing

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.

On The Fringe & Miss N Carberry. Image credit @Channel4Racing
On The Fringe & Miss N Carberry. Image credit @Channel4Racing

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.


Lovely clear blue skies and sunny conditions greeted race goers today with the official ground Going as Good (Good to Soft in places). Will St Patrick bring more luck to the Irish this week?

The Luck of the Irish 6 from 7 wins on day 3. Image credit @Channel4Racing
The Luck of the Irish 6 from 7 wins on day 3. Image credit @Channel4Racing

1.30 JLT Novices Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m 4f: 16 Fences: 9R NR King’s Odyssey

Drama unfolded when a standing start resulted in Zabana not even beginning the race but unseating its jockey instead. Davy Russell had his back to the starter at a ninety degree angle, and was making a turn when the race got underway. Outlander was severely impeded as well but did manage to get going. The early back markers were Three Musketeers and As De Mee with Bristol De Mai and Black Hercules meeting the first hurdle ahead of the field. With twelve to go Bristol De Mai led Mount Gunnery followed by Black Hercules on the inside, Outlander, Garde La Victoire, L’Ami Serge and the two back markers. Loose horse Zabana ran across the front of the field going into the back straight but didn’t cause too much trouble mercifully. Three fences later Three Musketeers at the back began to show signs of improvement in the race, whilst Black Hercules joined Bristol De Mai at the front. Garde La Victoire and Outlander were fallers four from home. The running order going into the next fence was Bristol De Mai, Black Hercules, L’Ami Serge, Three Musketeers, As De Mee and Mount Gunnery. L’Ami Serge who was travelling wide cut across Black Hercules at the second last hurdle due to a tendency of jumping toward the left. With L’Ami Serge now on the rails Black Hercules had the space to accelerate toward the last flight unhindered by the remainder of the field. At the finish Black Hercules a 4-1 joint favourite took victory by three lengths over the other 4-1 joint favourite Bristol De Mai. A length behind in third place came L’Ami Serge at 8-1 odds. Black Hercules gave jockey Ruby Walsh his fiftieth Cheltenham Festival winner.

Black Hercules & Ruby Walsh. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Black Hercules & Ruby Walsh. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.10 Pertemps Network Final (Listed Handicap Hurdle): Distance 3m: 12 Fences: 24R

Flintham made most of the early running and had a six length advantage at one point over Rolling Maul. With nine fences to go Western Warrior made a bad mistake and was last but one in the field with only Box Office behind. The front two remained the same with four to go as If In Doubt picked up on the outside and the field began to reduce Flintham’s leading margin. Mall Dini was going better two from home as Flintham looked vulnerable and under pressure. At the finish Mall Dini at 14-1 odds had a ¾ length winning margin over 14-1 Arpege D’Alene, only a head in front of 10-1 If In Doubt. One and a half lengths behind Taglietelle at 14-1 came in fourth.

2.50 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m 5f: 17 Fences: 15R

At the first fence Vautour held the sixth or seventh spot whilst Captain Conan and Oscar Rock were the back markers. With fourteen jumps to go Dynaste, Oscar Rock and Champagne West were at the rear of the field as Village Vic and Road To Riches strode out in front. Vautour travelling nicely on the inside was third followed by Smashing, Al Ferof, Josses Hill and Gilgamboa. The head of the field remained much the same and by eight from home Valseur Lido was beginning to make headway and was placed around eighth. With four jumps remaining Vibrato Valtat fell and Vautour had a half length advantage over Road To Riches at the front followed by Al Ferof, Village Vic and Valseur Lido. At the final turn two from home Vautour accelerated gaining a three length lead over Road To Riches with Al Ferof and Valseur Lido behind. With every stride Vautour’s pace increased and he was a worthy evens favourite winner by six lengths ahead of Valseur Lido at 11-1 just half a length ahead of Road To Riches the 7-2 2F.

