Thanks for joining me today, and remember we have another seven races tomorrow. Will we finally see an odds-on shot triumph tomorrow? The pressure is on Big Buck's after spectacular failures for Dunguib and Master Minded. Barry Geraghty,
with two wins today including the ride on Champion Chase winner Big Zeb, is Wednesday's star.
I am just about to wrap up for the day but how did we miss that one? Cue Card was a winner of his only start in January, and both the second and fourth in that race at Fontwell have gone on to win since. Only four years old too...
Weatherbys Champion Bumper1. Cue Card 40-1
2. Al Ferof 8-1
3. Frawley 14-1
Cue Card gets a 10-1 quote for next year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle after a fine win for Dorset-based trainer Colin Tizzard, the horse ridden by son Joe.
1718: Cue Card
absolutely bolts up. What is this? An English-trained winner of the Bumper! Al Ferof was second, also English-trained. And the Irish are silent.
Made In Time, the mount of Tony McCoy, looks good as he moves up to third.
Shot From The Hip, a well-backed favourite, is running very keenly and as he insists on leading his jockey finally lets him do just that.
They're off in the bumper.
A final reminder to check our
for all today's statistics, while if you need to know where every horse finished, go to the
Racing Post's online service
- though I should add this takes considerably longer to come through.
As it happens, Nicholls and Walsh have an outside chance of winning the final race, the Bumper, the only race of the week which features no obstacles at all. This is the race Dunguib
won last year. The Nicholls entry is Al Ferof,
while Shot From The Hip,
trained in Ireland by Edward O'Grady is the favourite.
And here's Paul Nicholls:
"We had some problems with him when he first came over from France and at first we couldn't get him on to the gallop. But he clearly has a lot of ability and he'll be even more the finished product after a summer out. Obviously he can't run in a handicap again and so I'll probably run him in the juvenile hurdle at Aintree." This is a four-year-old who could be going places. Remember the name.
Ruby does himself few favours with the handicappers with this slightly cheeky comment after banging in his second winner of the week: "He's a bit free so we thought the Fred Winter could be a good race in which to get him to settle. I did think the mark they gave him after his Taunton win was a great one."
Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Hurdle1. Sanctuaire 4-1F
2. Notus De La Tour 13-2
3. Orsippus 33-1
4. Son Amix 14-1
(And it feels nice to put up the "bookie woe" graphic)
Despite so many runners in the field, Sanctuaire
looked the likely winner from a couple of flights out. That's proof that the Paul Nicholls
stable is still more than capable, while those of us who have backed him to be the Festival's top trainer can breathe a sigh of relief. Mind you, he is still one behind Nicky Henderson. Walsh
has just overtaken Pat Taaffe to be the leading jockey of all time in Cheltenham Festival history. A nine-length winner in a 24-runner handicap - goodness me, keep an eye on this.
is delivered quite wonderfully, giving Ruby Walsh his 26th winner of the Festival - the most by anyone.
Son Amix is travelling beautifully as they approach the finish.
Hunterview is the leader, Loch Long among many who are handily placed.
No time to re-shoe Fin Vin de Leu
- and they are off now.
The sixth of today's seven races is delayed a little as one of the horses is dismounted.
And they're nearly off already, with Sanctuaire favourite as Paul Nicholls attempts to get his first winner of the week.
The Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Hurdle is upon us, another handicap. Let's see what pans out here...
Here's a text message from Sheapy in Accrington
that made me smile: "Well nearly at the end of the second day and there's not one person in the office who has had more than one winner at the festival yet, although the women here do back funny names rather than on form, all hell would have broke loose if 'The Package' would have got up yesterday."
As racing moves to a slightly different course tomorrow, the going is officially expected to switch back to good to soft, as it was yesterday.
Interesting interview with a rather sombre Paul Nicholls on Racing UK. Nicholls says it will be "a job to work out" what happened, and says he knew from the second fence that things were not quite right for Master Minded in the big race. He refuses to be drawn on whether the horse will run again this season, and like Ruby Walsh, suggests it is possible he would prefer slower ground. Does going that is officially good rather than good to soft make so much difference to a horse of this calibre?
