St Patrick’s Day Thursday followed the actual St Patrick’s Day at this years’ Cheltenham Festival and, if Thursday was to give as many winners to the Irish as the actual St Patrick’s Day, then the Prestbury Cup would be all but over going into the final day of the Festival.
Marsh Novices Chase – 13.20
The most talked-about horse in training. This was due to be a procession for Envoi Allen and another race that we would all eulogise over. However, at the 4th flight, the superstar guessed at his fence and came tumbling down, to the shock of the racing world. This gave an opportunity to the others in the field to step up and win a Festival Grade 1 and Harry Skelton tried to gallop his rivals into submission sending Shan Blue on. Eventmasters’ racing Ambassador Nico De Boinville, sat patiently on Chantry House and pounced 2 from home to take up the running. Chantry House finished strongly to give Nicky Henderson a 1, 2 in the race with Fusil Raffles 3 lengths back in second.
Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle – 13.55
This is always a hotly contested handicap which the Irish have dominated in recent years and it wasn’t about to change this year. Mrs Milner trained by Paul Nolan gave Bryan Cooper a first Cheltenham Festival success for 4 years. Mrs Milner finished second over course & distance in November and hacked up here by 5 lengths to the favourite The Bosses Oscar who finished in second.
Ryanair Chase – 14.30
Wow! This was one for the Festival history books, Allaho was electric in the Ryanair galloping his rivals to the ground winning by 12 lengths with Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies in second. In a race that was run at an electrifying pace, the field just couldn’t cope with Allaho’s galloping speed, where only 6 of 11 runners finished. Trainer Willie Mullins who also saddled the third home Tornado Flyer said after the race “I was as gobsmacked as anyone” when talking about Allaho’s performance. A strong form boost for Champ ahead of his bid for the Gold Cup tomorrow.
The Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle – 15.05
A spectacular day for Danny Mullins as he finally celebrated his first Cheltenham Festival winner when making the most of picking up a spare ride on Flooring Porter in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.
Danny Mullins had gone so close many times at the Olympics of National Hunt Racing, and picked up the late ride on Flooring Porter after Jonathan Moore, who led the horse up, had to miss the ride through injury. Trained by Gavin Cromwell, Flooring Porter was a handicapper earlier in the season – but showed he was much better than that when winning the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. He had been kept fresh for Cheltenham since then and Mullins sent his horse off from the front and never looked back. None of his rivals could get close and Flooring Porter ran out a 3 ¼ Length winner with the 2019 champion Paisley Park back in third.
Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase – 15.40
Another race for Ireland. The Emmet Mullins trained, The Shunter had been perfectly placed by connections. After winning over hurdles at Kelso just two weeks ago, The Shunter qualified for a £100,000 bonus should he win any race at the Festival this week. The Shunter had 6 entries at the start of the week and Emmet Mullins and owner Paul Byrne decided to revert back to Fences and were dually rewarded with a 3-length victory to the fast-finishing Farclas. Using the services of 7lb claimer Jordan Gainford, the Shunter was always prominent and never looked in danger at any point.
Parnell Properties Mares Novices Hurdle – 16.15
The Rachael Blackmore show continued as she notched up her fifth victory of the week in three days. Tellmesomethinggirl travelled beautifully into the race after being held up in the rear and coming from almost last to first. Blackmore said “when you are riding for two powerful stables it makes a jockey’s job a lot easier, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be in this position and getting these types of chances. How would I describe this week? Out of this world.”
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup – 16.50
Mount Ida put up an amazing performance to come from the other side of Cleeve Hill to win the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup. Taking up the running from two out, Jack Kennedy, went clear to give Denise Foster a second Festival winner after taking over the licence at Gordon Elliott’s Cullentra House Stables. Mount Ida drifted out 999-1 in-running on the exchanges when almost detached from the field in the early stages of the three-and-a-quarter-mile chase. Jack Kennedy kept his cool and continued to make progress and was double-handed when turning for home. Mount Ida went onto win by six and a half lengths from Cloudy Glen with Shantou Flyer back in third.
3 days down and 1 to go, the blue riband awaits…