Paddy's day at Cheltenham

Lynne Hanson
March 18, 2017

It is Timico Gold Cup day at the Cheltenham Festival on Friday, the day into which the Festival funnels, the race into which the season funnels. When you're on the best horse you can go anywhere. "It is a first runner in the race for me".

Sadly he won't be that price today and I'm actually going to take him on with stable companion Native River, who just keeps on improving having won the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Welsh Grand National before stepping up his game last time in the Denman Chase.

Willie Mullins has trained 52 Festival winners, but never the victor of the Gold Cup.

The worry about Cue Card is that he is 11, and no horse aged older than 10 has won the Gold Cup since 1969.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is steeplechasing's blue riband, a prestigious sporting contest which has been held since 1924.

In the day's second race, trainer Pat Kelly and owner Philip Reynolds teamed up to win their second successive Pertemps Handicap Hurdle when Presenting Percy triumphed in fine style under a patient ride from Davy Russell. Djakadam is now favourite for the Gold Cup, and that is as it should be.

GOLD (cup)... always believe in: AFTER TWO DAYS of wondering if this was the Cheltenham Festival to get away from Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, they bounced back with aplomb on Day Three with wins in the three Grade 1s.

"It's beginner's luck", laughed Harrington, pointing out this was her first runner in the race.

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The gelding (main picture and below) and the Grand National-winning jockey beat Jonjo O'Neill's Minella Rocco into second, with the Colin Tizzard-trained Native River holding on for third under Tom Scudamore.

The stand-out piece of form for Mick Jazz has to be his run behind Labaik at Navan when he was 12/1 but looked all over the victor before his grey stable companion came and done him close to home.

So often in the shadow of Douvan over two miles, Sizing John kept on strongly up the hill to score by two and three-quarter lengths from the staying-on Minella Rocco (18-1).

"I celebrated hard after the finish because I've been through a lot this season with eye trouble, broken cheekbone and back problems".

Two fences in, it was all over for the 23-year-old.

Mullins, despite all his success, has famously never won the big one at Prestbury Park and Djakadam will have to reverse the result of the Lexus Chase over Christmas if he's to stop Outlander (10/1) making it two wins in two years for Gordon Elliott.

"I'm not on cloud nine, I'm on cloud 109", she said.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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