One of the highlights of Christmas and New Year is the spectacular National Hunt Racing action on both sides of the Irish Sea, as leading trainers and horses flex their muscles ahead of the Cheltenham Festival in March 2017.
Once again the jumps action didn’t disappoint with some truly unforgettable performances. Here is our review of the best action.
Thistlecrack produces spectacular performance to smash rivals in the King George on Boxing Day
Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack cemented his status as one of National Hunt Racing’s brightest stars – producing a truly astonishing performance as he became the first novice to ever win the King George VI Chase at Kempton.
The Boxing Day classic has been won by some of the true greats of the sport and after his performance the star nine-year-old could be ready to join the likes of Kauto Star in winning the Gold Cup.
Under Tom Scudamore the exuberant jumper quickly settled into the race and showed now fear as he attacked his fences. Stablemate and former King George winner Cue Card sat in behind – with Paddy Brennan keen to not let Thistlecrack get away too early.
Four from home Scudamore pushed the button and the 2016 World Hurdle winner left the field for dead. Cue Card was unable to match the raw speed of his rival – his jumping continued to stood up to the test and he sauntered clear to win by over three-lengths.
The performance was one of the most impressive in the history of the race, as Colin Tizzard trained the first two home. The official handicapper has given Thistlecrack a mark of 171 – the highest rating for a novice
Now all roads lead to the Cheltenham Festival as Thistlecrack looks to make it a perfect 4/4 over fences and become the second novice in three-years to win the blue riband event of jumps racing.
Yanworth enhances Champion Hurdle claims with Christmas Hurdle success
Before Thistlecrack thrilled the Kempton crowd, Alan King’s star hurdler Yanworth showed he has the class for the Champion Hurdle with a strong performance in the Christmas Hurdle.
Taking on two experienced Champion Hurdle yardsticks in The New One and My Tent Or Yours, last season’s Neptune runner-up showed his staying power as he cleared away after the final hurdle – despite not travelling at times.
The JP McManus six-year-old was set to contest the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle, however the performances on Uknowwhatimeanharry has seen Yanworth dropped to two-miles.
Now the feature race on day one of the Festival is firmly in the sights of this exciting hurdler.
Altior and Min set to clash again in the Arkle after scintillating performances
Altior and Min contested the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last season at Cheltenham and the pair are set to meet once again in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy.
Altior has been scintillating over fences this season and he maintained his perfect record with an effortless performance in the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton.
After the retirement of Sprinter Sacre, the Nicky Henderson stable is looking for a new stable star and he looks to have found it.
Min came out second best in the clash between the two horses last season, but he could get closer over fences after a spectacular performance at Leopardstown in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novices’ Chase.
After a comfortable success on his chasing debut, the Rich Ricci star made it 2/2 with a nine-length success. Under a typical front-running Ruby Walsh ride he jumped his rivals out of the race and now is looking forward to the rematch with his old rival.
Christmas certainly delivered all the presents we hoped for.
Cheltenham Festival Hospitality Packages on Sale
Eventmasters are delighted to provide official corporate hospitality packages for the Cheltenham Festival 2017, the highlight event of the National Hunt Season.
We can offer a wide-range of Cheltenham Festival Hospitality Packages for all four days including Silks@Frontrunners, The Venue and our Private Box.
Follow the link for more information.