Every year, the National Hunt Racing event everyone loves graces us with Grade I races, as the air is filled with the Cheltenham Roar. This year, yet again, we got to enjoy this fabulous equestrian event and many pundits were thrilled as well, trying to find the best offer for the Cheltenham Festival. Let’s cut to the chase – here are the highlights of the Cheltenham Festival in 2019.
One of the unfortunate occurrences that will forever mark this year is the fall of Benie Des Dieux, injuring Ruby Walsh and giving Roksana the victory. Benie Des Dieux’s owner, Rich Ricci, has had this problem before – one of his horses had a fall in 2015 that was almost exactly the same. These days Ricci is facing other problems – BetBright is closing down and the decision was made to refund the stakes of the bets and void the bets. While Rich Ricci and BetBright claim they are trying to be fair, the Gambling Commission might get involved in the issue.
Espoir D’Allen made everybody stunned with its victory of the Champion Hurdle. The odds were 16/1 that the horse would come out on top, making it the biggest cash winner of the day.
March 13th had its own share of surprises – the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase was very close between Topofthegame, Santini, and Delta Work. Topofthegame won to such a degree that it was almost instantly compared to the legendary Denman.
The horse that left everyone in the dirt was Tiger Roll, who won by 22 lengths. The astonishing winner of the Coral Cup was the underdog, or under-horse, as the case may be, William Henry, with odds against it going to 28/1. Lucky is the pundit that made that call.
It is always exciting to see old rivals trying to best each other in any sport. The rivalry of the day that enticed the audience was that between Lostintranslation and Defi Du Seuil in the JLT Novices’ Chase. This isn’t their first meet this season, as the horses are tied 1-1.
If you think that Espoir D’Allen or Willam Henry made the most shocking wins of the festival, you are very much mistaken. That honor goes to Eglantine Du Seuil, who has won the unbelievable odds of 50/1 in the Dawn Run Novice’s Hurdle. After winning the race, the jockey, Noel Fehily, announced his retirement via social media.
Bryony Frost made history with Frodon by becoming the first woman to win a Grade I race at the festival. After winning the Ryanair Chase, she was ecstatic and compared the horse to Pegasus. We offer our most sincere and joyous congratulations to the 24-year old.
Nothing, and we do mean nothing, comes close to our excitement when Al Boum Photo finally won the Gold Cup while carrying Paul Townend. This was also a notable victory for Willie Mullins, the trainer and former jockey, who can finally say he’s won it all.
Another first that has occurred on the final day of the festival is the first win at the festival for a jockey called Kielan Woods, riding the experienced Croco Bay. Ireland and Great Britain have really gone head-to-head this year and the number of wins for each side is amazing.
The Cheltenham Festival of 2019 was anything but dull. Newcomers, unlikely winners, and old rivals have sparked our interest again this year. There is no reason to think that the next year’s festival won’t be at least as much, and perhaps even more, invigorating.