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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 22 February, 2020


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That’s us done and dusted for another year. ‘Til next time! 

After an extremely difficult day given the tragic loss of Sir Erec, trainer Joseph O’Brien claims the last race for owner JP McManus to even up the Prestbury Cup score. 

It ends Ireland 14-14 England. 

What a ride O’Neill gave the 5/1 shot, who beats 7/2 favourite Dallas des Pictons in second and third-placed Defi Bleu (14/1).

Early Doors wins the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle with Jonjo O’Neill Jr on board!

We’ve lost one early on as Mount Mews refuses to run.  

Right, here we go one last time. They’re off in the Martin Pipe! 

We’ve just one to go, and it’s the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at 5.30pm. 

Here’s what our tipster Thom Malone has to say about the curtain-closer: 

Gordon Elliot has won the last two renewals of this race. He was an assistant to Martin Pipe in his youth and clearly has an affinity for the race. Dallas des Pictons (5/1) looks to be his main hope and is the type of horse who excels in this one.”

That win for Croco Bray and trainer Ben Case has put England narrowly ahead in the Prestbury Cup stakes. They lead 14-13 heading into the final of the week. 

Here’s a fairly excited Nicky Henderson with his prediction on whether or not Ireland can retain the trophy — if you can understand a word he says you’re doing better than us!

Prestbury Cup update

With two races to run, it’s all square – England 13-Ireland 13.

More sad news as Ed Chamberlain announces that Invitation Only has been put down. That’s desperate stuff again. 

This is the top of the market for the “amateurs’ Gold Cup”

  • Hazel Hill – 9/2
  • Ucello Conti – 9/2
  • Stand Up And Fight – 13/2
  • Caid Du Berlais – 7/1
  • Shantou Flyer – 17/2

Gold Cup result

1 Al Boum Photo (P Townend) 12-1 

2 Anibale Fly (B J Geraghty) 22-1 

3 Bristol De Mai (D A Jacob) 18-1 

Willie Mullins is reflecting on his win and admits he’d almost resigned himself to never winning the Gold Cup. He’s cool as ever. 

Davey Russell laments Presenting Percy’s ride saying he never got in a rhythm and, in fact, the saddle slipped a little at the start.

2019 Cheltenham Festival - Gold Cup Day - Cheltenham Racecourse Jockey Paul Townend celebrates his victory in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase on Al Boum Photo. Source: Paul Harding

Ed Chamberlain suggests Invitation Only will be okay though the screens are up around the horse on the course still. 

Presenting Percy never got going, did he? Paul Townend is really emotional as he chats to Oli Bell. What a performance. 

Might Bite and Native River lead ahead of Clan Des Obeaux and Elegant Escape. Presenting Percy is starting to move.

Presenting Percy is back the field with seven to jump. 

Invitation Only falls and brings down Definitely Red now too. 

Might Bite is doing the early running. Kemboy and Bellshill — my fancy — are out of the race. 

And we’re off in the Gold Cup! 

So who you got? I’m talking myself into Ruby and Willie Mullins doing the business with Bellshill.

Alex Ferguson is there to see Clan Des Obeaux, and looking fit and healthy. 

Gold Cup runners and riders

Here’s the betting for the big one, which goes off at 3.30pm. It’ll be the training performance of all time if Pat Kelly pulls it off for Galway… 

  • Presenting Percy – 4/1
  • Clan Des Obeaux – 5/1
  • Native River – 13/2
  • Kemboy – 10/1
  • Bellshill – 12/1
  • Al Boum Photo – 12/1
  • Thistlecrack – 14/1
  • Might Bite – 16/1
  • Elegant Escape – 20/1
  • Bristol De Mai – 25/1
  • Anibale Fly – 28/1
  • Shattered Love – 33/1
  • Invitation Only – 33/1
  • Definitely Red – 66/1
  • Double Shuffle – 150/1
  • Yala Enki – 200/1

Albert Bartlett result

1. Minella Indo (Rachael Blackmore) 50-1 

2. Commander Of Fleet (J W Kennedy) 4-1 Fav

3. Allaho (R Walsh) 8-1 


A delighted winning trainer Henry de Bromhead chats to ITV. He’s full of praise for Blackmore. 

It’s a second win of the week for jockey Rachael Blackmore on a 50-1 shot. “I can’t believe it,” she tells Oli Bell.

