CHELTENHAM 2015 FESTIVAL DIARY: DAY 4

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Updated: March 13, 2015

The final day of the Cheltenham Festival includes The Gold Cup and the typically British Spring weather of rain finally arrived at the course overnight. This turned the official going conditions to Soft (it may possibly have been good to soft in places at the start of the day). But as the rain continued to fall it was clear that the ground would not suit all horses.

1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle: (Grade 1, Class 1): Distance 2m 1f: Fences 8: 16 R NR Take A Break

Dicosimo went to the front from the start and only began to fade in the final part of the race. Peace And Co was held off the pace and travelled around seventh or eighth from the front. With four to go Dicosimo had a six length lead over Petite Parisienne but this advantage had halved by the next obstacle. Old Guard was making up ground at this point but Beltor hadn’t much space in the field. The running order three from home read like this Dicosimo, Petite Parisienne and Hargam, with Peace And Co stalking the leaders, Top Notch, Stars Over The Sea and Karezak. Dicosimo’s advantage over the field was further reduced to just a length as the field closed in, Petite Parisienne was also put under pressure as a result. Peace And Co had to try and go round the leaders but was initially held in by Petite Parisienne until it began to fall back. At the final flight the three Nicky Henderson trained horses Peace And Co, Top Notch and Hargam jumped together all in contention. As the finishing line loomed Top Notch pressed hard to take on Peace And Co but just failed to catch the race favourite. 2-1f Peace And Co won by just a neck over joint second favourite 7-1 J2f Top Notch four lengths in front of third placed 8-1 Hargam with 14-1 Devilment coming in ten lengths behind in fourth.

Peace And Co with Barry Geraghty. Image credit @Channel4Racing

Peace And Co with Barry Geraghty. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.05 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle: (Grade 3, Class 1): Distance 2m 1f: Fences 8: 24R NR Commissioned, Minella Present

Violet Dancer made all the initial running and with three to go headed Orgilgo Bay, Cheltenian with Ebony Express tracking the front three. Two out Lucky Bridle was a faller and Roman Flight tumbled at the last hurdle. Wicklow Brave really got into the race when he passed leader Violet Dancer before the second last flight. Although the horse fumbled the final jump the acceleration toward the finish was incredible and showed what an engine Wicklow Brave has. He won by eight lengths (the biggest margin of the week so far) at 25-1 odds. 17-2 Sort It Out was 1 ¼ lengths ahead of third placed Quick Jack 8-1 J2F. Fourth went to 14-1 Max Dynamite and fifth to Analifet at 33-1 odds.

Wicklow Brave. Image credit John Beasley (@wish3000)

Wicklow Brave. Image credit John Beasley (@wish3000)

2.40 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle: (Grade 1, Class 1): Distance 3m: Fences 12: 19R NR Fletchers Flyer

With a circuit to go Milsean remained at the head of the field having led from the start and had a two length advantage over Martello Tower around five from home. Out Sam was a faller at this point of the race. Going into the second last hurdle Milsean remained in front with Value At Risk , No More Heroes, Martello Tower, Arbre De Vie and Black Hercules not far behind. Just before the final flight Milsean running on the inside at the rails created a small gap which No More Heroes tried to run into. But almost immediately the space closed again and No More Heroes had to pull back, losing ground and being forced to switch sides in an attempt to remain in contention. In the home run Martello Tower and Milsean powered toward the line with No More Heroes valiantly gaining momentum. Victory went to 14-1 Martello Tower by ½ a length over 33-1 Milsean just a length ahead of 6-1 2F No More Heroes in third. Arbre DeVie came in at 16-1 in fourth place.

