Golden hour of Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle heads Festival highlights for Sportsmail’s experts
Golden hour of Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle was horse racing at its best, while the celebrations following The Real Whacker’s triumph will live long in the memory… Sportsmail’s experts reveal their Festival highlights
- The Cheltenham Festival concluded with the final day of racing on Friday
- The best week on the racing calendar did not disappoint this year
Galopin Des Champs was the star sttraction with a thrilling victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the final day of this year’s Festival.
The seven-year-old proved both his stamina and his strength as he got the better of a battle with Paul Nicholls’ King George VI Chase winner Bravemansgame (6-1) over the last fence before going to score by a super seven lengths to give Irish champion trainer Mullins a third victory in the blue riband after Al Boum Photo’s double in 2019 and 2020.
There were also wins for Lossiemouth, Faivoi, Stay Away Fay, Premier Magic, Impervious and Iroko.
Galopin Des Champs’ Gold Cup victory proved the jewel in the crown as Willie Mullins and Paul Townend once again secured the top trainer and jockey honours.
Here, Britain’s No 1 tipster Sam Turner, National Hunt legend Peter Scudamore and former Grade One winning jockeys Lizzie Kelly and Mick Fitzgerald reveal their Festival highlights.
The Real Whacker’s connections celebrate a dramatic win in Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase
The vociferous post-race celebrations of The Real Whacker’s connections following his dramatic win in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase on Wednesday will live long in the memory.
Trainer Patrick Neville wisely chose the novice route instead of an ambitious tilt at Friday’s Gold Cup and the decision was vindicated when his gelding posted a round of exemplary jumping under Sam Twiston-Davies to score by a diminishing margin over hot favourite Gerri Colombe.
The dream is now very much alive for a return to run in the Gold Cup in 12 months time.
Honeysuckle delivered perfect end to her career with a fourth Festival win in the Mares’ Hurdle
The golden hour on Tuesday when the brilliant Constitution Hill did what everyone hoped he would, routing his opponents in the Champion Hurdle and Honeysuckle delivered the perfect end to her career with a fourth Festival win in the Mares’ Hurdle.
It was an intoxicating combination of equine brilliance and pure, raw emotion and the crowd lapped it up.
You can come up with the best glitzy marketing campaigns that money can buy but nothing sells the sport better than the thrill of brilliant racehorse performing to his best.
It was personal for me — the win of Corach Rambler, trained by my partner Lucinda Russell, in Tuesday’s Ultima Handicap Chase.
He’s a horse I ride every day. He’s a bit of a character but we seem to have clicked and it was really satisfying to be a part of his success.
Adding to it was the fact that Corach Rambler was winning the race for the second year running and received a ultra-cool from Derek Fox.
Next month’s Grand National is next on the agenda and the dream is still alive.
The joyous reaction from champion trainer Paul Nicholls when Stage Star won Thursday’s Turners Novices’ Chase to end a Festival drought stretching back to 2020.
British trainers are currently outgunned by their Irish counterparts, but despite being beaten 18 wins to 10 over the four days there were some positive signs.
Nicholls made it two wins for the week when Stay Away Fay landed yesterday’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and Bravemansgame showed he is the quality horse the trainer believes with his Gold Cup second.
The tide may not quite have turned but it might have stopped going out.
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