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Cheltenham Festival 2022 LIVE results: Horse racing updates; Energumene wins and Tiger Roll retires on day two

·27-min read
Cheltenham Festival 2022 LIVE results: Horse racing updates; Energumene wins and Tiger Roll retires on day two

The Cheltenham Festival continued on day two with the Greatest Show on Turf in what was a thrilling afternoon of action in the rain.

Wednesday’s feature race was the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, where the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin failed to deliver and was pulled up as Energumene gave Willie Mullins a first victory in the race.

Two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll fell short in his search for record-equaling sixth Cheltenham victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. It was a sensational run in unfavourable conditions to end a superb career, but Tiger Roll was run down by Delta Work.

Earlier in the day, the dominant Sir Gerhard showed why he was a big favourite to win the opening Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and give Mullins an 80th Cheltenham victory, while L’Homme Presse was superb in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Commander Of Fleet got Gordon Elliott his first winner of the week as the trainer looks to make the Cheltenham headlines again for the right reasons, and Global Citizen took the Grand Annual Chase.

Facile Vega and American Mike were the top at the top of the market going into the Wetherbys Champion Bumper and so it proved in the final race of the day, but it was Facile Vega who romped home to give Mullins yet another win in the race.

Day two race card

1:30pm - Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

1 Sir Gerhard | 2 Three Stripe Life | 3 Whatdeawant

2:10pm - Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

1 L’Homme Presse | 2 Ahoy Senor | 3 Gaillard Du Mesnil

2:50pm - Coral Cup Hurdle

1 Commander Of Fleet | 2 Fastorslow | 3 Ashdale Bob | 4 Camprond

3:30pm - Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

1 Energumene | 2 Funambule Sivola| 3 Envoi Allen

4:10pm - Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

1 Delta Work | 2 Tiger Roll | 3 Plan Of Attack

4:50pm -Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase

1 Global Citizen | 2 Andy Dufresne | 3 Frereo Banbou| 4 Editeur Du Gite

5:30pm - Wetherbys Champion Bumper

1 Facile Vega | 2 American Mike | 3 James’s Gate| 4 Seabank Bistro

Follow all the action from the Cheltenham Festival with Standard Sport’s blog below...

Cheltenham Festival day 2 latest news

  • Tiger Rolls ends career with second behind Delta Work

  • Energumene wins Champion Chase as Shishkin is pulled up

  • Sir Gerhard wins the Ballymore

  • Wednesday race card

  • How to watch

  • Weather forecast and going update

Thanks for following!

17:59 , Matt Verri

And that brings an end to the second day of action - here’s a reminder of the results from today.

We’ll be back again tomorrow to bring you full coverage of day three!

1:30pm - Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

1 Sir Gerhard | 2 Three Stripe Life | 3 Whatdeawant

2:10pm - Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

1 L’Homme Presse | 2 Ahoy Senor | 3 Gaillard Du Mesnil

2:50pm - Coral Cup Hurdle

1 Commander Of Fleet | 2 Fastorslow | 3 Ashdale Bob | 4 Camprond

3:30pm - Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

1 Energumene | 2 Funambule Sivola| 3 Envoi Allen

4:10pm - Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

1 Delta Work | 2 Tiger Roll | 3 Plan Of Attack

4:50pm -Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase

1 Global Citizen | 2 Andy Dufresne | 3 Frereo Banbou| 4 Editeur Du Gite

5:30pm - Wetherbys Champion Bumper

1 Facile Vega | 2 American Mike | 3 James’s Gate| 4 Seabank Bistro

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mullins on top at Cheltenham on Day Two

17:57 , Matt Verri

Sir Gerhald, Energumene, Facile Vega.

It’s Willie Mullins’ day at Cheltenham. A first win the Champion Chase... a 12th in the Bumper. He’s now up to 82 at the Cheltenham Festival.

 (PA)
(PA)

17:49 , Matt Verri

1 Facile Vega 15/8

2 American Mike 5/2

3 James’s Gate 16/1

4 Seabank Bistro 18/1

Facile Vega wins the Wetherbys Champion Bumper!