3.30 Ryanair World Hurdle: Distance 3m: Fences 12: 12R NR Un Temps Pour Tout

Thistleback winner of the Ryanair World Hurdle. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Thistleback winner of the Ryanair World Hurdle. Image credit @Channel4Racing

With nine to go the running order was Cole Harden, Kilcooley, Martello Tower, Bobs Worth, Saphir Du Rheu, At Fishers Cross, Whisper, Alpha Des Obeaux, Thistlecrack, Knockara Beau, Aux Ptits Soins and Lieutenant Colonel the back marker. Two fences later and Thistleback had moved into fourth place having powered through the field. Three from home and third placed Kilcooley and Lieutenant Colonel both made mistakes, recovered but fell from any contention. At this point Cole Harden had a ¾ length advantage over Thistleback and at the second last fence both horses jumped together alongside Alpha Des Obeaux. Thistleback then surged toward the final flight and the finishing post unchallenged and secured victory by seven lengths as evens favourite. Alpha Des Obeaux at 8-1 was second and twenty two lengths behind Bobs Worth at 33-1 rolled in third.

Bobs Worth with trainer Nicky Henderson. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Bobs Worth with trainer Nicky Henderson. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.10 Merribelle Stable Plate (Grade 3 Handicap CHS): Distance 2m 4f 166y: Fences: 22R NR Tenor Nivernais and La Vaticane

The standing start in this race went much better than in the first. Sadly NiceOneFrankie suffered a fatal accident during the race.

Winner: Empire Of Dirt 16-1 by four lengths over Second: Tango Du Juilley at 33-1 by 1 ¼ lengths over Third: Kings Palace 11-1. A further 2 ½ lengths behind in Fourth: Full Shift at 7-1.

A giant leap for Empire Of Dirt. Image credit @Channel4Racing
A giant leap for Empire Of Dirt. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.50 Trull House Stud Mares’ Novice Hurdle (Grade 2): Distance 2m 179 y: Fences unknown: 16R NR Tara Flow

Winner: Limini 8-11F by 4 ½ lengths over Second: Dusky Legend 50-1 by 2 ½ lengths over Third: Bloody Mary 7-1 just a half length in front of Robins Reef at 25-1.

5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders): Distance 3m 2f: Fences unknown: 22R NR Your Busy and Waldorf Salad

Winner: Cause Of Causes 9-2 2F by a massive 12 lengths over Second: A Good Skin at 14-1 just half a length ahead of Third: SilverGrove 16-1. Five lengths behind in Fourth: Knock House at 16-1.


The weather looked bright and sunny at Cheltenham today with the course Going described as Good (Good to Soft in places).

Cheltenham In The Sun. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Cheltenham In The Sun. Image credit @Channel4Racing

1.30 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade1): Distance 2m 5f: 10 Fences: 11R

Thomas Hobson took the initiative from the start with Its’AFreeBee alongside and with eight to go AToiPhil, OO Seven and Ghost River were bunched just behind the front two runners. Not a great deal changed in this order as the race progressed although with six jumps remaining Thomas Hobson had pulled a two length advantage over Its’AFreeBee. It was at this point with a circuit to go that Yala Enki pulled up. OO Seven on the inside rail had to fight for room with AToiPhil directly alongside and Ghost River pushing on the outside, but all three horses still had Its’AFreeBee and Thomas Hobson narrowly out in front with four hurdles left. The back marker from the start remained Vigil. With three flights to go and the field tightly bunched Yanworth was forced to travel on the outside as Ghost River and Bello Conti kept him wide. Yanworth looked to be in eighth place with about three jumps left as only two horses were travelling behind. A slight error at the third last obstacle didn’t help Yanworth at a time when Yorkhill tucked on the inside found the space to travel with ease toward the front. At the last flight Yanworth landed about four lengths behind Yorkhill and although the horse battled right to the line the gap couldn’t be closed completely. Yorkhill at    3-1 2F odds took victory by 1 ¾ lengths over 11-10 favourite Yanworth. Seven lengths behind ItsAFreeBee came in third at 33-1.

