The final brilliant day of an unbelievable festival – with AP and Synchrionsied putting the cherry on top of the cake.
I’ll summarise the whole meeting at the end - but first a few words on the day…
It started with victory in the Triumph hurdle for outsider Countrywide Flame. As I said last night, I hadn’t got a clue what would win the race – but I certainly wouldn’t have put that one up !
I might have put Hisaabaat up though – I struggled to choose between him and Ut De Sivola and it was the slightly bigger odds that made the latter the selection.
However, if I had put it up, it would have been win only; so the race would have been rather painful to watch. As it was, Ut De Sivola never featured, so as a spectacle, it wasn’t that bad !!
Ubi Ace ran a fair race in the County Hurdle, racing prominently until he weakened. Magnifique Etoile and Local Hero both travelled quite nicely until the race began in earnest. But at that point, both were found wanting and ultimately finished well beaten.
Grand Vision ran an absolute screamer in the Albert Bartlett, to finish third – a good way clear of the fourth horse. In truth, he never looked like winning but it was still a terrific performance – and at just over 8/1 for the place, a profitable one too.
Then came the Gold Cup…
Firstly the disappointments: it was obviously a shame to see Kauto pull up – and it looks like that will be his final ever race. We won’t see many like him in our lifetimes, so we should treasure the memories.
Weird Al ran no sort of race – but apparently bled from the nose. The same thing happened to him in last years Gold Cup – it must be the southern air ;)
Those out of the way, what an amazing race it was…
Synchronised blundered his way over the first few fences and AP never looked easy on him – but the horse must have the heart of a lion. He managed to hang on to the leaders and when he appeared on the outside jumping 3 out, I could honestly only see one outcome.
Great credit must go to The Giant Bolster – and Time for Rupert – both of whom ran way above expectations. But ultimately, they lacked the stamina of Synchrionised and that won him the day, as he powered up the hill…
I almost gave The Giant Bolster a positive mention last night – as I thought he had a better chance than his odds implied. However, even I never imagined he would run as well as he did…
The only point I would make, is that in the cold light on day, I wonder what the form is actually worth…
Knockara Beau was beaten about 20 lengths back in sixth place. He is an exposed 147 rated chaser. He clearly ran a cracker – but to my mind, he holds the form down…
Let’s put it this way, after the race, I was feeling even happier with my ante-post voucher on Sir Des Champs for next season renewal.!
In the Hunter chase, I managed to successfully identify the 2 key races, as they provided the first 6 home ! However, I maybe over analysed them a little, as it was the winners of those 2 contests that fought out the finish.
My Flora ran very creditably to finish fourth, she maybe got caught out by chasing a suicidal early pace. I also couldn’t help but wonder how On the Fringe would have fared if he had not been declared a late non-runner.
On the book, he should have finished very close to the winner – and today’s conditions should have suited him better. However I guess we’ll never know...
The penultimate race of the festival almost produced another high for us, with Oscar Nominee ultimately beaten 2 necks into third, despite finishing like a train.
The horse made things impossibly difficult for himself by barely going yard for the first half of the race. He did the same at Doncaster last time but I hoped the longer trip would make the difference – it didn’t ! He still got mightily close to pulling off a highly unlikely victory. However the fact he needed to weave his way between rivals to make his challenge – losing significant ground in the process – almost certainly cost him the race…
The finale proved disappointing. I was very keen on Astracad – but he never featured. Tara Royal ran well and – coming down the hill – looked likely to be involved in the finish. However, his jumping wasn’t slick enough and that ultimately cost him.
Instead Nicky Henderson notched yet another winner at a festival which was a personal triumph for him and his stable.
So that’s it for another 12 months…
I promised highs and lows – and boy did we get them !
We had a winner on each of the 4 days: Balthazar King; Teaforthree; Cape Tribulation and Synchronised.
However, we also had a number of very near misses: First Lieutenant, Voler La Vadette and Oscar Nominee – not to mention me failing to tip Rock on Ruby !
It is always a concern when you tip over such a short period of time, that you won’t get the bit of luck that you inevitably need.
However, on this occasion, a think we got precisely what we deserved.
With a bigger slice of luck, we could have had at least 3 more winners – but if Balthazar King’s head had been up and not down, we would have finished the week about level…
Instead, we ended up with 20.5pts profit on 46pts staked – a very healthy return, by anyone’s standard.
I like to think that you would all have enjoyed the meeting even if it hadn’t ended in profit.
I’ve put my heart and soul into the form study and write ups over the past few days – and hopefully it showed.
I’ve honestly done nothing other than ‘Cheltenham’ for a week – but I’ve enjoyed every minute.
Hopefully you have all done the same.
If nothing else, I would like to think that, at a tenner, the TVB Cheltenham Special was, at least, ‘value’ ;)