A tight race. Winner Martello Tower (in yellow). Image credit @Channel4Racing

A tight race. Winner Martello Tower (in yellow). Image credit @Channel4Racing

3.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase: (Grade 1, Class 1): Distance 3m 2 ½ f: Fences 22: 16 R NR River Choice, Don Cossack

Coneygree winner of The Gold Cup. Image credit @Channel4Racing

Coneygree winner of The Gold Cup. Image credit @Channel4Racing

This was effectively an incredible one horse race as Coneygree in only his fourth venture over fences led from start to finish. Jumping beautifully with an amazing staying power Coneygree took the race to the rest of the field keeping up a continuous high pace. Last year’s winner Lord Windermere looked detached from the race very early on and did not travel well at all and was the back marker at the end of the first circuit. With eight to go Coneygree with On His Own in second place headed a strung out field. Two from home Coneygree had a two length advantage over Road To Riches giving chase with Djakadam in third and Holywell fourth. Having landed the final flight securely Coneygree somehow managed to find a little bit more in the tank, in the long run in to the finishing post. Running solo in the middle of the course Coneygree at 7-2 J2F odds secured victory by 1 ½ lengths, becoming the first novice to win the Gold Cup since 1974. Battling for second and third place in a race of their own Djakadam at 10-1 took second by two lengths over 8-1 Road To Riches. Six lengths behind the front runners 8-1 Holywell was placed fourth.

Coneygree gives a winning smile for the cameras. Image credit @Channel4Racing

Coneygree gives a winning smile for the cameras. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.00 St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup: Class 2: Distance 3m 2 ½ f: Fences 22: 24 R

The race commenced after a protracted standing start and the initial race leader was Carsonstown Boy with Fort George alongside. At the end of the first circuit Muirhead was the back marker. Ten from home Fort George blundered to fall back slightly and Universal Soldier pulled up with around seven to go. At this point Chosen Milan was the race leader with Carsonstown Boy, Paint The Clouds and Shoreacres just behind. With three obstacles remaining Chosen Milan had fallen back to fourth with the other three contenders in front and On The Fringe looking dangerous. Going into the second last fence Following Dreams made a tremendous surge and On The Fringe was travelling very well. With only the final flight to negotiate On The Fringe put on the accelerator before the jump and maintained the speed up the home run. Victory by a phenomenal seventeen lengths went to 6-1 2F On The Fringe and a long way behind separated by just a neck were 50-1 Following Dreams in second , and 11-4F Paint The Clouds. Carsonstown Boy having made the running for most of the race placed fourth at 11-1.

4.40 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle: Class 2: Distance 2m 4 ½ f: 22R NR Peckhamecho, Edeymi

With three hurdles left, Shelford out in front from the start led Jolly’s Cracked It, Macnicholson, and Balgarry. The field was only spread out by about ten lengths and the race was wide open with two Wullie Mullins trained horses (Killultagh Vic, Roi Des Francs) making up ground. In the home run Killultagh Vic battled it out with Noble Endeavor right to the line, resulting in a photo finish. An eighth win for Wullie Mullins this week came when Killultagh Vic at 7-1 2F odds was declared the winner by a head over 14-1 Noble Endeavor. In third place 4 ½ lengths behind came 3-1F Roi Des Francs and six lengths further back 33-1 Kauto Grand Mogol.

5.15 A P McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase: Grade 3,Class 1: Distance 2m ½ f: 20R NR Claret Cloak, Karinga Dancer, Tanks For That, Solar Impulse

The last race of the festival was specially re-named (just for this year) after A P McCoy who is retiring at the end of the season. The first horse to show was Next Sensation setting a strong pace from the off. McCoy’s mount Ned Buntline initially did not jump well at all and was five lengths off the pace, with a dozen horses ahead of him. At the fourth last fence Ned Buntline nearly went as two fallers impeded his progress, but jockey McCoy steered him out of danger. With two obstacles remaining Ned Buntline was in sixth place and closing with Next Sensation still spearheading the field. Horses between the two included My Brother Sylvest, Dick Dundee and Croco Bay. In the final stage of the race Ned Buntline momentarily moved into second spot, attempting to surpass Next Sensation’s fantastic run. But a dream finish for A P McCoy in his final Cheltenham Festival was not to be as Ned Buntline fell back in the home straight. Next Sensation at 16-1 took victory by four lengths ahead of 12-1 Eastlake with 14-1 Croco Bay in third a length behind. Ned Buntline at 4-1 JF odds was fourth.

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