The less said about day 2 the better, it was a long, long day but here at Cleeve, 11 years of experience has taught us that this kind of day is always going to happen and major meetings such as the 2020 Cheltenham Festival where racing is at it's most competitive is statistically one of the likeliest places it will occur.
But we have no choice but to suck it up and get back on that horse as better days lie ahead of us for sure.
Cheltenham Day 3 results
|March Novice Chase||Mr Fisher||1 pt ew@11/2 ( 4 places)||4th||0.25|
|Pertemps||Third Wind||0.5pt ew @ 10/1||4th||0.7|
|Pertemps||Jatiluwih||0.5pt ew @ 16/1||8th||-1|
|Ryanair||Riders Onthe Storm||1pt ew @ 7/1||Fell||-2|
|Stayers Hurdle||City Island||1pt ew @ 12/1||PU||-2|
|Brown Advisory||Clandaw Castle||NR||NR||0|
|Kim Muir||Le Breuil||1.5pts ew @ 13/2||11th||-3|
2020 Cheltenham Festival - Marsh Novices' Chase (Grade 1)
Mister Fisher 1 point each way at 11/2
This turned out to be a race dominated by class and it gave us one of the finishes of the week. Spare a thought for poor old Melon who finished runner up for the 4th consecutive festival. He ran an absolute screamer for Patrick Mullins who gave him his head early and told him to go and win if he was good enough. He jumped beautifully in front and travelled with great zest. When Samcro met the second last wrong and jumped slowly it looked as though it might be his day and when he fought back in the shadow of the post I thought he'd got back up, but his head was down everywhere but the line and Samcro had prevailed by a nose.
Samcro was already a festival winner (2018 Ballymore) and had carried the mantle of 'the second coming' but nothing had gone right for him since that win and he looked pretty gone at the game and was only rated 50-50 to even make it to the festival a couple of weeks before, and likely to head for one of the handicaps if he did. However, Elliott reported him as pleasing him at home and confirmed the Marsh and he saw sustained support from 16's down to 4/1 third favourite by the off.
Faugheen got about the biggest cheer of the week when he was led into third place spot... god knows what would have happened if he'd actually won! The Old Warrior was carried out on his shield and ran a mighty race, jumping and travelling well and giving his absolute all. The roar from the crowd when he was switched to the outside after the last and appeared to be clawing the front two back was some buzz. I'm not sure where he goes from here but while he retains an obvious zest for the game why not let him do what he loves best.
Nothing else really got in the race, Itchy Feet's jumping was a bit novicey and ultimately let him down when he catapulted Gavin Sheehan out of the saddle when he hit the 6th hard. Our selection managed to get the place money for us in 4th but never looked like getting involved at the sharp end... but to be fair this might turn out to be the best JLT/Marsh we've seen.
I did think that Midnight Shadow ran a cracking race and as the only one behind that vied for the lead and contested the race from a way out I think his run was better than bare form shows.
2020 Cheltenham Festival - Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle
Third Wind 0.5 points each way at 12/1 & Jatiluwih 0.5 points each way at 16/1
Another JP winner and a 1-2 for Gordon Elliott... it looks easy, doesn't it? But those connections had just the 6 horses in the field and it was their third-best in the betting that won it. This race is those plotted up race of the week, so the fact that Sire du Berlias won from a 10lb higher mark than last year in first-time blinkers is another thing that reminds us that maybe sometimes we look too hard.
Both our selections ran OK. An early mistake knocked Third Wind back to the rear and he had to make a lot of ground up, he didn't really get a clear run after the second last and had to be switched a couple of time in between the last two. He finished best of the Brits in 4th but was never going to trouble the front three. Jatluwah gave David Maxwell a great spin he travelled well down the hill going as well as the winner and looked like he could get involved, but he faded after the second last and ran on at the one pace to finish in 8th... of course he did, we backed him with 7 places! The Stewards reported after the race that Jatilwuh had lost a shoe which wouldn't have helped any.
2020 Cheltenham Festival - Ryanair Chase
Riders Onthe Storm 1 point each way at 7/1
A great race to watch as Min who's been another perennial bridesmaid never the bride (well he has no balls!). He'd finished behind Altior for the last 3 years and connections decided to avoid him this year and it paid off with a bold front running display. There was always a thought that this was a better race than last year and that Frodon wouldn't get the same easy lead as he did and so it proved, he got off OK in front and Bryony tried to set the fractions she wanted but she was just not going fast enough for Min which is hardly surprising considering that he is a multiple Grade One winner over 2 miles, and a runner up to Altior in a Supreme and a Champion Chase.
Min jumped to the front at the 5th and was never headed. Shattered L0ve has really come back to her best since her last wind operation (her 5th I think) and ran with a lot of credit. The step up to a truly run Grade One proved beyond him at this stage of his career... but he's still only 6 so can still make up into a Grade One performer. St Calvados ran a stormer but Frodon looks to be a Grade Two horse at his best.
Our selection Riders Onthe Storm was going perfectly well when he met the downhill fence wrong and came down but it was much too far out to know what would have happened but looking at the result it is hard to see him beating Min.