It's time for Barry Geraghty
to chat to the press again: "That was a good performance. They didn't go that quick so I made sure I was in a good position all the way and he jumped brilliantly for a five-year-old. I had a fair idea he'd stay but he's only five - he did it really well. Nicky is the best man to ride for, especially here, he is such a gent and it makes my job easier." Owner Michael Buckley
adds: "It is absolutely wonderful. He's a very young horse who'll be going chasing next year, so this is a huge bonus."
tells us on 606:
"There will be absolutely massive amounts of money on Kauto Star
now with people looking to recoup losses, same with Big Buck's
as well I expect." No pressure on the Nicholls-Walsh pairing then. Also, that comment rather pre-supposes people still having "massive amounts of money" to bet with.
Well it's certainly Barry Geraghty's
day. The stable jockey to Nicky Henderson
was, unusually, only on the trainer's second string this time, but he still managed to deliver the winning ride, leaving Tony McCoy to bring home Quantitaveeasing in fifth place. A number of bookies will pay out on that fifth.
Coral Cup Handicap1. Spirit River 14-12. Tullamore Dew 80-13. James De Vassy 16-14. Micheal Flips 33-1 1605:
Wishfull Thinking is a heavy faller, leaving Spirit River
with Barry Geraghty to win the Coral Cup.
Over the third last, Racing Demon and Wishfull Thinking are among those with chances.
Hampshire Express unseats rider Paul Townend. Tony McCoy going very smoothly now on Quantitativeeasing.
The Coral Cup, a big field in this one, is off now.
There's an interesting discussion on Radio 5 live about how racing can draw in more fans. There's a feeling the dress code can put people off, that the jockeys are not selling the sport enough and that racing needs to talk to people who follow other sports and see what changes can be made.
E-mailer Neil in Bracknell
makes a fair point: "If these two days have proved one thing, its that the so called experts and pundits know absolutely nothing! Every race they've got it totally wrong and I am no longer going to read or listen to a word of what they say." As I say, fair point. We've had only one favourite win in 10 races and John McCririck has just said on TV that punters are "pretty depressed" and "really need a result." I don't remember a Festival like this having followed them since the early 1990s but maybe Big Buck's and Kauto Star can turn it all around over the next two days.
Our radio commentary goes off air shortly before the next race, but I'm sticking with you guys until the bitter end today. Quantitativeeasing
has been talked up all week in the 1600 Coral Cup Handicap - maybe he will get the Henderson bandwagon moving again. Paul Nicholls hasn't had a winner yet, and was not exactly bullish about Takeroc's
chances in his Racing Post column this morning.
Many of you have asked about the plight of Citizen Vic
, and it's sadly been confirmed that he had to be put down after the RSA Chase.
That's a really interesting observation from Walsh. At what stage in his career was Master Minded a horse that couldn't act on quick ground? And imagine how firm it would be now if they hadn't been watering the course last week... All this after the wettest, grimmest winter anyone can remember.
This is what winning jockey Barry Geraghty
has to say: "It was a great performance and he's jumped well all year. He ran no race at Sandown [in the Tingle Creek] but other than that he's been very good. He had a good look around after the last and I thought he was going to pull up, but he found plenty when he needed to. I saw Master Minded coming but I had a lot left when I kicked for home." Walsh
said of the beaten favourite: "He wouldn't go on the ground as it was too quick for him."
1539: BBC's Cornelius Lysaght on Twitter:
"Paul Nicholls said horse Master Minded not himself; not too deflated after winning last two; still no Nicholls winner at meeting."
Just to sum up how the race panned out: Big Zeb, not always the best jumper, put in a flawless display today. He was always travelling strongly for Barry Geraghty and had a nice lead into the straight off Forpadydeplasterer, under Tony McCoy. But Colm Murphy's 10-1 winner jumped the last fantastically to seal a six-length victory. Kalahari King (Graham Lee) ran on from the rear to beat Master Minded for third.
I have an e-mail from Jonno in Nottingham: "Wouldn't you love to be a bookmaker at the minute? I'm going on Friday for Gold Cup day and I might have to do a bit of chopping and changing to my pre-selected bets!" Good luck! Everyone's luck must change soon... but fair play to Big Zeb who was tipped by the BBC's Peter Scudamore to win it just before the off. Something was definitely amiss with Master Minded, though. Ruby Walsh looked pretty distraught afterwards.
