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The fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival gets underway shortly against a backdrop of a global crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Yesterday’s decision by the UK government not to prohibit mass gatherings and sporting events at this point means that Gold Cup day goes ahead as scheduled at Prestbury Park.

The seven-race card gets underway with the Triumph Hurdle at 1.30pm.

Here’s the full slate of today’s races and off times:

  • 1.30pm - Triumph Hurdle
  • 2.10pm - County Handicap Hurdle
  • 2.50pm - Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
  • 3.30pm - Cheltenham Gold Cup
  • 4.10pm - Foxhunter Challenge Cup
  • 4.50pm - Grand Annual Challenge Cup
  • 5.30pm – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Before we turn our focus to the opener, a quick look at the betting for the Gold Cup at this point.

Defending champion Al Boum Festival is favourite to do it all again, and broadly available at odds of 3/1.

Ireland’s other leading hope, Delta Work, is 5/1 second favourite, with Santini a touch longer at 11/2 in places.

Alex Ferguson’s Clan des Obeaux is 8/1 generally, as is Kemboy, while Lostintranslation has drifted out to 9/1 and 10/1 in places.

Ten minutes to go until the Triumph Hurdle – who will be the champion juvenile hurdler of the season?

There’s a strong British challenge with Goshen, Solo, and Allmankind leading the market, but don’t rule out the Irish challenge of Aspire Tower, ridden by Rachael Blackmore for Henry de Bromhead, or A Wave Of The Sea in the hands of festival leading rider Barry Geraghty for Joseph O’Brien and JP McManus.

They’re down at the start for the Triumph. Late flurry of money for Aspire Tower, in to 11/2 now as they approach the starter.

And they’re off in the Triumph!

Allmankind leads Aspire Tower and Goshen over the first few hurdles.

Aspire Tower and Goshen look to up the pace a bit at the front, but Allmankind responds in kind.

Solo in fourth, A Wave of the Sea, Sir Psycho and Navajo Pass in behind.

Two to jump – looks a two horse race between Goshen and Allmankind

Gohsne unseats at the last with the race won!!

Burning Victory wins the Triumph Hurdle!

My word, that is heartbreaking for Jamie Moore – his Annie Power moment.

And the full result in the Triumph Hurdle:

1. Burning Victory 12/1

2. Aspire Tower 5/1

3. Allmankind 7/2

4. Navajo Pass 50/1

“It’s one of those things, innit? It’s jump racing,” says Stephen Packham, one of Goshen’s owners.

“We live to fight another day, don’t we?”

Adrian Russell taking over for a bit. Here’s that heartbreaking fall for Jamie Moore:

Willie Mullins says that’s almost a hollow victory and one he won’t be celebrating too much.

So it’s the County Hurdle up next at 2.10 and good luck picking the winner in this 26-runner handicap. 

Willie Mullins’ Ciel de Niege (5/1), with his son Patrick on board, is favourite ahead of stablemate Saint Roi, steered by Barry Geraghty, who’s eyeing the top jockey honours. 

The classy Aramon might be worth keeping an eye on while Davy Russell steers the Gordon Elliott-trained Thatsy (17/2). 

 

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Remember Jay Tabb? The former Coventry and Reading footballer has just been interviewed by ITV as he led the Philip Hobbs-trained Oakley around the parade ring. He’s a stable lad these days. 

And they’re off in the County Hurdle…   

Le Ligerian leads from the front ahead of Pakens Rock and Embittered heading for the third last. 

Another brilliant ride from Barry Geraghty. He’s had some week and will likely end as top jockey; he’s two ahead of Paul Townend.

‘A proper horse’ according to Ruby Walsh, Saint Roi pulls away to win under Geraghty for trainer Willie Mullins. Great stuff. 

County Hurdle 2.10 

1 Saint Roi (B J Geraghty) 11-2 
2 Aramon (P Townend) 8-1
3 Embittered (J J Slevin) 14-1
4 Buildmeupbuttercup (D E Mullins) 16-1

So Barry Geraghty clocks out now and watches on but is unlikely to be reeled in. In the battle for top trainer honours, Willie Mullins has now moved to within one of Gordon Elliott, who has six wins.

Here’s the County Hurdle report from the Press Association: 

Saint Roi landed a gamble to continue a superb Festival for connections with a convincing victory in the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Saint Roi may have been lightly-raced, but money talked and the JP McManus-owned five-year-old delivered in style.

