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Author Archive for Chris Cook at Cheltenham

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Lalor romps home at Cheltenham to hand Kayley Woollacott ‘massive day’

• Lalor’s odds cut for Cheltenham Festival Arkle Trophy• Child-friendly chaser rewards Twitter followersLalor, the horse who is helping a stable cope with bereavement, looks like being every bit as good over fences as was hoped and is the second-favour…

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British Horseracing Authority may use barriers to keep Irish raiders in check

• Pressure on Turf Club over dope-testing and handicapping• Measures planned as Irish dominate Cheltenham FestivalAn unspecified form of protectionism might form part of the future of British horse racing after Brexit, it has been suggested during anot…

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Native River leads all the way to win Gold Cup at Cheltenham Festival

• Champion jockey Richard Johnson rides 5-1 winner• Favourite Might Bite finishes a brave runner-upNative River has become the splendidly brave winner of a Cheltenham Gold Cup which, despite 15 runners, was a duel from the outset between the gallant ch…

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Cheltenham Gold Cup day tips: Might Bite can strike it big

• Prodigious steeplechaser will take some stopping• Meri Devie, Ruby Walsh’s intended, the pick for County HurdleIf you back Might Bite (3.30) for this Cheltenham Gold Cup, then of course you must fear the risk of him wandering around on the run-in lik…

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Cheltenham Festival third day tips: Bacardys the toast in Stayers’

• Ruby Walsh may miss out on big-race double• West Wizard worth a punt at tasty 100-1 oddsIt will not improve Ruby Walsh’s mood if the horses he was booked to ride contrive to win both feature events on the third day at this Cheltenham Festival. But th…

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Samcro aiming for bigger Cheltenham prizes after living up to Festival hype

• Brilliant winner could have 2020 Gold Cup in his sights• Michael O’Leary starts to believe after Ballymore victorySamcro is not the second coming of Jesus Christ, we have been assured by his owner, but, for many punters here, he will do until Jesus C…

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It’s hell for Cheltenham bookies as fans and favourites make light of wet | Chris Cook

There was no hiding place for the layers on day one of the Festival as, despite the soggy conditions, punters cashed in and had a day to remember“When it’s wet, don’t bet,” says the old maxim, used by many a gnarled punter to warn youngsters against ra…

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Buveur D’Air wins Champion Hurdle after thrilling battle with Melon

• Winner follows up last year’s victory for Nicky Henderson• Former winner Faugheen well beaten after taking early leadBuveur D’Air won his second Champion Hurdle as the first day of the Cheltenham Festival turned into a fine one for favourite-backers….

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Simon Claisse believes Cheltenham going could be softer than usual

• Snow is not expected to pose threat to Festival’s Tuesday start• Claisse: ‘We have to be careful on the turf as the thaw sets in’It was time to break out the shovels on Saturday here as racecourse staff resorted to old-fashioned methods to ensure a c…

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Olly Murphy shows ambition in his pursuit of Cheltenham riders

• Trainer, 26, has targeted Jack Kennedy and Richard Johnson• Murphy to restrict number of horses he sends to FestivalOlly Murphy has not yet broken into the top echelon of jumps trainers but you would not know it from the quality of rider the rookie h…

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Lizzie Kelly pays moving tribute to ‘great man’ Richard Woollacott

• Kelly wins at Cheltenham but focuses on memories of late trainer• ‘We’re all heartbroken. I learned a lot from him,’ says jockeyThere was no fairytale success here for Beer Goggles, from the small yard in Devon grieving the death on Monday of the tra…

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Adam Wedge banned after steering hot favourite around fence at Exeter

• Jockey suspended 21 days after admitting ‘brain freeze’ on Report To Base• Tom Bellamy prevented from riding after breath test at CheltenhamA jump jockey’s life is tough enough without self-inflicted injuries but two riders made things harder for the…

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Tom Scudamore distraught after Starchitect suffers Cheltenham fatal injury

• ‘I haven’t seen a replay of it and I’m not going to,’ says jockey• My Tent Or Yours wins International Hurdle for Nicky HendersonA thrilling battle between those two old stagers My Tent Or Yours and The New One revived what had become a joyless day a…

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Willie Mullins keeps faith as Faugheen bounds into Champion Hurdle favouritism

• Faugheen fancied for Cheltenham Festival history after Punchestown win• Ruby Walsh will be fit to ride in March, Irish Turf Club medic predictsIt hardly seems possible but Faugheen is clear at the top of the betting for the Champion Hurdle following …

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Minella Rocco can live up to early billing and land the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Jonjo O’Neill’s horse has won only once, in the four-miler at Cheltenham, in the past two years but it would be no surprise if he landed the big one on Friday

Having begun Thursday being very wary of Willie Mullins-trained runners, punters were so enthused about his prospects in the evening that his Djakadam moved clear at the top of the betting for Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. But Mullins’s wait for a first success in the great race may be extended by at least a year because Minella Rocco (3.30) makes a lot of appeal at odds of 20-1.