Yorkhill and Yanworth battle to the line. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Yorkhill and Yanworth battle to the line. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.10 RSA Chase Grade 1: Distance 3m ½ f: 20 Fences: 8R

SeeYouAtMidnight took the lead going into the first with Le Mercurey in second and Roi Des Francs third. On the first circuit going into the water jump SeeYouAtMidnight still made the running with Roi Des Francs and Le Mercurey having swapped places. Just behind came Blacklion then Vyta Du Roc on the inside, No More Heroes out wide with More Of That tucked behind, and Shaneshill the back marker of the field. With nine to go Shaneshill remained detached from the field with More Than That narrowly ahead. A four horse wall comprising of Vyta Du Roc on the inside, Blacklion, No More Heroes in the middle and Le Mercurey out wide blocked the back two’s progress whilst vying for contention. Four from home all the horses jumped well and No More Heroes was in a good position to make a move. With three flights remaining Shaneshill was making up distance and closing fast, and No More Heroes landed ahead of the field. At the turn going into the home straight Roi Des Francs and No More Heroes were out in front, Vyta Du Roc had fallen off the pace and More Of That, Shaneshill and Blacklion were fighting hard for third, fourth and fifth places. Roi Des Francs pulled up suddenly and No More Heroes pushed in front two from home. But the advantage was lost at the final obstacle when No More Heroes landed awkwardly, head down with legs not seeming quite so steady. This gave Blacklion and Shaneshill the opportunity to go past and fight for victory. Blacklion at 8-1 managed to win by half a length over 16-1 Shaneshill a horse that had eaten up the ground in the latter stages of the race, and could possibly have won had it not occupied the back marker position for so long. Five lengths behind Shaneshill came third placed More Than That the 6-4 race favourite. After the race No More Heroes was given extensive treatment for a serious tendon injury and early reports suggested the horse had been put down, but at the time of writing treatment continues for the horse. More Of That was reported to have suffered a burst blood vessel.

Blacklion with Shaneshill closing. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Blacklion with Shaneshill closing. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.50 Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3): Distance 2m 5f: 10 Fences: 26R

The first five horses to reach the first obstacle were Beast Of Burden, One For Harry, Baron Alco, Ubak and Blazer in fifth. Going into the fourth flight Baron Alco was ahead of Ubak followed by Hunters Hoof, Beast Of Burden and Blazer whilst Politologue began to get more involved in the race. Diamond King was running well in the middle of the field as was Long House Hall travelling out wide but fast. Three out Beast Of Burden fell off the pace and at the turn for the home straight Blazer put on a chase closing down Baron Alco and Ubak the front runners. At the last jump Ubak and Long House Hall at the head of the field leapt close together but Diamond King on their inside with a huge effort bypassed the two on landing and thundered toward the finishing post, securing victory by 1 ¼ lengths at 12-1. Long House Hall at 16-1 edged into second place by a neck with 28-1 Ubak in third just half a length in front of fourth placed Blazer an 8-1 2JF.

3.30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m: 12 Fences: 10 R

Sizing Granite nearly fell at the first hurdle and never quite recovered pulling up with six jumps remaining. Special Tiara and Un De Sceaux took to the front from the start and Sprinter Sacre was running well in third with eleven to go. Special Tiara landed awkwardly at the third fence but kept going to maintain a half length advantage over Un De Sceaux with Sprinter Sacre around two lengths further back. Not far behind the third horse followed Somersby, God’s Own and Dodging Bullets. Special Tiara was forced wide on the corner three from home as Un De Sceaux nudged ahead. But Sprinter Sacre was in a position to move as well and by the second last hurdle had gained a four to five length lead. A massive cheer roared from the huge crowd as ten year old Sprinter Sacre with a heart condition that kept him off the track for two years strode to victory. The horse won by 3 ½ lengths at 5-1 2F odds whilst Un De Sceaux the 4-6 race favourite battled to take second place by a nose over 16-1 Special Tiara.

