Well, the festival really caught fire on day 3 with story after story unfolding throughout the afternoon to underline the ever-changing human narrative that makes horse racing such a compelling sport. Bryony Frost rightly took centre stage as the first female jockey to win a Grade One at the festival but was followed a couple of hours later by Lizzie Kelly who was even more impressive on Siruh du Lac when holding on well in a strong finish beating favourite Janika in the Brown Advisory.
Paisley Park delivered the fairytale for Emma Lavelle and owner Andrew Gemmel and Noel Feihilly had Lydia Hislop in tears when he announced his retirement after partnering Willie Mullins 50/1 shot Eglatine du Seuil to win the mares novice. And what a day for JP McManus with the green and gold bagging 3 winners on the day... and not forgetting those dear old bookies who took a fearful battering with 5 of the winners going off the first or second favourites... their only respite was Eglatine du Seuil in the Mares Novice which is the lowest turnover
On to the Cleeve selections and we just kept our heads in front with a 3.2 points profit which was a bit disappointing considering we started the day off well winning the first and 3 good priced places hitting the bar later in the afternoon. It was a 44% win and place strike rate from our 9 selections which you'll have to agree is a pretty exceptional performance given the ultra-competitiveness of the racing.
Defi du Seuil was a pretty straightforward winner of the Arkle, he jumped and travelled well and was produced approaching the last and jumped it well. Lostintranslation battled gamely but Defi was always looking as though he'd get on top and he actually increased the winning margin from Sandown's Henry VIII to 2 1/2 lengths and take the score 2-1 in his favour. After taking last year's Triumph he must have been a very welcome winner for Philip Hobbs who has had a fairly wretched time over the last 18 months with a bad bug in the stable. He is quoted as a 12/1 shot for next year's Ryanair and he'll be hoping to make it a hat-trick of wins... and who knows where he'll end up, Tiger Roll started in the Triumph too!
The Pertemps also went to the Green and Gold with the well-backed Sire du Berlais just getting up on the line to beat Tobefair who came with what looked like a winning run under Tom Bellamy. He would have been a fairytale winner for Debra Hamer for whom he is the stable star rattling up a 7 timer in 16/17 and going up from a mark of 81 to no less than 143. She only has 12 horses in training and has not had a winner since September last year. To be fair (excuse the pun!) it was possibly the ride of the Festival as Barry Geraghty massively earned his fee as he endured a rough race and had to work very hard to hold his position coming down the hill for the 2nd time... he touched 240 in running but in between the last two he found plenty and might have won with a bit in hand as he looks like he only does enough.
Our selections Boyhood and Flemcara were fairly prominent throughout and although Boyhood faded down the hill (finished 15th), Flemcara was still in contention rounding the home turn but could only plug on for 10th (jockey reported he lost left hind shoe)
Next came the Bryony Frost show and Frodon showed just what a great racehorse he is, he must be a joy to own. His appetite and zest for racing
A lot of horses who go from the front don't like it when they are taken on for the lead and Frodon was never given a moments peace as he was taken on early by Sub Lieutenant and then by Aso in the latter stages. In fact, Aso was almost a length up as they jumped the last but the superior stamina of Frodon (and the cheers of the crowd) always looked the more likely to prevail.
The Storyteller was very disappointing always behind and never jumping with any fluency. He was ultimately pulled up before the last.
And another fairytale half an hour later as Paisley Park landed the Stayers by 10 lengths and provided both Emma Lavelle and Aiden Coleman with their first Grade One success. One of the stars of the season he started off at Haydock on a mark of 140 after a less than spectacular novice season (he was a long way last in the Albert Bartlett at last years festival) but has improved by around 30lbs with 6 straight victories to be the undisputed Champion Stayer.
He hit his usual flat spot coming down the hill but responded well to pressure and looked all over the winner between the last two. He is the hot 7/2 favourite for next years renewal and given there is a history of multiple winners of this race I wouldn't be betting against him.
It was nice to see Sam Spinner back to somewhere near his best and Faugheen was also carried out on his shield, in fact, he looked at one point like he might roll back the years travelling as well as he was 2 out. Our selection Supasundae came under a ride a fair way out but responded well as he always does. Coming into the straight he looked a certainty for the frame but stopped as if shot going to the last and the stewards were told that the horse didn't stay in the rain-softened ground.
Personally, I thought Lizzie Kelly was even more impressive than Bryony Frost, and for
The horse was as brave as her responding every time he was asked and showing guts and determination in spades. It was almost a replica of when the front two met at Cheltenham back in January, the favourite Janika coming there full of running and looking the likely winner, only for
In the two meetings between them, there has now been less than a length in total between them. He has got to find another 20lbs which is by no means impossible, and if he does we could see him taking on Frodon (and possibly even Cyrname) next year... and that would be a race worth going a long way to see.
Personally, I thought our selection Eamon
Not much to say about this one, it went almost to script with Willie Mullins winning it for the 4th time running (which is a 100% record given there have only been 4 runnings of the race). Admittedly he threw 7 darts at the board and Eglatine du Seuil was his 3rd best according to the market.
Given she only finished a couple of lengths behind Aramon... who finished a close-up 6th in Tuesday's Supreme she didn't look a 50/1 shot to me (I didn't get involved in the race but in hindsight wished I had!).
Noel Fehily caused Lydia Hislop to tear up when he came in and announced that this was his last festival winner as he was retiring at the end of the season.
He was one of the coolest big-race jockeys around and won the Champion Hurdle twice on Rock on Ruby and
We were oh so close again in the Kim Muir as both our selections again ran fine races. I actually thought Touch Kick was going best a long way out as he was absolutely tanking along under Will Biddick, but he really hit the 5th last and his jumping went a bit to pieces afterwards, although he
Our other selection Kilfilen Cross looked the winner in between the last 2 and was probably a couple of lengths up. But having watched the race again I just wonder whether Alex Edwards would have held on to him for a fraction longer.
He faltered a bit coming to the