The Cheltenham Festival this year was one of the highest attended in their history, with close to 220,000 punters (including 40,000 who travelled across from Ireland) in attendance across the four days including the sold out in advance, Gold Cup Friday.
With superb weather throughout the week creating a drying, faster surface, it created a course record triumph for Vautour in the first race of the event, but as the week continued, the faster ground caused problems for the horses, some of whom struggled with the quicker pace, and others who may have found the entire occasion too much.
It was one of the most frenzied, media-promoted Cheltenham Festivals in history and the event certainly lived up to expectations and left many memories that will live long in the memory of those that were in attendance and those that have seen the events unfold live on Television.
There was sadness with 4 deaths to horses at the festival, with Our Conor being the most well known.
The young, talented hurdler fell at the 3rd fence as the race was run at a furious pace, after a long period of treatment on course, it was announced that he had been humanely euthanised.
Akdam and Stack the Deck suffered leg injuries on the Wednesday, which the vets again believed serious enough for euthanising.
The final race of the festival on the Friday also ended in tragedy when Raya Star fell and fractured his spine and was again humanely put down.
There were also injuries to Ruby Walsh, Daryl Jacob and Bryan Cooper. The latter suffering what was described as “the worst lower limb fracture I have ever seen” by the Chief Medical Officer of the Turf Club.
Ruby suffered a compound right arm fracture when falling from the frontrunner Abyssial in the Triumph Hurdle which was compounded horses treading on him as the field passed and taking one more shot from Abyssial who was returning to his feet.
Daryl Jacob suffered a bizarre, serious injury when his horse who was galloping to the start was spooked and diverted towards the Best Mate Stand, crashing into the barrier and throwing Jacob into a camera and then onto the road behind it. He suffered a broken arm, leg and knee and will be out of action for some time.
The atmosphere at the festival is truly unique, and if you are even a casual horse racing fan, visiting the festival should be on your bucket list of things you want to do one day.
Sire de Grugy returns to the paddock after victory for his Crystal Palace-supporting Owners
I’ll end by congratulating the team involved with Sire De Grugy, who have lived every racegoers dream.
To buy a horse, and one day be stood in the winners circle at Cheltenham receiving a trophy, and a prize that has now taken their winnings to over 10x what they originally paid for the horse is the fantasy of punters around the UK, so a congratulations to them, especially with them supporting Crystal Palace as well!
How did my main tips do?
The New One was unlucky in a great Champion Hurdle that was overshadowed by the sad death of Our Conor, who fell immediately in front of The New One who had to stop to sidestep Our Conor and lost between 5 and 10 lengths on the pack.
By the time they jumped the last fence, Sam Twiston-Davies had 12 lengths to make up on the lead pair, but ran up the hill as if it was downhill to lose by only 2-and-a-half lengths, take 3rd and finishing ahead of previous 2-time Champion Hurricane Fly in the process.
There’s always next year for the horse, and he is the early ante-post favourite for the 2015 Champion Hurdle Balthazar King received a ride of the week candidate from Richard Johnson in the long and confusing Cross-Country Chase, eventually taking victory after a photo showed he had got there by a nose to seal the win and his second victory in this race at the Festival.
Calipto was closing in on the leaders in the Triumph Hurdle, when just prior to the 2nd last hurdle from home, Daryl Jacob’s stirrup broke and his feet came loose. The horse and Daryl were both fine and Daryl secured his first win of the week in the next race on Lac Fontana.
Kings Palace led parts of his race which was billed as a matchup against Briar Hill, who also fell early in the race. Kings Palace was one-paced in 5th place leading up to a fall at the final hurdle which at first looked serious, but a few minutes later, he was back on his feet and led away to be checked over.
The Giant Bolster carried on forever as he always does, taking 3rd in the Gold Cup and passing the 2 well-fancied favourites up the hill for victory, despite the faster ground maybe not being his preferred. There’s no doubt that in a years time, I will again be tipping The Giant Bolster to be in the place money, if all is well.
Saturday’s selections (prior to final declarations):
Lingfield 2.40 – Kingsgate Choice
Newbury 2.55 – Lily Waugh
Lingfield 3.50 – Grandeur
As always, you can comment below or find me on Twitter @cpfcpatriot.