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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 25 July, 2017
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Good afternoon and welcome to today’s Cheltenham liveblog, your one-stop shop to keep on track with all the action at Prestbury Park.

We hope everyone is having a nice St Patrick’s Day wherever you may be celebrating. If you’re at the parade, or even stuck in work —  don’t worry we’ve got you covered.

We’ve had an exciting three days already, but we’re ready for the big one. All eyes are on the Gold Cup of course, but there’s plenty more to keep tabs on.

Here’s what’s in store:

1.30pm: JCB Triumph Hurdle, 2m 179y
2.10pm: Randox Health County Hurdle, 2m 179y
2.50pm: Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, 2m 7f 213y
3.30pm: Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, 3m 2f 70y
4.10pm: St James’s Place Foxhunters Chase, 3m 2f 70y
4.50pm: Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, 2m 4f 56y
5.30pm: Johnny Henderson Grand Annual, 2m 62y

Going on the course is described as Good for the day, and thankfully no rain has been forecast allowing for ideal conditions. The race-goers have been arriving all morning and they’re ready for a bumper-filled day of action.

A racegoer

Racegoers arrive Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Gold Cup is heating up to be a thrilling race, as always. Djakadam is favourite, having come second in the last two. The Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh partnership had a slow start to the festival this year, but fairly made up for it yesterday with four runners. They’ll be hoping to top the week off with the big one.

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Concentrating on the first race of the day for now though — it’s the Triumph Hurdle. Defi Du Seuil currently sits favourite at 5/2, while another JP McManus-owned horse Charli Parcs, Wayne Hutchinson-ridden Master Blueyes and Mullins-Walsh’s Bapaume are also among the favourites for the title.

Less than 10 minutes to go — Who are you backing?

Defi Du Seuil claims JCB Triumph Hurdle

A strong ride from Richard ‘Dicky’ Johnson on Defi Du Seuil, taking the lead with two to jump and finishing well ahead of the pack.

1. Defi Du Seuil (5/2) Richard Johnson/Philip Hobbs
2. Mega Fortune (7/1) Davy Russell/Gordon Elliot
3. Bapaume (10/1) Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins

Next up it’s the County Hurdle.

25 runners are in the mix following Mick Jazz’s withdrawal. There’s plenty of horses to keep an eye on, including the return of Willie Mullins’ Artic Fire.

Ivanovich Gorbatov (11/4) is the favourite in this one, with North Hill Harvey (11/3) and Winter Escape (10/8) also tipped to run well.

Another win for Mullins as Artic Fire edges the County Hurdle

Photo finish! Huge, huge finish from Artic Fire to take the title. Wakea lead from the front for most of the race, but Ozzie The Oscar, L’Ami Serge and Arctic Fire made up the ground to finish neck-and-neck.

One of the great trailing performances and off the track for 14 months, Artic Fire ridden by Paul Townend gives Willie Mullins his fifth win of the week.

1. Artic Fire (20/1) Paul Townend/Willie Mullins
2. L’Ami Serge (25/1) D A Jacob /Nicky Henderson
3. Ozzie The Oscar (50/1) T J O’Brien /Philip Hobbs

So that’s 14 Irish winners with five races to go. Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliot are level at the top of the trainer’s contest — five winners each.

Willie Mullins Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Amazing, it was some ride for Paul (Townend),” Mullins told ITV Sport after the race. “He (Artic Fire) was out for 418 days. It was touch and go whether we’d get him here or not.”

Next in line is the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, a 3-mile contest. Here are the favourites: Gordon Elliot’s Death Duty (6/4), Augusta Kate (6/1), Wholestone (7/1) and Monalee (15/2). Elliot reckons Death Duty could be as good as his Gold Cup winner Don Cossack, so all eyes on him.

Mullins has another winner on the board as Penhill storms to the Albert Bartlett

A consecutive double for Paul Townend as Penhill runs to victory. Gordon Elliot’s big shot Death Duty fell at the last.

