The Greatest Show on Turf wraps up on Friday for another year, headlined by the always thrilling Gold Cup.
The feature race is expected to cap off what has been a fantastic week in the Cotswolds, which saw Rachael Blackmore stake her claim as the top jockey of the meet and the bookies take a battering. The drama began in the first as odds-on favourite Envoi Allen fell at the fourth and ended in the last as Mount Ida climbed from the back of the group to claim victory.
Gold Cup favourite Al Boum Photo vying for a third success – matching Best Mate’s record – and is expected to be pushed all the way by Nicky Henderson’s strong hand Champ and Santini. Blackmore will be hoping to make history on A Plus Tard.
But the action kicks off a couple of hours earlier Triumph Hurdle.
Follow it all with Standard Sport’s LIVE blog below…
So it’s day-four. Welcome! I’m buzzing for the first race as Tritonic is my nap of the Festival. I can’t believe his price.
Millie Wonnacott ruled out
Jockey Millie Wonnacott faces “several weeks” on the sidelines after injuring her neck in a fall on day three at the Cheltenham Festival.
Prominent conditional Wonnacott, who was due to have her first ride for top trainer Paul Nicholls on the final day of the showpiece meeting, was unseated at the fifth on Kansas City Chief in Thursday’s Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle.
An update was issued by management company Dave Lowe Media on Friday morning.
It read: “Unfortunately yesterday at Cheltenham Millie Wonnacott injured her neck after her fall on Kansas City Chief in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle and will now be out of action for several weeks.
“Millie was booked to ride Fabulous Saga in the Martin Pipe conditional hurdle and have her first ride for multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
“Millie has been in excellent form this season and she will be back stronger than ever.”
Rex Dingle will replace her on Fabulous Saga in the closing race of this year’s Festival.
A new non-runner in the 1.55pm as Le Patriote has been stood down.
What to look out for
It’s not just all about the Gold Cup.
Here’s Malik Ouzia on what else to keep an eye on today.
More from Rachael
“I’m genuinely just so overwhelmed by these last few days. It’s all about the horses you’re getting on and I just feel so lucky to be riding for the people I’m riding for,” said Blackmore following her fifth win.
“I’m pinching myself, it’s crazy stuff. I was told I’d ridden more winners than Great Britain have had – it’s mad.
“Everyone is getting a great kick out of it at home and I’m very grateful to those who got the Festival on and got us Irish over here.
“I can’t comprehend that I’m the leading rider, it’s a bit surreal.”
If there was any remaining doubt about who the star of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival was at the halfway stage of the meeting, Rachael Blackmore ended it with a third-day double to take her tally to five winners for the week.
Incredibly, until the victory of Telmesomethinggirl in the Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, all her wins had come in Grade One company.
A rider at the very top of her game at home in Ireland for some time, the fact she is now also adorning the back pages in Britain has taken her fame to a new level.
Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle win on the brilliant Honeysuckle propelled the 31-year-old to new heights, but taking away any thought of gender, the rest of her wins have been noteworthy for different reasons, displaying her range of talents to the full.
Bob Olinger’s success in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle showcased a jockey full of confidence, looming up alongside Harry Cobden on Bravemansgame on the home turn before kicking clear.
On Sir Gerhard in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper she showed what a good judge of pace she is, making all the running and holding enough in reserve to see off stablemate Kilcruit.
While Allaho also made all in Thursday’s Ryanair, it was a different ride altogether. Aggressive from the front, she needed to see off another Willie Mullins runner in Min. Blackmore was then in perfect synchronicity with her mount, putting in some enormous leaps as the giant horse finally confirmed the regard in which Mullins has always held him.
Allaho had gone close at the last two Festivals, but certainly responded to Blackmore’s magic touch.
Victory on Telmesomethinggirl was completely different again. Almost last early as the pace was red-hot, she scythed through the field like Arazi before bounding clear.
Not surprisingly Blackmore’s Gold Cup mount A Plus Tard is now challenging for Gold Cup favouritism on Friday.
How the bookies are faring
Not well! Punters floored the bookmakers with a string of well-backed winners on day three of the Cheltenham Festival.
The layers just about held the edge at the halfway stage and had a false dawn in the opener on Thursday when 4-9 favourite Envoi Allen, one of the bankers of the week, was an early casualty in the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
His exit blew the race wide open and it was left to the Nicky Henderson-trained Chantry House (9-1) to land the spoils.
One punter who was happy he decided not to pin half a million hopes on Envoi Allen was Betfair client Paul Dean. He partially cashed out for £250,000 after all the previous legs of his £5 accumulator had won.
The layers had another narrow escape when 100-30 favourite The Bosses Oscar had to play second fiddle to Mrs Milner (12-1) in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle.
But then the tide turned with Allaho (3-1 favourite) justifying strong support in the Ryanair Chase for Willie Mullins and Rachael Blackmore.
The Shunter (9-4 favourite) was probably the best-backed winner in the Paddy Power Plate, while Telmesomethinggirl (5-1) was another popular one for the irrepressible Blackmore in the Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
The defeat of 9-4 favourite Paisley Park in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, won by Flooring Porter (12-1), did little to cheer the bookmakers, while the incredible last-to-first dash of Mount Ida (3-1 favourite) in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup summed up their day.
It’s been a damp morning in Cheltenham but the chance of rain, according to the Met Office, drops to around 10% from midday.
As such, it’s a shade cooler today with a high of 9C and a low of 6C.
The wind will calm down from 19mph to between 12-17mph during the day.
Johnny Ward’s tips
Has made giant strides over hurdles already.
This one should appreciate dropping in trip.
Interesting on his staying-on Limerick effort.
Ticks plenty of boxes on second seasonal start.
Has had a fine campaign and hard to oppose.
Is really hard to oppose in first renewal of this.
Travelled really strongly at Sandown.