Lessons learned from Cheltenham - Day 2

DAVE ORD with five things he learned from the second day of the Cheltenham Festival

1 Don’t fall for the shorties

Admittedly there was a very similar lesson on Tuesday which I clearly didn’t learn but one-by-one the bankers are falling by the wayside.

This time it was Time For Rupert’s turn in the RSA Chase — in all probability he was beaten shortly after the start. He missed the kick, made a mistake at the first and was fighting a losing battle from unfamiliar territory — the rear of the field — from there on in.

Paul Webber rued the fact he hadn’t been able to get a third chase run into his charge while punters rued falling for another ‘bomb-proof’ market leader.

2 Elliott just champion

Gordon Elliott went on record as saying he’d be Irish champion trainer one day in the build-up to the Fez. He certainly looks to have the talent. He sent out Chicago Grey and Carlito Brigante for a big double for Gigginstown Stud. Their owner Michael O’Leary said: “Gordon just has the magic touch, that little extra something. I wish I knew what it was, I’d bottle it!”

3 National Hunt Chase on the upgrade

I remember in a different life interviewing Francois Doumen who said only the English could come up with this race. “You have a four-mile chase, then make it for novices and then amateur riders, it’s mad!” he declared.

Perhaps but the race is slowly regaining some of it’s lost prestige and this year’s renewal looked particularly strong. Chicago Grey and Beshabar can both on to make a significant impact in good staying handicaps next season.

4 Master Minded era over

For many his career begins and ends with the 2008 Queen Mother Champion Chase win but it was sad to see Master Minded fade tamely up the home straight in this year’s renewal.

A summer breathing operation had offered a little hope that the spark could be rekindled but he was beaten fair and square here despite attracting a wealth of support. Paul Nicholls admits it’s back to the drawing board and talked of a tilt at next year’s King George. I hope it’s the key to bringing this star back but fear it won’t be.

5 Williams knows the time of day

Nick Williams says little to the media, but when he does it’s worth listening to. The Coral Cup featured three horses who were the subject of sustained ante-post support but the first — and most significant move — came for Williams’ For Non Stop. He ran a cracker too, falling at the last when seemingly booked for second. His time will come — and so will that of his trainer.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox