Thursday, March 16, 2023

By Nick Robson and Ashley Iveson, PA

Here’s the latest from the third day of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival…..

4:50pm The Jack de Bromhead Mares Novices’ Hurdle

Gavin Sheehan gave You Wear It Well a fine front-running ride to claim the Jack De Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Despite having a strong book of form to her name – including a second in the Challow Hurdle and a victory in the Grade Two Jayne Seymour last time out – she was sent off an easy to back 16-1, with 5-4 favourite Luccia was the only horse punters wanted to be on.

Keen to put her proven stamina to good use Sheehan went straight to the front aboard the Jamie Snowden-trained six-year-old and never saw another rival as she showed a tremendous attitude to keep galloping and responding to her rider’s urgings when the pack began to bare down on her in the closing stages.

Henry de Bromhead’s Magical Zoe performed with great credit to take the runner-up spot in the race named in memory of the trainer’s late son, who tragically lost his life in a pony racing accident in September.

An error at the last cost Tony Mullins’ Group One-winning Princess Zoe finishing any closer than fifth.

The winner follows in the footsteps of Love Envoi who triumphed at Sandown before scoring at Prestbury Park, while for Snowden it was somewhat fitting that his second Festival success came in the same colours of Sir Chips Keswick as his maiden winner at the big meeting Present View, ending a long nine-year wait between drinks.

4:10pm The Magners Plate

There was further success for the Irish trainers when Seddon gave John McConnell his first Festival winner in the Magners Plate Handicap Chase.

It was also a first winner at the big meeting for Ben Harvey, who never missed a beat aboard the 10-year-old – bringing him home ahead of Richard Hobson’s Fugitif to strike at 20-1.

McConnell said: “I don’t know what to say. He’s the horse of a lifetime. Top jockey, top worker rider, I don’t do anything. I’m just a chancer, that’s all I am. He’s some horse, and the most beautiful, kindest horse you can ever imagine as well.

“He’s just a happy horse. He loves being a racehorse, people talk about welfare and this is a horse that just loves being a racehorse. He would lay down for you, he’s an amazing horse. With Ben on board it was like robbing 5lb, it’s unbelievable.”

3:30pm The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

Sire Du Berlais ground down Dashel Drasher late on in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle as the big-race outsiders fought out a thrilling finish to the Cheltenham Festival’s day three feature.

At one stage it looked as if Flooring Porter was about to join the Festival immortals and secure his third straight victory in the race, but his tank emptied quicker than in the previous two years, and he was passed heading to the last by Dashel Drasher who set sail for home in the hands of Rex Dingle.

A length to the good jumping the final flight, Jeremy Scott’s admirable 10-year-old stuck his head down as the Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Sire Du Berlais and Teahupoo were breathing down his neck.

But while the 5-2 favourite could not get by in the hands of Davy Russell, Dashel Drasher had no answer to the late thrust of the JP McManus-owned 33-1 shot who edged his way to a three-quarters of a length verdict. Dashel Drasher was a brave second at 40-1 and Teahupoo a further neck back in third.

A runner-up behind Flooring Porter in this in 2021 and also a dual winner the winner of the Pertemps in both 2019 and 2020, the 11-year-old Sire Du Berlais was somewhat the forgotten horse of the race and handed Cullentra House handler Elliott his first victory in this premier staying hurdling contest.

Elliott said: “After a hurdle or two I knew he was in a good rhythm. Of course it’s a surprise, but Sire Du Berlais can do that – he’s either first or last.

“He stayed on well up the hill in fairness to him and Mark (Walsh) gave him a brilliant ride.

“It’s great to win the race. We were beaten a short head in a Grade One yesterday (with Gerri Colombe), but it’s a great game, and it’s great to be here.

“We couldn’t get him qualified for the Pertemps Final. It just didn’t work out for us with ground one day, and he probably didn’t look that well handicapped.

“He doesn’t do anything too exciting as he minds himself, but that’s why he’s still going at his age.

“I thought Teahupoo would win. He travelled into it and ran well.”

2:50pm The Ryanair Steeple Chase

There was Cheltenham redemption for Envoi Allen who made a triumphant return to the Festival winner’s enclosure by winning the Ryanair Chase.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned nine-year-old is a winner of both the Champion Bumper (2019) and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2020), but suffered an agonising reversal when sent off favourite for the Prestbury Park hat-trick in 2021, unseating his rider early into the Turners Novices’ Chase.

He had to settle for a creditable third in last year’s Champion Chase but back to an intermediate trip for his latest trip to the four-day showpiece, Henry de Bromhead’s charge bounced back to his very best to leave a disappointing showing in the King George at Kempton well in the past.

Always travelling menacingly in the hands of Racheal Blackmore, fortune shone on the Irish raider who was almost down on his nose at the third-last – the same fence evens-money favourite Shishkin made a momentum-stopping blunder.

However, whereas Shishkin was immediately under pressure to hold his position, Envoi Allen was gathered up by Blackmore and soon in the perfect spot to pounce in the home straight.

Eager not to head for home prematurely, the button was pressed approaching the last and the 13-2 winner showed his engine still purrs loudly to stride out to a two-and-three-quarter-length success – with Shishkin bravely rallying for second in the closing stages ahead of Hitman in third.

2:10pm The Pertemps Network Final

It was a case of mission complete in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle as Good Time Jonny stormed to Cheltenham Festival success.

Trained to perfection by Tony Martin, he qualified for the big race by finishing third to Maxxum at Leopardstown over Christmas, before tuning-up for his Prestbury Park assignment over an inadequate two miles at the Dublin Racing Festival.

The money had been coming for the eight-year-old building up to the meeting and he was sent off at 9-1 as the tapes went up.

Given a brave steer by Liam McKenna up the inner, Good Time Jonny was out the back as the field headed for home. But his young rider held his nerve to pounce late and deliver his mount with precision, returning a three-and-a-quarter-length winning verdict.

It was a fitting reappearance in the Festival winner’s enclosure for Martin, who has proved synonymous with handicap success in the past and was securing his seventh success at the four-day showpiece.

1:30pm The Turners Novices’ Chase

Stage Star jumped his rivals into submission in the Turners Novices’ Chase to end Paul Nicholls’ three-year drought at the Cheltenham Festival.

The champion trainer had drawn a blank at the big meeting since Politologue won the Champion Chase in 2020, but it proved well worth the wait as Stage Star backed up his smart form this season to produce an excellent round of jumping and galloping.

An all-the-way winner in handicap company on Festival Trials day and a Grade One winner as a novice hurdler, he repeated the dose when it really mattered, moving back into top company with aplomb.

Sent immediately to the front by Harry Cobden, the 15-2 shot traded blows with Laura Morgan’s Notlongtilmay throughout, with the duo the only ones left in the mix after the last and the Ditcheat inmate pulling out more for a three-and-a-quarter-length success.

Odds-on favourite Mighty Potter travelled well for the majority, as did Willie Mullins’ Appreciate It, but both failed to pick up sufficiently at the business end, with the celebrations belonging to Nicholls, who took his Cheltenham tally to 47, and his jockey Cobden – himself ending a long four-year stay on the Festival cold list.

“It’s been a tough week so far, but it’s a tough place,” said Nicholls.

“We were a little bit unlucky yesterday with a couple, but that was brilliant. Different track, slightly better ground, it was always going to suit us. I said to Harry today ‘be positive, bowl along in front and ride him like the best horse in the race’. He gave him a peach of a ride there.”

Comments are closed.

Contact Newsdesk: +353 59 9170100

More National Sport