Cheltenham Festival Round Up: Mullins Ends Festival in Style
The final day of the Cheltenham Festival and despite mass protest online to have racing canceled, patrons decended in their tens of thousands to the racecourse for a final chance to ensure a profitable week. Friday sees the festival’s feature race, the Gold Cup, take place at 15.30 but there was plenty of action on either side to keep punters eyes on the track.
The JCB Triumph Hurdle kicked off affairs where the Gary Moore trained Goshen was subject to huge market support, shortening to a skinny 9/4 before the off having been 7/2 upwards prior to the start of the Festival.
And Goshen looked likely to have bashed the bookies coming down the final straight. With Jamie Moore on board, he showed an unprecedented turn of foot, blasting 15 lengths clear of his closest rival before a mistimed jump at the final hurdle ultimately unseated his jockey, much to the dismay of backers who must have already been counting their cash.
Willie Mullins won’t have been too disappointed - his charge Burning Victory capitalised on the mistake to finish first at 12/1. Aspire Tower, with Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, followed him home. But the talk-of-the-track was the four-year-old Goshen who has already been backed for a Champion Hurdle scalp in 2021 at 10/1.
Saint Roi and Barry Geraghty would land the County Hurdle for Mullins, ensuring Geraghty’s lead at the top of the jockey table for the time being and making it two-from-two for Mullins on the day. The momentum was building for the Carlow based trainer as he looked to retain his Gold Cup crown.
Mullins’ stellar day continued in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle when Monkfish just got the better of the second favourite Latest Exhibition who in turn edged out Gordon Elliott’s Fury Road. Thyme Hill backers will have been frustrated to not get on the podium at 4/1 with Richard Johnson cruising coming in the home straight but ultimately just fell short.
Next up was the 2020 renewal of one of the most lucrative races in the sport, the Gold Cup. Plenty of support came in for Al Boum Photo who was looking to land the elusive two-in-a-row. Delta Work was also garnering attention, while Santini, Clan Des Obeaux and Kemboy also represented real winning chances. It was poised to be a fascinating race and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Punters were well and truly on board the Willie Mullins hype train at the point in the day and they have every chance as the horses made their way to the starters post. As with every Gold Cup each selection has been primed for this race, and viewers were treated to a sublime performance once again by Al Boum Photo who just held off the battling Santini up the hill.
The first back-to-back winner since Best Mate!— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 13, 2020
Al Boum Photo is the hero once again in a thrilling @MagnersUK Cheltenham Gold Cup under a fine @PTownend ride.
A race that promised much, and a race that very much delivered #CheltenhamFestival pic.twitter.com/o3UkpGQoF1
Paul Townend has to be credited for his effort in the saddle, while Santini must be wondering what he has to do to win claim this coveted prize. Meanwhile, it was four-from-four for Mullins and his entries were being backed to the boards, shortening across virtually every horse racing bookie as the minutes rolled on. Billaway represented his best chance in the Foxhunter Chase.
But it wasn’t to be as It Came To Pass landed at huge odds of 66/1 before Chosen Mate took home the Grand Annual for Gordon Elliott in the penultimate race of the festival. Last but not least it was the Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle where Indefatigable steamed home at 25/1.
Willie Mullins sealed the leading trainer title with his final day heroics, while Paul Townend was the top jockey. In the Prestbury Cup Ireland well and truly hammered the UK.
Meanwhile, the Mullins’ foursome cost Boylesports close to five figures after one punter landed the four-timer - winning a mouth-watering €9,183.60 from a €5 stake.
“Willie Mullins wasn’t the only one toasting the first four winners of the day and our Sligo customer deserves all the plaudits for ending Cheltenham on such a sweet note. Fair play to them for their shrewd selections,“ said Lawrence Lyons of Boylesports.
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