Rampant Mullins and Elliott leading the way for Ireland at Cheltenham

Rampant Mullins and Elliott leading the way for Ireland at Cheltenham
Trainer Gordon Elliott, centre, on Day Three of the Cheltenham Racing Festival at Prestbury Park in Cheltenham, England. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile.

Ireland's domination of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival reached new heights on St Patrick's Thursday, when trainers from the Emerald Isle saddled the first six winners to wrap up the BetBright Cup from Great Britain with a day to spare.

Willie Mullins edged ahead of Nicky Henderson as the winning-most trainer in Festival history, as a double courtesy of Penhill and Laurina took his tally to 61 in all and seven for the week.

Gordon Elliott is just one behind his great rival in the race for the top trainer award at this year's meeting, thanks to a treble through Shattered Love, Delta Work and The Storyteller.

Not to be left out, Henry de Bromhead got in on the act with Balko Des Flos in the Ryanair Chase.

The latter's success saw Gigginstown House Stud's Michael O'Leary finally get his hands on the owner's trophy for the Ryanair Chase he has sponsored since 2006.

After several near-misses, he struck gold when Balko Des Flos outpointed last year's winner Un De Sceaux under Davy Russell.

Successful in the ultra-competitive Galway Plate in the summer, the 8-1 chance stepped up to Grade One company and starred on a brilliant day for Gigginstown, who also graced the winner's enclosure with Shattered Love and Delta Work.

Rampant Mullins and Elliott leading the way for Ireland at Cheltenham

"It's taken me 15 years to win the Ryanair, so I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to get seriously drunk upstairs in the next couple of hours!" said O'Leary. "On a serious note, it's great for Henry. Henry has hit the bar a couple of times this week, so it's great to see him have a winner."

De Bromhead said: "I thought the ground had gone against us. It hasn't been raced on as much and it seemed nicer ground than yesterday, but I was still worried about it.

"Michael is very happy to have won it and I'm delighted to be the one to get it for them."

Cue Card was pulled up by Paddy Brennan and trainer Colin Tizzard stressed the team would not be rushed into making any quick decision on the 12-year-old's future.

Elliott continued on from his treble on Wednesday by repeating the trick.

Shattered Love (4-1) took the JLT Novices' Chase to give Jack Kennedy a winner on his only ride of the day, while Delta Work (6-1) and Glenloe gave him a one-two in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.

The Storyteller (5-1 favourite) completed the good work in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase, where he was giving Russell a treble of his own..

The County Meath trainer said: "It's a great day - the horses are flying."

Penhill won at the Festival for the second year running when springing a 12-1 surprise for the Mullins team in the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle.

Successful in the Albert Bartlett in 2017, Penhill had been absent for 323 days but was able to shrug off Supasundae to take the three-mile championship by two lengths for Brighton chairman Tony Bloom.

"He has little niggles that need tending and that is why he missed the whole of the Flat season," said Mullins of Paul Townend's mount.

"I was hoping to get a run into him but without it - it's hard enough coming here for a two-mile race without one, never mind three (miles) in a championship race on this ground, it's a huge achievement on the horse's part.

"It just shows the ability he has. We'll maybe go to Punchestown and have a proper jumps campaign next year."

Laurina (4-7 favourite) looked different class as she romped home by 18 lengths in the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle, as Townend bagged a double.

Warren Greatrex's Missed Approach (8-1) spared Britain's blushes when taking the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup under Noel McParlan, just foiling the Pat Kelly-trained Irish raider Mall Dini.

- PA

More on this topic

The Mug’s Game: Photo finish - but I end up a winnerThe Mug’s Game: Photo finish - but I end up a winner

Ruby at his very best on Klassical DreamRuby at his very best on Klassical Dream

Good week, bad week: In National Hunt racing it’s all about relationshipsGood week, bad week: In National Hunt racing it’s all about relationships

Photo picture perfect as Willie Mullins gets Gold Cup monkey off his backPhoto picture perfect as Willie Mullins gets Gold Cup monkey off his back

More in this Section

Federico Fernandez completes Newcastle turnaround against SouthamptonFederico Fernandez completes Newcastle turnaround against Southampton

Struggling Norwich throw away lead as Sheffield United fight backStruggling Norwich throw away lead as Sheffield United fight back

Jamie Vardy nets for eighth consecutive game as Leicester hammer Aston VillaJamie Vardy nets for eighth consecutive game as Leicester hammer Aston Villa

Dominant Na Gaeil hold opponents scoreless until injury time in Munster finalDominant Na Gaeil hold opponents scoreless until injury time in Munster final


Lifestyle

A decade on from their split, Nicole Scherzinger, Ashley Roberts, Kimberly Wyatt, Carmit Bachar and Jessica Sutta are back together for a tour of the UK and Ireland in April next year.The Pussycat Dolls: Using the second of their nine lives

Ellie O’Byrne paid a visit to the Kabin in Knocknaheeny to see the supportive atmosphere that gave rise to the duo behind the ‘Yeah Boy’ hit.You’d need to have had your head buried in the sand not to have come across MC Tiny and MC The King

Aoife Buckley, one of the recipients of this year's Gaisce Gold award: It's ok to be different.School Daze with Aoife Buckley: I started working towards the Gaisce Awards in third year

Festive seasons come and go, but some moments can never be forgotten, discovers Donal O’Keeffe.Stories of Christmas past and present

More From The Irish Examiner