The Cheltenham International Meeting once again returned to the famous Cheltenham Racecourse last weekend for two days of unrivalled horse racing action. This event is a key highlight within the National Hunt Season and perfectly contributes to the highly anticipated build up of the great Cheltenham Festival. As the last meeting of the year and Christmas just around the corner there’s plenty to savour from this prestigious race day. At the weekend we witnessed world class racing from first class jockeys, runners and respected trainers. Those in attendance included horses from both the Bryony Frost and Nicky Henderson camp.
The festivities could be felt all over Cheltenham Racecourse as the build up to the big day continues. On both days of the event plenty of racing was enjoyed. The final race of the Crystal Cup took place on the Friday which saw the conclusion of the European race series. Other highlights from the action packed racing weekend include the Caviar Gold Cup also dubbed as December’s Gold Cup and the International Hurdle. Saturday’s feature race: The Unibet International Hurdle is one of seven key races on the road to The Festival. Highly anticipated by many racing enthusiasts the race offers us key insights into who to look out for ahead of the prestigious Cheltenham Festival in 2019.
Unibet International Hurdle
The Unibet International Hurdle is a Grade 2 race ran on the Saturday of the International meeting at Cheltenham. The penultimate hurdle race is a highlight of the entire meeting as horses compete over the 2m 179 yards long race track to be victorious. Originally referred to as the Cheltenham Trial Hurdle, the event has been established since 1963. Following many adjustments over the years the race was originally sponsored in 2010 by Stan James which later lead to the parent company Unibet taking ownership.
The wins from the International Hurdle are always exciting, providing insight for what else is to come from the season and who to watch. There have been many successful wins over the years, including those of leading trainer Nicky Henderson. The British racehorse trainer has trained 5 of the winning horses from this race over the years. Including the win we saw at the weekend. Henderson added to his record with another win from horse Brain Power making this a consecutive win for the prestigious trainer.
At the weekend we saw a strong 8 horse line-up for the International Hurdle, those horses included:
• Brain Power
• Silver Streak
• Western Ryder
• We Have A Dream
• Vision Des Flos
• Old Guard
• Summerville Boy
• The New One
Brain Power Wins The 2018 Unibet International Hurdle
There’s no doubt that Irish bred racehorse Brain Power had luck on his side in last weekend’s major race. At odds of 7-1 the horse managed to beat the 7 finishing horses by a rewarding length and three quarters. The horse’s owner had recently made the decision to move the horse back from fences which subsequently paid off in Saturday’s racing schedule.
Much of the attention going into the race surrounded three time champion The New One. Emotions were high amongst the connections of the horse and the supportive racegoers. Despite a positive start to the race the ten year old horse was pulled up before the final hurdle in his last race before retirement. Connections to the horse spoke how disappointed they were and how they felt the horse “didn’t have it in him any more”.
Brain Power however is set for further success following the impressive win at Cheltenham. The victory set the horse up nicely for The Festival in 2019. Odds were slashed from 50/1 to 25/1 for The Champion Hurdle. The odds could now make Brain Power an each way contender at the prestigious Cheltenham Festival next year. Despite contenders pulling out strong performances during the race, Brain Power managed to quicken and tackle the final bend with conviction.
The seven year old faced a difficult racing career over fences, hence the decision to move. Previous meetings had not proven as successful for the horse. In March we saw Brain Power finish second in the Arkle Trophy however fell in a final Aintree outing. This season we also saw the horse beaten in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham. Which all further highlights the reasoning behind Michael Buckley’s move.
Bryony Frost Wins The Caviar Gold Cup
Elsewhere at Cheltenham The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup race also took place on Saturday. The Grade 3 handicap steeplechase is a true test for any horse with over 2m 4f of racetrack to cover. Champion jockey Bryony Frost further added to her growing reputation with a Caviar Gold Cup win at the weekend. Teamed up with Frodon the pair put on an enviable performance which could only take them to the top spot.
Despite strong competition from the French horse Cepage, Frodon managed to keep him at bay with a length and a quarter defeat. Although the runner was carrying a top weight of 11st and 12lb’s at the race the pair managed to finish victorious. Arguably one of the best weight carrying performances of the entire season Frost really did put on a performance many should envy.
Frost always speaks enthusiastically following races and this weekend was no different. She spoke highly of Frodon stating he is a “brave horse and complete warrior”. It will be exciting to see what else Bryony Frost has in store for us throughout the remainder of the racing season.
Cheltenham Races: What’s Up Next?
Fear not, there’s still plenty to be enjoyed at Cheltenham Racecourse as the season continues right up until spring 2019. The next event to look forward to is Cheltenham New Year’s Day Meeting which is the perfect start for 2019. The festive spirit can still be felt as racing enthusiasts celebrate New Years Day in style with unrivalled hospitality and first-class horse racing. Following that meeting we are one step closer to the popular event of the season. Cheltenham Festival Trials Day is a highlight of the racing calendar that is certain to get everyone geared up for The Festival.
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