OK, that's all folks as they used to say on those old cartoons. But before you brew your afternoon cuppa or toast Ireland's success with some preliminary Paddy's Day dark stouts, please read
Frank Keogh's report
For a while, Saint Luke looked set to spring a surprise, but instead it was another 66-1 shot, Destroyer Deployed, who laid down the gauntlet to Cheltenian. Nevertheless, despite a fine effort from the Tim Vaughan-trained horse, Cheltenian won very tidily indeed, streaking five lengths clear, with Aupcharlie (33-1) faring best of the Irish in third.
RESULT - Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Open NH Flat Race) 2m ½f (1715)
1. Cheltenian (R Johnson) 14-1
2. Destroyer Deployed (Aidan Coleman) 66-1
3. Aupcharlie (Jason McKeown) 33-1
Cheltenian wins under Richard Johnson for the Somerset yard of Philip Hobbs. And Somerset, as we know, is very much in England.
Cheltenian is a major danger while Destroyer Deployed remains strong.
Cinders And Ashes and Knight Pass are moving into the picture.
The Tracey Shuffle leads with Destroyer Deployed and Dynamic Approach also looking good.
They're off and racing in the Bumper. This will be over in a flash - it's on the flat and they race for barely two miles.
The top two in the betting for the Bumper are both trained in England, so all hope is not lost! Nicky Henderson's Ericht has had a couple of good wins recently, while Knight Pass from Warren Greatrex's yard (he's virtually Henderson's neighbour in Lambourn) will also try to raise the flag for the home contingent.
E-mail from Conor:
"Don't forget to add that an Irish-bred horse, ridden by an Irishman and trained by an Irishman in England also counts in the English tally."
BBC Sport's Cornelius Lysaght
on Twitter: "If Irish do win Bumper to make it 7/7, will be unprecedented through the card; Eire #CheltFest record = 10 wins, 2006."
Well, if winning six out of six wasn't good enough, the last race, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, has long been regarded as a sitting duck for Irish trainers, although Cue Card did win it for the Tizzards last year. This time, Raise The Beat, Star Neuville and Divine Rhapsody will among those hoping to allow the Irish to "go through the card" today.
This is truly a day to remember for Irish racing. And when we say "Irish racing" we are of course talking about horses trained in the Emerald Isle. When an Irish jockey wins on an English-trained horse that is bred in Ireland that would be a victory for English racing. I know it's confusing but that's just the way it is!
Could I ask you to quickly refresh your web page? A few things didn't go through quite right in the last few minutes. Thank you!
E-mail from Mark Weatherall:
"Last time I will ever bet against the Irish."
RESULT - Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 2m ½f (1640)
1. What A Charm (Paul Townend) 9-1
2. Kumbeshwar (Charlie Huxley) 33-1
3. Dhaafer (Robert Thornton) 16-1
4. Plan A (Paul Carberry) 4-1 Fav
Six out of six for the Irish as What A Charm wins! The top-weight Kumbeshwar just couldn't shake off the Paul Townend-ridden winner up the hill and had to settle for second place for trainer Alan King.
Plan A is creeping, creeping up to the head of affairs.
Many of the races this week have seen a very steady early gallop and it's the same this time. No move from any of the leading contenders yet...
Kumbeshwar and Mr Muddle are disputing the lead as they leave the stands.
They're off in the Fred Winter. Just this and the bumper (1715) to go.
Beyond Plan A, who would have everything in his favour except for the good ground, the Irish have one other possibility. It's a decent one, What A Charm, trained by Arthur Moore. The other 21 horses are all trained in England.
Charlie Longsdon on Paintball:
"We couldn't have a more experienced jockey than Richard Johnson in the plate. He seems fairly relaxed. He'd like softer, flat ground, but they'll go very quickly early doors and if he stays with them then he's got to have a chance. Let's hope for an English winner!"
While we're talking about that man Gordon Elliott (he trains in County Meath, by the way) it's an opportune time to point out that he has a very strongly-fancied contender in the 1640 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. Can the Elliott-trained Plan A win? Or will Charlie Longsdon claim his first Festival winner on Paintball? Maybe it's time for Tony McCoy and Nicky Henderson to make a winners' enclosure appearance with Titan de Sarti? Don't look at me for answers!