The runners are at the start for the Albert Bartlett .

Irish horse Commander of Fleet will go off as the favourite after some late movement. 

Lovely moment as the retiring Noel Fehily is given a guard of honour by the jockeys as he leaves the weigh room.


ITV are looking back on Danoli’s time in the Cheltenham spotlight with a visit to Carlow.  

Nico de Boinville celebrates winning with Pentland Hills Nico de Boinville celebrates winning the Triumph Hurdle with Pentland Hills. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

One of the first to congratulate jockey Harry Skelton is his fiance Bridget Andrews, who rode Mohayed. Skelton says the couple are getting married in August and their little hug is a lovely moment after a grim start to the day.

County Hurdle result

1. Ch’tibello (Harry Skelton) 12-1

2. We Have A Dream (D A Jacob) 14-1

3. Countister (B J Geraghty) 18-1

4. Whiskey Sour (R Walsh) 5-1 Fav 

And they’re away. 

Monsieur Lecoq tried to dodge ‘one of those men in the red coats’ and parted company with his jockey, Lizzie Kelly, who’s fine.  

We’re about to go in the County Hurdle. Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins will be looking to get their day up and running with Whiskey Sour. Here’s the top of the market: 

  • Whiskey Sour – 9/2
  • Monsieur Lecoq – 8/1
  • Crooks Peak – 9/1

Bryony Frost’s win on Frodon in the Ryanair Chase yesterday and her subsequent interview was the highlight of the day. 

She’s watching back the race on ITV now and is again really eloquent and interesting on how they pulled it off. Frost’s also revealed she celebrated the win with a burger and coke in Gloucester services last night.

Triumph Hurdle result

1. Pentland Hills (Nico de Boinville) 20-1 

2. Coeur Sublime (D N Russell) 20-1 

3. Gardens of Babylon (B J Geraghty) 9-1 

Confirmation of the first but it’ll be overshadowed, of course, but the Sir Erec news.  

20-1 Nickey Henderson-trained Pentland Hills survived an early mistake to win a dramatic opener.

Jockey Nico De Boinville has some nice words for Sir Erec and his connections; we’re waiting for an update on the favourite’s condition.

Coeur Sublime was second and Gardens of Babylon was third, meanwhile.

Sir Erec is out of the race with an injury! 

We’re ready to go. Tense stuff. 

Jospeh O’Brien: “It’s far from ideal but he’s a relaxed horse and he seems to have taken it well.” 


Luke Harvey and the ITV cameras watch on as the poor farrier tries to sort this out.

Sir Erec is being as good as gold, we’re told, but the market is moving. 

Wow… Sir Erec has lost a front shoe and the farrier has a job to do here before we get underway. 

Sir Erec is in to 11/10 at some bookies now. Young trainer Jospeh O’Brien is looking on from under is Peaky Blinders cap in the final moments before the off. 


The Triumph Hurdle and the fourth day of the Festival is about to get underway… 

It’s all about Sir Erec in the first:

“Midway through the madness today, a fellow Irish member of the press corps was a bit shook from the night before, using memories that made him laugh as the healthiest hangover cure.

“We were waiting on coffees but he was not waiting to relay his story. “You should have seen the hotel I stayed in last night – the craic we had, and that song your man would break into literally every five minutes.”

“The ballad, Fourteen Men, is a Wolfe Tones ditty, written by Derek Warfield following Dublin’s victory over Offaly in the 1979 Leinster football final – a win achieved despite the legendary Jimmy Keaveney getting his marching orders. Hence the name.

“Jesus he was unrelenting, but everyone was enjoying themselves so much nobody cared,” my friend went on.

“By the end of the night, he added, even the English in the bar were joining in.”

Johnny Ward’s been giving us a great taste for the atmosphere at Prestbury Park all week with his columns. His latest is well worth a read before the first. 

The ITV panel have the actual Gold Cup in tow and are wearing snooker-ref white gloves for the occasion. 

AP McCoy has changed his mind and is tipping up Clan Des Obeaux but Mick Fitzgerald is sticking with Presenting Percy. ‘There’ll be some party’ if Davy Russell guides him home. 

Who’s still with us? After three dramatic days of action at Prestbury Park, we reach Gold Cup Friday. 

We’ll be going furlong-for-furlong throughout the afternoon. 

In the meantime, check out Thom Malone’s preview of the day’s racing here

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