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Author Archive for Greg Wood at Cheltenham

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Nicky Henderson bids for historic Cheltenham Festival treble in Gold Cup

The Lambourn trainer has already won the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase and runs the favourite in Friday’s big raceIn the weeks running up to the Cheltenham Festival, when horses from his stable were firmly entrenched at the top of the betting for …

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Lizzie Kelly turns nightmare into dream Cheltenham ride on Coo Star Sivola

• Lizzie Kelly’s nerveless ride lands Ultima Handicap Chase at 5-1• Jockey lasted only two fences in last year’s Cheltenham Gold CupThere can be few public embarrassments to match being dumped on the turf in front of the Cheltenham grandstands after ju…

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A Cheltenham Festival run on heavy going will test horses and punters

The centrepiece meeting of the season always delivers a few surprises, but backers have had things fairly easy in recent yearsSo much has changed at the Cheltenham Festival in recent decades as it has grown to become one of the essential fixtures in th…

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A Cheltenham Festival run on heavy going will test horses and punters

The centrepiece meeting of the season always delivers a few surprises, but backers have had things fairly easy in recent yearsSo much has changed at the Cheltenham Festival in recent decades as it has grown to become one of the essential fixtures in th…

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Cue Card to miss King George in favour of spring campaign before retirement

• Colin Tizzard changes plans for popular chaser after discussions with owner• Betfair Chase followed by Ryanair at Cheltenham and Aintree the new targetsCue Card, one of the most popular steeplechasers of the last decade, is likely to miss the King Ge…

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Ruby Walsh risks missing Cheltenham Festival after Punchestown fall

• Walsh suffers suspected broken leg and kick to the head in tumble• Race against time to be fit for Festival, which opens on 13 MarchRuby Walsh, the top jockey at the Cheltenham Festival in 11 of the last 14 seasons, faces weeks and probably months on…

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Nicky Henderson launches defence of Altior breathing problem statements

• Cheltenham Festival favourite had wind operation on Friday• Trainer defends issuing bulletins through bookmakers’ websiteNicky Henderson, jump racing’s champion trainer, launched an angry defence of his conduct here on Friday in the face of continuin…

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North Hill Harvey ascent has Dan Skelton aiming at Cheltenham Festival

• Skelton marvels at novice chaser’s progress from point-to-point• Trainer believes North Hill Harvey will compete in Arkle Trophy“He started out at Chaddesley Corbett point-to-point,” Dan Skelton said after winning the big novice chase here on Friday …

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The New One profits from new approach to win International Hurdle

• Record-equalling third victory in race for eight-year-old
• Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has eyes on Champion Hurdle

Nigel Twiston-Davies’s first thought in the winner’s enclosure here after the International Hurdle on Saturday was for Ryan Hatch, the young jockey who would have ridden The New One to victory but for suffering an injury in a fall at the course on Friday. His second was of another, more fortunate twist of fate, that steered The New One away from a season over fences and towards a record-equalling third victory in this race.

“It was the best abandonment ever,” Twiston-Davies said, referring to the cancellation of the card at Exeter last month when The New One had been scheduled to make his chasing debut. The trainer was forced to put the switch to the bigger obstacles on hold and the International Hurdle then presented itself as an ideal opportunity to get The New One’s season started.

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Thistlecrack proves a daredevil in Cheltenham pursuit of Festival fame

• Colin Tizzard’s chaser wins with electric but sometimes careless jumping
• Taquin Du Seuil beats Village Vic in thrilling finish to BetVictor prize

A crowd of nearly 40,000 provided a telling soundtrack to the card here on Saturday, from the gasps that went up as Thistlecrack, the Gold Cup favourite, jumped around the chase course for the first time to the wall of noise as Taquin Du Seuil and Village Vic battled to the line in the BetVictor Gold Cup. It was Taquin Du Seuil, a well-backed 8-1 chance, who got up to win by a head, but one of the abiding images of the day for most punters will surely be Thistlecrack’s jump at the first open ditch.

Colin Tizzard can be planning for no more than six or seven starts to turn Thistlecrack into a Gold Cup winner in his novice season, and two of those are now in the book. His jumping here on Saturday ranged from careful to bold and, at times, veered towards recklessness, not least at the fifth, where he took off much too early and dragged his back legs through the fence.

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ITV Racing has full dress rehearsal at Cheltenham Showcase meeting

• Ed Chamberlin leads team in dummy run for 2017 broadcasts
• Use of drone camera is most striking aspect of new coverage

The possibility of seeing a new star of the jumping game drew more than 10,000 fans here on Friday for the first day of the 2016-17 season at the home of the National Hunt Festival but this year there were glimpses of the future on both sides of the running rail.

ITV Racing, which will take over terrestrial coverage of the sport from Channel 4 when it broadcasts the New Year’s Day card here, used the first afternoon of the Showcase meeting to stage a full dress rehearsal of the coverage that will become familiar to racing fans over the next four years.

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ITV Racing has full dress rehearsal at Cheltenham Showcase meeting

• Ed Chamberlin leads team in dummy run for 2017 broadcasts
• Use of drone camera is most striking aspect of new coverage

The possibility of seeing a new star of the jumping game drew more than 10,000 fans here on Friday for the first day of the 2016-17 season at the home of the National Hunt Festival but this year there were glimpses of the future on both sides of the running rail.

ITV Racing, which will take over terrestrial coverage of the sport from Channel 4 when it broadcasts the New Year’s Day card here, used the first afternoon of the Showcase meeting to stage a full dress rehearsal of the coverage that will become familiar to racing fans over the next four years.