17:47 , Matt Verri

17:46 , Matt Verri

Houlanbatordechais has been caught and will be pulled up shortly you’d imagine.

American Mike now has the lead, just ahead of Facile Vega. It could well be these two going head-to-head....

17:45 , Matt Verri

Rachael Blackmore and Houlanbatordechais are clear at the front of the field by about fourth lengths.

American Mike among those at the front of the rest of the field, travelling nicely so far.

17:44 , Matt Verri

They’re closely bunched in the early stages. Houlanbatordechais pulling very hard and has gone to the front.

17:42 , Matt Verri

At last... they’re off in the Wetherbys Champion Bumper!

17:39 , Matt Verri

Jockeys on horses. Always a promising sign.

They’re making their way up to the start now, should be able to start this race shortly.

Weather continues to prove problematic

17:37 , Matt Verri

17:35 , Matt Verri

Jockeys are inside in the weighing room, no sign of them coming out yet.

Repairs are continuing on the course... hopefully we’ll be able to get this race started some time soon.

17:31 , Matt Verri

Going to be a delay here. Jockeys are still being shown a map, slightly different route they’ll be taking to avoid some of the worst ground.

Willie Mullins says they are worried about the landing area of the hurdles, which he says is over-cautious. He has six of the top eight runners in the market.

17:28 , Matt Verri

Here we go... almost time for the final race of the day!

Ground is still heavy - going to be hard work out there.

At least the weather’s nice...

17:21 , Matt Verri

Odds for the final race of the day

17:17 , Matt Verri

About 15 minutes or so until we get the final race of the day underway. Market would suggest it’s going to be a shootout between Facile Vega and American Mike.

Here’s the latest odds for the Wetherbys Champion Bumper.

Facile Vega 13/8

American Mike 2/1

Redemption Day 7/1

Houlanbatordechais 12/1

James’s Gate 14/1

Madmansgame 18/1

Joyeux Machin 20/1

Seabank Bistro 33/1

Music Drive 40/1

Poetic Music, Our Jester, Ocean Of Mercy, Authorised Speed 50/1

Viva Devito, Top Dog 66/1

Ain’t No Sunshine 125/1

Spanish Present, Call Me Harry 150/1

Cillians Charm, Godot 200/1

Odds via Betfair.

Preview - Weatherbys Champion Bumper

17:12 , Matt Verri

The Weatherbys Champion Bumper (5.30) looks as good a renewal as we’ve seen.

Facile Vega, out of the Cheltenham record-breaker Quevega, could be anything. But then again so could the Elliott-trained American Mike, who appeals as the value, even if it is not a two-horse race by any means.

Pauling: Global Citizen is a warrior

17:06 , Matt Verri

Winning trainer Ben Pauling was understandably in jubilant mood as he reacted to Global Citizen’s win in the Grand Annual Chase.

“We thought putting him over fences today for the first time in a long time might bring something out in him and it certainly did,” Pauling said.

“We were terrified (about the ground). He’s a warrior. He’s 10 - people laughed when we said we had a chance but he’s done it.

“He’s been a warrior all his life and God he deserved it.”

 (PA)
(PA)

16:57 , Matt Verri

1 Global Citizen 28/1

2 Andy Dufresne 10/3

3 Frero Banbou 6/1

4 Editeur Du Gite 15/2

Global Citizen wins the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase!

16:55 , Matt Verri

16:54 , Matt Verri

Editeur Du Gite and Global Citizen side-by-side as they go over the second-last. Looks like it’s going to be one of them!

16:53 , Matt Verri

Four out... brilliant jump from Editeur Du Gite. Dancing On My Own with a really poor jump... drops well back.

16:52 , Matt Verri

Frero Banbou has already dropped off the back of the field, it’s a really quick pace being set.

Global Citizen and Editeur Du Gite lead the way.

16:51 , Matt Verri

They’re off in the Grand Annual Chase!

16:50 , Matt Verri

False start... runners were coming in very quickly so they’ll have to try that again.

