Whilst the racing world thought they might have been welcoming either Kauto Star or Long Run back into the Cheltenham Gold Cup winners enclosure, instead they had to make do with the Jonjo O’Neill trained Synchronised with champion jockey, Tony McCoy on board. Magnificently ridden by McCoy, the former Welsh National winner outstayed defending champion Long Run up the hill and in the process fought off a hugely game challenge from the unfancied 50/1 The Giant Bolster, who finished third.
Sadly for Kauto Star he probably ran his last race but he never got very far being pulled up by Ruby Walsh after failing to travel.
Elsewhere there was a fantastic win for Countrywide Flame to win the day’s opener, the Triumph Hurdle. Ridden by Dougie Costello the 33/1 outsider produced a searing finish to see off his more fancied rivals.
It was a 20/1 outsider who won the second race too. Alderwood trained by Thomas Mullins and ridden by McCoy put in a gutsy performance to get to the line ahead of Edgardo Sol, himself a 25/1 shot.The major supporting race to the Gold Cup, the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle also had a surprise winner with Brindisi Breeze, trained in Scotland by Lucinda Russell held off the hot 6/5 favourite, Boston Bob and now looks set for a big future. He has been quoted at 14/1 to win the 2013 World Hurdle.
Following the Gold Cup and the best professional jockey’s it was the turn of the amateurs in the Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup over the Gold Cup course. This race produced a few thrills and spills but was eventually won by 7/1 shot Salsify.
The penultimate race of the week, The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Hurdle produced an incredible finish where the lead changed hands three or four times between the placed horse’s. Ultimately it was won by Attaglance giving trainer Malcolm Jefferson his second winner of the week.
The final race of 2012 Cheltenham Festival produced yet another incredible finish but it was ‘hats off’ time to trainer, Nicky Henderson whose Bellvano won the race giving the Seven Barrows trainer his seventh winner of the week.
1.30 Triumph Hurdle
It hasn’t happened for some years but this time around a 33/1 outsider, Countrywide Flame took the spoils in the Triumph Hurdle for trainer John Quinn and jockey Dougie Costello. He proved far the stronger up the hill leaving many of the more fancied contenders in his wake. He finished 3 lengths clear of the second horse, Hisaabaat with the 5/1 favourite Grumeti ¾ length further back in third place.
2.05 County Handicap Hurdle
This was a cracking 26 runner field race that produced a hugely exciting finish which saw another outsider, Alderwood at 20/1 get to the line first. He was helped on his way by the brilliance of Tony McCoy who managed to urge him to the line and hold on by ¾ length with a brave Edgardo Sol second, Sailors Warn third and Plan A back in fourth.
2.40 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle
Boston Bob came to this novice stayer’s race over 3 miles, in great form and was said to be the ‘apple of his eye’ of trainer, Willie Mullins. However despite being the 6/5 favourite he was put in his place by the Lucinda Russell trained Brindisi Breeze who travelled superbly all race under jockey, Campbell Gillies holding on to win by a couple of lengths from the favourite. It was a rare win for a Scottish trained horse, but such was the performance that he has earned himself a quote of 14/1 to win the 2013 World Hurdle. Third horse home was Grand Vision at 25/1.
3.20 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Synchronised for owner, JP McManus, trainer, Jonjo O’Neill and jockey, Tony McCoy stole the show by claiming the Gold Cup after a spectacular race up the hill with the favourite and defending champion Long Run and 50/1 outsider, The Giant Bolster. It was a result that came with some surprise but the new champion was well backed beforehand coming in at 8/1. The Giant Bolster’s second place performance was a big surprise however, considering he finished over 11 lengths adrift of Long Run in the Grade 2 Denman Chase last month when in receipt of four pounds. Long Run this time had to settle for third place. Sadly the race was marred somewhat with dual winner, Kauto Star having to pull up after sustaining a muscle strain after jumping the water on the first circuit. It is highly likely that he will now be retired.
4.00 Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup
The amateur rider’s Gold Cup produced a fine performance by the winner Salsify who produced a first Festival success for County Cork trainer Rodger Sweeney and a fifth win of a disappointing week for the Irish. Salsify proved too good for the second placed 3/1 favourite Chapoturgeon and the outsider Oscar Delta who was third.
4.40 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Hurdle
Yet another fantastic finish with the Malcolm Jefferson trained Attaglance getting home after a titanic struggle with Toner D'Oudairies, Oscar Nominee and Make A Track after they jumped the last almost together. The four battled it out with the lead seemingly changing hands once or twice but at the line it was Attaglance who crossed first followed by Toner D’Oudairies, with Oscar Nominee in third and Make A Track not quite able to stay with the first three in fourth place.
5.15 The Grand Annual Chase
21 runners went to post to contest this final race of the ‘Festival’ and between them but fittingly it was Nicky Henderson who trained the winner Bellvano which was his magnificent seventh of the week. Just for good measure the Festival’s leading trainer of all time saddled the second home too, Tanks For That and the fourth Anquetta. Meanwhile long time leader, Kumbeshwar had to settle for third after giving his all.