HORSE RACING EXTRAVAGANZA: CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2014: DAY 1

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Updated: March 11, 2014

Last year in the run up to Cheltenham, frost covers had been used on the course and poor weather had threatened disruption of the event. Prior to this year’s festival, there was eight straight days of dry weather, making the official course going Good to Soft. The racing took place under glorious spring sunshine, and the results didn’t always go to form.

13.30 Supreme Novices Hurdle: Distance 2m ¼ f Runners 18

Jockey Ruby Walsh on mount Vautour (trained by Willie Mullins) took control of the race from the start. Joint favourite Irving satisfactorily jumped the first two fences but never really got going, whilst Gilgamboa ridden by AP McCoy blundered badly with 3 fences to go. Vautour’s lead was extended with one fence left, and then romped home in record breaking time (around 3m 51s) to win by six lengths at 7-2 JF odds. Josses Hill 14-1 placed second just ½ length ahead of Vaniteux 11-1 with Sgt Reckless a length behind in fourth place at 33-1. Germany Calling rode very well and may be one to watch in the future.

14.05 Arkle Challenge Trophy Race: Distance 2m Fences 13 Runners 9

Western Warhorse (hooded) went into the lead at the first fence before Champagne Fever took command from the second. Rock On Ruby nearly unmounted its jockey Noel Fehily at the third and although he recovered well to continue, the horse had lost momentum. With two to jump Champagne Fever was battling with Trifolium with Dodging Bullets in third and Ted Veale in fourth. At the final hurdle however, Western Warhorse having been near the front contenders throughout, landed on the run and stormed up on Champagne Fever’s nearside to take the race to a photo finish. Western Warhorse won by a head at 33-1 odds with Champagne Fever 11-4JF in second place and Trifolium the other 11-4JF in third place four lengths behind. Western Warhorse had only ever won once before over fences hence the long odds. He was ridden by Tom Scudamore and trained by David Pipe, the sons of the only other jockey/trainer team (Peter/Martin) to achieve the same feat with an untried horse.

1440 Handicap Chase Distance 3m ½ f: 19 Fences

Immediately before the race Relax was withdrawn on vet advice becoming the only non runner. Two early fallers were Vintage Star (15 to jump) and King Massini (14 to jump) whilst Wrong Turn pulled up before the ninth. But the biggest incident of influence occurred at the third last fence when Ma Filleule’s jockey lost his stirrup and struggled to regain his footing. Holywell at 10-1 odds secured victory by 1 ¾ lengths to Ma Filleule at 33-1 in second. A long seven lengths back The Package was third at 16-1 and 2 ¾ lengths behind Green Flag took fourth at 16-1 odds.

1520 Champions Hurdle Distance 2m ½ f Fences 8

Favourite Hurricane Fly was attempting to secure his third win of this race. Captain Cee Bee the obvious pace maker took the lead alongside Our Conor. At the third hurdle however Our Conor took a very bad fall and The New One was significantly hampered by the event. At the next fence Hurricane Fly had joined Captain Cee Bee ahead of the field, and with four out going uphill, The New One was making up ground. With two to go, favourite Hurricane Fly, Captain Cee Bee and Jezki were in contention with My Tent Or Yours moving into the inside. At the final hurdle the two J P McManus trained horses battled it out to the finish with 9-1 Jezki (hooded) ridden by Barry Geraghty winning by a neck over 3-1 2F My Tent Or Yours. The New One thundered up the home straight to take a rapturous third place just 2 ½ lengths behind the front two, Hurricane Fly finished fourth. Having been impeded earlier in the race losing around five to six lengths in distance as a result, The New One gained around three lengths in under a furlong. He shaved off 6/10ths of a second from the 1.3 secs time deficit he had going into the last hurdle. This showed what a mighty powerful engine The New One has, and the future looks bright for this horse. Sadly Our Conor suffered a severe back injury in his fall and vets had to take the

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painful decision to put him down. As a 15 length winner of last year’s Triumph Hurdle, Our Conor was clearly a special horse of his generation.

1600 OLBG Mares Hurdle Distance 2m 4f Fences 10 Runners 16

Ten year old Quevega with five consecutive wins of this race under her saddle, had already equalled the record of Golden Miller (Gold Cup winner 1932-36). Could she take an unprecedented sixth win? From the start Sirene D’Ainay took to the front alongside Highland Retreat. After two jumps Quevega was ¾ down the field but apparently this was in keeping with her running style. Sirene D’Ainay was a faller with two to go, and at the final hurdle Glens Melody with Quevega on her inside, were pushing for the line. At the finish 8-11 F Quevega (in the middle of the first three) showed her dominance over the last two hundred yards to take the line, with fellow Willie Mullins trained stablemate Glens Melody 14-1 ¾ of a length behind. Showing what a tight finish the race was L’Unique finished third another ¾ of a length behind and Hidden Identity at 66-1 came fourth.

1640 National Hunt Chase Amateur Riders Novice Chase Distance 4 miles Fences 25 Runners 15

From the start Beeves took the initiative to lead from the front. Going into the ninth jump Beeves remained ahead with Herdsman in second place and Merlin’s Wish was a faller. The three race favourites (Foxrock, ShutTheFrontDoor and Shotgun Paddy) were in the middle of the pack going into the second circuit. With 4 fences to go Rogue Angel had assumed the lead with Midnight Prayer in second, Foxrock had risen to fourth with ShutTheFrontDoor and

Shotgun Paddy strung out behind, with a lot of distance to make up. The run in was hotly contested and on the line 8-1 Midnight Prayer took the victory by a neck, with 7-2 Shotgun Paddy a close second and Suntiep 9-1 third 1 ¾ lengths behind. The 80 year old Mr Reynolds the breeder of Midnight Prayer suffered a massive heart attack about an hour prior to the race, so the horses victory was marred with worry.

1715 Rewards 4 Racing Novices Handicap Chase Distance 2m 4f 110y

Baby Mix was named as a non runner. By the fourth fence Buthelezi had taken the lead alongside Festive Affair. At the last fence AtAGlance was clearly impeded by Present View with Pedora and AhYaKnowYerself also in contention. A steward’s enquiry investigated the final top two places but the results stood. So 8-1 Present View took the victory by half a length over AtAGlance at 10-1. Three lengths behind Pendra at 8-1 secured the third spot with AhYaKnowYerself took fourth at 33-1.

 

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