16:49 , Matt Verri

Just a minute or so until they go in the Grand Annual Chase.

Looks to be a really open race...

Grand Annual odds...

16:44 , Matt Verri

Time for the penultimate race of the day. Here’s the latest odds for that one...

Andy Dufresne 16/5

Frero Banbou, Editeur Du Gite 13/2

Amarillo Sky 7/1

Sky Pirate 11/1

Gumball, Embittered 12/1

Il Ridoto, Elixir De Nutz 14/1

For Pleasure 16/1

A Wave Of The Sea 25/1

Dancing On My Own, Global Citizen 30/1

Hasankey 35/1

Exit Poll 40/1

Poseidon 50/1

Odds via Betfair.

Preview - Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase

16:39 , Matt Verri

Despite having a mark of 155, Andy Dufresne has the class to bely that in the Grand Annual (4.50).

Andy Dufresne has run merely in Ireland but did visit the Festival in 2018 for the sale that takes place at the racetrack. JP McManus paid £333,000 to secure him then and would probably deem that worthwhile if he scored here four years later under Mark Walsh.

Moment to remember

16:34 , Matt Verri

Michael O’Leary on Tiger Roll

16:32 , Matt Verri

Tiger Roll’s owner Michael O’Leary has confirmed that was his final race, bringing an end to a a legendary career.

“He’s won here five times, finished second,” O’Leary said.

“He ran well, he came home sound and we’ll retire him now. This will be the last time they will see him race on a racetrack - he’s a legend.

“I was booing myself! I was shouting please Jack don’t go past him, just let him win! It’s not often you want to give away a win at Cheltenham but it would’ve been a terrific finish for Tiger, it would’ve been a fairytale.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

16:23 , Matt Verri

1 - Delta Work 5/2

2 - Tiger Roll 3/1

3 - Plan Of Attack 25/1

Delta Work wins the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase!

16:20 , Matt Verri

And the crowd don’t like that one bit!

Sensational run from Tiger Roll, but he got run down right at the end by Delta Work who came charging up the hill.

16:20 , Matt Verri

THEY JUMP THE LAST TOGETHER!

16:19 , Matt Verri

Two to jump. It’s Delta Work and Tiger Roll side by side at the front!

16:18 , Matt Verri

Tiger Roll moves to the front with seven to go.

Cheltenham crowd roaring him on...

16:17 , Matt Verri

Prengarde pulled up after a poor jump. Brahma Bull also out.

Ten to jump, it’s Easysland and Potters Corner at the front.

16:15 , Matt Verri

16 left to jump, still Easysland has the lead. Potters Corner just behind. Tiger Roll and Delta Work alongside each other travelling well.

16:13 , Matt Verri

Easysland leading them round early on, Tiger Roll and Delta Work not far behind. All over safely with 9 of 32 jumped.

16:11 , Matt Verri

Here we go then... Tiger Roll for the final time. Miserable conditions for him.

We’re off in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase! Just the 32 fences.

Latest odds for Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

16:06 , Matt Verri

Here are those at the top of the market for the penultimate race of the day. Rain has meant Tiger Roll’s price has been drifting consistently...

Delta Work 3/1

Tiger Roll 10/3

Prengarde 4/1

Easysland 7/1

Diesel Dallier 11/1

Shady Operator 12/1

Back On The Lash 22/1

Brahma Bull 22/1

Midnight Maestro 28/1

Preview - Glenfarclas Chase

16:02 , Matt Verri

Tiger Roll races for the final time as he goes in the Glenfarclas Chase (4.10). He was a far bigger price last year and, having shown nothing since, he’s a really short quote here. Plan Of Attack appeals as an alternative at a far bigger price under the excellent Darragh O’Keeffe.

He was running a blinder in a much deeper test than this when falling 12 months ago and he went very close on both tries over the banks since. Tiger Roll could prove as good as ever for Gordon Elliott, while stablemate Delta Work is a class addition to this game.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Henderson on Shishkin’s struggles

15:58 , Matt Verri

Shishkin struggled from the off and was then pulled up - his trainer has confirmed the problem was with the soft ground.

