Cheltenham Festival 2020: Results from Day 4

In a day of disaster and dreams come true, Gold Cup Day of The Festival at Cheltenham lived up to its reputation and saw history made once more.

JCB Triumph Hurdle

The filly Burning Victory was a lucky winner of the G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle, following Goshen’s mistake at the final flight of hurdles which unshipped jockey Jamie Moore.

Burning Victory, a daughter of Nathaniel ridden by Paul Townend and trained by Willie Mullins – for whom it was a 69th victory at The Festival, and a fourth of the 2020 meeting – was a 12/1 chance and won by two and three-quarter lengths from Aspire Tower.

Mullins, who is now the leading trainer of all-time at The Festival, said: “I feel like a bit of an imposter in here [the winner’s enclosure]. I feel very sorry for Jamie and Gary [Moore, who trained Goshen]. It was their one shot of the meeting and they had all the work done. Jamie asked all the right questions coming to the last, asked him to take off and the horse just didn’t take off for him. These things happen unfortunately. I’m delighted to have a winner for my clients, but I feel hugely for Gary and Jamie, a father and son team. The whole year, and down it is.

“Burning Victory isn’t the best jumper in the world. She jumped the first two great and then missed the two down the back; Paul knew his race was over, but was riding maybe to get into the money if he could. But she has a huge engine – like yesterday’s filly Concertista [winner of the G2 Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle], she’s by Nathaniel. A lovely, big filly, but needs to brush up her jumping. Hopefully she’ll do that. She’ll go back to Fairyhouse.

“It’s great for Greg [Turley, Burning Victory’s owner, along with his wife Audrey], because he hasn’t had too many horses with me but a few of them have been bad enough, so it’s nice that he’s got a nice one here.”

Horseracing is often described as a game that tames lions and the race was a key example of that when Burning Victory benefitted from the final flight departure of the 5/2 favourite Goshen.

Ridden by Paul Townend, Burning Victory looked booked for second in the two-mile juvenile hurdle, but Goshen’s unseat of Jamie Moore at the final hurdle opened the door for Townend to galvanise the four-year-old to a two and three-quarter length success from 5/1 shot Aspire Tower in second.

Townend was recording his third victory of the week following on from the victories of Ferny Hollow (G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper) and Min (G1 Ryanair Chase) and his 13th success at The Festival in total.

Townend said: “It’s not the nicest way to win a race but I have been on the other end of that, so I know what it feels like. We will take every bit of luck we get.

“I jumped the first two well and Burning Victory improved so much from her first run. I fell out through a couple down the back and I couldn’t rush her then, I had to let her find her feet again.

“When I got her out down the hill, she started to pick up for me and I was lucky enough to have the horse to be in a position to pick up the pieces.”

1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)

1 Burning Victory (Audrey Turley) Willie Mullins IRE 4-10-07 Paul Townend 12/1

2 Aspire Tower (Brendan McNeill/Jonathan Maloney) Henry de Bromhead IRE 4-11-00 Rachael Blackmore 5/1

3 Allmankind (Bill & Tim Gredley) Dan Skelton 4-11-00 Harry Skelton 7/2

13 ran 5/2 fav Goshen (unseat at last)

