Five things we learned on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival

Five things we learned on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival

Well that's a wrap for another year so. But before we close the stable door on another brilliant Cheltenham Festival here's five things we learned on the final day.

RIVER FLOWS FOR THE TIZZARD TEAM

Trainers need to have patience in spades and a perfect example of that was the way Colin Tizzard, with the help of his son, Joe, and all his team, prepared Native River for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Tizzard had just the one day in mind after the horse's third place 12 months ago. That had come at the end of a long season, which was avoided this time as Native River arrived a fresh horse due to a combination of factors, with just one previous run last month. It was rewarded with glory in the blue riband.

JOHNSON COUNTS COST OF GOLD

It had been a long wait - 18 years in fact - but Richard Johnson finally won his second Cheltenham Gold Cup courtesy of the relentless galloper Native River. It had also been a long week for the champion jockey as it was his first, and only, winner of the four days.

However, his elation was tempered by the stewards who handed him a seven-day ban and a hefty fine for overuse of the whip. To his credit, Johnson took the punishment on the chin and hoped it did not detract from the performance of the winner.

GIRL POWER

It was a case of girl power with Bridget Andrews and Harriet Tucker getting their names on the Festival roll-of-honour after Lizzie Kelly led the way with a winner on Tuesday. Unlike Kelly, they are virtual unknowns but demonstrated plenty of prowess in the saddle.

Andrews delivered Mohaayed to land the hurly burly of a County Hurdle, while Tucker steered last year's Foxhunter Chase winner Pacha Du Polder home in the same race on what was only her second ride under rules. And she even did it while battling a dislocated shoulder.

VICTORY GIG FOR IRISH DUO

Trainer Gordon Elliott and owners Gigginstown House Stud took the honours at the four-day feast of jump racing with eight and seven winners respectively to put even the great Willie Mullins in the shade.

Elliott goes from strength to strength, while the Gigginstown powerhouse even surprises itself. Boss Michael O'Leary revealed he had to delay his taxi from the course after Blow By Blow carried top weight to an unlikely victory in the penultimate event, Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.

FAB FIVE RESTORES BRITISH PRIDE

Great Britain may well have lost the private battle with Ireland after just three days of the four-day Festival, but some pride was regained with the home side taking the final score to 17-11 thanks to winning five of the seven races on the final card. Doubles for Colin Tizzard and Paul Nicholls and one for Dan Skelton added a little respectability to the result.

- Press Association & Digital Desk

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