Minella Indo rounded off a magnificent four days for Henry De Bromhead by returning to form and winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup. De Bromhead had already claimed the Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase earlier in the week and last season's RSA Chase runner-up bounced back from his disappointing performance in the Irish Hennessy at Leopardstown to win steeplechasing's Blue Riband. The Beat Hollow gelding was partnered by Jack Kennedy for the first time and he jumped and travelled beautifully throughout. Staying on strongly, he withstood the challenge of A Plus Tard to win by a length and a quarter. The runner-up ran a cracker but wasn't quite good enough on the day. The disappointments of the race were the Nicky Henderson pair Champ and Santini - both were out of the race by the time the runners went out on to the final circuit. The fact eleven year old Native River, who was beaten nearly 25 lengths, fared best of the home contingent speaks for itself in the current climate. The final score in the Prestbury Cup was 23 - 5 to Ireland.
As far as the Cheltenham Festival Update is concerned, the final day couldn't have started much worse. Admittedly, the unbeaten Quilixios is featured in the French Revolution section of OJA and the Cheveley Park Stud owned runner won in good style by three and a quarter lengths. However, having backed Zanahiyr (Top 40) at 50/1 during the early Autumn, it was disappointing to say the least to see him only finish fourth. Keen early on, he lacked the speed of the principals on the hometurn and could only keep on at the one pace. The fact he wore a tongue tie was alarmingly but his performance was still below par. He must be better than that.
Thankfully, we ended on a high with Galopin Des Champs winning the concluding Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle. Advised at 25/1 for any race at the Festival in the November Update, Willie Mullins' charge had run well behind stablemate Appreciate It in Grade 1 company last time and didn't look overburdened off a mark of 142 for his handicap debut. Given an ice cool ride by promising conditional Sean O'Keeffe, the five year old raced prominently before taking over in the homestraight. Despite the challenge of the bonus seeking Langer Dan, the result was never in doubt as the Irish raider pulled away on the run-in to win hard held by two and a quarter lengths. Long-term, he will make a cracking chaser. Advised at 14/1 in the Update, it was the perfect finish to the week.
Thank you very much to those clients who have emailed this evening, it is much appreciated. Galopin's win made a huge difference to the week. The Top 40 Prospects had 5 winners from 16 runners over the four days with victories for Shishkin, Bob Olinger Sir Gerhard, Chantry House and Galopin Des Champs. Finally, well done to Declan Phelan who featured Vanillier (14/1) in his Irish Pointers in OJA. I will be back to update the Diary shortly - it is time to crack on with Ahead On The Flat.
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