As far back as the spring of 2015, when Minella Rocco was a novice hurdler, his trainer, Jonjo O’Neill, was fielding jocular questions about who would ride him in the 2017 Gold Cup, AP McCoy having just announced his intention to retire. Given the ability the horse was showing at the time, it is quite a surprise that he has won only one race since, but that win came at the last Festival and it would be a surprise to no one if O’Neill had brought him back to a peak in time for this week.

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Empire Of Dirt well placed to do Michael O’Leary proud in Ryanair Chase

The Irishman clearly desires a winner in the race that bears his company’s name and the horse is good enough to be competing in the Gold Cup instead

If only Michael O’Leary had managed to win a Ryanair Chase before now, we would not now be seeing Empire Of Dirt line up on Thursday for the race sponsored by his airline. Still, that is how it is and the Irishman is clearly determined to get a winner in “his” race.

Empire Of Dirt should do that for him. He is, in my view, rather better than is generally understood, and would easily be worth his place in the Gold Cup on Friday.

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Stop-start Might Bite regains his focus to edge home at Cheltenham

• Novice retrieves victory in final stride in RSA Chase after slowing
• Trainer Gordon Elliott wins double on day two to take total to five

No finish will ever be dull so long as Might Bite is in the race. The star novice chaser injected wholly unnecessary drama into the RSA Chase, which he ought to have won by about 20 lengths, stopping almost to a walk on the run-in and then rallying when passed by a rival, and retrieving victory in the final stride with about an inch to spare.

Did fatigue have anything to do with that, his jockey, Nico De Boinville, was asked? We have all seen steeplechasers rolling around drunkenly as they struggle to ascend this famous hill after three miles at top speed. But the emphatic answer was no, that’s not what happened here. Instead Might Bite was establishing his credentials as “a bit of a thinker”, the polite euphemism used by racing people when the owners are within earshot.

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Douvan flops as Special Tiara wins Champion Chase at Cheltenham Festival

• Hot favourite well beaten in major shock at the Festival
• Willie Mullins yet to get off the mark at the meeting

The Cheltenham Festival crowd has been rocked by one of the biggest upsets in the race-meeting’s history, Douvan finishing unplaced in the Queen Mother Champion Chase after being sent off at odds of just 2-9. The unforeseen eclipse of this much-heralded and previously unbeaten chaser continues a dreadful start to the week by his trainer, Willie Mullins, whose first 22 runners at this Festival have all been beaten.

The race was won by Special Tiara, an 11-1 shot who had been beaten in this race for the past three years and trailed Sprinter Sacre by three lengths a year ago. He was partnered by Noel Fehily, having the week of his life after also winning Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle aboard Buveur D’Air.

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Cheltenham Festival: Douvan can make it 14 wins in a row for Mullins

Queen Mother winner looks assured at the Festival but for added value bank on Divin Bere in the Fred Winter

Willie Mullins has broad shoulders and a long history of success to draw on in difficult moments, so one imagines he will be perfectly capable of shrugging off Tuesday’s setbacks and facing up to another day at the Cheltenham Festival. While his Tuesday horses may not have been good enough, he still has in his care the steeplechaser coveted by all other trainers, the mighty Douvan, who should justify short odds of 2-7 in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Unbeaten in 13 since joining Mullins from France three years ago, Douvan is already the winner of two Grade One races at the Festival. A magnificent specimen, he looks made for fencing and it is two years since anything finished within five lengths of him.

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Noel Fehily set to replace Geraghty on Buveur D’Air in Champion Hurdle

• Many JP McManus-owned horses need a new jockey for the Festival
• Henderson predicst that Mark Walsh likely to get a number of rides

Noel Fehily is expected to replace Barry Geraghty in the saddle aboard Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle. The six-year-old, who has been at the top of the betting on the race since a smooth success at Sandown last month, is one of many JP McManus-owned horses that need a new jockey for the Festival in a fortnight’s time, following the chest injuries sustained by Geraghty on Saturday.

Nicky Henderson, trainer of Buveur D’Air, indicated at a media event here on Wednesday that Fehily was likely to be back aboard the horse. “I suspect so,” Henderson responded when asked about the subject. Fehily was retained by Buveur D’Air’s previous owner and has ridden the horse in six of his 11 races, winning a Grade One at Aintree last spring on him.

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