Irish trainers on top again at Cheltenham


Edward Brady

THE Irish trainers had a great time at the Cheltenham Festival outscoring the British trainers again. The latter had a bit more success this time, but it was the Irish who came out on top again.

Willie Mullins had to wait for his winners as the ground on the first day was on the good side, or as Mullins said: “Maybe too good.” He was boosted by the victory of Sir Gerhard. Mullins was quoted as saying that ‘you don’t get any freebies here. It’s only when you come back every year that you realise how hard it is to win a race, that every metre of ground is fought so hard over. It’s a tough place to win.’

Friday was a good day too with five winners that took him to 10 for the weekend. Paul Townend won on Allaho in the Ryanair and could come back for the race next year. Townend also had a nice winner on Energumene (above) in a race where he had the choice of that horse or Chacun Pour Soi in the Champion Chase. He opted for the younger horse and he was spot on.

Congratulations must go to Rachael Blackmore who won the Gold Cup on A Plus Tard—trained by Henry De Bromhead —by 15 lengths.

It was the same story at Aintree where the Irish did well. Gordon Elliott won the Betway Mersey Novice Hurdle with Three Stripe Life, ridden by Davy Russell. The following race, the Maghul Novices Chase was won by Gentleman Dee Mee, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Mark Walsh. Fakir D’oudairies, also ridden by Mark Walsh and trained by Joseph Patrick O’Brien took the Melling Chase for the second time. Sire Du Berlais, trained by Elliot was another winner for jockey Walsh. He will become one of the top jockeys to look out for in years to come. Indeed, he gave Any Second Now a great ride in the Grand National, just losing out to eventual winner Noble Yeats, trained by Emmet Mullins. Elliott’s Delta Work ran well in third and had, at one stage, vied for the lead from two out before his big weight saw him tiring in the final furlong.