“It was just ground, he couldn’t get out of the ground going to the first fence,” Henderson said.

“Nico was dead right (to pull him up), there was no point in subjecting him to anymore of that. You never know until you run them on that with what they can cope with.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Townend’s reaction to Champion Chase win

15:50 , Matt Verri

“I was on a very good horse, it’s easy to make it look easy.

“This guy deserved it. I probably rode about four different races on him and he still won.

“The tactics kind of went out the window early on, he was enjoying himself.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Soaking in the reception...

15:47 , Matt Verri

15:36 , Matt Verri

1 - Energumene 5/2

2 - Funambule Sivola 40/1

3 - Envoi Allen 10/1

Energumene wins the Champion Chase!

15:34 , Matt Verri

15:34 , Matt Verri

Brilliant jump from Energumene at the penultimate fence. Cruising away.

15:33 , Matt Verri

CHACUN POUR SOI FALLS!

Well then... four to jump and who knows what’s going to happen.

15:32 , Matt Verri

Five to jump and Shishkin is right at the back. Hasn’t looked comfortable at all.

SHISHKIN PULLED UP!

15:31 , Matt Verri

Nico de Boinville pushing Shishkin along - slow start back in fifth.

Still a long way to go, nine to jump.

15:30 , Matt Verri

They’re off in the Queen Mother Champion Chase!

15:28 , Matt Verri

Shishkin leading them up to the start, looking very relaxed.

Just a couple of minutes until we get this much-anticipated race up and running!

Quite the day at Cheltenham...

15:25 , Matt Verri

Latest odds for Champion Chase

15:20 , Matt Verri

Shishkin leads the way - can Nico de Boinville do it again?

There’s the Mullins duo behind in the market, as well as Blackmore on Envoi Allen.... sensational race in prospect!

Shishkin 5/6

Energumene 11/4

Chacun Pour Soi 15/2

Envoi Allen 10/1

Put The Kettle On 28/1

Funambule Sivola 40/1

Politologue 80/1

Champion Chase field down to seven

15:14 , Matt Verri

Nube Negra a non-runner, so the field is down to seven for the Champion Chase.

So much expectation on Shishkin - will he live up to it? Plenty of punters will be hoping so!

Preview - Queen Mother Champion Chase

15:10 , Matt Verri

Nicky Henderson ended a 20-year famine in the Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30) in 2012 when Finian’s Rainbow emulated the success two decades earlier of Remittance Man. Little did Henderson know he could count on such talents as Sprinter Sacre (2013, 2016), Altior (2018, 2019) and Shishkin in his quest to dominate perhaps the most thrilling jumps race of all.

Shishkin’s at-the-death verdict over Energumene in the Clarence House has been the highlight of the season so far.

Going left-handed, Shishkin looks a near-certainty to confirm that beating over Energumene, though it seems telling that Paul Townend stays loyal to him, and it hardly convinces punters to side with stablemate Chacun Pour Soi, who was turned over in a much lesser renewal at odds-on 12 months ago.

Nico De Boinville can always count on Shishkin to save a bit for the hill and there are far worse 4-5 shots around. Rampant in last year’s Arkle, he deserves today’s coronation.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Had to work hard for that win...

15:04 , Matt Verri

15:01 , Matt Verri

For those with extra places, it looks like Maze Runner in fifth, Christopher Road sixth, Gowel Road seventh and Indigo Breeze eighth.

Big 50/1 winner for Gordon Elliott though - he’s up and running for the Festival.

14:59 , Matt Verri

1 - Commander of Fleet 50/1

2 - Fastorslow 18/1

3 - Ashdale Bob 14/1

4 - Camprond 10/1

Commander of Fleet wins the Coral Cup!

14:56 , Matt Verri

14:56 , Matt Verri

One to jump. Still Ashdale Bob leads the way, Comprond and Commander of Fleet behind.

14:54 , Matt Verri

Drop The Anchor still way back in the field, plenty of ground to make up. The field has split in two with four to go.