Big Zeb wins for Ireland to tie the score at 5-5 with the British-trained runners - and jockey Barry Geraghty waves to the supporters in the winners' enclosure as he punches the air.
Queen Mother Champion Chase1. Big Zeb 10-12. Forpadydeplasterer 10-13. Kalahari King 9-2
Big Zeb WINS! Master Minded is fourth.
Forpadydeplasterer and Big Zeb are disputing the finish.
Twist Magic's in trouble and Ruby needs to deliver his ride now.
Master Minded still racing in fifth as they approach four from home.
Mahogany Blaze falls as they head to the water.
Master Minded is really keen under Ruby who is trying to settle him in about fifth place. Field is covered by six or seven lengths.
So... many punters relying on Master Minded, rock solid at 4-5, to get their week up and running properly.
Master Minded looks very comfortable down at the start with Ruby but what are they going to do for three minutes? They've got there too early surely...
The sun has put in an appearance. Here's Mick Fitzgerald: "Twist Magic took no part in the parade and got to the start four minutes before everyone else. I saw Paul Nicholls and wished him luck and he just let out a huge puff of air because he's very nervous."
A couple of people have chipped in with tips for Dare Me
in the Bumper today (the last race). Very interesting, big price that for the Philip Hobbs stable.
Here's Peter Scudamore
on BBC Radio 5 live: "Badsworth Boy was the best two-miler I saw, Moscow Flyer was one of the best but two years ago Master Minded put up one of the most awesome performances I have seen at Cheltenham. I think Big Zeb has a chance because he has finished close behind Master Minded in the past."
Nine horses competing for £320,000 in prize money in our next race, and it's my favourite of the Festival. A tight two miles so jumping the fences is half the battle as one small error can put you out of contention. But you need pace as well, and with the ground as it is at present there could be a real gallop - although there is no obvious pace-setter this year.
It's high time we heard from our man on the spot, and here's what
Honest Frank on Twitter
has to say: "Charlie Chawke, among owners of Forpadydeplasterer, pins a Paddy's Day shamrock on me and says the horse is "very fit and well and jumping out of his skin"."
Winning owner Michael O'Leary
(he of Ryanair fame): "It was unbelievable, I didn't think we had any chance today and thought Long Run looked very hot and Punchestowns too. It was a brilliant ride by Davy Russell and I think he's proved today what a fantastic jockey he is. He won here at the Festival last year but Albert Bartlett winners tend not to come back again. Charles [Byrnes] has done a great job with this horse."
So it's Britain 5-4 Ireland and if Forpadydeplasterer can overturn Master Minded in the Champion Chase the scoresheet will be level. Can it be done?
Charles Byrnes is the winning trainer, with the excellent Davy Russell delivering the knockout blow in the saddle. The Gigginstown House Stud collect £85,515 in winnings. Decent payday for them, but I am beginning to think some of these bookies have collected more than that in this Festival so far.
Well, this looked a very high-quality renewal, with a fast pace throughout and nearly everything jumping solidly. Fears there were one or two chinks in the armour of the Henderson pair were cruelly exposed by the excellent Weapon's Amnesty
, who rather drifted under the radar, but was full of running up the hill when the others had long since cried off.
RSA Chase1. Weapon's Amnesty 10-12. Burton Port 9-13. Long Run 11-4
Big win for the Irish-trained Weapon's Amnesty on St Patrick's Day but how many Irish punters backed him? Cheltenham is pretty quiet.
Citizen Vic falls and Weapons Amnesty is making a big finish.
Very little movement in the field - exciting finish in prospect.
The two Henderson fancies are both looking very handy. So many in with a big chance.
Long Run is settled in the rear with Citizen Vic and Little Josh setting the pace. Diamond Harry is third.
They're off and running in the RSA Chase.
We're very near to the start now and it looks like Punchestowns will start at about 2-1 favourite.
is favourite though he is really a hurdler. Long Run
is in fine form, but his jumping is a bit iffy and amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen faces a pressure-cooker situation. I like Diamond Harry
, who likes this course but again needs to jump well.
Confirmation has come through that Katie Walsh will be banned for four days.
Thanks to Wassim
, who spotted my error in the starting price of Peddlers Cross. I've corrected it to 7-1. Apologies.