Nico de Boinville hugs Sprinter Sacre. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Nico de Boinville hugs Sprinter Sacre. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.10 Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country): Distance 3m 6f: 32 Fences: 16R

Valadom went into an early lead and stayed there before running out of steam with four jumps to go. Fifteen year old Uncle Junior was the early back marker. With 25 fences remaining Love Rory had moved to second with Any Currency third and Balthazar King sixth. The first six horses were strung out in front with Valadom having a four length advantage over Love Rory after twelve jumps. Balthazar King was a faller with around 17 to go (described by TV commentators as the second fence of the cheese wedge!). With ten obstacles remaining Valadom still led with Any Currency in second but Love Rory running in third suddenly pulled up and was out of the race. Three fences later and Josies Orders had moved into fifth place and Bless The Wings was travelling well. Four from home Valadom began to fade, Any Currency took the lead and Third Intention was looming large. With only one jump to go both Josies Orders and Quantitativeeasing were hitting a good run and Bless The Wings was making an impact too. At the final flight Any Currency and Bless The Wings were together with Josies Orders flying toward them. Victory by a length went to 11-1 Any Currency with Josies Orders the 15-8 favourite taking second place. Just 1 ¼ lengths behind Bless The Wings was third at 33-1 and five lengths back Quantitativeeasing was fourth at 9-1 odds.

Aidan Coleman wins on board 13 year old Any Currency. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Aidan Coleman wins on board 13 year old Any Currency. Image credit @Channel4Racing

 4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3): Distance 2m 87y: Fences unknown: 22 R

Winner: Diego Du Charmil 13-2 2F won by a head over Second: Romain De Senam at 20-1 odds just a half length in front of Third: Coo Star Sivola at 16-1. In Fourth: Missy Tata at 10-1 was 3 ¼ lengths behind the third horse.

5.30 Weatherby’s Champion Bumper (Standard Open National Hunt Flat) (Grade 1): Distance 2m 87y: Fences unknown: 23R NR King Uther.

Winner: BallyAndy 5-1 2F won by a nose over Second: Battleford at 25-1odds two lengths in front of Third: Bacardys at 16-1 odds just a length ahead of Fourth: Castello Sforza 11-1.


Huge crowds gathered for the first day of the Cheltenham Festival where the course Going was officially Good to Soft (soft in places).

Wonderful Cheltenham. Image credit @Channel4Racing
       Wonderful Cheltenham. Image credit @Channel4Racing

1.30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade1 Class 1): Distance 2m ½ f: 8 Fences: 14R

The front three runners virtually throughout were Charbel, Min and Supasundae with Bellshill holding an early fourth place. Altior was around seventh in the field with six hurdles remaining. Charbel and Min took a two length lead ahead of the field on the back straight. Meanwhile Beveur D’Air had only five horses bunched behind it four from home but began to travel well through the field. On the turn going into the home straight Altior showed a turn of foot to pass Min as Charbel began to fade. Going into the final flight Altior was accelerating past Min as Supasundae faded from any contention. Altior thundered toward the finishing post showing no signs of deceleration to win by seven lengths a 4-1 2F winner. 15-8 favourite Min was second 1 ½ lengths ahead of Beveur D’Air at 10-1.

Altior. Image credit Nicky Henderson
                        Altior. Image credit Nicky Henderson

Altior gave trainer Nicky Hendersen his first Novice Hurdle success since 1992 and Nicky became the first English winning trainer of the race since Donald McCain with Cinders and Ashes in 2012.

2.10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (Novices Grade 1): Distance 2m: 13 Fences: 7R

Going into the third flight Sizing John, Douvan and Fox Norton held the front three spots in the field. With seven to jump Douvan had the edge over Sizing John with Vaniteux in third place just nudging ahead of Fox Norton. The Game Changer and Baltimore Rock followed the front four with Aso as the back marker with three jumps remaining. From here Vaniteux tried to accelerate on the outside of the front runners but fell on landing at the second last flight along with Baltimore Rock. Douvan remained untroubled by the fallers and won easily as the 1-4 race favourite by seven lengths ahead of 9-1 Sizing John in second 3 ¾ lengths in front of 33-1 Fox Norton in third place.

Douvan & RubyWalsh. Image credit @Channel4Racing
         Douvan & RubyWalsh. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3): Distance 3m 1f: 20 Fences: 23R NR Indian Castle

Winner: Un Temps Pour Tout 11-1 seven lengths ahead of Second: Holywell at 8-1 2F odds. Nine lengths behind in Third: The Young Master 14-1 just a length in front of Fourth: Morning Assembly at 10-1.

Un Temps Pour Tout & Tom Scudamore. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Un Temps Pour Tout & Tom Scudamore. Image credit      @Channel4Racing

All the jockeys in this race were subsequently given a one day ban for anticipating the start.