14:52 , Matt Verri

Ashdale Bob setting the pace with seven to jump. Gowel Road and The Shunter not far behind.

14:50 , Matt Verri

They’re off in the Coral Cup!

14:49 , Matt Verri

Here we go then, just a couple of minutes to go until the Coral Cup!

Looks a really open race... late money coming in for Drop The Anchor.

Latest odds for Coral Cup

14:41 , Matt Verri

Ten minutes to go until our third race of the day.

Time for a look at the odds...

Saint Felicien, Drop The Anchor 11/2

The Shunter, Gowel Road 17/2

Unexpected Party 9/1

Camprond 11/1

Ganapathi 12/1

Fastorslow 14/1

Ashdale Bob, Grand Roi 18/1

McFabulous, Indigo Breeze 20/1

Call Me Lord, Champagne Gold, Garry Clermont, Mars Harper 25/1

Maze Runner, Dans Le Vent 33/1

The Bosses Oscar, Tronador 40/1

Christopher Wood, Commander Of Fleet 50/1

Daly Tiger 80/1Top Moon 150/1

Via Betfair.

2:50 - Coral Cup Hurdle

14:34 , Matt Verri

The Coral Cup (2.50) might just be the toughest race to solve all week.

The Bosses Oscar has appeared twice at the Festival, both in handicap hurdles, and he ran a blinder each time. He’s had excuses chasing and the 33-1 available about the top weight, Rob James claiming seven, is appealing.

Charlie Deutsch after winning ride

14:25 , Matt Verri

“Every time I ride this horse in these big races, he makes it so easy for me really.

“He just travels easily, jumps well and then he was having a look around going over the line.

“First time over the trip, soft ground - he felt comfortable the whole way round.

“It’s wonderful to have such a good season and then to have a big winner at Cheltenham. It’s an absolute dream.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

14:19 , Matt Verri

1 L’Homme Presse 9/4

2 Ahoy Senor 4/1

3 Gaillard Du Mesnil 11/1

L’Homme Presse wins the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase!

14:17 , Matt Verri

14:16 , Matt Verri

L’Homme Pressure still at the front and leads them over the second last. Looking really good...

14:15 , Matt Verri

Five to go, bad jump from Ahoy Senor and pushed back towards the rest of the field.

Still well clustered though. Streets of Doyen has dropped off but the rest are all in touch.

14:14 , Matt Verri

10 to jump - it’s pretty much as you were.

Ahoy Senor and L’Homme Presse jumping well at the front.

14:12 , Matt Verri

Ahoy Senor, L’Homme Presse and Threeunderthrufive leading the way in the early stages. All over safely so far.

14:10 , Matt Verri

They’re off in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase!

14:08 , Matt Verri

Streets of Doyen not looking very happy with life, kicking the rails on the way up to the start.

Almost time for the second race...

2:10pm - Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

14:06 , Matt Verri

Latest odds for the second race of the day!

L’Homme Presse 9/4

Ahoy Senor 4/1

Capodanno 9/2

Farouk D’Alene 11/2

Beacon Edge 9/1

Gaillard Du Mesnil 11/1

Threeunderthrufive 16/1

Dusart 20/1

Streets Of Doyen 150/1

Paul Nicholls on Bravemansgame being a non-runner

14:04 , Matt Verri

“I’ve spoken to all the owners, ground is going to be very attritional.

“He’s a horse with loads of speed. If we run today, it could end up not being ideal and then he wouldn’t go to Aintree.

“Aintree’s a very valuable Grade 1, so we’re going to go to Aintree with him and keep him in one piece. He’s one for the future.

“I’m always one to say crack on and run but my gut feeling has been telling me this all day.”

 (PA)
(PA)

80 Festival winners up for Mullins

13:58 , Matt Verri

Bravemansgame a non-runner

13:53 , Matt Verri

Huge news - Bravemansgame is out of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase!

Paul Nicholls’ horse was leading the market earlier today, but the rain continues to fall and the soft going has changed things. Bravemansgame a non-runner.

Fury Road is also a non-runner for Gordon Elliott. Down to nine runners in the next race.