Distances: 2¾, ¾

Tote Win: £13.20 Places: £3.00, £2.00, £1.60 Exacta: £71.50

Willie Mullins – 69th winner at The Festival

Paul Townend – 13th winner at The Festival

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle

Willie Mullins saddled five of the 24 runners in what looked a typically open Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle, and after well-backed novice Saint Roi (11/2 favourite, Barry Geraghty) had quickened four and a half lengths clear of Aramon (8/1, Paul Townend) to lead home a one-two-four for the stable he was entitled to reflect upon a job well done.
He said: “All the riders rode very cool races and Barry was fantastic. I told him after Saint Roi’s last bit of work that he had improved a huge amount.
“They all arrived at the second last with fighting chances and you wouldn’t have known which one to back, but Saint Roi had improved the most since his last run. He did what he had shown me at home in his final bit of work.”
The race brought Barry Geraghty his fifth winner at The Festival this week aboard the unexposed five-year-old making just his fourth start and handicap debut.
Geraghty was keen to say kind words about his weighing-room colleague, Jamie Moore, who had experienced the misery of a Festival win ripped from his grasp when unseated from Goshen at the final flight in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial.
He said: “I felt so desperate for Jamie. I fell at the last on Moscow Flyer in the Champion Chase when he was favourite and it’s just unfortunate. You could come down to the final flight 100 times and have no problem, but the horse [Goshen] caught his front foot with his hind foot which stalled him for that split second and it was just enough to unseat Jamie. He’s a top-class rider and it was cruel luck.”
Of Saint Roi’s win, Geraghty said: “It’s great to be riding winners and this is the place we all want to be, but you need things to go right for you on the day. I had the choice of a few [McManus-owned] runners and could have chosen Rathhill – I felt quite bad deserting Nicky [Henderson] when he’s having such a good run – but there was a good vibe for this horse who was unexposed. It was a punt, but everything’s a punt.
“I rode him at Willie’s in the autumn and he was a lovely, sweet-travelling type, but to jump as well as he did today when so inexperienced and going at pace was impressive. He flew the first and could have frightened himself, but he was up for the game.
“Time will tell how good he could be, but I would say he is a horse with a future.”
2.10pm Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
1 Saint Roi (J P McManus) Willie Mullins IRE 5-10-13 Barry Geraghty 11/2f
2 Aramon (Aramon Syndicate) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-11 Paul Townend 8/1
3 Embittered (Gigginstown House Stud) Joseph O’Brien IRE 6-11-08 J J Slevin 14/1
4 Buildmeupbuttercup (Mr J Turner) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-03 Danny Mullins 16/1
24 ran
Distances: 4½, hd, hd
Tote Win: £6.10 Place: £2.70, £2.70, £3.60, £2.80 Exacta: £56.50
Willie Mullins – 70th winner at The Festival
Barry Geraghty – 43rd winner at The Festival

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

Monkfish (5/1) landed a thrilling £130,630 G1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle to provide Closutton maestro Willie Mullins with a 506/1 treble on day four of The Festival.
Owned by Rich Ricci and ridden by Paul Townend, the six-year-old rallied gamely in the closing stages to deny the Paul Nolan-trained Latest Exhibition (9/2) by a neck, with Gordon Elliott’s Fury Road (5/1) a further nose behind in third.
Mullins is the leading trainer of all time at The Festival with this being his 71st winner in total. He said: “Monkfish looks a real chaser. I don’t think the race went according to plan for Paul – he was just doing a little too much for him but he found himself there.
“I thought Paul gave him a fantastic ride to extract him out behind the two horses. I thought that we were settled for third when they passed him after jumping the last but Paul really drove him up the hill. I am delighted for Paul to get a winner in that fashion.
“The first time we ran him, we wondered if he would ever win a race. We were so disappointed – you would swear he was never on a racetrack, he was very green and immature.
“Monkfish is maturing all the time and Paul said that he felt there is still more to come – he said you could feel the power coming when he got after him. He is a huge, big horse but, if he has to come back and win a Stayers’ Hurdle, we won’t complain either.”
Rich Ricci has had more winners at The Festival than most (17), but he struggled to believe it when Monkfish made light of a serious mistake down the far side and then really put his head down to just get the best of a four-way battle up the hill.
Ricci said: “That was some performance considering he belted one and was quite keen too. Wowee. I thought we were definitely beat coming into the last 100 yards but he kept finding.
“It was unbelievable. He winged the last, but then they both went by him. He just keeps finding. He’s got a good bit of class and I like him. That was fantastic.”
Paul Townend, completing a 77/1 double after a lucky success on Burning Victory in the opener, has a high opinion of Monkfish and believes he is a horse with a big future.
He said: “He’s a good horse and a nice one to go forward with. He’s a big, raw horse with loads of ability.”
2.50pm Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
1 Monkfish (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-05 Paul Townend 5/1
2 Latest Exhibition (Toberona Partnership) Paul Nolan IRE 7-11-05 Bryan Cooper 9/2
3 Fury Road (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-05 Davy Russell 5/1
19 ran 4/1f Thyme Hill (4th)
Distances: nk, nse
Tote Win: £4.80 Place: £2.00, £2.40, £2.20 Exacta: £27.40
Willie Mullins – 71st winner at The Festival
Paul Townend – 14th winner at The Festival

Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup

Al Boum Photo (100/30 favourite) became the first back-to-back winner of the £625,000 G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup since Best Mate (2002, 2003 & 2004) with an electric success in Jump Racing’s Blue Riband event.
Ridden by Paul Townend, Al Boum Photo produced a scintillating leap at the final fence and held on gamely in the closing stages to deny the gallant Santini (5/1) to register a neck success in the extended three and a quarter-mile event.
Al Boum Photo, an eight-year-old son of Buck’s Boum also became the first horse since Kauto Star (2007 & 2009) to win the race twice. He enjoyed the same preparation for this year’s race as when he captured the 2019 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup having won his only other start this in the G3 Savills Chase at Tramore on New Year’s Day.
Mullins is enjoying a special day in the Cotswolds, with this being his fourth winner in succession to complete a 2,196/1 four-timer.
The master of Closutton, registering his seventh victory of the week at The Festival™ presented by Magners 2020 and his 72nd victory overall at the meeting said: “We’re delighted to win the race for the second year running with Al Boum Photo.
“We just decided not to break winning formula and just take in the same preparation as he did last year. Don’t break a winning formula when it works and it’s paid off thankfully.
“I thought this year’s Gold Cup wasn’t anything like last year’s. I was just thinking if he had a clear round and a bit of luck then it was all to play for.
“I was happy throughout and Paul was brave on him at the last. Paul’s plan came together and I’m delighted for him as well as Marie and Joe Donnelly, so I am just delighted.
“It’s fantastic and an absolutely unbelievable day. Paul does his own thing and he probably rides better under a little bit of pressure.
“It’s really, really good for him. I am delighted for Paul. To take over from someone like Ruby Walsh – Paul has come and stamped his authority on his season in Ireland riding for our yard. It is a tough act to follow, but he is Paul Townend, stable jockey to Willie Mullins and he is top-class – I’m really pleased for him.
“I asked what Paul was going to do and he sort of said what he was going to do. I think the horse just ignored the actions of Paul and he didn’t disappoint the horse – he let the horse do it. That’s a rider riding with huge confidence. It worked out and I am really happy and delighted for Paul.”
Mullins is now heading the Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award with seven winners.
Paul Townend crowned an outstanding day at The Festival with his third victory of the day, his fifth of the week – which means he takes the Holland Cooper Leading Jockey Award for the Ruby Walsh Trophy ahead of Barry Geraghty – and his 15th Festival success in total.
Townend said: “It’s amazing. I’d want some boot in the rear end if I had been in front that early and got beat by Santini. I thought that I would never feel anything like the feeling I had here last year, but I think this is even better. It’s unreal. It’s a credit to Willie – to go to Tramore two years in a row and come here with one run – the man is a genius.
“To be honest, I just went out with the plan of getting into a rhythm like last year. We’ve missed a few fences but he’s always found his feet, and it just happened again at the top of the hill, he was jumping a bit better and I ended up in front a bit sooner than I wanted, but I was able to hang on there and produce him when I needed him at the last. He’s a tough animal.
“It was a very different race to last year – we knew that going out there, everyone knew it was going to be a different race to last year, but it’s the same result, which is the main thing!
“I didn’t have to fight for it; a couple of good jumps got it for me there, and I think that was very important. He has everything, this horse. Guts as much as everything else.
“I went into the Gold Cup last year the same as I went into it this year. I was riding for the Donnellys, and this was their one bullet. There was no real added pressure from that sense this week. Riding for Willie and them, they don’t put any more pressure on. Any extra pressure I was putting on myself. [Being Mullins’ number one jockey] I suppose it just meant I had better chances, maybe! At least the week has finished well!
“This is huge. This is the main stage. Before this I was having a brilliant day, but this is the icing on the cake, I suppose. The Gold Cup is the Gold Cup, and sure, we’ll wait 12 months for another one again.”
Dressed in the black and yellow colours of Al Boum Photo, owner Marie Donnelly and her husband Joe were enjoying a second victory at The Festival following the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin’s win in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday.
Marie Donnelly said: “It is unbelievable. I cannot believe Al Boum Photo has won again.
“We spoke to Paul in the paddock and Joe said to him to make history. It is special for us and also Willie to now have four winners in a row in one day at The Festival.
“Well done to Paul because he gave him a fantastic ride and he was very brave on him. He is obviously in tune with Al Boum Photo.”
Dressed in a black hat and calf-length yellow coat she said: “I deliberately wore the colours of Al Boum Photo and I thought it would be interesting and funny to do that.”
3.30pm Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1)
1 Al Boum Photo (Marie Donnelly) Willie Mullins IRE 8-11-10 Paul Townend 100/30f
2 Santini (Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes) Nicky Henderson 8-11-10 Nico de Boinville 5/1
3 Lostintranslation (Taylor & O’Dwyer) Colin Tizzard 8-11-10 Robbie Power 10/1
12 ran
Distances: nk, 1¼
Tote Win: £3.70 Place: £1.80, £2.10, £2.90 Exacta: £19.40
Willie Mullins – 72nd winner at The Festival
Paul Townend – 15th winner at The Festival

