THE CHELTENHAM REPORT: The Cheltenham Festival once again failed to disappoint with four days of top-quality action. A number of the well-fancied horses obliged much to the delight of the punters, but as we all know, racing rarely goes to script and there were plenty of upsets along the way. Here at BETDAQ, we’ve taken a look back on the best of the action from Prestbury Park.
Mares stole the limelight on the opening day as three of the four Grade 1s on the card went to horses of the female sex. In the day’s feature, the Champion Hurdle, Epatante rewarded favourite backers as she impressively took the two-mile contest. It was a record eighth win in the race for trainer Nicky Henderson, a record ninth for owner JP McManus and a record-equalling fourth for Epatante’s jockey Barry Geraghty.
Epatante finished a clear three-length winner of the race, with Willie Mullins’ Sharjah second and BETDAQ ambassador Gavin Cromwell’s Darver Star back in third.
Henderson had already enjoyed Grade 1 success as Shishkin, despite taking a big walk in the market, held off Gordon Elliott’s Abacadabras to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He was the only gelding to win a Grade 1 on Tuesday as mares locked out the remaining three races. As well as Epatante in the Champion Hurdle, Henry de Bromhead’s Put The Kettle On put in a brave front-running performance to win the Arkle, while her stablemate Honeysuckle came out on top in the big duel in the Mares’ Hurdle. Under a brilliant ride from Rachael Blackmore, De Bromhead’s stable star denied hot favourite Benie Des Dieux in a nail-biting finish and in doing so retained her unbeaten status.
Benie Des Dieux’s defeat contributed to the biggest losing bet during Cheltenham with one BETDAQ punter losing £25k having backed the mare at 1.58. However, earlier in the day Epatante’s win in the Champion Hurdle was greeted joyfully by one punter whose £8k bet won them £17,082.
The second day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival got off to the best possible start for punters as one of the pre-Festival ‘bankers’, Envoi Allen, oozed class to take the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and remain unbeaten. Elliott’s superstar looks destined to go to the very top and it would take a brave man to bet against seeing the six-year-old back in the Cheltenham winners’ enclosure again.
We were treated to one of the finishes of the week in the RSA Novices’ Chase where, having been at least 10 lengths behind the leaders jumping the last, Champ, under an inspired Geraghty ride, got home in the dying strides to deny the pair of Minella Indo and Allaho. The dramatic finish was music to the ears of one BETDAQ customer who won nearly £18k from a £3,495 bet.
Geraghty was soon celebrating again as his mount, Dame De Compagnie, was a convincing winner of the Coral Cup, but it wasn’t to be a hat-trick of Wednesday winners for the Irishman. That’s because Defi Du Seuil was very disappointing in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Philip Hobbs’ charge was sent off a very short price to win at the Festival for a third time after market rivals Altior and Chacun Pour Soi, but it was Politologue who led from start to finish to give Paul Nicholls a record-equalling sixth win in the race.
Two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll was unable to defend his Cross Country Chase crown as the French challenger Easysland ran out a game winner.
One of the feel-good stories and memorable finishes kicked things off on Thursday as Samcro somehow managed to get his head in front to deny Melon. His win in the Marsh Novices’ Chase was only the Elliott inmate’s second win since his win in the 2018 Ballymore and was a hugely popular result amongst the racing public. He was touted by many as the next big thing in National Hunt racing, but things hadn’t gone his way since that victory and it was fantastic to see him greeted with such joy when he returned to the winners’ enclosure.
Irish horses locked out the first three races with Sire Du Berlais (Pertemps Final) and Min (Ryanair) emerging victorious. The big race of the day was the Stayers’ Hurdle and although a UK-trained runner won the three-mile contest, it wasn’t the one punters expected. That’s because outsider Lisnagar Oscar caused a major shock to give trainer Rebecca Curtis her first winner of the week and fifth in total. Hot favourite Paisley Park finished a distant seventh, much to punters’ dismay.
Lisnagar Oscar might have gone off a massive 50/1, but for those who backed the seven-year-old on the BETDAQ exchange they would have been able to back him at an even bigger 112.0!
There was huge drama to kick-off the final day. Well-backed Triumph Hurdle favourite Goshen looked home and hosed as he approached the final hurdle nearly 10 lengths clear. However, Gary Moore’s inmate made a huge mistake which caused his son and jockey Jamie Moore to unseat (pictured below). It was a shocking and painful result for connections as well as punters who had flocked to back Goshen. His mistake left Paul Townend and Burning Victory clear to win by over two lengths.
Burning Victory’s win begun a memorable couple of hours for trainer Willie Mullins who incredibly won the next four races.
While victories in the Triumph, County Hurdle and Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle would have been special for the Closutton handler, none would have felt quite as good as Al Boum Photo’s victory in the Gold Cup, the biggest race of the entire four-day meeting. It was the eight-year-old’s second consecutive win in the race and gave Mullins only his second Gold Cup victory.