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Don Cossack wins Cheltenham Gold Cup under Bryan Cooper

• Owner Michael O’Leary celebrates second victory in the race
• Cue Card fell three fences out when still in with every chance

In March 2004, when he was 11 years old, Bryan Cooper was a groom who helped to lead up Total Enjoyment for his father, Tom, when she won the Champion Bumper. He looked around at the crowd that welcomed her back and knew immediately what he wanted to be. “That was the day when I said that I wanted to do it,” he said in the same winner’s enclosure on Friday, after riding Don Cossack to victory in the Gold Cup. “I’ve fulfilled my dream.”

Cooper is still just 23, but he has already endured enough miserable afternoons here to make this success all the sweeter. Two years ago he broke his leg in a fall in the Fred Winter, while on Wednesday he rode No More Heroes for Gordon Elliott, the trainer of Don Cossack, in the RSA Chase. The horse, seen as a possible Gold Cup winner next year, was put down after severing a tendon.

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Cue Card going for a £1m bonus for win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup

King George VI Chase winner faces up to a vintage field with the total prize on offer more than any in jumps race history

When Victoria Pendleton turned up at Cheltenham on Gold Cup day last year, few in a crowd of nearly 70,000 even knew that she was there. And by the time they streamed away a few hours later, most thoughts had already turned to the 2016 Gold Cup, which already seemed sure to be a vintage renewal after a series of brilliant performances by novice chasers throughout the week.

Twelve months later, Gold Cup day is finally here, with the added interest that Cue Card, one of the most popular chasers in training, will land a £1m bonus for victory, yet Pendleton’s ride in the Foxhunter has attracted at least as much attention as the big race itself in the weeks leading up to the Festival.

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When golf, football and the world of TV met up in the parade ring at Cheltenham

Having Lee Westwood, Alan Shearer and Ant and Dec in your syndicate can leave even Ruby Walsh trailing in the betting stakes

Football and racing proved to be an unwholesome mix at Cheltenham on Tuesday, but three different sports came together in a much more suitable way at the end of Wednesday’s card, as Alan Shearer and Lee Westwood joined their fellow owners with runners in the parade ring before the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

Shearer, a former England captain turned football pundit, and Westwood, a golfer who has won tournaments on five continents, were at Cheltenham to watch their five-year-old mare Augusta Kate run in the only race at the meeting without any obstacles.

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Nicky Henderson on Sprinter Sacre: ‘It’s probably given me the most pleasure’

• Trainer Henderson hails his Queen Mother Champion Chase repeat winner
• ‘There’s something about a dethroned king regaining a crown’

Cheltenham’s new two-tiered amphitheatre of a winner’s enclosure acclaimed its first great champion here on Wednesday, and it may be many years before there is a reception to match the noise and delight that greeted Sprinter Sacre after the Queen Mother Champion Chase. In front of the stands, up the horsewalk and then into the enclosure itself, it was a Roman triumph for a returning, conquering hero, earned with a victory that many had yearned for but few expected to see.

And no one, surely, expected it to be so easy. Un De Sceaux was the 4-6 favourite for a reason, and the fences were supposed to be the biggest problem for a horse who was unbeaten in all his earlier completed starts in chases. Sprinter Sacre had been truly brilliant in his pomp here three years ago, but was now trying to contain an elemental force at the age of 10.

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Brilliant Sprinter Sacre wins Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival

• Modern great wins back his title after heart problems
• Popular gelding comes back to tumultuous reception

Sprinter Sacre completed one of the most extraordinary comebacks that even Cheltenham has seen when he recaptured the Queen Mother Champion Chase here on Wednesday with a compelling three-and-a-half length defeat of Un De Sceaux, the 4-6 favourite.

The gelding, who was a brilliant winner of this race in 2013, had established himself as one of the outstanding chasers in National Hunt history in the early years of his career, but a 10-race winning streak over fences ended in dramatic fashion when he was pulled up at Kempton in December of the same year and found to be suffering from an irregular heartbeat.

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Min loss spares bookies at Cheltenham but Festival suffers three fatalities

• Trainer Willie Mullins’ three winners cost betting industry £10m
• The Govaness, Pont Alexandre and Rezorbi are fatally injured

Bookmakers narrowly avoided a meltdown on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival for the second year running here on Tuesday, but still finished the afternoon several million pounds behind after victories for three of the “Big Four” favourites from the Willie Mullins stable.

Related: Annie Power wins the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival

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Djakadam suffers cut to his chest but remains on course for Gold Cup

• Rich Ricci describes Djakadam’s injury as ‘only a flesh wound’
• Vautour now clear favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Djakadam, the runner-up in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, suffered a cut on his chest when falling in the BetBright Trial Chase at Cheltenham but is expected to recover in time to line up for the Gold Cup on 18 March.

Related: Smad Place and Yanworth impress as Alan King completes big-race five-timer

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Smad Place and Yanworth impress as Alan King completes big-race five-timer

• Smad Place books Cheltenham ticket in either Gold Cup or Ryanair Chase
• Thistlecrack only 13-8 for World Hurdle after Cleeve Hurdle romp

Alan King thought his best chance of a winner on Saturday was Who Dares Wins in the first at Cheltenham. He has never been more delighted to be proved completely wrong. Who Dares Wins could finish only fourth behind a 25-1 shot but King went on to complete a treble here and had two more winners at Doncaster, including the feature race, the SkyBet Chase. By the end of the day, some of his colleagues were calling him “Alan Mullins”.

The man who is expected to dominate the Cheltenham Festival, by contrast, had a rare day to forget. Willie Mullins had four starters in Britain, including three favourites, two of which started at odds-on. Even each-way backers did not make any return on their money, however, with Djakadam’s failure to complete in the feature chase the biggest disappointment for Ireland’s champion trainer.

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