E-mail from DJ to firstname.lastname@example.org:
"After another impressive long distance victory by Chicago Grey, what are the chances that this horse will be entered into either the Irish or English Grand National in the near future?" Pointless to speculate too much, but remember the trainer Gordon Elliott has won a Grand National before? (Silver Birch, 33-1 in 2007)
Winning jockey Davy Russell:
"That was super. Everything went according to plan. He didn't miss a hurdle and didn't miss a beat all the way. He's been trained by a very good man with one day in mind and this is the day." Winning trainer Gordon Elliott:
"I only had my first winner at the Festival a couple of hours ago and now a second. It's definitely going to be a rough night! He's a great horse and it's the first time he has got his ground. When he goes over fences he will be smashing."
Seeing an Irish jockey draped in the tricolor has become a regular sight today, and it happens again as Davy Russell celebrates his second winner of the day. That's 5-0 today for the Irish over the English, for an overall 8-4 lead in the Festival as a whole. I said earlier they might beat their seven winners from last year with two days to spare. And could either of those scorelines be an omen for the rugby international at Lansdowne Road this weekend?
RESULT - Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) 2m 5f (1600)
1. Carlito Brigante (Davy Russell) 16-1
2. Bothy (Danny Cook) 12-1
3. Orsippus (Davy Condon) 33-1
4. Battle Group (Tom Scudamore) 33-1
In the end an easy win for another Irish one, Carlito Brigante with Davy Russell on board for Gordon Elliott at 16-1 is the winner! For Non Stop had a crashing fall at the last, while Bothy was second. Full SPs in a minute...
Aegean Dawn and Bothy are among many with a chance approaching the final turn.
Dantari still leads, though he's being closed down, and For Non Stop has made up tonnes of ground and is back in contention. In fact he's second! Call The Police is being ridden in mid-division.
Dantari has opened up a 10-length lead at the front, while For Non Stop, tipped in some places (and by some of you), trails by a similar distance at the back.
They're off in the Coral Cup.
So, if the English trainers are finally to get off the mark for the day and reduce Ireland's 7-4 lead, who's going to do it in the 1600? Aegean Dawn, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by three-pound claimer David Bass, has a fighting chance while Lightning Strike, from the Venetia Williams yard, is another to follow. Venetia fears the ground might be a bit too quick for the eight-year-old, however. The favourite's Irish, though: Willie Mullins' Call The Police.
There are now six non-runners in all for the Coral Cup, a handicap hurdle over 2m 5f, off at 1600. So an initial field of 28 is reduced somewhat. As well as the four pulled out and mentioned at 1222, Points Of View and Orzare join the horses on the sidelines. Felix de Giles has gone for an x-ray on his ankle after his fall in the second race.
Anon, via text to 81111:
"He's only angry, that anonymous caller [see 1510], because he probably lost a fortune. The Cheltenham is well exciting."
BBC Sport's Cornelius Lysaght
on Twitter: "Heavily-backed Master Minded beaten when mistake two out, says Ruby Walsh. Likely to run over further in future, Aintree/King George mentioned."
Winning owner Alan Potts:
"I had to work 50 years before I could get the money to buy the horses. We got together with Henry (de Bromhead) when he had about 10 horses, now he's got about 60. Andrew (Lynch, the jockey) is just another essential part of the team."
Big Zeb's dodgy jumping, thought to be a thing of the past, came back to haunt him just a little bit, and left him with not enough stamina to challenge the other big hope from Ireland up the hill. Master Minded almost stopped after a dreadful jump at the second-last but he did not look a likely winner at any stage. Captain Cee Bee stayed on for some place money, while Woolcombe Folly look a little outclassed or simply off colour. We now have two Irish trainers on two winners each - Henry de Bromhead who won the Glenfarclas cross-country yesterday on Sizing Australia and Willie Mullins.
Winning trainer Henry de Bromhead:
"Unbelievable... We're very lucky, you know. Just lucky to have good horses. It was electric. Andrew gave him a savage ride again, the horse was amazing. There's a great team behind this and we're so lucky you know."