The next race, the second biggest of the day, is the RSA Chase, off at 1440, and features two chasers who some feel are primed to replace Kauto Star and Denman as the two superstars in future seasons. Punchestowns
and Long Run
also happen to come from the same stable, that of Champion Hurdle-winning trainer Nicky Henderson.
Winning jockey Jason Maguire
: "I'm absolutely delighted. We walked the course this morning and, fair play to Donald, it was his decision to go over two miles and five [furlongs]. The horse showed plenty of gears over two miles in soft ground and some thought this might be a bit far for him, but he's done it well. If I'd got beat I would have said I sat too long, but he's just a fair horse."
Before we pick up some reaction from the last race. here's some pointers to the next two, in a text message from Pete in Slough
: "In the RSA I believe Punchestowns' jumping will let him down and Long Run could be the superstar of the future. Kalahari King who will love the going, should give a good account of himself in the Champion Chase."
This race looked set to go to one of a number of very tasty Irish entries, but it's another British winner on Paddy's Day, and another outsider to please the bookies, with trainer Donald McCain (son of Red Rum-associated Ginger) the winning trainer, Jason Maguire the jockey picking up the win.
Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle1. Peddlers Cross 7-12. Reve de Sivola 15-23. Rite of Passage 7-2F 1410: Sleepy Hollow
is carried off the course approaching the last, and Peddlers Cross wins
1409: Sleepy Hollow
is the leader approaching the finish.
is slowly picking up the ground under Choc Thornton, but has much to do. The Knoxs
are among those in contention.
1406: Quel Esprit
falls, throwing Ruby Walsh into the turf, with Manyriverstocross
They're just jumped the first flight in the second race.
Oh dear, naughty girls in the dock. Nina Carberry picks up a five-day ban for excessive use of the whip and the stewards are primed to do something similar to Katie Walsh.
1401: John via e-mail:
"What an absolute muppet Fabalu. That's it now, saving my pennies for the Gold Cup, a Nicholls-trained horse has to win, I'm throwing it all on Tricky Trickster
currently at 14-1. Kauto's one of the best but I can see a Nicholls 1-2-3 with Tricky leading the way! Get on Quel Esprit
for the 1405!" Meanwhile, Patrick Kielty
is on TV, tipping Long Run
for the RSA Chase (1440).
I have no idea how the second race is barely five minutes away. Where does the time go? It's a two-and-a-half-mile novices' hurdle, and Rite of Passage
is what's known as an "uneasy" favourite, with Finian's Rainbow
, bidding to give trainer Nicky Henderson his second win of the week, among those attracting support.
Refresh your browser to bring in the new audio link, if you want such a thing, that will be good through most of the rest of the day. You can access all the results from our
industry-leading results service,
so check out the full details from the first race at your leisure. If you need to know who came sixth, seventh, or last I'm afraid you have to wait until pretty much the end of the day and go on the Racing Post website.
Most of the Walsh family are in tears at the moment. Lovely. Ruby's big moment comes up at 1520. Everyone seems to think only Kalahari King can trouble him on Master Minded
, but I think Forpadydeplasterer and Twist Magic are the ones for the minor placings - or perhaps something more.
Kate's father Ted Walsh
on 5 Live Sports Extra: "It means everything. Everything. I couldn't be happier than I am this minute. It's like watching your kid winning an Olympic gold medal."
National Hunt Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase)1. Poker de Sivola 14-12. Becauseicouldntsee 13-23. Prudent Honour 40-1 1340:
The only two lady jockeys in the race were the only two with a chance of winning it at the end. And it was the Ferdy Murphy-trainer Poker de Sivola, ridden by Ruby Walsh's sister Katie, who got up to win. She says: "This is the best day of my life."
1339: Poker de Sivola
Poker de Sivola and Becauseicouldntsee fight out the finish.
Plenty of these are feeling the pace now as Gentle Ranger, going so well, falls. Becauseicouldnt see, three shoes and all, is travelling so well up at the front.
Gentle Ranger, with Josh Guerrero riding, is up with Presenting Forever now. The good ground is turning this into a really good race. Nearly a full circuit still to go. Tinakellylad and Carlas Dream fall.
Becauseicouldntsee is racing on three shoes, there wasn't time to have him re-shod. He's still tracking the leaders well though.