1. Penhill (16/1) Paul Townend/Willie Mullins
2. Monalee (8/1) David Mullins/Henry de Bromhead
3. Wholestone (13/2) Daryl Jacob/Nigel Twiston-Davies

It’s nearly time for the big one — who are you backing?

It’s looking like it’s going to be a tasty race:

Mullins-Walsh’s Djakadam (11/4), Native River (9/2), fan favourite Cue Card (5/1) and Sizing John (7/1) are to the fore, but anything could happen.

Ruby Walsh on Djakadam wins the John Durkan Memorial 'chase Source: Lorraine OÕSullivan/INPHO

Djakadam comes in as favourite, having finished second in the last two Cheltenham Gold Cups. Cue Card featured last year, but fell at the third last when going well. Native River Sizing John and Outlander are also highly-tipped.

It’s going to be a good one!

Sizing John runs to Gold Cup glory in thrilling race

Jessica Harrington-trained and Robbie Power-ridden Sizing John takes the honour to add to the Irish Gold Cup won in Leopardstown last month. A mistake from Djakadam towards the finish could have cost him, while Cue Card fell at the third last again.

1. Sizing John (7/1) Robbie Power/Jessica Harrington
2. Minella Rocco (18/1) N D Fehily/Jonjo O’Neill
3. Native River (7/2) Richard Johnson/C L Tizzard

Pacha Du Polder edges tight finish to take all in Foxhunters Chase

Pacha Du Polder just about holds on following clearing the last to give Paul Nicholls the title. It’s his first win of the week and his first ever win in this race. It was an incredible finish with Balnaslow,  Wonderful Charm and Barel Of Laughs all in the mix nearing the end.

1. Pacha Du Polder (16/1) B Frost/Paul Nicholls
2 Wonderful Charm (7/2) Katie Walsh/Paul Nicholls
3 Barel Of Laughs (100/1) Alex Edwards/Philip Rowley

Time for the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle.

The betting is as follows:

Battleford 5/1
Coo Star Sivola 7/1
No Comment 7/1
Runfordave 8/1

Only one favourite has won this race in its eight years.

Champagne Classic takes Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle to give Elliot another win

Fantastic ride for Chamagne Classic. Gordon Elliot started his training career with Martin Pipe, and now takes his first win in the race named after him.

2017 Cheltenham Festival - Gold Cup Day - Cheltenham Racecourse Source: David Davies

1. Champagne Classic (12/1) JJ Slevin/Gordon Elliot
2. Verni (25/1)
Thomas Cheesman/Philip Hobbs
3. Runfordave (9/1) D Meyler/Gordon Elliot

It is all square now in the battle for the trainers title with one race remaining.

This is it. One to go. The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual.

Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden Le Prezien is 7/2 favourite, with Dandridge (13/2), The Game Changer (9/1) and Dodging Bullets all tipped to do well.

Dream double for Harrington and Power as Rock The World claims Grand Annual

The ‘Queen of Cheltenham’ has the last say of the festival as Robbie Power guides Rock The World to the Grand Annual title.

19/28 wins for Ireland. Gordon Elliot and Willie Mullins share the spoils with six wins each, while Harrington takes home three titles.

1. Rock The World (10/1) Robbie Power/Jessica Harrington
2. Gardefort (20/1) Daryl Jacob/Venetia Williams
3. Theinval (9/1) J McGrath/Nicky Henderson

That’s a wrap.

 

And there you have it. Cheltenham 2017 is officially over, but no doubt the partying will continue long into the night.

Paul Townend celebrates winning with Arctic Fire Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

What a day it has been, to top off an incredible week. Sizing John winning the Gold Cup for Jessica Harrington is undoubtedly the focal point of the day, but there was so many more highlights too.

Six wins-a-piece for Elliot and Mullins, but the former takes the trainers title thanks to three second place finishes. Ruby Walsh finishes top jockey yet again.

Robbie Power celebrates winning the Gold Cup Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

We had 19 Irish winners in total — smashing the record by 4.

Enjoy your evening, thanks for reading and roll on Cheltenham 2018!

Willie Mullins celebrates after Paul Townend wins on Penhill Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

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