St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase

It may have been another shock result at The Festival, but It Came To Pass’s 66/1 victory in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase was no surprise to County Cork trainer Eugene O’Sullivan.
He knew what it takes to win the ‘hunters’ Gold Cup’ because 29 years ago he prepared his family’s home-bred Lovely Citizen to score under his brother William. Maintaining that family theme, O’Sullivan today legged his daughter, Maxine, into the saddle, and she pressed all the right buttons as the ten-year-old gelding scooted to an easy success.
The withdrawal earlier this afternoon of last year’s winner Hazel Hill following an assessment by BHA veterinary officers removed one obstacle, but It Came To Pass won by ten lengths from Billaway (11/4f), with last year’s runner-up, Shantou Flyer (3/1), another five lengths back in third. Staker Wallace finished fourth.
The only downside for the winning father and daughter was created by the Coronavirus outbreak, which meant other members of their family were unable to travel from Ireland for the occasion.
Eugene O’Sullivan said: “We bought this horse last year with a view to running him in this race, but we only picked him up after Christmas and couldn’t get him fit in time. Maxine has done an awful lot of work on him at home, and she gave him a savage ride today. All the big guns were queuing up behind but Maxine knew what she had, she rode him accordingly and I’m very proud of her.
“I’ve been trying to win this race for 29 years – I won it when I was very young and I’m a lot older now. I just hope I don’t have to wait another 29 years to win it again. I was like a Jack-in-the-Box the whole way, feeling nervous for Maxine and nervous for the horse. I expected a big run from the horse, but I’ve been disappointed here in the past.
“I knew if he came around the final bend anywhere near the front he would stay and quicken up. Jim Culloty trained the horse three years ago when he ran in the race and fell at the third-last when going very well. So I had a horse with course experience and just had to get him here in good order.
“No, I didn’t back him!
“He pulled up last time out in a point at Kilfeacle, but the ground was very heavy and two shoes of his shoes were pulled off. We were just praying for good dry weather all week and we more or less got it.
“His owners, Gerald and Alary O’Sullivan are from Manchester. They are not related to us, but they are lovely people who have supported us with horses for the past 25 years. We met at a sale one day and it went from there.”
Maxine O’Sullivan has been crowned the leading female point-to-point rider on four occasions in her native Ireland and was delighted to record a first success at The Festival™ presented by Magners.
She said: “This doesn’t happen to us. This is our Gold Cup and it just means so much. For my family and the lovely owners of It Came To Pass, it’s just such a big family thing. A lot of effort went into getting here and it is just so good. I will remember this day forever.
“My uncle won the race on Lovely Citizen in 1991 which dad trained and my grandad [Owen O’Sullivan] owned and bred it. Unfortunately, he died in the last couple of years, but he would be so proud.
“It’s a really special race for us and it’s just brilliant. I’m really happy and it’s just such a family business. Even the community and all the lads at home, it will mean a lot for us.
“This is off the scale. I have only ridden in this race once and I dreamt of winning of this, but I didn’t think it would – this is really good. This is just amazing. Everything went our way today.
“It Came To Pass does not particularly like being crowded and he didn’t particularly like the track, but we were able to keep wide and get our bearings. He just loved it the whole way and everything went right. I couldn’t have asked for a better run around.
“His last two runs were poor, but we were confident we had an excuse for that. He was a bit unwell and we got him right – he had been in great form all week.
“We knew if It Came To Pass returned to his old form, which was at the start of the season, then he had a serious chance and today he was better than he had ever been.