They're all jumping the fences well at the moment, but it's still Oliver Greenall on the grey Presenting Forever leading the field.
Fabalu and Presenting Forever are among the front-runners early on. Mobaasher is racing in mid-division.
The 18 runners set off in this four-miler as the Cheltenham crowd roars its approval.
Clare Balding on 5 Live Sports Extra: "There's going to be a delay as Becausicouldntsee
has spread a plate." Not the most auspicious start for the Irish, who picked up three winners during yesterday's six races. As for their week as a whole, read
Frank Keogh's excellent feature
on the Irish challenge.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls can pick up his first winner of the week if Massasoit
wins this next race, while there are four Irish challengers, the best of them probably Becausicouldntsee
, with Nina Carberry in the saddle.
You may or may not know that jockey Sam Thomas is joining the BBC team after a crashing fall in which he broke a vertebra shortly before the Festival. He says: "I've been very, very lucky with injuries. I've pretty much only broken my nose, wrist and fingers - as jockeys go I've got off pretty lightly."
Just 16 minutes to go before the first race, an amateur riders' novices' chase which is four miles long and features Mobaasher
as favourite. "I predict a successful day for Miss Venetia Willams!" tweets someone called
- and Williams is Mobaasher's trainer.
1309: Mick Fitzgerald on 5 Live Sports Extra
: "Paul Nicholls feels this horse is back to the form of two years ago, when he gave a performance that Richard Dunwoody called the best performance he'd ever seen at Cheltenham. Last year he scrambled home and still won but they found a fractured rib and they've got him right now. But one horse to look out for is Kalahari King, who deserves to be second favourite."
1305: Master Minded
, in my humble opinion, only needs a clear run to win his third Champion Chase. He's a wonderful horse, once described by Paul Nicholls as the best he had ever trained (this from the man who looks after Kauto Star).
And here's a tip for the first race from John in Liverpool, via e-mail: "Fabalu
for the first at Cheltenham, massively under-rated horse, at 14/1 set to rake in £25,000 if this one wins!" The Racing Post says rather witheringly of this one, trained by Donald McCain junior: "Form not up to much... others have less to prove on the ground"
Here's some non-Cheltenham racing news from our very own
Honest Frank on Twitter:
"Trainer Mouse Morris reveals to me 2006 Cheltenham Gold winner War of Attrition could run in Grand National after all."
Radio commentary from 5 Live Sports Extra is up and running from 1300 so please refresh your browser to bring up the link on the right. We switch to 5 Live itself from 1355.
Somebody called Thanks a lot BBC7
tells us on 606:
"Happy betting day to all the punters who got hurt like me in yesterday's banker drama." Ah yes, what was up with Dunguib
yesterday? I don't think his inexperienced jockey could be blamed - just didn't really run strongly enough, and did lose some ground with a couple of his jumps, it must be said.
A quick thank-you to Karol Mannion
, whose e-mail yesterday I missed. I was after the instance in a Derby when a horse won the race after a trainer had more or less ruled him out - a bit like what happened yesterday with Binocular in the Champion Hurdle. Karol, from Ireland, reminds me: "New Approach won the Derby alright after his trainer, Jim Bolger, had forgotten he was still entered in the race. He had not intended to run him in the Derby after defeat at the Guineas but realised he was still entered shortly before the race and then ran him. A friend of mine actually won near 20,000 euros on him too!"
At this stage I issue the usual plea to get involved through your chosen medium. It could be 606, text or e-mail - or perhaps you might want
send me a tweet.
Some important news about three non-runners. The Jonjo O'Neill-trained Synchronised, a strong fancy for the first race (1330) is out - I suspect the ground is too good for him him, while Kildonnan misses out in the same race and Flight Leader, the rank outsider in the 1440 is also withdrawn, reducing the field to an each-way lover's nine.
Like Master Minded they all won two Queen Mother Champion Chases at Cheltenham. But you have to go back to 1985 - the year the first mobile phone call was made in the UK, the year Bob Geldof launched Live Aid, and the year in which Lewis Hamilton, Keira Knightley and Wayne Rooney were all born - to find the last time it was done three times, by the Michael Dickinson-trained Badsworth Boy.
Pearlyman, Barnbrook Again, Viking Flagship, Moscow Flyer
Why am I mentioning these horses?