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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2004, 11:36 GMT
Your Say on Cheltenham

We asked for your comments on the 2004 Cheltenham Festival.

This debate is now closed.


Like many of the comments I would like to say regarding Best Mate, he really has lived up to his name - He is the BEST and ever horse racing fans' MATE.

Does anybody know if a horse can still win BBC personality of the year or were the rules changed after Desert Orchid won?
Dean, Leicester

I don't know how they knew it or how they chose it but they did a hell of a good job to choose the name best mate for that wonderful horse and he is also everyone's best mate from the beginning of his career.

One thing is sure from now on there will be no horse so truly named after what he is gonna be and achieve in his racing career before he even started it.
Miro, Belgium

I would just like to say hope you all were on my tip Fundamentalist for the RSA Hurdle and all availed yourselves of the 20/1 available at the time. Still 12/1 was very generous.
Neville Lawrence, UK

Great festival; one regret - the most mouth-watering contest in ages failed to materialise. There must be a way of getting Azertyuiop and Moscow Flyer into a comparable race together soonish? I reckon they could sell enough tickets for that one to justify another day out on its own! For the record, I'd have my cash on Azertyuiop again...
Paul Evans, London, UK

Best Mate's feat in winning three Gold Cups is a superb achievement by the whole team. Hen's training regime is very different to most other trainers - her background in eventing has meant she is keen to give her horses a varied training.

To see a Gold Cup winner being schooled with a long leg and going on the bit was a revelation. Also loose-jumping. I consider this training has greatly contributed to the horse's superb balance and athleticism. There is no doubt, though, that he is many pounds inferior on soft or heavy going as Jair du Cochet found out at Huntingdon.

I love the horse to bits and have managed to see him twice 'in the flesh' - but have to say for sheer racecourse performance he cannot touch the incomparable Arkle. Come on Henrietta, Terry and Jim, let's see him tested in handicap company - there's no ignominy in going down fighting, as Arkle's huge popularity testifies.
Rosemary, UK

A great 3 days of racing, didn't fare to well myself, but the biggest shock was the run of Rigmarole in the champion. I know it was a bad day for P Nicholls/R Walsh but I think most people expected the horse to make the frame at least.

Great to see Best Mate make it 3 but can we all stop making comparisons between him & Arkle because we will never know who would have won in a duel between them. They are & were great horses in their respective eras. Now for Aintree.
Tony Peace, Sheffield

Still some people are content to knock BMate 3rd gold cup win (Alex-Scotland) Personally I thought it was a great performance and he has now beaten the best around for 3 years, no-one can argue with that, exactly what he has beat will be a continuing argument, but think back folks, BMate would have won all the gold cups in the 90's.

What on earth does he have to do get praise from everyone? - race against Arkle?! Please stop knocking and enjoy the horse while we have him around... As for Alex-Scotland laying any price-what are you prepared to give then brave man and where do we get these odds-Betfair?
Wana, England

I made a comment on this page a month ago regarding the chance of Timmy Murphy riding more for Jonjo O'Neill next season well I hope people were on Creon at Cheltenham of odds of 50/1. I felt Timmy was unlucky not to be top jock at the festival as his riding is better then anybody at present.
Michael, England

Nothing else can be said about Best Mate other than amazing. He is a true superstar, a credit to racing in these hard days. Henrietta Knight is amazing too and I want to congratulate her on her superb horse. He is a true star.
Suzi Barden, Scotland

In the gold cup at Cheltenham in 2005. Best mate is the 5/2 favourite and my say that is too short to be backed. But there are one horse that can trouble best mate up the hill is strong flow if he recovers from that injury and he would have a big chance coming in the race and that hennesay was a fantastic win by him and I said to myself that could be a gold cup in 2005.
Kashmir Sandhu, England

Who do we think is the best ever Racehorse? I Think Arkle and Red Rum are the best by far, I was really interested to discover that Red Rum was named so because it is "Murder" backwards!
T Howard, Ireland

I said he was going to win the Gold Cup from the time he was hurdling. My favourite National Hunt horse since Barton Bank and Diamond Edge. He will win a fourth Gold Cup next year.
David Archer, Barbados

I have read many comments from race goers and supporters over the last couple of days since Best Mate's third Gold Cup Victory. It appears that most of the above fail to appreciate that comparisons between generations, whilst interesting, can not diminish what Best Mate has achieved in the modern era.
Sandra Kelly, Crewe

