The fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival is the most anticipated one. Its the day of the Gold Cup, the most prestigious race in all National Hunt Racing. To get us started was the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
JCB Triumph Hurdle – Pentland Hills
In the first race of the final day, we had 14 horses to get us underway. They were all competing for the £70K prize for the winner with the favorite to land the fortune, Sir Eric, at 11/10.
The race got off to a delayed start. Sir Eric had last his shoe on way to the start line. This meant there was a five-minute delay whilst the course farrier sorted the issue. With eight hurdles to jump the horses were off with Quel Destin (4/1) and Sir Eric taking the early lead. As they jumped the first Pentland Hills (20/1) buckled and nearly unseated rider Nice De Boinville.
Disaster struck for Sir Eric and Mark Walsh. As they jumped the fourth hurdle Sir Eric suffered a fatal injury. Quel Destin sustained the lead until about two left to jump. Couer Sublime (20/1) started making headway and was challenging for the lead. As they approached the last Pentland Hills made a move for the front and now it was a three horse race.
With the final half-furlong approaching Pentland Hills pulled clear of Couer Sublime and won by around two lengths. This was a great win for the 20/1 horse but the race was overshadowed by the horrible loss of Sir Eric.
In this race, two horses pulled up.
Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle – Ch’tibello
The second race of the day was a very well contested one with 24 entries in it. Whiskey Sour (5/1) was the favorite to win the £56K prize money for first place. Monsieur Lecoq, being run by Lizzie Kelly, was the second favorite at 13/2.
Mitchouka (33/1) and Davy Russell took the early lead and did well to keep such lead for the majority of the race. As they got two out the race started to open up a more with several horses challenging for the lead. Eclair De Beaufeu (8/1) made a push towards the end and tried to open up a gap between themselves and the rest of the pack.
Unfortunately for Jack Kennedy, Eclair De Beaufeu didn’t have enough in the tank and was caught up by the pack as they approached the last. This was only made worse Kennedy as he was unseated after jumping the last. This allowed Ch’tibello, We Have A Dream (14/1) and Countister (18/1) to make a move for home.
Ch’tibello seemed to have too much for the others and brought back the win the jockey and trainer Harry and Dan Skelton who are brothers.
Only two horses didn’t complete the race, Mitchouka pulled up and Eclair De Beaufeu unseated the jockey.
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – Minella Indo
21 horses entered the third race of the final day. The prize money on offer for this race was £73k. As they approached the start Jack Kennedy was riding the favourite, Commander Of Fleet at 4/1.
They all cleared the first hurdle with Derrinross (12/1) and Rockpoint (33/1) contesting for the early lead. Minello Indo held their position in and around the front five. As they approached the final half-mile, the pack opened up and Minello Indor started applying pressure to Derinross’ lead.
As they turned for home they had one left to jump and Rachel Blackmore had Minello Indo opening up a lead on the others. Derinross had run out of energy and started falling further into the back. Jumping the last Commander Of Fleet had got within two lengths of Minella Indo. However, they didn’t get close enough and Minella Indo managed to hold on.
This was a fantastic win for Minella Indo priced at 50/1, who ran a very good race. Rachel Blackmore added another win for the female jockeys as well.
No fallers or unseated rides, but six horses pulled up before the end.
Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase – Al Boum Photo
It was time for the biggest race of the week, The Magner Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase. 16 horses entered the highly contested race with the favorite changing multiple times throughout the week. Presenting Percy (100/30) went off as the favorite followed closely by Clan Des Obeaux at 5/1 and last years winner Native River at 6/1.
The prize money for this race was £350K, this biggest of the week. As they jumped the first race we had one faller straight away, Kemboy (8/1) ridden by David Mullins was gone. Might Bite (14/1) and Invitation Only (33/1) took the lead but this only lasted until the 10th. Unfortunately, there was another casualty as Invitation Only obtained a fatal injury. In falling, Definitely Red (50/1) was also brought down.
Native River pulled into the lead with Might Bite and Al Boum Photo (12/1) just behind. As they reached the final turn the race was wide open as the pack had closed up. As they jumped the second last Al Boum Photo lead but didn’t jump well allowing the others back into the race. However, made up for it on the last and then pulled clear.
Al Boum Photo won by two and a half lengths to give Willie Mullins his first ever Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Out of the 16 horses at the start, only nine finished. Four pulled up, one fell, one was brought down and finally one unseated their rider.
St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase – Hazel Hill
After all the excitement of the Gold Cup, we now had the fifth race of the day. 24 horses raced against each other for the prize of £26K. Hazel Hill was the favorite at 7/2.
Road To Rome (7/1) was the front runner as they approached the first. Road To Rome ran well for the majority of the race managing to hold their position until the turn for home. Shantou Flyer (7/1) though had too much and bridged the gap between the two of them.
However, the favorite was still in the mix and managed to push past them all and take the lead with one to go. Hazel Hill cleared the last well and won the race by four lengths with Shantou Flyer coming in second.
Only nine out of the 24 horses finished the race. 12 horses were pulled up and then another three unseated their riders.
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase – Croco Bay
The penultimate race of the festival saw 19 horses run, with the winner receiving £61K. The favorite for the race was Magic Saint at 9/2 who was being ridden by Harry Cobden.
Le Prezien (8/1) took a keen lead at the start but then moved into the middle of the pack as the race progressed. Gino Trail (14/1) then lead but with four hurdles to go the other horses started making headway.
As they approached the final hurdle many horses were still in contention. But as they jumped the last it was Croco Bay who had the final 100 yards left. Bun Doran (11/1) pushed as far as they could but ended up a length and a half behind Croco Bay, the overall winner. This was Kielan Woods only winner of the week and it came on a 66/1!
Only four horses pulled up in this race.
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle – Early Doors
It was the final race of what had been a fantastic 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Dallas Des Pictons was the favorite for it at 7/2 and was hoping to win the £43K on offer.
The race took a while to start as Mount Mews (33/1) refused to race. The horse was taken out but this delayed the start. Mr Antolini (33/1) looked prominent at the start and kept a good pace. Dallas Des Picton was held up in the midfield for a lot of the race.
With four hurdles to go, Dallas Des Picton started making headway and was joined by Early Doors with two out. As they jumped the last it was between the favorite and Early Doors. Early Doors though kept on well and won the race by just over a length.
It was a good win for Joseph O’Brien who ended the festival on a high note and what was a tough week with losing Sir Eric.