RESULT Sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase 2m (1520)
1. Sizing Europe (Andrew Lynch) 10-1
2. Big Zeb (Barry Geraghty) 3-1
3. Captain Cee Bee (Tony McCoy) 14-1
Winning jockey Andrew Lynch:
"He wants a strongly-run two-mile race. This is the only race we were targeting all year."
Sizing Europe will win by a few lengths, wow. At 10-1, great result for the bookies again. Master Minded is well beaten after a terrible blunder at the second last.
Arkle champion Sizing Europe is still in front, Somersby made a mistake...
Big Zeb's jumping is sometimes a bit iffy and he has not been foot-perfect at a couple so far. Master Minded travelling pretty well.
Sizing Europe is also at the head of affairs, Big Zeb about fifth.
They're off. Mad Max is leading as expected.
We're just second away from the moment the tapes go up in the Queen Mother now. This is going to be a corking race.
Mick Fitzgerald on BBC Radio 5 live:
"It is one of the great sights seeing a horse at close quarters straining every muscle to jump a fence." He agrees with Clare Balding that Sizing Europe is the horse to beat here.
There's been a huge flood of cash for Master Minded who is 5-2 favourite, while the other Nicholls runner, Woolcombe Folly, is right in to 13-2. Somersby and Sizing Europe are on the drift while Big Zeb remains at 3-1.
Big Zeb is leading the parade. Looks pretty interested - he knows he's about to be in a race. French Opera, a very big price for a good horse, also looks in decent fettle. Master Minded, who has won this twice, is galloping calmly towards the start. The race is off in just eight minutes now!
Trainer Paul Nicholls on Master Minded
: "The good ground is a slight concern, it's his first serious test since his operation." And on Woolcombe Folly
: "He's in good order and now we'll see how good he is."
Anonymous, and rather disgruntled, on SMS:
"More hype unjustified. Cheltenham has come to disgust me over the years. It's no fun at all, it's just a bookies' benefit which should be boycotted."
E-mail from Colm:
"Thought So Young would have had a better effort, sadly the run-in damaged his chances. Seems like Knights Pass is going to have to help the punters out today in the finale, here's hoping he does!"
Got to catch up on RSA reaction now. Winning jockey Robbie Power:
"I thought Oscars Well was my best chance of the week - he was terribly unlucky. This lad is as tough as nails and he never knows when he's beat. At the top of the hill I was going nowhere, I set him alight at the bottom of the hill and he galloped all the way to the line." Winning trainer Jessica Harrington:
"I've been saying all along he wants three miles and the tougher it is the better he likes it. I always had a sneaky feeling he was the right horse for this race."
Yup, 6-4 to Ireland. Last year they only had seven winners across the whole week. I think they might get to seven or eight today alone and of course they have the defending champion in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Big Zeb
is, however, being fiercely challenged for favouritism by Master Minded
- and now there are clear market indicators that Master Minded might start as favourite. For me, this ground will give him a stern test. I wonder how much of that money follows the horse's reputation rather than his current form.
BBC Sport's Frank Keogh
on Twitter: "Bostons Angel makes it three from three for Irish on day two of Cheltenham. This could be like St Patrick's Day 24 hours early. 6-4 up."
Mick Fitzgerald on BBC Radio 5 live:
"A good horse will win with a bad jockey but a bad horse won't win with a good jockey. No matter how strong a jockey is, if a horse doesn't want to do it he won't." For some strange reason, Time for Rupert was thoroughly uninterested in racing today. It was obvious a long way out that he didn't have a chance.
RESULT - RSA Chase 3m ½f (1440)
1. Bostons Angel (Robbie Power) 16-1
2. Jessies Dream (Timmy Murphy) 10-1
3. Wayward Prince (Tony McCoy) 15-2
Bostons Angel wins the RSA Chase under Robbie Power for Jessica Harrington of Ireland. They were unlucky with Oscars Well in the last one, so what a response this is from them!
Crashing fall from Quel Esprit now, leaving Bostons Angel in front with Jessies Dream disputing it.
Ruby Walsh has been dumped on the turf by Mikael d'Haguenet, but he's on his feet already. Big error from Elysian Rock, leaving Quel Esprit in front.
Time for Rupert is getting a reminder or two already from Will Kennedy.