2020 Cheltenham Festival - Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle
City Island 1 point each way at 12/1
Another big shock as Lisnagar Oscar landed the Stayers Hurdle at 50/1, I'm pretty sure most of the banker multiples were already down at this point and with Paisley Park the latest odd-on 'banker of the week' to go down. Given that he had plenty of form over all these it has to go down as a disappointing run, he did get messed around a lot in between the last two having to be switched at least 3 times but he had plenty of time if good enough on the day, so the fact that a routine vet after the race found him to have an irregular heartbeat goes a long way to explain things and let's hope he comes back to his imperious best.
Lisnagar Oscar has always been thought of as a graded horse by connections and was our pick in a hot Albert Bartlett last year when he finished 5th to Minella Indo. It is quite an amazing stat the amount of horses that are unplaced in the Albert Bartlett that go on to win Grade One races, so maybe take another closer look at this year's race! Our selection City Island never really got competitive and was on and off the bridle for a long way. He managed to get into the leading group after the second last but was ultimately pulled up and it's difficult to say whether he underperformed or was a non-stayer at 3 miles. As a footnote to the race it was great to see Apple's Jade run with so much zest, although she on;y finished 8th in the end, she gave Dickie Johnson a fabulous spin and must have been a pleasure to ride, connections announced after the race she was being retired and the 11-times Grade One-winning mare will go down in the annals of the sport as one of the best we've seen. She was hugely popular with the racing public and Gordon Elliott called her the mare of a lifetime, read his comments here. She goes to the paddocks to be covered by Walk In The Park and we very much look forward to seeing what her offspring can do.
2020 Cheltenham Festival - Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase
Clondaw Castle 1 point each way 28/1
Our selection in this Clondaw Castle was withdrawn on the morning of the race so a non-runner. it was a race that paid to be prominent in and nothing really got into it that was held up. Simply the Betts put up a bold performance and followed up his win here in January... and what a trial that turned out to be as Imperial Aura who he beat that day took the Northern Trust Novices Handicap Chase on the opening day. I was holding my breath for Lizzie Kelly who took a mother and father of a fall at the second from home on last year's winner Syrah du Lac but I'm glad to say she walked away eventually.
A word for Harry Whittington whose festival team of three all in the same ownership of Andrew and Kate Brooks had a fabulous week... 3rd with Roge Vif in the Arkle, 2nd with St Calvados in the Ryanair and finally first past the post here with Simply the Betts. That 100% win and place strike rate, percentages that many of the better-known trainers (particularly Alan King, Philip Hobbs and Colin Tizzard) would probably have given their eye teeth for from five times the runners. In fact, on the averages he was the top trainer of the week.
2020 Cheltenham Festival - Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle
A watching brief for us and no surprises as Willie Mullins won it again as he has done every year since the inception of the race. Concernista was runner up in this last year and went one better in no uncertain style, she was still a maiden going into the race and to be fair hadn't really pulled up any trees in her prep for this, however, Willie seems to be able to get his mares to peak for this every year and the fact that he usually throws a handful of darts at this shows his strength in depth in the mares division, it also shows how much any particular one can improve at this time of year. Daryl Jacobs actually looked like he was finding a bit of trouble after the second last as he got squeezed for position, but when Daryl shook her up the reaction was instantaneous, she sliced through the leading bunch and was hard back on the steel coming to the last which she flew and I'd have to say she was one of the few horses that visibly quickened up the hill to win by a dozen lengths.
As a footnote as I with a friend who asked me what I fancied (misguided fool), and I said I couldn't pick one but as Willie Mullins had one every running, and the fact that he ran 4 to me said he was not massively confident that one was much better than the others. Also he'd won this more than once with his less fancied runners so he could do worse than dutching the 3 less fancied runners and maybe try a combination forecast with the same three. So he ditched £50 to give a profit if almost £100 if any of them one and had a £2 combination that paid another £100 profit... easy isn't it!
A mention has to go to Rayna's World for Phil Kirby and young Thomas Dowson, going off at a derisory 657/1 on the machine she was last most of the way but Thomas Dowson never looked too concerned. She started to pink a few off down the hill and must have passed 10 in the straight to finish a very honourable 3rd, and it must have felt like a win to her connections. There's a suspicion that she might have been flattered in picking up the pieces but I am going to add her to my tracker and will watch how her career develops with interest.
2020 Cheltenham Festival - Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase
Le Breuil 1.5 points each way at 13/2
Not much too say about the race. I was perfectly happy with Le Breuil on the first circuit as he was travelling and jumping well for Jamie Codd held up on the rail just behind the leaders, but just as he wanted to improve turning up the hill he made a mistake which knocked him back, another mistake at the last up the back straight meant we were up against it from a long way out with a lot of the runners going better than we were. He never really found anything and it was basically a disappointing run given that Ben Pauling's runners on the week had gone pretty well.
It is a mystery to me how the Stewards gave Jamie Codd 8 days for two incidents with Zac Baker and Flying Angel going down the hill on the first circuit. Baker tried to come up the inside of Le Breiul which was NEVER going to happen. The Codfather firmly shut the door but there was nothing dangerous about it. After the fence, Baker tried again but fro even further back, and as Jamie kept his line Flying Angel brushed the rail. This was totally legitimate race riding and if anything Zac Baker should have been the one punished for over-optimism!