Solwhit strikes again for Ireland in World Hurdle

Irish-based Solwhit was the victor in the 2013 renewal of the Ladbrokes World Hurdle after he denied a valiant effort by Celestial Halo to take the stayers’ hurdle crown on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival.

In what was a poor day for punters, the Charles Byrnes-trained nine-year-old surged from the back to make steady headway two hurdles from the finish.

Solwhit (pictured) then took the lead from the 40–1 shot Celestial Halo, who was running in the same colours as four-time World Hurdle winner Big Buck’s, over the last and stayed on strongly to record a comfortable two and a half lengths victory under Paul Carberry.

The win means that there have been 10 Irish-trained winners so far at the meeting.

However, Britain did salvage some pride, when Cue Card destroyed his field by nine lengths in the Ryanair Chase to put to rest punters’ doubts over the 2m 5f trip being a problem.

After taking the lead in his usual style, the 2010 Champion Bumper winner simply cruised past his rivals Champion Court and First Lieutenant to register a stunning success for father and son duo Colin and Joe Tizzard.

Carrickboy for Venetia Williams at 50–1 in the Byrne Group Plate, Holywell (25–1) in the Pertemps Final for Jonjo O’Neill and Nigel Twiston-Davies’s Same Difference at 33–1 in the Kim Muir Handicap Chase were the other winners on the card for the British Isles.

Despite this, Ireland also enjoyed more success on the third day of The Festival.

On Cheltenham’s St Patrick’s Thursday, Benefficient, a 20–1 selection, defeated the highly thought of David Pipe superstar Dynaste (pictured) to take the Jewson Novices’ Chase.

Andrew Martin’s seven-year-old, who won the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown in January, was prominent throughout and thoroughly enjoyed the first-time use of a hood to power up the hill in commanding fashion.

More Irish jubilation came in the rearranged Cross Country Chase as they took all four available places.

Big Shu (14–1) finished first for trainer Peter Maher at 12–1, whilst second was occupied by Shakervilz (20–1), third went to Outlaw Pete and Boston’s Angel (9–1) collected the final place.

But, the day’s events were overshadowed by a serious injury sustained to amateur jockey JT McNamara when falling on Galaxy Rock in the Kim Muir.

He is currently in an induced coma following breathing problems.

Photos and report by James Yellen. M: 07889 085535. E:


James Yellen is a 22-year-old freelance racing journalist from Newbury, Berkshire.

He is currently in his third year at university studying for a degree in Sports Journalism and will be graduating in July this year.

James has previously written copy for the Racing Post and Press Association, as well as writing numerous articles for Eclipse Magazine.

He tips Champion Court in the Ryanair Chase at 10–1 as his nap bet for the Cheltenham Festival. Follow him on Twitter @JamesYellen. 

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