Once again, the Cheltenham festival didn’t fail to deliver in unleashing some potential superstars to follow for the future. It was a very turbulent four days for punters with many of the so-called bankers of the week failing to fire leaving punters scratching their heads. It was more of a week for our older jump horses to shine, those who hadn’t necessarily received what they had deserved at previous festivals along with a few very talented up and coming horses who have proven themselves to have a very bright future ahead of them.
JP McManus arguably had one of his most successful Cheltenham festivals he’s ever had which began with Epatante silencing the doubters in the Champion Hurdle under Barry Geraghty on day one. Honeysuckle followed up in the following race under a special ride by Rachel Blackmore and this victory made it three wins on the first day for mares after Put The Kettle On won the Arkle under Aiden Coleman.
My members would have been very pleased with The Conditional winning at 15/2 in the Ultima in what was one of many very tight finishes during the week. Day two was a tricky day for punters with Tiger Roll being dethroned by the up and coming French trained Easyland which was one of four winners on the day for McManus. Along with Tiger Roll, Appreciate It and Defi Du Seuil were also beat despite being some peoples’ big fancies for the week. Surprisingly McManus’ best chance of the week was Defi Du Seuil but he disappointed leaving Politilogue to get his day in glory by winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Envoi Allen lived up to the hype which surrounded him and the strong reputation he held over in Ireland easily winning the Ballymore and looks to be the next superstar in waiting. The well named Champ stormed home from a different county to create the best finish of the week after hitting 400/1 in running to deny Minella Indo and Allaho of RSA glory.
The highlight of my week came on the third day in the Ryanair when Min held of his challengers in Saint Calvados and A Plus Tard to earn his first win at the Cheltenham festival. It was fantastic to see Min gaining his first victory at the festival after always seemingly bumping into the one and only Altior throughout his career. I was fortunate enough to be able to gain access into the winner’s enclosure to see Min after his hard-fought victory and give him a pat well done. This win was thoroughly deserved for owner Rich Ricci who had been very disappointed after day one with Benie Des Dieux being beat by Honeysuckle in a race full of controversy with jockey tactics during the race. The biggest shock of the whole meeting was that of Paisley Park which would have left bookmakers in dreamland after his defeat as this was probably the most likely winner of the whole week. However, the crowd went silent when they saw Lisnagar Oscar cross the line in front for trainer Rebecca Curtis and jockey Adam Wedge. This would have ruined basically everyone’s multiples they had as no one could imagine Paisley Park being beat. This was highlighted by the Placepot coming in at a staggering £2,556.80 to a £1 stake.
The final day was packed full of drama which began in the first when Jamie Moore unseated at the final fence when around 20 lengths clear on Goshen. Goshen began the race a very strong favourite and that was reflected by the groans of the crowd when they saw Goshen stumble into the last with Jamie left with his head in his hands on the floor devastated at what just happened. I don’t think many people would have envied Jamie being at his dinner table that night with father Gary on the other side!
I have followed Lostintranslation throughout his career and his big day finally arrived and when I saw him going off at 10/1, I thought he was massively overpriced. Robbie Power managed to get him into a fantastic rhythm, and he jumped with such enthusiasm throughout the race. As they turned into the straight, Robbie loomed up alongside Paul Townend aboard Al Boum Photo and had winner written all over him and there was me halfway up the run in screaming Lostintranslation home. I’m sure even Robbie thought he had the race in his clutches jumping the last but Al Boum Photo showed his class and proved his win the year before was no fluke by surging home up the hill to fend of the rallying Santini, with Lostintranslation back in third after running his best race to date. Everyone who followed my tip on Lostintranslation would have got an excellent run for their money and profited if they backed him each way.
The final race of the day was very frustrating and summed up the week for punters with Column Of Fire falling at the last hurdle when looking set to win, which would have been a nice end to the week for members after tipping him up at 13/2. The racing world should count themselves fortunate that Cheltenham went ahead, as they got to witness lots of excellent races across the four days and thankfully it wasn’t cancelled because of the concerns over the Coronavirus.