Top Five Memorable Moments in this year’s Cheltenham Festival!
Cheltenham Festival 2019 was one of the most exciting weeks in the sporting calenders with racing fans glued to the action from Prestbury Park. There were 28 races run over four days with the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Gold Cup as the showpiece events.
Let’s have a look at the top five most memorable moments in this year’s festival and look forward to an even more exhilarating one!
Willie Mullins wins his first Gold Cup
The Irish racehourse trainer, Mullins, won his first victory with Al Boum Photo in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup following a dramatic race for the showpiece event at the Prestbury Park course. Leading at the second-last fence, Al Boum Photo (12-1) dug deep for jockey Paul Townend, who was also winning the Gold Cup for the first time. Only a 7 year old, many believed Al Boum Photo would not be amongst the winners, however a recent statistical analysis of the Cheltenham Festival shows that 90% of the last 20 winners have been aged 7-9. Mullins said: “I’ve got used to the disappointment of finishing second”. It seems that Al Boum Photo seemed to be his good luck charm and after six second places, Mullins finally broke his Gold Cup hoodoo.
Altior lands record-breaking 19th straight win in Celebration Chase
As Awesome Altior clattered the water jump in Champion Chase, the gasps were audible as a lesser horse would’ve buckled. Nicky Henderson’s awesome star recovered to see off gallant challenges from Politologue and Sceau Royal to make it back-to-back victories in the race and 18-straight wins over obstacles. He extended his winning streak to a record-equaling 18 races here on Wednesday with a second consecutive success in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and he did so with the unshakeable will to win that marks out the Festival’s greats. De Boinville said, “I don’t know where it comes from, he is just a phenomenal athlete. He doesn’t know how to lose at the moment and long may it continue”.
Bryony Frost makes history with Fabulous Frodon
Bryony Frost became the first woman to ride a Grade One winner over jumps at the Cheltenham Festival after Frodon produced a tremendous front-running performance in the Ryanair Chase. The pair have forged an incredible partnership and cemented it even further with their biggest win yet over the 2m 4f. Wiping away tears Frost said: “Frodon has got his day. He is Pegasus, he has wings, and he is the most incredible battler”.
Tiger Roll: Cross Country 2019’s champion
The 2018 Grand National winner did not disappoint. He jumped superbly to win the Cross Country by a country mile – or 22l to be precise. He’ll now go off as favourite for the 2019 Grand National, where he could be the shortest price fav since Shutthefrontdoor in 2015. The nine-year-old – affectionately described as “a little rat of a thing” after his Aintree win by Michael O’Leary, his owner – took the two-mile 2014 Triumph Hurdle as a four‑year‑old and has since added to his record the four‑mile National Hunt Chase in 2017 and, now, two Cross Country wins. “It’s a phenomenal training performance by Gordon [Elliott]. He wasn’t great as a novice chaser but he’s transformed him by changing his routine and sending him cross-country.”
Emotional win for Paisley Park
From Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth to the horse itself, who nearly died two years ago, it’s fair to say this was an emotional victory for all involved. Paisley Park secured his fourth victory from as many starts this season with a facile display in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham. Lavelle said: “That was quite impressive. He just has such a great way of going in that he doesn’t use any more energy than he needs to and then when Aidan winds him up, he just picks up”.