Coming to the last, Embittered held every chance, as did a few others, but the Barry Geraghty-ridden Saint Roi was going best of all and the 11-2 favourite pulled away to win decisively by four and a half lengths.

Willie Mullins also saddled the runner-up, Aramon, with Gordon Elliott’s Embittered a head away third and another of the Mullins’ team, Buildmeupbuttercup, another head back in fourth.

Riding his fifth winner of the week, Gearghty said: “He was electric, for a horse with little experience, the pace they went, he was very good. Willie was sweet on him and he’s not a bad judge.

“It’s what you dream of, you come here and one winner is all you want. It’s brilliant when they keep coming. There’s no doubt about it, it’s a privileged position to ride such good horses for good people and it is a pleasure.

“It’s a fun game in this sport, I enjoy it.”

So next to the Novices’ Hurdle 2.50. 

Philip Hobbs’ Thyme Hill has won each of his three starts over hurdles en route to the Albert Bartlett, but faces a field filled with rivals in similarly good form. Chief among them, Paul Nolan’s Latest Exhibition has taken graded races on his last two outings.

Nolan would be a hugely popular winner. 

Paul Nolan is interviewed on ITV and is looking pretty chilled out with his horse, in the Wexford colours, about to go off as favourite:

  • Latest Exhibition – 5/1
  • Thyme Hill – 5/1
  • Monkfish – 5/1
  • Fury Road – 15/2
  • Sempo – 12/1

And they’re off in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle!

Oscar Academy leads but Latest Exhibition is well positioned. 

Monkfish takes the lead coming into the final turn. 

Paul Townend on the Willie Mullins trained Monkfish takes the win ‘by a nostril’ in a thrilling finish. 

Thyme Hill was squeezed out on the crowded run-in by Latest Exhibition; there’s talk of a stewards enquiry.

cheltenham-festival-2020-gold-cup-day-cheltenham-racecourse Monkfish ridden by Paul Towned (centre) jumps the last on the way to winning the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. Source: PA

So it’s Gold Cup time and it may mark the last big action for sports fans for some time. 

Al Boum Photo seeks back-to-back victories in this renewal after a two-and-a-quarter length success in the race last year.

The eight-year-old was then beaten on his next start in the Punchestown Gold Cup by Kemboy, who also lines up this afternoon. The quality of the field is further boosted by inclusion of Cotswold Chase winner Santini, Irish Gold Cup winner Delta Work and dual King George VI Chase hero Clan Des Obeaux.

The battle for top trainer is tight: 

Willie Mullins: 6 wins 6 seconds and 5 thirds
Gordon Elliott: 6 wins 6 seconds and 4 thirds

The jockeys are being announced by Oli Bell with the likes of Daryl Jacob pretending he’s a heavyweight boxer before a prize fight. 

This is how the top of betting is looking:

  • Al Boum Photo 7/2
  • Santini 4/1 
  • Delta Work 11/2 
  • Lostintranslation 13/2
  • Clan Des Obeaux 7/1 
  • Kemboy 10/1 
  • Presenting Percy 20/1

‘Troubled times but sit back and enjoy one of the biggest spectacles in sport,” we’re told as they go off for the 2020 Gold Cup. You’ll see this race again on Reeling In The Years.  

Big roar as ‘the pot begins to boil’.  Bristol De Mai, Elegant Escape, Santini, Monalee and Lost In Translation are at the front with Clan Des Obeaux and Al Boum Photo back a bit. 

Delta Work back in the mix with Chris’s Dream and here comes Presenting Percy too.

Al Boum Photo digs in… 

What a performance. Two in a row for Willie Mullins.

Santini turned the screw on the run-in but Al Boum Photo hung on. Lost In Translation was back in third. 

‘I would have got a boot in the rear end if I was beaten,’ says jockey Paul Townend. 

Willie Mullins: “Absolutely unbelievable day. Paul Townened said he was under pressure. He does his own thing and probably does better under pressure.” 

On top of everything, with his fifth win of the week, Paul Townend ensures that he will finish the week as the festival’s top jockey:

Paul Townend: 5-2-3

Barry Geraghty: 5-0-1

A reminder, as if one was needed, that Al Boum Photo becomes the first horse to win back-to-back Gold Cups since Best Mate’s unforgettable hattrick in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

With three races still to go, there’s been a huge turnaround in the race for the trainers’ title, but it’s all still to play for:

Willie Mullins: 7-6-5

Gordon Elliott: 6-6-4

And as if that wasn’t close enough, Mullins has the favourite in the Foxhunters’ next, with Elliott saddling the favourite in the Grand Annual at 4.40pm.