“He usually doesn’t travel very well, but he travelled super the whole way. He stays very well. I just wanted to hold onto him for as long as possible. I knew he would come up the hill and it was great that it worked out for me. He jumped brilliantly at the last two fences and I had a small look at the screen so I knew he was OK.”
4.10pm St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase (Amateur riders’)
1 It Came To Pass (Alurie O’Sullivan) Eugene O’Sullivan IRE 10-12-00 Miss Maxine O’Sullivan 66/1
2 Billaway (J Turner) Willie Mullins IRE 8-12-00 Mr Patrick Mullins 11/4f
3 Shantou Flyer (David Maxwell Racing Limited) Rose Loxton 10-12-00 Mr David Maxwell 3/1
21 ran
Distances: 10, 5
Tote Win: £162.60 Places: £25.30, £1.50, £1.50 Exacta: £872.00
Eugene O’Sullivan – 2nd winner at The Festival
Miss Maxine O’Sullivan – 1st winner at The Festival

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase

Gordon Elliott claimed a seventh winner at The Festival 2020 when Chosen Mate took the G3 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase under Davy Russell. The seven-year-old was the 7/2 favourite, and beat Éclair De Beaufeu – also trained by Elliott – by a length and three-quarters.
Elliott said: “It’s very nice to get this trophy – Nicky Henderson [after whose father the race is named] is one of the people you look up to, and I’ve got an awful lot of respect for him.
“Look, we’ve had seven winners and second winners – and four thirds – with one race to go. Whatever happens, we’ve had a brilliant week. It’s unbelievable. Both Davy and Sean have given the horses great rides. I’m very lucky to have Davy Russell and Jack Kennedy riding for me – Jack has missed out on a few this week. We’ve had a great week for a lot of different owners.
“I said the day before that the most important thing with this race was the first four fences. If we could get him over the first four fences in a rhythm, he could win. Thankfully he won.”
Chosen Mate is owned by the Northern Four Racing Partnership, comprising David Sharp, Sandro di Michaelis, Mick Conway and Mark Aspinall.
They said: “We know he was a great horse. He was a good hurdler and the plan was always chasing. It all clicked at Gowran a few weeks ago on heavy ground, which we didn’t think he liked, and today he was favourite. He travelled lovely through the race and the rest is history.
“This is our first horse with Gordon. We’ve got another, a juvenile hurdler. Gordon and Davy are great. He’s a top man. I’ve just promised him a trip to Barbados if he won this race!
“Wow, what a performance that was. Davy gave him a wonderful ride; held him up nicely. This is a class horse to have treated that field with such disdain. If Aintree goes head, then Chosen Mate has got to be in the argument.”
Davy Russell recorded his third victory of The Festival with the victory, having been successful earlier this week aboard Envoi Allen (G1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle) and Samcro (G1 Marsh Novices’ Chase) – registering his 25th winner at The Festival. Russell said: “Chosen Mate was a very, very good jumper, but we felt that inexperience might just catch him out.
“He can’t handle testing ground and it really surprised us at Gowran Park that he went and won.
“I don’t know if it was the dry weather but every day, even when he was here, he has kept getting better, better and better.
“I would say that he has grown a foot since he came here – some horses grow and others melt.
“It felt there wasn’t a huge rush at the start but we went a good, solid gallop the whole way. I was happy to follow a few, not get detached and not take him off the bridle too early.
“I didn’t love this place too much last year but, since I was able to walk and talk, my dad made this place to be a magical place. Luckily enough, I grew up to witness the magic.”
4.50pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
1 Chosen Mate (The Northern Four Racing Partnership) Gordon Elliott IRE 7-11-04 Davy Russell 7/2f
2 Éclair de Beaufeu (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-06 Sean O’Keeffe (5) 13/2
3 Us And Them (Burnham P & D Ltd) Joseph O’Brien IRE 7-11-05 J J Slevin 10/1
4 Greaneteen (Chris Giles) Paul Nicholls 6-11-07 Harry Cobden 5/1
18 ran
Distances: 1¾, 3½, nk
Tote Win: £3.50 Place: £1.60, £1.90, £2.70, £1.90 Exacta: £20.30
Gordon Elliott – 32nd winner at The Festival
Davy Russell – 25th winner at The Festival

