Cheltenham Festival 2020: A look back on the four days at Prestbury Park
Racing fans up and down the nation might have a few post-Cheltenham Festival blues, but in order to keep the embers burning a little longer, here’s a look back on the main talking points and results from last week’s meeting.
Mares took centre stage on the opening day as three of the four Grade 1s on the card went to female horses. In the day’s feature, the Champion Hurdle, Epatante rewarded favourite backers as she impressively took the two-mile contest. It was a record eighth win in the race for trainer Nicky Henderson, a record ninth for owner JP McManus and a record equalling fourth for Epatante’s jockey Barry Geraghty.
Henderson had already been celebrating on the day as Shishkin, despite a huge drift in the market, held off Gordon Elliott’s Abacadabras to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He was the only gelding to win a Grade 1 on Tuesday as mares locked out the remaining three races. As well as Epatante in the Champion Hurdle, Put The Kettle On put in a brave performance from the front to win the Arkle at 16/1, while it was Honeysuckle who came out on top in the big duel in the Mares’ Hurdle. Under a canny ride from Rachael Blackmore, Henry De Bromhead’s charge denied hot favourite Benie Des Dieux in a nail-bitting finish.
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
Chantry House 15/2
Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
Put The Kettle On 16/1
Fakir D’oudairies 3/1
Rouge Vif 9/1
Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
The Conditional 15/2
Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)
Darver Star 17/2
Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
Benie Des Dieux 4/6F
Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed Race)
Imperial Aura 4/1J
Hold The Note 10/1
National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)
Lord Du Mesnil 11/2
Lamanver Pippin 33/1
Wednesday got off to a brilliant start for punters as one of the ‘bankers’ of the week, Envoi Allen, showed his class to win the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and in doing so remain unbeaten. Elliott’s charge looks destined for the top and you can expect to be seeing him plenty more at Cheltenham in the years to come.
One of the finishes of the week came in the RSA Novices’ Chase where having been at least 10 lengths behind jumping the last, Champ, under an inspired Geraghty ride, got home in the dying strides to deny the Irish-trained pair of Minella Indo and Allaho. It was two in a row for Geraghty as Dame De Compagnie was a convincing winner of the Coral Cup handicap hurdle shortly after, but it wasn’t to be a hat-trick of winners for the Irishman. That’s because despite being sent off a very short price to win at the Festival for a third time, Defi Du Seuil was unsuccessful in the Queen Mother Champion Chase as Politologue led from start to finish to give Paul Nicholls a record-equalling sixth win in the race.
Crowd favourite and two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll was unable to defend his Cross Country Chase crown as the French raider Easysland ran out a game winner. The Tiger has come out of the race well, though, and it’s all systems go for another tilt at the Aintree spectacular.
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
Envoi Allen 4/7F
The Big Getaway 9/1
RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
Minella Indo 3/1
Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
Dame De Compagnie 5/1F
Black Tears 12/1
Cracking Smart 33/1
Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)
Dynamite Dollars 7/1
Bun Doran 33/1
Glenfarclas Chase (A Cross Country Chase)
Tiger Roll 8/11F
Out Sam 33/1
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
Night Edition 16/1
Saint D’oroux 14/1
Recent Revelations 14/1
Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) (Grade 1)
Ferny Hollow 11/1
Appreciate It 15/8F
Queens Brook 6/1
One of the stories and finishes kicked things off on the penultimate day of the meeting as Samcro somehow managed to get his head in front to deny Melon. It was only the Elliott inmate’s second win since his win in the 2018 Ballymore and was a hugely popular result amongst the racing public.
Irish horses took the first three races with Sire Du Berlais (Pertemps) and Min (Ryanair) emerging victorious and although a UK-trained runner won the day’s highlight, the Stayers’ Hurdle, it wasn’t the one we all expected. That’s because 50/1 shot Lisnagar Oscar caused a big shock to give trainer and William Hill ambassador Rebecca Curtis her first winner of the week. Hot favourite Paisley Park was a disappointing seventh.
Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
Sire Du Berlais 10/1
The Storyteller 11/2J
Tout Est Permis 12/1
Third Wind 12/1
Ryanair Chase (Grade 1)
Saint Calvados 16/1
A Plus Tard 7/4F
Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
Lisnagar Oscar 50/1
Ronald Pump 20/1
Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Simply The Betts 100/30F
Happy Diva 20/1
Mister Whitaker 22/1
Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
Rayna’s World 100/1
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase
Milan Native 9/1
Kilfilum Cross 8/1
Bob Mahler 16/1
Plan Of Attack 10/1
There was huge drama to kick-off the final day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. Triumph Hurdle favourite Goshen had cruised into the lead and was nearly 10 lengths clear when he made a mistake at the final hurdle which caused his jockey Jamie Moore to unseat. It was a painful result for connections as well as punters and left Paul Townend and Burning Victory clear to win by over two lengths.
Burning Victory’s win capped off a memorable couple of hours for trainer Willie Mullins who won the next four races. While all would have special, none would have felt as good as Al Boum Photo’s impressive victory in the Gold Cup. That was the eight-year-old’s second consecutive win in the race and gave Mullins only his second Gold Cup victory.
While Al Boum Photo was sent off a well-backed favourite, the same certainly can’t be said for the winner of the following Foxhunter Hunters’ Chase. It’s fair to say not many would have envisaged 66/1 chance It Came To Pass winning, but the Eugene O’Sullivan-trained runner looked no 66/1 shot as he impressively put the race to bed by 10 lengths.
JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)
Burning Victory 12/1
Aspire Tower 5/1
County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
Saint Roi 11/2F
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
Latest Exhibition 9/2
Fury Road 5/1
Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1)
Al Boum Photo 100/30F
Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase
It Came To Pass 66/1
Shantou Flyer 3/1
Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Chosen Mate 7/2F
Eclair De Beaufeu 13/2
Us And Them 10/1
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
Great White Shark 40/1
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