Elysian Rock is racing wide of the pack and remains in charge. Time for Rupert is towards the rear but going the short way round.
The Giant Bolster unseats Rodi Greene, while Elysian Rock leads from Aiteen Thirtythree.
They're off in the RSA Chase.
From Niall, on e-mail:
"Great to see the Irish beating the English again in the [insert random sport here]." Cricket maybe? Don't remind me. Revenge in the rugby though, methinks...
Bit of cash, on the exchanges at least, for Mikael d'Haguenet, a previous Festival winner. Probably because he's ridden by Ruby Walsh.
The big bets, and lots of small ones too, keep coming for Time for Rupert,
who is one of the few horses being talked about in the RSA Chase (off at 1440). He is trained by Paul Webber near Banbury in Oxfordshire. John Inverdale points out on Radio 5 live that the prize money for the winner in this race would probably top the horse's initial cost to the owners, but Mick Fitzgerald mentions that you have to consider the rising cost of training fees and so on, and adds jumps racing money is still lagging well behind the Flat.
From Ryan, text message:
Aiteen Thirtythree in the next, had good tip from Ireland, can't see past it. A good tip from Ireland for a horse trained by Paul Nicholls? Now that's a little unusual.
Winning jockey Davy Russell:
"He's a horse that's matured an awful lot through the year and he has again. I knew with a quarter of the straight to go I was getting there, but it was the last stride. My horse was a fraction slow at the last, but he's a very good horse." Winning owner Michael O'Leary,
boss of Ryanair, said: "Mouse has done a wonderful job with the horse and Davy gave him a fantastic ride. Oscars Well was probably a bit unlucky, but it's a great day for us. It's a great joy when the Irish horses come over here and this is another one on the board. Mouse always thought this horse was the next War Of Attrition. I don't think he's that good but he's going the right way anyway."
Just a quick reminder, because someone always asks this every year. I only list the top-three finishers in most of the races, because only in the big handicap fields do bookmakers tend to allow place money down to fourth.
Felix de Giles is being stretchered off after his crashing fall from the Charlie Longsdon-trained Accordintolawrence. If his injury is at all serious, we'll keep you posted.
RESULT - Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle 2m 5f (1405)
1. First Lieutenant (Davy Russell) 7-1
2. Rock On Ruby (Daryl Jacob) 13-2
3. So Young (Ruby Walsh) 2-1 Fav
First Lieutenant was representing the same connections as the surprise 2006 Gold Cup winner War of Attrition. SPs coming in a sec.
1412: First Lieutenant
wins for Davy Russell, trained by Mouse Morris in Ireland. Oscars Well stumbled on landing after the last, and there was plenty of pace from the challengers immediately behind him. In the blanket finish, First Lieutenant clung on by a short head from the Daryl Jacob-ridden Rock on Ruby.
I think it's a photo finish - First Lieutenant and Rock on Ruby.
Oscars Well has first dart for the finish, but plenty have chances.
Little niggle from Ruby and So Young is back on the bridle and racing. Minella Class is travelling well, Oscars Well going very well too. Accordintolawrence falls.
They're all jumping these flights pretty smoothly, while Luke Harvey notes Ruby Walsh is getting a lovely run out of So Young.
Aikman is running freely at the head of affairs in this 2m 5f hurdle. Tornado Bob looks a little keen.
BBC Radio 5 live's Clare Balding:
"I think So Young will win and Tornado Bob each-way." And they're OFF in the 1405...
A warm welcome to Radio 5 live coverage from Cheltenham,
hosted by John Inverdale.
Yet another placed horse for Nicky Henderson, who just can't find his 48th Festival winner at the moment. Can he get his campaign up and running in the next race? His entry is Minella Class and it's certainly not among his big hopes for the week. So Young, the Mullins-Walsh chance, is the potential bookie-basher in the 1405, while the Jessica Harrington-trained Oscars Well appears to have the best tools to down him. So Young is five now, but it'll be odd if he's still racing at 11 or 12 with a name like that!
Winning jockey Derek O'Connor:
"John Earls, the owner of this horse, Gordon Elliott, and Paul Carberry have instilled faith into me the last two months. I'm just delighted to be here and I thank them all very much. He's an out-and-out stayer and jumps from fence to fence."