Paul Townend’s reaction after winning ride

13:44 , Matt Verri

“He showed his class to be as keen as he was and to stay on.

“I was afraid going round we were in the wrong race but he showed his true ability to stay on.

“It’s the best he’s ever jumped on the course, he has a brilliant jump in him.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

13:38 , Matt Verri

1 Sir Gerhard 8/11

2 Three Stripe Life 8/1

3 Whatdeawant 18/1

13:37 , Matt Verri

Patient ride from Paul Townend, who has a face full of relief after that one!

Journey with Me fell at the last, hopefully both the horse and Rachael Blackmore are all ok.

Sir Gerhard wins the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle!

13:36 , Matt Verri

13:35 , Matt Verri

Two to jump - Journey With Me still leads by a length. Sir Gerhard still waiting behind.

13:33 , Matt Verri

It’s Journey With Me at the front as they begin the final circuit.

Sir Gerhard pushing up into second now and travelling well...

13:32 , Matt Verri

Hemlock leading them round for now. Sir Gerhard on the outside in about sixth, with seven hurdles to jump.

13:30 , Matt Verri

Here we go...

They’re off in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle!

13:28 , Matt Verri

Right then, the nine runners are up at the start and ready to kick off day two.

Conditions continue to look pretty grim - rain falling heavily still.

Reminder of our Day Two tips...

13:27 , Matt Verri

Not long to go now until we get underway. Here’s another look at Johnny Ward’s picks for the day.

1:30 - Sir Gerhard

2:10 - Beacon Edge

2:50 - The Bosses Oscar

3:30 - Shishkin

4:10 - Plan Of Attack

4:50 - Andy Dufresne

5:30 - American Mike

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Honeysuckle and Blackmore stole the show on opening day

13:22 , Matt Verri

Official going now soft

13:19 , Matt Verri

Going has now changed to soft.

Rain continuing to pour down at Cheltenham, no sign of it slowing down either. Could have a big impact on what we see this afternoon...

 (PA)
(PA)

13:30 - Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

13:14 , Matt Verri

Time for some odds!

Here’s how the market’s looking for the opening race, with just under 20 minutes to go. No surprise to see Sir Gerhard as the odds-on favourite.

Sir Gerhard 4/6

Journey With Me 9/2

Three Stripe Life 15/2

Stage Star 8/1

I Am Maximus 16/1

Whatdeawant 20/1

Scarface 66/1

Haxo 125/1

Hemlock 200/1

Odds via Betfair.

Prestbury Cup standings...

13:09 , Matt Verri

It’s Great Britain who lead the Prestbury Cup after the first day of action, 4-3 in their favour over the Irish.

That’s almost as many as Britain won in the whole of last year’s Festival, when they were beaten 23-5. Promising start!

Preview - Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

13:04 , Matt Verri

Willie Mullins should get punters off to a successful start in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.30) with Sir Gerhard, though whether or not he should be shorter odds than Shishkin is debatable. Sir Gerhard was far too good for Three Stripe Life at Leopardstown and will surely get the better of him again.

As such, the unbeaten and exciting Journey With Me rates a bigger danger and the obvious each-way alternative to the pacy Sir Gerhard. Henry de Bromhead won this race last year and Rachael Blackmore will be surely looking to make this a test.

Sir Gerhard has not been thoroughly convincing in the jumping stakes so far but can mix the electric with the clumsy. He has oodles of class.

 (PA)
(PA)

12:52 , Matt Verri

About 40 minutes until the first race of the day gets underway.

Constitution Hill cruised home in yesterday’s opener - here’s a slightly different look at that race through the expert eyes of Barry Geraghty.

Weather certainly not the best...

12:43 , Matt Verri

There were records crowds on Day 1 - those at Cheltenham this afternoon are having their commitment tested.

Not much sun to speak of!

 (PA)
(PA)
 (PA)
(PA)

Blackmore experiences Cheltenham highs and lows

12:32 , Matt Verri

Rachael Blackmore typified the highs and lows of the Cheltenham Festival in the space of a few minutes on day one, writes Matt Majendie.

