Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Cheltenham Festival Review Day 4

Cheltenham Festival Review Day 4

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
This is a race I've had quite good fortune in over the years but unfortunately I'm currently only in a position to be able to watch racing.
In years gone by there used to be a famous girl singing trio called the Andrews Sisters. In the racing world we have our own equivalent of the Andrews Sisters in the talented Bridget and Gina Andrews and this years County Hurdle went to Mohaayed ridden by Bridget. Trained by Dan Skelton it became his second winner of the race in the last 3 years.
The first 6 home pulled 7 lengths clear of Brelade and the rest as they came up the hill but Mohaayed was well on top at the line as he was pulling away from Remiluc and Whiskey Sour.
Behind the front three were Chesterfield, Lagostovegas and Spiritofthegames(another Skelton runner ridden by his brother Harry). The stable may have had suspicions about the going for the winner but there were none in the staying department.
Whiskey Sour and Spiritofthegames both came with strong runs from poor positions having jumped the second last and the latter probably had more traffic problems. Chesterfield had commenced his run earlier and was better positioned turning for home.
I think the first 6 home can all be followed as the going and the sterner test obviously had a bearing on the result as it did in all races at this years festival.
Gordon Elliott ran three here and the best of the result wise was Brelade who finished 7th - he lost his right hind shoe and would have preferred better going so perhaps he is another to keep onside. Duca De Thaix was reportedly the best of the Elliott three but weakened before the last and could only finish 19th – last of the finishers.
Tigris River and Le Richebourg also both lost shoes during the race.
Handicap Ratings Update
Mohaayed - Up from 139 to 146
Remiluc - Up from 144 to 148
Whiskey Sour - Up from 141 to 143
Chesterfield - Up from 140 to 141
Lagostovegas - Remained on 146
Spiritofthegames - Remained on 139
Brelade - Down from 141 to 140
Duca De Thaix - Down from 136 to 135

Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Turning into the home straight Fabulous Saga was several lengths clear and you were thinking how far was he going to win by but he almost immediately fell into a hole and dropped away into 7th in a matter of strides-if the race had finished at the top of the straight he'd have been getting an 7lb rise in the weights but as it is he remains on the same mark – at least in the UK.
The winner Kilbricken Storm was handily placed as they went onto the second circuit and by Oscar out of a Supreme Leader mare he possessed the staying ability to pick up the lead and draw away on the run to the line. Staying on behind were the oldest horse in the race OK Corral, Santini, Ballyward and Tower Bridge with Santini and Ballyward coming from the rear on only their 3rd hurdle starts so room for further improvement over hurdles and fences.
Behind the 7th home there were 14 lengths back to the 8th so it's probably best that we concentrate on the first 7 home for future engagements and looming chasing careers.
Following the race, the Veterinary Officer reported that CHEF DES OBEAUX (FR), which was pulled up, and ENNISCOFFEY OSCAR (IRE), unplaced, both lost their right hind shoes and CHRIS'S DREAM (IRE), unplaced, MULCAHYS HILL (IRE), which was pulled up, and PAISLEY PARK (IRE), unplaced, all lost their left fore shoes.
Handicap Ratings Update
Kilbricken Storm – Up 143 to 149
OK Corral – Up 144 to 146
Santini – Remains on 150
Ballyward – Uo 142 to 143
Tower Bridge – Remains on 142
Robin Waters – Up 138 to 140
Fabulous Saga – Remains on 145

St James Palace Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters Chase
I'm not particularly going to review this race but one interesting point concerned Foxrock who came to the attention of the stewards and their report is as follows:
The Veterinary Officer reported that a kit bag search of Alan Fleming, the trainer of FOXROCK (IRE), revealed possession of Pro-Dosa Boost Oral Paste, an electrolyte trace element replacer. The trainer, the Equine Welfare and Integrity Officer and the Veterinary Officer were interviewed. The explanation of the trainer that it was unopened and had not been used was noted. Being satisfied that the gelding had received only normal food and water by mouth on the day of racing, the Stewards allowed FOXROCK (IRE) to run and the gelding was routine tested. They further confiscated the substance, ordered that it be tested, and referred the matter to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority.
You may or may not remember that this Foxrock has previously courted his fair share of controversy in the past as once when in the care of Ted Walsh he lost his two front shoes at Punchestown in December 2014. This was subject to an enquiry that was later reopened and it was somewhat of a mystery as to when, where and how Foxrock had lost both his two front shoes. As a result of the enquiry Ted Walsh was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Referrals Committee.
Wells De Lune was probably over a trip too far this time having run well at Bangor earlier in the season and the Aintree foxhunter should suit him better being 5 furlongs shorter and a proper jumping test over the big obstacles. He was another to lose a shoe.

