CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2016 DIARY: DAY2

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.

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