Cheltenham Festival: 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. With equine hero, Tiger Roll running in the cross country and a Willie Mullins team to be feared with two exciting favourites in Monkfish & Chacun Pour Soi heading his battalion, the English had their work cut out to try and get on the scoreboard on St Patrick’s Day.
Cheltenham has always been a venue where you should always follow the rule of horses for courses. So, from 2 mile chasers to the new Bumper stars of the future, take a look as we break down the best moments across all seven races from day two of this years’ Cheltenham Festival.
The Ballymore Novices Hurdle – 13.20
This small but select field may have been lacking in numbers, but certainly wasn’t lacking in quality. The unbeaten favourite, Bob Ollinger, came into this race having followed the same route as Envoi Allen last year. English Champion trainer, Paul Nicholls, saddled Bravemansgame, who he has labelled the “next Denman” and Willie Mullin’s sent his Grade 1 Dublin Racing Festival winner Galliard Du Mesnil.
Bravemansgame set the tone going off in front, with Bob Ollinger and Galliard Du Mesnil sat in behind. A seven-runner race is all about tactical race riding and two hurdles from home, Rachael Blackmore on Bob Ollinger appeared alongside Bravemansgame motionless. With Galliard Du Mesnil sat right behind Nicholls’ horse, Rachael made sure that she tucked into the rail, forcing Cobden to shut the door on any route down the rail Townend was trying to find on Galliard and, with this move, Rachael was able to kick off the home turn and open up a lead that could not be overturned.
Bob Ollinger proved to be 7 ¼ lengths too good for Galliard Du Mesnil in second with Bravemansgame effort back in third. Bob Ollinger was a mightily impressive winner and Henry De Bromhead looks to have another star for the future.
Brown Advisory Novices Chase – 13.55
The second race of the day was all about one horse. Monkfish is touted as the next coming of Jesus in the horse racing world and was ¼ favourite to continue his unbeaten run over fences. Monkfish went out from the gates with the Big Breakaway but the race was ran at a crawl and the odds on favourite was finding it hard to hit his rhythm, standing of some fences and getting in short to others.
Eklat De Rire, the second favourite, unseated Rachael Blackmore at the 12th and the loose horse then galloped alongside Monkfish. Monkfish came off the home turn cantering away from his rivals but nearly went at the last, when the horse went straight through the fence. He managed to get the job done and preserve his uneaten record, but Willie Mullins said “it’s the most nervous I have been watching a race”.
Coral Cup Hurdle – 14.30
This was a story for the dreamers and believers. Heaven Help Us at 33/1 made all from the front to win by 9 lengths at 33/1. Paul Hennessy the trainer, bred the horse himself and only trains two horses with his main trade in training being a greyhound trainer. Richard Condon, the jockey, also rode his first Cheltenham Festival winner and received rapturous applause from all the jockeys on his return to the parade ring.
The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (feature race) – 15.05
Horses for courses! This was another day where the mares shone on the grade 1 stage. Put The Kettle On rolled back 12 months and stormed up the Cheltenham Hill to win the Champion Chase a year after he won the Arkle over the same course and distance.
Aidan Coleman gave a stellar front running ride but when they jumped the last, the unbeaten hot favourite Chacun Pour Soi took up the running and looked to be home and hosed, the gutsy mare gave her all for Coleman in the saddle and got her nose back in front eventually winning by ½ length to the fast-finishing Nube Negra in second and Chacun Pour Soi in third. Aidan Coleman said after the race “if I could bottle what she has, I wouldn’t have to ride again, I would sell it and be a rich man”.
Glenfarclas Chase (A Cross Country Race) Race – 15.40
The wonderful horse of a lifetime, TIGER ROLL. The tiger roared back to his spiritual home and made it five Cheltenham Festival wins in his career, joining the greats in Cheltenham Festival history. Setting out from the front with his ears pricked and jumping like a stag all the way round, leaving his rivals to just see the maroon silks in the distance. Tiger Roll showed he was as game as ever, his owner Michael O’Leary said “you couldn’t put into words what that means, what a legend, what a bloody legend”.
The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup – 16.15
Finally one for the English in the Prestbury Cup. Sky Pirate who has been a revelation after dropping to 2 miles, took a prominent position on the inside and looked well placed all journey round and was travelling the best when they turned for home. He and Entoucas had a great fight up the run in but Sky Pirate prevailed by a short head. Another winner with previous course and distance form, showing the rule of thumb is definitely a trend to stick by.
The Weatherbys Champion Bumper Chase – 16.50
Is there a better jockey on the planet at the minute than Rachael Blackmore?! This lady is riding out of her skin and picked up her third winner of the Cheltenham Festival on Sir Gerhard dictating the pace of the race from the front and tactically outwitting the field. On the home turn Blackmore opened up a 4 length lead which proved too much for the favourite Kilcruit to reign in as he gallantly chased Sir Gerhard up the hill. The Cheveley Park Stud owned horse held on by ½ length giving them their third consecutive winner of the race.
Ladies Day was fantastic and now it’s over to St Patricks Day Thursday.