There have been more shoes lost at this years festival than at the blind mans ice rink!

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
This produced another winner for the “Gordon Elliott Cheltenham Winning Machine” that he has apparently invented back at his stables! This time it was BLOW BY BLOW, a previous Grade 1 winner, who led the field throughout at a steady pace and was able to hold them all up the straight to win by 5 lengths. He'd gone well in blinkers on his previous start and Elliott thought he'd be well suited to Cheltenham and would like the going. He looks to be a good staying chaser in the making as he just keeps grinding it out and he could be back for the 4 miler or even the Gold Cup in time.
Second home was DISCORAMA who ran an unusual race as he was still last three out and at the top of the hill. He made steady progress coming down the hill but having turned for home he was still in 14th position but managed to keep his run going towards the far side to get into second at the line. He'd beaten the winner in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse at the beginning of December when he was 66/1 but this was his first handicap and only his 6th start so he looks open to progress for a trainer who plots them up.
Third home was Early Doors who'd been near the front throughout and this too was his first handicap and he's been running in Grade 1 races.
Sire Du Berlais was 4th for Elliott and running on up the hill. He'd only had the one run this season and that was after a year out so he did well in the circumstances to be placed in such a competitive race.
Flawless Escape was considered by Elliott pre race to be developing into a very smart individual and went off fav but he hit a couple and weakened after two out. This was only his 5th rules race and 6th in total and he's been dropped 4lb for this run so is one to watch.
An enquiry was held by the stewards into the running and riding of Dream Berry who was held up before making progress from the rear up the straight. It was his first start for 321 days but he's been 3rd and 2nd at last seasons Aintree and Punchestown festivals so clearly has an engine.
Hendersons Diese Des Bieffes (5th) and Pipe's Mr Big Shot (10th) are others to keep on the right side of.
Melrose Boy was struck into.
Handicap Ratings Update
Blow By Blow – Up from 144 to 152
Discoramma – Up from 136 to 138
Early Doors – Up from 142 to 143
Sire Du Berlais – Down from 144 to 142
Diese Des Bieffes – Up from 137 to 138
Lough Derg Spirit – Remained at 137
Dream Berry – Down from 143 to 142

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
Paul Nicholls saved the best for last by winning this handicap with Le Prezien having earlier in the afternoon won the Hunter Chase for the second year running with Pacha Du Polder.
I had Le Prezien on my radar when he ran well here back in November in the Bet Victor Gold Cup behind Splash Of Ginge as he made relentless progress on the leading pair. He didnt run so good the next time and foolishly I deserted him here - Needless to say the stewards enquired into his improved showing in this.
Gino Trail ran a cracker for Kerry Lee from the front jumping well and leading them a merry dance for his age and in third was Top Gamble in first time cheekpieces also for Kerry Lee who was a little unlucky as he didnt get the greatest passage through the race and when it mattered.
Fourth and fifth were Theinval and Three Stars and in 6th was Paul Henderson's only runner at the meeting Doitforthevillage who was given an exaggerated hold up ride and was virtually last at the top of the hill so did well to run on as he did.
Rock The World bled from the nose, Three Stars lost his left hind shoe so did well to finish 5th and Townshend lost his right fore shoe
Handicap Ratings Update
Le Prezien – Up from 150 to 157
Gino Trail – Up from 152 to 153
Top Gamble – Up from 149 to 150
Theinval – Remained on 141
Three Stars – Down from 144 to 141
Doitforthevillage – Remained on 139

So there we have it another Cheltenham Festival concluded and we now begin the long search for next years gems!

Good Luck!

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