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Paul Webber broke his Festival duck when Indefatigable (25/1, Rex Dingle) got up on the line to beat the Philip Hobbs-trained Pileon (9/1, Ben Jones) a short head in a dramatic £70,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
However, it might have been a different story had Column Of Fire (Eoin Walsh) not fallen when challenging strongly at the last and looking as though he might deliver an Irish whitewash.
Webber, whose late father John was a dual Festival winner with Elfast, confirmed: “It is our first. I’ve only waited 24 years – I’m probably the oldest training virgin to get a winner here! It’s a great thrill. Everything went wrong for her and she still managed to battle home.
“We’ve had plenty of seconds here and it all went so wrong. The drying ground was important. We had to skip Tuesday (G1 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle) as it was too soft for her.”
For Rex Dingle it was the first Festival winner of his career. He said: “The plan wasn’t to ride her like that. I was lining up middle to outer and that was my plan, to be halfway, but there was so much scrummage, she was more worried about biting the ones next to me. She was trying to back out of it so, in the end, I decided to line up in the second line and I would probably get a better tow forward. Then there was a false start and I was a bit further back than I wanted to be and was never really travelling the whole way round.

“Gavin [Sheehan] had told me lots about her and Paul had told me lots about her. I knew that, once I passed a few, she might take off and that is what she did. When I was jumping the last, I could see Ben [Jones] in my sights but I didn’t know how well he was going. I didn’t know that I had got there, to be fair, when I passed the line.

“You dream of it but you never think that it is going to happen. It’s amazing. I have just done what every other lad has done – everyone is trying their best – and I am just lucky that I ride for good people and had a bit of luck.”
5.30pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
1 Indefatigable (Philip Rocher) Paul Webber 7-11-09 Rex Dingle 25/1
2 Pileon (Tim Syder) Philip Hobbs 6-11-02 Ben Jones 6/1
3 Great White Shark (Malcolm Denmark) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-00 Donal McInerney 40/1
4 Happygolucky (Lady Dulverton) Kim Bailey 6-11-01 Stan Sheppard 25/1
23 ran                 4/1 fav Front View (12th)
Distances: sh, 3, nk
Tote Win: £31.50                 Place: £5.70, £3.20, £7.60, £5.20         Exacta: £337.20
Paul Webber – 1st winner at The Festival
Rex Dingle – 1st winner at The Festival

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