Here’s the latest from the final day of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival…..
5.30 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
4.50 Mares Chase
Impervious battled to a well-earned success in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase, as Colm Murphy returned to the Cheltenham winner’s circle.
The JP McManus-owned seven-year-old found herself locked in a race for the line with Willie Mullins’ Allegorie De Vassy.
Under Brian Hayes it was Impervious who got her head in front, triumphing to maintain her unbeaten record over fences.
It was a fifth Festival success for Murphy, but the first since Empire Of Dirt in 2016 for the man who saddled Brave Inca to land the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2004 and the Champion Hurdle two years later.
Murphy said: “I’m absolutely delighted, she was very tough, it’s fantastic.
“To be stood here again is one of the reasons I came back (after spell away from training), this is why we all do it. I’m just fortunate enough to have another really good one.
“I’ve always really liked her, right through her bumper and hurdle days. You hope and hope that one day they’ll go and do what she’s just done.
4.10 St James’s Place Hunters Chase
Premier Magic 66/1
In a surprise victory, it was Premier Magic at 66/1 who ran out as the surprise winner in the Place Hunters Chase to claim victory.
Rocky’s Howya had made much of the running and was still upsides jumping the second last as Gibbs made his move.
Though looking booked for minor honours, he was hampered by a loose horse and as Premier Magic started to empty, Its On The Line (28-1) stayed on late under Derek O’Connor.
Yet the winner just had enough in reserve to fend off the challenge and win by a length and three-quarters, with Shantou Flyer (50-1) finishing third.
For Gibbs, who equipped the gelding with cheekpieces, it was a career-high moment, yet it was also slightly bittersweet.
3:30pm Cheltenham Gold Cup
Galopin Des Champs proved too strong for Bravemansgame with a brilliant performance to land the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townend, Galopin Des Champs was sent off the 7-5 favourite to make a successful step up in trip in the three-mile-two-furlong showpiece.
And while he was unproven over the distance, his stamina was never in doubt as he outstayed Bravemansgame up the Cheltenham hill to claim an impressive seven-length verdict.
Conflated finished third, beaten a further six and a half lengths, with last year’s Grand National hero Noble Yeats fourth.
Previous race winners Minella Indo and A Plus Tard lined up again, but neither ever looked like landing a real blow and were pulled up, while Ahoy Senor fell after setting out to make all, bringing down Sounds Russian in the process.
Hewick was also crashed out at the last, but all three horses were soon on their feet agai
2:50pm The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race
Paul Nicholls earned his second Grade One victory of the week at the Cheltenham Festival when Stay Away Fay was given a masterful ride by Harry Cobden to take the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
The 18-1 chance travelled well throughout and was always up with the pace in the three-mile test, which provided its usual searching test of stamina.
It was not without incident, either, as favourite Corbetts Cross ran out at the final flight, sending jockey Mark Walsh crashing to the turf.
Though challenging at the time, the winner seemed to have his measure having led at the second-last where plenty were still in with a chance.
Cobden put the six-year-old’s stamina to good use and gradually wore down his rivals to give the champion trainer his first success in the race.
Noel Meade’s Affordale Fury (150-1) relished the step up in trip and got within a length of the winner, just holding second from the Paul Nolan-trained Sandor Clegane.
Nicholls said: “I thought he’d run well as he should have won the last day and he’s taken a step forward since then and he looked fantastic.
“We were very positive on him today, he jumped really well and it’s only the third run of his life, there’s loads of improvement to come.
“We’ll probably go to Aintree with him if he’s all right, otherwise it will be chasing next year.
2:10pm The McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle Race
Dan Skelton annexed the McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle for a fourth time in eight years as 33-1 shot Faivoir downed Pied Piper in a thrilling finish.
Both horses came from out of the pack after Highway One O Two had kicked clear turning for home and there were plenty in with chances approaching the last.
However, Bridget Andrews’ mount, who had been pulled up on quicker ground in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on his previous start, kept responding in these easier conditions and got the verdict in a head-bobber.
Pied Piper, who had finished third in the Triumph Hurdle last year, was making his handicap debut mark off a mark of 154 and only just failed to reel in the winner, having nodded slightly on landing at the last.
The well-supported Filey Bay held every chance but could only finish third, while Sharjah stuck on for fourth, followed by Ballyadam.
Skelton, who won this race previously with Superb Story (2016), Mohaayed (2018) and Ch’tibello (2019), also saddled the favourite, but Pembroke, who had finished runner-up on Trials day in January, was well held after making a couple of minor jumping errors.
1:30pm The JCB Triumph Hurdle
St Patrick’s Day got off to a raucous start for the legions of Irish racing fans at Cheltenham as Lossiemouth easily justified favouritism in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
Trainer Willie Mullins saddled no less than seven of the 15 runners and he had the first four home, with the grey becoming just the fifth filly in history to take the prize.
Though Gala Marceau – conqueror of Lossiemouth at the Dublin Racing Festival – stayed on well to take second spot from Zenta, the race was over once the 11-8 market leader cruised up on the bridle to take it up after jumping the penultimate flight and she was eased to a two-and-a-quarter-length success at the line.
Gust Of Wind completed the Mullins quartet, with jockey Paul Townend recording his fourth winner of the week.
It was the Closutton handler’s third win in the race in four years, having previously struck with Burning Victory in 2020 and Vauban last year.
Mullins said: “She travelled into the race at maybe the five-furlong marker and rather than fighting her Paul just let her gallop and held onto her as much as he could for a long as he could.
“He thought she was actually idling come up the straight and thinks there is a little bit more in the tank – she looks a star mare.
“But for the traffic problems in Leopardstown she’d be unbeaten for us. I’m very happy with how they all ran, bar Blood Destiny (finished ninth) who was disappointing. I don’t know what happened to him, but all the rest ran their race.
Sport Cheltenham Day Three: You Wear It Well makes class… Read More
“It’s a nice start to the day.”