3.30 Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1): Distance 2m ½ f: 8 Fences: 12R NR Old Guard

From the start Annie Power looked incredibly poised out front and never really came under any threat from the rest of the field. With three flights to go and about five furlongs out My Tent Or Yours was second followed by The New One and Nichols Canyon running in the slipstream of Annie Power. Going into the final hurdle Annie Power had a clear three length advantage over My Tent Or Yours and Nichols Canyon both battling for the minor placings. At the finish Annie Power the 5-2 race favourite took victory by 4 ½ lengths over 10-1 My Tent Or Yours just a head in front of Nichols Canyon at 15-2. Annie Power became only the fourth mare to win this race and the first since the Flakey Dove success of 1994. Annie Power had tasted defeat in her previous two attempts in this race having suffered a fall at the final flight last year. Great credit must also go to the second placed My Tent Or Yours running again after 702 days off the track.

Annie Power flanked by trainer Wullie Mullins, groom & owner Rich Ricci. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Annie Power flanked by trainer Willie Mullins, groom & owner Rich Ricci. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.10 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Registered as the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) (Grade 1): Distance 2m 4f: 10 Fences: 19R NR Flementime

Desert Queen, Aurore D’Estruval and Melbourne Lady took the initiative at the race start with Vroum Vroum Mag travelling in the middle of the field. With seven to go Stephanie Frances was the back marker and around five lengths separated the front two runners. Desert Queen kept a small advantage at the back straight whilst Vroum Vroum Mag stayed about twelve lengths off the pace. However the horse was jumping well despite an anxious moment when Vroum Vroum Mag was sandwiched between Pass the Time and Aurore D’Estruval, and jockey Ruby Walsh looked unsteady in the saddle. Between the second last and final flight The Governess was allowed to let rip by the jockey and showed a quickening pace whilst Vroum Vroum Mag comfortably eased along in contention. Unfortunately The Governess took a heavy fall at the final jump which proved to be fatal. Vroum Vroum Mag at 4-6 F odds won by 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Rock On The Moor at 66-1. Just a half length behind 40-1 Legacy Gold took third with a length advantage over 80-1 Pass The Time.

Vroum Vroum Mag eases over the final flight. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Vroum Vroum Mag eases over the final flight. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.50: 146th Year Of The National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup (Listed Amateur Riders Novices’ Chase): Distance 4m: Fences unknown: 20R

Winner: Minella Rocco 8-1 by 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Second: Native River 7-1 2F. Six lengths behind in Third: Measureofmydreams 9-1 and five lengths further back Fourth: Southfield Royale 5-1F.

5.30 Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed): Distance 2m 4f 78y: Fences unknown: 20R

Winner: Ballyalton 12-1 with a half length win over Second: Bouvreuil 14-1. Four and a half lengths behind Third: Double Shuffle 8-1 J2F with a 2 ½ length advantage over Fourth: Bridgets Pet 33-1

Seven Books From Childhood That Have Stayed With Me

World Book Day in the UK is an event that tries to encourage schoolchildren to read, and it got me thinking about the books that have stayed with me since I was a child.

Two stories from my pre-school years that have remained etched into my memory.

THE SNOW QUEEN by HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN-I had a large format picture book given to me as a Christmas gift by an aunt. The illustrations were beautiful and the tale rather enchanting and it is one of my three favoured festive stories, the others being Hansel & Gretel and A Christmas Carol. But it was a pantomime that switched me onto Hansel & Gretel and I never read the Dickens classic until the winter of 2014. As an adult I got a replacement large format copy of The Snow Queen from my husband who realised how much this story meant to me.