Lovely scenes on ITV Racing as Ruby Walsh and Paul Townend share an emotional interview.

After all of that, we’re down at the start for the Foxhunters’ – they’re off!

Quick reminder of the betting – Billaway and Shantou Flyer are joint favourites at 3/1; Minella Rocco is next at 9/2 with Stalker Wallace, another JP McManus runner, at 6s.

Marcle Ridge leads by six or seven lengths from Stellar Notion and Southfield Theatre.

Shantou Flyer and Top Wood are next.

Bishops Road has pulled up.

Marcle Ridge leads them out on their final circuit. There’s maybe 10 lengths between the first five and the rest.

Only four or five behind Minella Rocco, who anyone who has it backed. Long way to go yet though.

It’s all joined up a bit more as Marcle Ridge leads them over seven out.

Five out and Marcle Ridge leads Top Wood and Shantou Flyer by about 10 lengths.

The two McManus horses are moving up…

It Came To Pass leads them over two out

Leads by four over the last.

It Came To Pass wins the Foxhunters’!

A 66/1 shot!

What an incredible ride and incredible moment for Cork’s Maxine O’Sullivan in the saddle!

And the result from the Foxhunters’:

1. It Came To Pass (66/1)

2. Billaway (11/4 fav)

3. Shantou Flyer (3/1 2fav)

So two races to go before we close the book on Cheltenham 2020, and they’re down at the start for the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual.

Chosen Mate, ridden by Davy Russell for Gordon Elliott, is set to go off favourite with Greaneteen trained by Paul Nicholls, the best of the British chances.

Eclair De Beaufeu, Paloma Blue and Us And Them are the other leading Irish fancies.

They’re off in the Grand Annual!

Gino Trail, ridden by Jamie Moore, leads them over the first fences.

Croco Bay, Marracudja and Two Taffs are hot on the leaders’ heels early on.

Us And Them and Jan Maat both right there too. It’s early doors, though.

Three out. Marracudja leads from Jan Maat. Paloma Blue getting into it too.

Here comes Chosen Mate…

Chosen Mate wins the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual!

Another winner for Davy Russell, and for Gordon Elliott — that’s Elliott’s seventh of the week! Neck and neck with Mullins again.

Here’s the full result in the Grand Annual:

1. Chosen Mate (7/2)

2. Eclair De Beaufeu (13/2)

3. Us And Them (10/1)

4. Greaneteen (5/1)

5. Theinval (50/1)

So there’s just under 10 minutes to the off in the final race of this year’s Cheltenham Festival, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.

And there’s a host of a familiar colours at the top of the betting.

Jonjo O’Neill Jr rides the Joseph O’Brien-trained Front View for JP McManus.

Conor McNamara rides Five O’Clock for Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci.

And Column of Fire is ridden by Eoin Walsh for Gordon Elliott and Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud.

They’re down at the start but we’ve still two minutes or so to the off.

Just to note, Mullins still leads the trainers’ championship by the slimmest of margins: he has four third-place finishes versus Elliott’s three thirds.

Can one of them land a decisive blow here?

The starter calls them back for a standing start…

They’re off in the Martin Pipe!

Big Blue leads from Great White Shark in the early stages.

Front View, the favourite, didn’t jump that fence particularly well.

Big Blue leads from Great White Shark, Espoir de Romay and Thomas MacDonagh.

Another poor jump from Front View

Great White Shark leads Thomas MacDonagh over three out. Front View trying to get back into it.

Pileon and Happy Go Lucky launch their challenge as they turn for home

WHAT A FINISH. Did Pileon just hang on from the fast-finishing Indefatigable? It’ll be a photo…

Indefatigable wins the Martin Pipe!

What a blistering finish from Indefatigable who came flying at the end to nick that one by a nose, I make it.

The full result of the Martin Pipe:

1. Indefatigable (25/1)

2. Pileon (9/1)

3. Great White Shark (40/1)

4. Happygolucky (25/1)

5. The Bosses Oscar (11/1)

And with Great White Shark coming in third, that seals the leading festival trainers’ title for Willie Mullins, just pipping Gordon Elliott on a countback of third-place finishers.

That’s all from us for Cheltenham 2020. Thanks for reading.

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