First, she was greeted with raucous support as Honeysuckle lived up to a pre-favourite billing in the Champion Hurdle. Then in the very next race, she was sent cartwheeling off Telemesomethinggirl in a nasty-looking fall in which both jockey and horse did well to come away relatively unscathed.

As Blackmore, the champion jockey from last year’s Festival, does she simply dusted herself off to prepare for the next challenge.

A winning start is the perfect stepping stone to a defence of that title – a year ago her six winners saw her dominate the event – and she admitted the feel to the place has been altogether different with the crowds allowed back.

“This is such a special place,” she said. “The reception we got the whole way down the straight, you know we missed the crowd last year. To have them back, it’s just unbelievable.

Click here for the full article

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Big things expected of Shishkin today...

12:21 , Matt Verri

Nicholls discusses Day 2 runners

12:10 , Matt Verri

Plenty of interest for Paul Nicholls today, who has seven runners in action. Bravemansgame in currently the favourite for the Brown Advisory Novices Chase.

The trainer has been talking through some of his biggest hopes this afternoon...

13:30 - Stage Star

“He has won all his three races this season and has looked better each time. His record speaks for itself, he is in good shape, we still don’t know how good he is and I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on against the hot favourite Sir Gerhard. Stage Star has a great attitude, stays well, and will not mind if the forecast rain turns the ground soft.”

14:10 - Bravemansgame

“He has been superb this season, winning four out of four over fences and his jumping has been electric from day one. We’ve set him some stiff tasks against experienced horses but he has answered every question, has loads of class, jumps for fun and looks tailor made for the King George VI Chase at Kempton next Christmas.

“Bravemansgame doesn’t take a lot of training and has improved as I expected for his latest victory at Newbury last month. Crucially, he is a much stronger horse this year and he returns to Cheltenham in top order. I’m confident of a big show from Bravemansgame who handles soft ground.”

14:50 - McFabulous

“He was going over fences this season but an accident in the autumn meant that he couldn’t run until Christmas so he is staying over hurdles for the time being. The Coral looked the obvious target after he didn’t stay three miles in the Cleeve Hurdle at this track at the end of January. This shorter trip is perfect for McFabulous who worked beautifully on an away day at Wincanton recently. I’m hopeful that he can be competitive off a handicap mark of 150.”

16:50 - Thyme White

“He just needed his first run of the season after a wind op and I was thrilled with the way he jumped when he finished second to Amarillo Sky at Wincanton. After a blip at Ascot where he spooked and unseated Harry Cobden he bounced back with a highly impressive win at Doncaster ridden by Bryony.

“He jumped brilliantly that day and dotted up. That saw him raised to a mark of 142 so I’ve deliberately not run him since then to protect his rating. He continues to please at home and did a sparkling piece of work at Wincanton last week. Thyme White is 8lbs better off with Amarillo Sky but I’d have preferred drier ground for him.”

Quotes via Betfair.

 (PA)
(PA)

Harry Cobden: ‘If you put AP McCoy on a donkey, he’s not going to beat Arkle, is he?’

11:47 , George Flood

If the tension in the Cheltenham weighing room this week starts to get a little too much, then Harry Cobden may well be the man to diffuse it, writes Malik Ouzia.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a joker,” he tells Standard Sport, the conversation coming about after fellow jockey Charlie Deutsch revealed that, in the usually nervy final minutes before heading out to ride in the Ladbrokes Trophy earlier this season, while others were in game-face mode, Cobden was busy dancing.

“Remember that video going around when Diego Maradona died of him juggling the football in the warm-up and there’s a song playing in the background - was it Opus or something like that?”

Indeed it was, Live is Life being the song in question.

“Yeah, we were playing that! It’s very, very random stuff on the playlist.

“I do take it seriously,” he hastens to add. “But at the end of the day there’s a point to how seriously you can take it. You’ve got to enjoy it and you’re better off going out there relaxed than all uptight.”

Click here to read the full interview

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Click here to read the full blog on The Evening Standard's website

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