Plenty of cheers greet this well-backed winner, and it is of course another Irish-trained success at Cheltenham, so we're all tied at 4-4 in the GB v Ireland battle. A bad race for the bookies, but can it be a bad day overall for them and a great day for punters? Time will tell.
It's a first Cheltenham winner for jockey Derek O'Connor and trainer Gordon Elliott. O'Connor is generally regarded as the finest point-to-point rider in the world, and he was as cool as a chilled salad vegetable today as he kept his horse at the back for two-thirds of the race before nudging him along the rail to claim the spoils. Beshabar was also also beautifully ridden, but his jumping was tested at times - and the horse that came third did little wrong either.
RESULT - National Hunt Steeplechase Challenge Cup 4m (1330)
1. Chicago Grey (Derek O'Connor) 5-1 Fav
2. Beshabar (Tom David) 9-1
3. Be There In Five (Sam Waley-Cohen) 20-1
Chicago Grey's stamina has got him up the hill ahead of Beshabar to win! Be There in Five was third with Alfa Beat fourth.
Beshabar is the leader as they all shake up their mounts approaching the final turn.
Alfa Beat, one of two greys in the race, joined the front but made an error moments later. Sona Sasta, trained by David Pipe, continues to jump very effectively, while Chicago Grey is making progress at last.
Plenty of horses travelling very nicely and few are without a chance at this stage. Captain Americo has joined the leaders now.
Derek O'Connor is keeping Chicago Grey practically at the back of the field, but no reason to panic if you've backed him.
Carlas Dream, a rank outsider and the only mare, is at the back already. With just under two circuits to go, Chamirey and Sona Sasta are disputing the lead.
Chicago Grey is travelling well in the early stages, a very long race this one (four miles). Major Malarkey is an early faller.
OK, so they're off and racing in the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup.
Sixteen horses go to post for our opener which is just three minutes away. I've mentioned two or three contenders for this already, but here's another: you would be crazy to rule out Some Target, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by his son Paddy.
BBC Sport's Frank Keogh
on Twitter: "While not the biggest fan of branding days as this or that, I must report a fine female effort all round for Ladies' Day at Cheltenham."
E-mail from Gary Chapman:
"Sky Mas, Hilly Way, Badsworth Boy, Pearlyman, Barnbrook Again, Viking Flagship and more recently Master Minded... Plenty of horses have returned to retain their crown in the Queen Mother Champions Chase and I think we will see a stylish encore from Big Zeb this afternoon. I don' think you're mental for going for Woolcombe Folly. I actually think Paul Nicholls' charge along with Sizing Europe will provide more of a threat to Big Zeb than Master Minded. The bookies will be running for cover if Time for Rupert (1440, RSA Chase) comes in. It would sure be an emotional victory for jockey Will Kennedy."
One thing to look out for in our first race will be Sam Waley-Cohen's ride on Be There in Five. On Friday Sam will partner Long Run, a probable second favourite to Imperial Commander for Friday's Gold Cup having won the rescheduled King George in January.
News comes in that an on-course bookmaker has taken a £5,000 win bet for Chicago Grey. Not sure I could ever stake that money on an amateur riders' race but there we are. Decent animal, trained in Ireland by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Derek O'Connor.
E-mail from Bill Huppler:
Love the subtle use of the "non-runner" symbol after confirming the Duchess of Cornwall won't be attending today!
Ted from Windsor:
Nicky Henderson came to speak to our horse racing society and said that Oscars Well (1405) is his banker for the week. You heard it from me first... Would Ted from Windsor by any chance in fact be a pupil from Henderson's alma mater, Eton College?
I wish my sound could automatically turn itself off when those adverts promoting Dubai and featuring Myleene Klass appear in every ad break. Anyway, onwards and upwards. A quick reminder that I think Master Minded will come in third today, and
I'm tipping the other Paul Nicholls horse, Woolcombe Folly
to do the business in the big one. Tell me I'm crazy if you want.
Pretty murky morning at Cheltenham, visibility gradually improving, but no danger of me publishing the "sunny day" graphic. No great rain either, though, which will probably count against Master Minded in the 1520. Talking of whom, his jockey Ruby Walsh
tells Channel 4: "He's three from three this year. I love riding him. He has to improve a little bit from his last run, but the two fences in the straight being close together will really suit him."