SO NOW TO SLEEP: author unknown-This was a small pink covered book with delightful pictures, given to me by my Uncle Harry visiting from Australia around 1973. The prose was actually a long poem which I found an absolute joy and committed to memory thankfully, as the physical book (and The Snow Queen original copy) is long gone. Despite several Google searches I’ve been unable to discover the author of So Now To Sleep (I’m reasonably sure that was the title), but presume it could be an Australian children’s’ writer. Here are the words:

So Now To Sleep
The sun has set and day is done,
It’s time for sleep my little one,
The animals have said goodnight,
And Mr Moon is shining bright,
Your little friends are all tucked in,
Their sweetest dreams will soon begin,
But wait before you jump in bed,
Your goodnight prayers must first be said,
Talk to Jesus he’s your friend,
And say goodnight at each day’s end,
Ask him to bless the people who,
Live in this lovely world with you,
God bless Father God bless Mother,
And don’t forget your baby Brother,
God bless Granny, Grandpa and,
Boys and Girls from every land,
God bless your Aunts and Uncles too,
And don’t forget God bless you,
So now to sleep drift away,
Tomorrow dawns another day.

I devoured Enid Blyton books and for that very reason I am NOT including her in my list. In Primary Four my class were encouraged to find, read and review books from the small school library stock. Teachers knew I was a Blyton buff so banned me from choosing her so I had to find something else, and I discovered the delights of:

BOBBY BREWSTER by H.E. TODD-Bobby was a young boy who had extraordinary experiences with everyday items. Inanimate objects would come to life, speak to him and dish out a gentle moral code of good behaviour and high standards. Every short story was just a joy to read, so innocent and well meaning in their context. I think these books are out of print now but thanks to the internet I’ve recently purchased a few, and enjoyed a nostalgic trip down my reading memory lane.

In my first year of high school the novel I studied was simply unforgettable and made a huge impression on me.

I AM DAVID by ANN HOLM-David a boy who has only known the harshness of an Eastern Block concentration camp (possibly Bulgaria) is given a brief chance to escape. With few possessions he makes an epic journey on foot across Europe to Denmark, where unbelievably he seems to find his mother. The loneliness, determination, humbleness, innocence of the real world and sense of mission are extraordinary.

For English interpretation exercises we read excerpts from books and I was so enamoured by two pieces that I found them in the local library and read the whole book.

TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN by PHILIPPA PEARCE-Tom stays with a relative and hears a clock chime 13. On investigation he is transported back in time where he meets a lonely girl called Hatty. He befriends her and enjoys many fun times, but each time he meets Hatty she has got a little older. Just before the end of his visit he goes sleep walking and calls out for his friend. Tom is summoned by the elderly woman resident in the building Mrs Bartholomew who was disturbed by his tormented sleep, and he discovers it is his friend from the past. I found it an absolutely enthralling and magical tale.

THE SWISH OF THE CURTAIN by PAMELA BROWN– I read this over the May Bank holiday weekend of 1983. It was about a group of kids (around the same age I think) who put together a play by themselves, doing staging, lighting, advertising etc. How they learned the plot and acted it out, and the strains of ego and terror affecting their friendships. I was so absorbed by the book the TV went largely unnoticed, as did the weather outside (probably wet anyway). I still distinctly remember the feelings I had reading this book, BUT as an adult I couldn’t recall the book title or the author or any central characters name. Internet searches proved fruitless until I came across a Guardian article from February 2014, which listed books that could introduce cultural pursuits such as ballet and theatre to kids. The Swish of the Curtain was about the first one mentioned and I swiftly found a copy to buy online. Within a few pages I’d found my elusive book and felt the same pangs of emotion as a forty-something I’d had as a teenager. There are four other books in the series and I’ve bought these as well because I always wondered what became of the characters as they reached adulthood.

EXPLORING THE MIDNIGHT WORLD (Piccolo Explorer Books)-an early purchase from The Chip Club magazine bought from saved tuck shop money. The pictures look like hand painted masterpieces and unveiled the world of animal life active during my bedtime sleep in the countryside and garden. But wildlife from around the world was discussed through desert, jungle and cave environments, and topics such as night sight, a sixth sense and living light were reviewed. It tapped into my sense of wonder about the natural world, and I still remember my utter delight when David Attenborough discussed tarsiers from SE Asia a few years ago. They were depicted in this book and it was love at first sight. To this day I need to be able to locate this little treasure on our book shelves. If my childhood books were threatened by fire this is the title I would save from the flames.

In closing a special mention must go to Jack London’s Call of the Wild and White Fang the first books to ever make me cry.

Childhood Special Books. Image credit abmj70
              Childhood Special Books. Image credit abmj70