Cheltenham Festival 2022: Ladies Day Review
After a spectacular first day of the Cheltenham Festival, with stories of record breakers and national hunt heroes, Ladies Day had plenty to live up to.
The English dominated early on in the races on Champion Day, but a late win for Ireland left it tight heading into Day Two, with Britain 4-3 Ireland.
Fashion takes just as much precedence as the racing on track on Ladies Day, but all eyes were on Wednesday’s headline, the Champion Chase. This year, it included a Willie Mullins vs Nicky Henderson vs Henry de Bromhead battle in the shape of Energumene, Shishkin, Chacun Pour Soi and Envoi Allen.
Relive some of the best moments from Day Two of the Cheltenham Festival. From 2-mile chasers to the new Bumper stars of the future, we’ve broken down the action from all seven races on Ladies Day.
The Ballymore Novices Hurdle Race – 13.30
Winner: Sir Gerhard
The small but select field may have lacked numbers, but it certainly wasn’t lacking in quality.
Still, it was the odds-on favourite, Sir Gerhard, that romped to victory in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle race on Ladies Day, giving champion trainer Willie Mullins his 5th victory in the race and 80th at Cheltenham Festival.
Whatdeawant set the tone, leading the pack early in the race, with Hemlock and I Am Maximus sitting in behind. But a nine-runner race is all about tactical race riding, and Journey With Me and Sir Gerhard pressed forward on the final circuit.
It was 1, 2, 3, 4 Irish four out from the final fence, but Sir Gerhard demonstrated his class under Paul Townend and fired forward towards the last, opening up a lead that no rival could overturn.
Rachael Blackmore applied the pressure on the home straight, but Journey With Me lost his footing and fell. Gordon Elliott-trained Three Stripe Life also made chase, but it just wasn’t enough.
Sir Gerhard proved to be three lengths too good for Three Stripe Life in second, with I Am Maximus back in third.
Following the race, jockey Paul Townend said:
“Sir Gerhard showed his class. He knew where he was at. He has a brilliant jump in him.”
A landmark victory for Mullins. And now it’s England 4-4 Ireland on Day Two of the Cheltenham Festival.
Brown Advisory Novices’ Steeple Chase – 14:10
Winner: L’Homme Presse
The rain continued to pour, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the punters.
Although many might’ve let out a deep sigh after Paul Nicholson decided to pull Bravesmansgame from the race, the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase remained all the bit exciting.
There’s so much more emphasis on stamina in this race, and L’Homme Presse went the trip under Charlie Deutsch. All it took was a little squeeze, and the rest of the field was in trouble as L’Homme Presse fired down the final straight.
Ahoy Senor did well to stalk the leader, but problems with his jumping left jockey Derek Fox with too much work to do to catch up to the classy L’Homme Presse on Ladies Day.
It was a brilliant ride from Charlie Deutsch and a fairytale ending for the Venetia Williams stable team. L’Homme Presse was nursed back to health from injury and has gone unbeaten all season. Could they have a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup contender on their hands?
The win gifts Venetia Williams her first Grade 1 victory at the Cheltenham Festival.
Coral Cup Hurdle – 14:50
Winner: Commander of Fleet
He had seven runners in the race, but Commander of Fleet was the gelding that changed National Hunt trainer Gordon Elliott’s luck.
It was a muddy battle, with half the field splattered as they approached the seventh hurdle, but jockey Shane Fitzgerald made no mistake, navigating Commander of Fleet through the field before spearing past Ashdale Bob and Fastorslow at the final fence.
Following the race, Gordon Elliott said:
“It’s good to be back, training winners for everyone to see here.”
At 50-1, Commander of Fleet was the first major upset at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival. With Gigginstown on the scoreboard, it’s Britain 5-5 Ireland.
The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase – 15:30
Horses for courses! After the mares shone on Champion Day, the stallions shone in the Ladies Day feature and what a race it was.
With two previous winners and the 1-2-3 from last year’s renewal, the Champion Chase was shaping up to be a race and a half, but as we all know, anything can happen at The Cheltenham Festival.
For some, this year’s running was looking like the race of the week, with Shiskin and Energumene set to clash in this supreme test of jumping at speed. There was also Envoi Allen, Chacun Pour Soi and Put The Kettle On.
But things didn’t go quite as planned in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Ladies Day.
Nico de Boinville pulled Shishkin out early in the race, Chacun Pour Soi unseated Paul Mullins, and Envoi Allen jumped poorly two out from home. But Energumene made it look easy, pulling away from the field to take it home by a clear margin.
Paul Townend adds another win to his tally, and Willie Mullins finally has a Queen Mother Champion Chase on his CV after Energumene becomes the hero of the race.
Once again, the Queen Mother Champion Chase turned out to be the graveyard for favourites.
Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase – 16:10
Winner: Delta Work
Many punters thought the writing was on the wall in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and while Tiger Roll ran a good race, he was just beaten by his stablemate, Delta Work.
Tiger Roll had been the market drifter, with huge stablemate Delta Work, the odds-on favourite with the bookies, and the Ladies Day race came down to this pair.
Davy Russell and Tiger Roll took the lead approaching the 25th jump, with Potters Corner and Plan of Attack behind in second and third, respectively. At the Aintree fence, Jack Kennedy gave Delta Work a push, and while Tiger Roll looked the better of the two, Kennedy’s charge remained a threat.
They were neck-and-neck approaching home, and while Tiger Roll deserved a fairytale win, it was heartbreak for the two-time Grand National champion. 5-2 favourite Delta Work was stronger up the hill, running down his stablemate to win the Cross Country Chase.
It was Tiger Roll’s 45th and final race at the Cheltenham Festival, with owner Michael O’Leary describing it as the “perfect stage for him to bow out”. Still, a fantastic horse with a tremendous Festival record to match and a great result for Gordon Elliott.
Happy retirement Tiger Roll!
The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Challenge Cup – 16:50
Winner: Global Citizen
After a false start, the Grand Annual Handicap got underway, and it was 28-1 odds-on horse Global Citizen that romped to glory in this wide-open contest.
Global Citizen was up in front in murky conditions early on in the race, but Andy Dufresne made pace heading out towards the final fence. He made a challenge, but Kielan Woods managed to hold off 5-1 favourite Andy Dufresne.
After three attempts at Cheltenham Festival glory, Global Citizen finally gets his limelight.
The Weatherbys Champion Bumper – 17:30
Winner: Facile Vega
The Weatherbys Champion Bumper was chock full of promises. Still, bookie favourite Facile Vega – son of the multiple Cheltenham Festival winner Quevega – stole the show in the final race on Ladies Day.
Houlanbatordechais and Rachael Blackmore led by 4-5 lengths midway through the course, with Facile Vega towards the rear, but Paul Mullins’ charge soon switched gears, stalking Gordon Elliott’s American Mike.
The two had at it on the home straight, but Facile Vega had too much on his rival, breezing past American Mike. James Gate made a late go at it but could do nothing against the Mullins-trained horse, and Facile Vega romped to glory in the Champion Bumper.
He’s been top-class in his two starts this season and demonstrated his class in the last race on Ladies Day, earning Willie Mullins his 12th Champion Bumper victory.
Ladies’ Day delivered the shocks and surprises the Cheltenham Festival is renowned for and now it’s over to St Patrick’s Day Thursday when Cheltenham Racecourse transforms into a sea of green.