It's barely half an hour to go until the opening race, and that Chicago Grey is certainly tipped up quite heavily in a number of newspapers this morning. His jumping has not always been impeccable though, and over four miles it is sure to be tested. He's being backed on the course where he is only available at 5-1. A much nicer price is Nina Carberry's mount Arabella Boy.
From ndev2k on Twitter:
"I fancy Chicago Grey in the first. My only bet for today."
From Anonymous via text to 81111
: "Uncle is working down in Dublin and he was informed from a good source that So Young is Willie Mullins' main threat of the meeting." OK, it seems a lot of people have been told a lot of good things about this five-year-old, who goes in the 1405 Neptune Investment Novices' Hurdle (the second race). Ruby Walsh has taken this one ahead of the ironically named Rock on Ruby from the Paul Nicholls yard, and his price is plummeting fast. Ruby had three winners yesterday, remember.
Read more on Ruby Walsh in Frank Keogh's article.
Our friends from BBC Gloucestershire have been working diligently as ever. Please
check out their photo gallery
with all sorts of facts and figures packed into it. Did you know there are 650 helicopter landings during the course of the meeting?
From Hugh O, Connor, on e-mail to email@example.com:
"Some repair work to be done - thinking Some Target in the 1330 with Aberdale as an outside bet. Think I'm going to come down on the side of Master Minded in the big one, with Sizing Europe as an each-way."
The Queen Mother Champion Chase will be a treat today, don't you think? Remember Moscow Flyer winning in 2003, falling in 2004 and then flying up the hill under Barry Geraghty in 2005? Master Minded is going to try to reclaim his crown today as well. He was spectacular when winning as a five-year-old in 2008, he doubled up in 2009 but was floored by Big Zeb last year. The two horses are re-acquainted today, and there are a number of new contenders too. Game on.
From Anonymous via text to 81111
: "Saint Luke has won three or four flat races this year. Why are his odds so high? At 66-1 surely he must be worth something each-way?" Now this is interesting, my son's called Luke and it's his birthday today! I might have to have a punt on him especially if it rains a bit (fast ground may be his weakness according to the Racing Post). My colleague Elizabeth Hudson says the Peter Bowen-trained hope in the bumper at 1715 is only 33-1 with Ladbroke's but other bookmakers are, as ever, available.
So what's happening at Cheltenham today? Clarence House has confirmed the Duchess of Cornwall
has cancelled her planned visit to Cheltenham today. A spokesperson said she was unable to attend because she was suffering from a stomach bug. Unfortunately, I cannot confirm who will present the Queen Mother Champion Chase trophy in her stead. In terms of the non-runners from the equine world today, we have Glenwood Knight
out of the 1330, and three are withdrawn from the 1600. They are Secret Dancer, County Zen, Gift of Dgab,
From Ed in Stow-in-the-Wold via text to 81111
: "Big hopes for Time for Rupert today, if I wasn't at work I'd have my shirt on it!" Thanks Ed, and let's have the rest of your e-mails, tweets and SMS input to make our live coverage sing and dance a merry Cheltenham jig.
As ever, our eyes and ears at Cheltenham are BBC Sport's Frank Keogh, especially with Radio 5 live currently immersed in Prime Minister's Questions...
BBC Sport's Frank Keogh
on Twitter: "Going at Cheltenham on old course, used today, is good, good to soft places. Same for new course Thur/Fri
Richard Johnson booked for Albertas Run if he goes in Cheltenham Gold Cup (also declared for @AP_McCoy in Ryanair Chase)."
For want of anything else to do, I have compiled a little
runners and riders guide to today's big race.
In it I have tipped Woolcombe Folly,
the second string from the Paul Nicholls yard to spring a surprise. He is also today's each-way selection, so if you carried over your (modest) winnings from yesterday on Realt Dubh then get stuck in again!
Greetings to all of you on day two of the 2011 Cheltenham Festival where a mouth-watering Queen Mother Champion Chase awaits us at 1520 GMT. It's the fourth of a seven-race card which will be set in glorious motion with the 1330 - deep breath now - 141st Year of National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase).