CHELTENHAM 2014 FESTIVAL DIARY: DAY 3

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Updated: March 13, 2014

A fog shrouded course awaited the horses and jockeys today, and the going was officially Good with Good to Soft in places.  Interestingly I read a tweet (@channel4racing) that reported the track was due to have 4mm of water applied overnight, as the ground was drying out fast. This was an attempt to keep the going similar to the first day’s racing conditions. As the racing progressed the fog lifted and by the last race the weather was more or less ideal.

1330 JLT Novices Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m 4f: Fences 16: Runners 12

Early casualties to the fences were Mozoltov and Oscar Whisky at the second, and with four to go Djakadam, but thankfully all horses and riders were ok. Uxizandre led from the beginning with Double Ross nearby and Djakadam remained in a steady third until shortly before the fall. Off The Ground took Djakdam’s place in the running. But with Off The Ground fading by the second last jump Taquin de Seuil  had taken second spot, positioning itself between Uxizandre and Double Ross. With the race to the line poised between the three horses, jockey A P McCoy summoned up his own strength whilst powering Taquin de Seuil past the post as 7-1 winner by ¾ of a length. The grimace on Tony McCoy’s face as he savoured victory, spoke volumes of the pain he was undoubtedly in after the fall he took yesterday. Uxizandre who challenged Taquin de Seuil right to the line was a worthy second place at 33-1 and 1 ¼ lengths back Double Ross took third at 11-1.

Taquin du Seuil & A P McCoy triumph

Taquin du Seuil & A P McCoy triumph

1405 Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Final): Distance 3m: Fences 12: Runners 23

The only non-runner in this race was Lie Forrit withdrawn as the ground didn’t suit. At the first fence Vics Canvas’ race was over, and Quartz De Thaix along with the distinctive grey Grand Vision took the race initiative. This remained until around seven to jump with about a circuit to go. Cross Kennon joined the leading two at this point and Uncle Jimmy was trying to make an impact by going wide. With two to go Grand Vision was still hanging on in front with Cross Kennon but Fingal Bay running well had risen to third place. Fingal Bay cruised up to the final hurdle with Cross Kennon but as they jumped Southfield Theatre had moved into a threatening position. With the home straight ahead Fingal Bay and Southfield Theatre battled it out with Trustan Times and Pineau De Re closing in as well. All four were bunched tightly together as they went past the post and a photo finish was needed to find a winner. By a nose Fingal Bay 9-2F beat Southfield Theatre 20-1 and a neck separated Pineau De Re in third at 33-1 and Trustan Times also 33-1. Jetson in fifth spot was only a neck behind the fourth horse. What a close finish!

1440 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m 5f: Fences 17: Runners 11

This race had five previous festive winners in the field, highlighting how horses tend to graduate through the Cheltenham ranks year on year. Cantlow was withdrawn because of lameness, and as the eleven racers took to the track Kauto Stone took the initiative. Just behind were Beneficient and Hidden Cyclone. The three greys including Dynaste ran toward the back of the field. As the distance run increased so Kauto Stone, Beneficient, Hidden Cyclone and Rajdhani Express kept the four leading spots. At the final turn with two to jump Beneficient was going flat whilst Dynaste had steadily manoeuvred through the field into third. Dynaste beautifully jumped the last fence and thundered up the run in to win by 2 ¼ lengths as 3-1F. Hidden Cyclone at 10-1 took second place and 2 ¼ lengths behind Rajdhani Express secured third at 18-1.

Scudamore on Dynaste kisses victory

Scudamore on Dynaste kisses victory

1520 Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Grade 1): Distance 3m: Fences 12: Runners 10

Quevega the winner of the Mares Hurdle on day one was always doubtful as a runner in this race, and she was a non runner along with Mala Beach withdrawn due to stiffness. From the first fence Reve De Sivola, Celestial Halo and Rule The World took the first three spots. Before turning left at the highest point of the course Annie Power was fourth from last. A couple of jumps later Annie Power was on the heels of Big Buck’s who was  moving on the inside around 4th/5th place. With two hurdles left Annie Power was cruising forward with At Fishers Cross and Rule the World. Big Buck’s tried so hard to pull back some ground but just couldn’t keep up as Annie Power ate up the ground, having gone round the field rather than race on the inside. More Of That and Annie Power leapt the last fence together and then stormed toward the finish. Subtly More Of That pushed ahead to win by 1 ½ lengths at 15-2 with Annie Power in second at 11-8F. Five lengths behind in third place At Fishers Cross came in at 9-1. Big Bucks a four time winner of this race was immediately retired at the finish.

More of That defeats Annie Power

More of That defeats Annie Power

1600 Byrne Group Plate (Grade 3) Handicap Chase: Distance 2m 4f: Fences 16: Runners 23

The only non runner in this large field was Carrickboy withdrawn due to stiffness. A second start was required as the horses excitedly broke away before the starter was satisfied. As the race steadily progressed Champion Court narrowly led a group containing Act Of Kalanisi, Third Intention, Shangani, Tatenen, Bennys Mist and Ballynagour (in that order). With eight to jump Sraid Padraig made a mistake and impeded Johns Spirit. Champion Court jumped the sixth from last very well and had Tatenen alongside at five from home. However, Champion Court’s movement became less fluid and he tailed away. At the second last obstacle Tatenen with Third Intention, Colour Squadron and Ballynagour close behind were all in contention. The final hurdle seen Ballynagour land in front of Colour Squadron to peel away for a terrific eight length win at 12-1. Colour Squadron a 5-1F came in second and six lengths behind Tatenen took the third spot at 33-1. Only 1 ½ lengths separated forth placed Johns Spirit a 9-1 odds horse.

1640 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (Amateurs): Distance 3m 110y: Runners 23

A very disjointed start was allowed to stand which resulted in Swing Bill being left about fifty yards behind the others. Buddy Bolero and Spring Heeled took the lead and as the race progressed Pickamus gained some pace, and Swing Bill closed down the field. At one point Spring Heeled and Buddy Bolero were ahead of a field strung out about 25-30 lengths from front to back. At jump four both Buddy Bolero and Spring Heeled nearly went and Saint Are made a bad mistake. Gas Line Boy was going ok and Cause Of Causes was midfield. As the ground elevated toward the highest point Spring Heeled still had the advantage, and on the second circuit at least three horses were lost including Buddy Bolero who fell with four jumps to go, and Twirling Magnet who pulled up. With two fences remaining Cause Of Causes had moved into second spot, Spring Heeled was still ahead but Indian Castle faded from contention. At the last hurdle Cause Of Causes blundered badly giving Spring Heeled around a two length advantage going into the home straight. Spring Heeled (12-1) took the victory by 1 ¾ lengths over the chasing Cause Of Causes 13-2 2F. A massive seventeen lengths behind the front two Roberta Goldback at 16-1 was third and 2 ¾ lengths behind Balnaslow took fourth place at 9-1. The only non runner in the final race of the day was Dursey Sound due to lameness.

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