No luck but feelgood factor meant it remained a memorable festival

Another outstanding Cheltenham came to an end yesterday and while we didn’t get the result we were hoping for, there were plenty of feelgood stories regardless.

Firstly, I want to congratulate the management of Cheltenham and their staff for providing ground that was on the slow side of good. That is ideal, safe ground for national hunt racing. To do that was remarkable, given how dry it has been in England. There was a good covering of grass as well and that was just a tremendous testament to their efforts.

Citizenship and The Bull Hayes were my final runners of the festival as they took their chances in the County Hurdle.

The Bull Hayes probably ran his race but Citizenship got squeezed a couple of times and that did for him. We had been quite hopeful and Robert was tracking the winner on the inside, in a perfect position, but got shuffled back at the wrong time when getting squashed and that was it.

In any big handicap, you need luck in running and that is the case even more so at Cheltenham, as they go so quickly and so many runners have live chances. It’s disappointing but we live to fight another day.

Whether Kauto Star will have another day on the track remains to be seen but he owes racing nothing. Ruby did absolutely the right thing.

At that stage, you thought there was one real class horse in the race but you’d have to say Long Run just doesn’t appear as good as he was last year. He jumped well but didn’t seem to have the same zip. Even coming down to the last, I thought he would win but Synchronised powered away up the hill.

It was great for JP and Noreen to win their first Gold Cup and what a memorable day they had overall, with three winners. It was a marvellous ride from AP, because he has scrubbing along early on to keep Synchronised in contention. The horse deserves plenty of credit too. He’s far from the dour stayer on soft ground he was painted. When he won the Lexus at Leopardstown, people said it was a bad race but it doesn’t look too bad now.

The first of JP’s winners was Allenwood, which was nice for Tom Mullins as well. He know joins his father, his two brothers and a couple of nephews who have had winners at the festival.

Salsify made it two Irish winners on the day and five in total, tanking to victory in the Foxhunters. That was a great family success for the Sweeneys. Colman gave the horse a very cool ride and with his father training Salsify and his mother the owner, it just makes it extra sweet.

Nicky Henderson recorded his seventh winner of the meeting with a very emotional victory for him in the last race, which is named after his father, Johnny. He had six runners and saddled the first, second and fourth.

Barry Geraghty looked like he was going to win on Tanks For That but the McManus-owned Bellvano benefited from a Paul Carberry special to take it at the death.

Even though Nicky and Barry made it look easy, getting a winner at Cheltenham isn’t. The racing is so competitive that having a winner is a great achievement. I’ve been lucky enough to have seven over the years but didn’t really get close to adding to that tally this year. I’ll hopefully be back next year, chasing the dream again.

Racing continues of course, even as the festival concludes and I have a couple of prospects over the weekend. Galzig and Starling Lady both run in the novice handicap hurdle at Wexford and hopefully they will run well.

Parramatta goes in the bumper and I would be quite keen on her chances. A daughter of Aussie Rules, she was fifth first time out in Leopardstown at the end of January behind Jezki. I was very pleased with how she went that day and how she has gone since at home. She has a good chance.

Tomorrow, Rear View has a great chance in the maiden hurdle at Navan. I’d be very keen on him because he will have learned a lot from his first run in a maiden a couple of weeks ago in Leopardstown. That was a good effort and he is in very good form.

Brave By Nature and True Character go in the other maiden hurdle and I would just hope it doesn’t rain too much for True Character. The same applies to Pontiac in the three mile novice handicap chase. At nine, he’s no more a novice than I am really, but if the rain stays away, he just might run very well.

On Monday at Limerick, The Quiet Hawk and Gimli’s Return should give a good accounts of themselves, while in the bumper, Lady Temptress is a very nice filly that has worked well. She could also have a chance but given it’s her first run, it’s all about the future for her.

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