Henrietta Knight is amazing too and I want to congratulate her on her superb horse. He is a true star
Suzi Barden, Scotland
I enjoyed the best mate the most 4 any horse to reach this level is a class horse! I didn't think he was going to win when he got tied up on the final bend but he proved me wrong!
Neil Hilton, England

The reason 4 this message is the flat season starts next week and as a stable lad I was wondering if u think that the banded racing which as been brought in on the all weather this winter should be given a period on the grass 2 keep on going as I personally think it's been great!
Paul Seddon, Lambourn

Well a magnificent festival, despite the bookies largely getting the better of us punters. Best Mate and the Gold Cup was the real pinnacle, and I tipped and backed the 1,2,3! He battled fantastically up the Cheltenham hill and beat two really game horses. He is a true legend, but now Henrietta, let's see if he can win the top handicaps.

Forget that rubbish Peterborough Chase and put him in the Hennessy, King George, Gold Cup and the National, and make him an even greater champion...
Chris Kisby, Leeds, UK

Best Mate may be closer to Mill House or The Dikler but is no where near Arkle nor Crisp for that matter.
Neil, Saudi

Having watched & thoroughly enjoyed the achievements of Best Mate & his success in achieving a third gold cup win, I would like to make a suggestion regarding the BBC Sports Personality of 2004 (I know it's nine months away but as they say, time flies).

In my opinion many recent winners in all categories have achieved greatness in sport but also many have displayed very little personality in doing so. Two people who have definitely displayed success & personality in abundance have been Henrietta Knight & Terry Biddlecome.

Their displays of happiness at winning & the care & love for their horses coupled with the extraordinary level of success with Best Mate have been a joy to watch over the past three years. Could I therefore suggest Henrietta & Terry for the award of best team for 2004.
Colin Rice, Lowestoft, Suffolk

There will never be another Arkle as there will never be another Best Mate. Best Mate has proved that by winning 3 gold cups he can only beat what's put in front of him and beat them he has. Iris Gift is a excellent horse and I think will be at the top of the stayers list for a long time to come.

It did not take a genius to work out it had the beating of Baracouda on last year's running but Baracouda is still a brilliant horse for all he has achieved. As far as Best Mate for 4 Gold Cups I think maybe he could but it's a big maybe a lot can happen in racing who knows? I hope he does, he deserves it
Sharon Box, Kent

I think that Best Mate is the best horse I have ever seen. Think about it. To win one gold cup is an achievement but to win three is fantastic
Jon Jones, Wales
Best Mate is a great horse - Arkle is a legend! No need to say any more!
Charlie, N. Sydney

I think Best Mate can do it for a 4th time and he is the simply the best!
John Taylor, Dartford

Another great Cheltenham festival has passed us by all too quickly. I am already keenly looking forward to next year's festival, and am very happy to see it extended to a superb fourth day, of the greatest racing of the year. An extra day's enjoyment of great sport is very welcome, and I look forward to seeing if Best Mate will win a record fourth gold cup.
Brian, Scotland

I think that Best Mate is the best horse I have ever seen. Think about it. To win one gold cup is an achievement but to win three is fantastic for mn and horse. I also want to wish them luck for the future
Jon Jones, Wales

I must confess not being a Best Mate fan whatsoever, it was a courageous performance and the scenes afterwards were greatly emotional.

However, if you view the race with an objective eye, Best Mate just held on from a horse who has hardly set chasing world alight this season, the 3rd Harbour Pilot simply is nothing more than an average plodder and the 4th Beef Or Salmon was 20 lengths back with 2 to go and finished only 5 lengths back at the finish line.

The facts are there for all to see and lets never bring a comparison between the almighty Arkle and the average Best Mate, I was full of admiration for Best Mate's determination but as for next year I'd lay him any price as you have to admit exciting to watch, he was hardly impressive. But don't get me wrong I thought he ran a marvellous race, if not beating much in the process
Alex Fraser, Scotland

Best Mate is not Arkle but is one of the all-time greats. I was disappointed with Baracouda not fulfilling his destiny but the better horse won. Both he and Iris Gift are miles ahead of the rest. Baracouda had set a standard for staying hurdlers, maybe Iris Gift will take on the baton and bring it to a new level should he remain at hurdling.
Owen Fanning, Ireland

Cheltenham (town and racecourse) did itself Proud. As a resident, its really nice to be part of the Buzz for the week and play host to such a devoted group of race fans and eccentrics - I only hope the town and festival lived up to their expectations as I know many save their Euros in Ireland all year for the festival.

Of course, I went to Gold Cup day also, rude not to! If you could bottle the atmosphere, noise, tension, excitement from the grandstand as the leading pack came up to the finish line during the 3:15 Gold Cup race, you would treasure it for life! This is surely what racing is all about.

And thanks to My Armageddon in the 5:10 - romping home having lead all the way - at 10:1, I recouped all my losses for the day at the last - GO ON SON !
John, Cheltenham UK

Congratulations to the training team for their ability to get Best Mate right on the day
Andrew, Boston, USA
The atmosphere at Cheltenham was unreal topped off when Best Mate won! If you have never been before I recommend you go next year but I am not in favour of a four day Festival next year-I don't think my wallet or body can survive it. What does anybody else think?
Anna Regan, Malvern

A fantastic result for racing. The most significant result since 1977 ... racing has waited for a moment like this for 27 yeas long years. Best Mate should be remembered for what he is - a modern champion, not built like the champions of old, but neither are his rivals. He hasn't beaten a Mill House and is nothing like Golden Miller, but his achievement goes into folklore and he will be talked of in 50 years from now. Let's hope he makes it back in 12 months time.

Congratulations to the training team for their ability to get Best Mate right on the day - he needed to be today, and for not being swayed by the press in deciding which races to target. Leopardstown now looks like a good choice!

Finally thanks to Cheltenham Racecourse for allowing me access three weeks ago when they were busy and I was visiting, an open policy with the public deserves reward, would the same thing happen at Ascot?
Andrew, Boston, USA

Can you believe the price the bookies were giving on Best Mate 5 minutes before the off? When it drifted to 4/5 I helped myself large. Always going well the result was never in any serious doubt. I also had Made in Japan at 20/1 and Sporazene in the last race at 7/1. Now where is that champagne? Roll on next year. Kind Regards to all.
Ronald McKenzie, London

Roll on Cheltenham next year!
Simon Manning, England
Three cheers to Best Mate on his third Gold Cup win. May not be better than Arkle but must be his equal!! Looked in trouble coming round the turn but his class saw him though! Oh! Therealbandit surporters...you were blown away!!!! Hard luck Baracouda you ran a great race in the stayers but Iris's Gift just ran you out of it just as a lot of people thought he might!!

Well done to all the other winners it's been great seeing the good side of racing again!!! I've had a fair three days....backed Fundamentalist on Wednesday and Made In Japan on Thurs and had some good E/W bets placed.

Roll on Donny next week, Aintree the week after, it's a great time of the year....but most of all roll on Cheltenham next year!!
Simon Manning, England

The organisation at Cheltenham leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the bank machines. They have a number of bank machines that were continually running out of money.

Having queued for 45 minutes to get money, the three bank machines each give up the ghost. The only alternative was to go and queue at the other bank machines where you could hit the same problem.

Its one of the biggest festivals in the world, people are putting serious money on the horses, so you would think the organisers at Cheltenham would ensure that the bank machines have sufficient funds. Having said that they probably did a lot of us a favour by running out of cash.
Paul Davidson, Belfast

Timmy Murphy gave Tikram an absolute peach of a ride. A complete contrast to the wholly disgusting efforts by Magnier and Cooper.
kenny, Kilkenny

Glad to see John Hales back in the Cheltenham winners' enclosure
Simon Manning, England

CONGRATULATIONS to Henrietta Knight and all her team. She certainly has my Best Mate!
Doug, Philippines

What's the Aston Villa connection of 'Best Mate' the Gold Cup winner?
neil bradley, staffordshire

With total admiration, I listened to Best Mate's historic performance from my office in Manhattan. I'd have given anything to have been in Cheltenham today!
Matthew Mcilvenna, New York, USA

Walsh, McCririck,Pipe, Stringfellow and Turner it must be Cheltenham. The buzz about this place is something to believe - and it great to see such well-known faces about the place. This really is the Grand Prix event of the racing calander. Why can't there be more meetings at cheltenham though.
iain, Glasgow

Glad to see John Hales back in the Cheltenham winners enclosure after the victory of Azertyuiop. Will always remember his One Man winning at Cheltenham & hopefully he can look forward to many more glory days with his latest star!
Simon Manning, England

Whilst Liam Cooper rode a less than perfect race on the Falcon yesterday, I feel that his skills in the saddle are still greatly superior to those of a certain young Irishman named Magnier.

Young J.P.'s ride on Rhinestone Cowboy was inept. Whilst the lad may be a decent rider, he is a very poor jockey.

I am keen to give people the benefit of the doubt, and hoped that Magnier would silence his doubters by galvanizing the Cowboy to an emphatic victory. He proved incapable against vastly superior professionals. To emphasize his ineptitude as a race rider, he repeated the dose in the Bumper aboard Master Albert.

Next time, I can only hope that family ties are cast aside to give the Cowboy a jockey who possesses tactical nous, and the strength to ride a finish. It isn't fair to impose such mediocrity on a very good horse.
David Morgn, Durham

Well done Ruby!!!! A great run by Azertyuiop but if Moscow had not unseated Barry Geraghty would they have been at the final fence together?
Philippa James, Wales

After the shocking ride by J P Magnier on Rhinestone Cowboy, can we now expect to see daddy letting him take penalties for Manchester United in the cup semi final, and perhaps let him run some of his dads companies as well.

When soemone like McCoy does not have a ride in a race and amateurs like Magnier can get a ride on the favourite, you have to wonder if Magnier senior wanted to win the race, and how someone like John Joe can train a horse all year only to let a joke jockey ruin the horse, I don't know.

Magnier gave Rhinestone Cowboy no chance
David, UK

Coming round the last corner, he was sitting like he was some sort of superstar, only for his lack of skill and strength to shine through. Luckily I hadn't backed the Cowboy as I have watched Magnier in the past, but for those punters who did, I can only feel soory for as they never stood a chance.

PS Glad to see Hardy eusace winning the Champion Hurdle. A fitting tribute to a lovely man, K Kelly who was cruelly taken last year. He is still sadly missed.
Andy, Edinburgh

Rhinestone Cowboy - I felt I have to comment on the ride young Magnier gave this horse in the Coral Cup. Well he gave the horse no chance at the business end of the race, why did he not follow Monkerhostein through when he went on instead of letting him get 4 lengths up.

Big Mac says a lot of things, but he was dead right about a professional riding this horse. It was the difference between winning and losing. This is the pinnacle of the NH season and we still have to put up with watching rides that are basically second rate, that ride must have cost punters millions. Bring back Norman!!
david, UK

I was heartbroken for Rooster Booster, who at ten years of age had a tough task. But he battled on like the star he is and was beaten by an impressive horse indeed. A great pity we didn't get to see the duel we were all expecting but Azertyuiop is pure class and will surely improve further.
Liz Waters, UK

What a cracking first day of the Cheltenham Festival!
Philippa James, Wales

Liam Cooper must be the poorest jockey ever to represent a large stable. His ride on Intersky Falcon was frankly embarrassing.

I'm not talking about holding the horse up, which I think was a correct decision, nor am I saying he could have won the race or even got second place but the way he got bullied out of position by Richard Johnson just after halfway meant the horse was never in with a chance.

I don't like to slate someone who could be a perfectly nice guy but the bottom line is he is incompetent. The chances of him being stable jockey next season must be close to zero.
Davie, Glasgow

I had a little bit e/w on Merchants Friend on Tuesday and was counting my money halfway up the run in. Am I bitter? Not at all - this is what makes horse racing and the Festival in particular, such an exciting, frustrating and enjoyable experience.

Some you win, most you lose!
Jason Jackson, North Shields, Tyne & Wear

What a cracking first day of the Cheltenham Festival! I had thought that 'This that and tother' would be a banker but am very, very pleased for A.P and Well Chief.


Philippa James, Wales

What is a handicap in Horse Racing? I will appreciate any information on the subject. Thank you.
Samson Arkorful, Accra, Ghana.

Gutted Jair Du Cochet has sadly left us, the way he absolutely toyed with best mate at Huntingdon was priceless. He showed you can beat best mate and very easily as well. A brilliant young horse.
David, UK





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