Cheltenham Day Four Review: History for Henry de Bromhead as Minella Indo wins Cheltenham Gold Cup
TwinSpires writer Josh Powell will be on site every day for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival in Great Britain. Josh will provide daily assessments and analysis of racing trends, track play and bias, and other key track-side information punters desire.
It has been a record-breaking week for the Irish – and in particular, top trainer Henry de Bromhead. He became the first trainer to win the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same year as Minella Indo led home a de Bromhead 1-2 in the biggest race of the year.
It was a brilliant way to round off a fantastic Festival on a day which also featured an incredible battle between the mares Colreevy and Elimay, as well as the Foxhunters’ Chase which went to a photo finish as they flashed past the post.
HISTORIC HAT-TRICK— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) March 19, 2021
🏆 @UnibetRacing Champion Hurdle
🏆 @betway Champion Chase
🏆 @WellChild Gold Cup @HenrydeBromhead becomes the first trainer in history to win all three at The Festival™️ in the same year 🙇#CheltenhamFestival pic.twitter.com/kx2NJ1EcCj
Rachael Blackmore has been in unstoppable form at Cheltenham and rode her sixth winner here in the opening race. Talk About You took them along at a mixed pace with Quilixios and Blackmore tracking them all the way. Only seven lengths covered the field of eight down to the second-last fence, but it all changed as Talk About You made a mistake, Quilixios took it up and applied the pressure. The well-fancied Zanahiyr and Tritonic were quickly outpaced as Quilixios readily went clear to win by just over three lengths. Adagio just got his head in front of Haut En Couleurs to get second.
County Handicap Hurdle
The County Handicap Hurdle was a strongly run race which was fiercely competitive as always, with plenty of chances coming up the hill. It was a first Festival win for jockey Kevin Sexton though on board Belfast Banter who had snuck into the race right at the bottom of the weights. Milkwood and Third Time Lucki hit the front far too early with three furlongs to go and they were picked off by the winner and Petit Mouchoir, who was shouldering 19 pounds more than Belfast Banter and got up for second.
The gallop in this three-mile race was relentless, and Vanillier looked like he had gone for home too early with Mark Walsh on board. However, he traveled well and extended his lead as he firmly put the disappointment of his last run at the Dublin Racing Festival behind him. He stayed well and enjoyed himself on the better, drying ground. Oscar Elite was a live outsider and got up for second, ahead of Streets Of Doyen, but it was an eye-catching win by Vanillier who was 11 lengths clear at the line.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
De Bromhead was already having a fantastic Festival, and now he is a Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer. It was a 1-2 for de Bromhead as Minella Indo, last year’s unlucky runner-up in the RSA Chase, stayed on and readily held off stablemate A Plus Tard by little over a length. Two-time king Al Boum Photo lost nothing in defeat coming home third, while Santini and Champ both put in disappointing efforts and were pulled up. Native River was under pressure early on as Frodon put in a solid pace but was picked off as they turned for home. The race belonged to Jack Kennedy and Minella Indo though as he righted the wrongs of his fall in the Dublin Festival and won on the grandest stage of them all.
After the thrill of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, we probably got the race of the week and we had barely caught a breath. In an exhilarating Foxhunters, Porlock Bay and favourite Billaway raced clear of the field and were neck-and-neck as they came up to the line, 13 lengths ahead of everything else. They flashed past the post together and the result went to the judge. It went to the British runner Porlock Bay – the first British runner in 11 Festival races – and the favourite was beaten by a short head.
If the Foxhunters’ Chase was a thriller, the Mares’ Chase was just as good. The two market leaders, Elimay and Colreevy, went at it hammer-and-tong from the very start and the pair battled up the hill in a fascinating duel. Elimay edged in front leaping the last, but Coolreevy battled back on the inside and with half a furlong to go it was hard to pick a winner as they eyeballed each other. The two Willie Mullins stable stars didn’t give an inch to each other, but it was Colreevy who stayed on and edged ahead to win by a half-length. Shattered Love stayed on well for third but was well beat.
Willie Mullins and Paul Townend strike in our penultimate race of The Festival™️ supporting @WellChild— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) March 19, 2021
And it's a 1-2 for the stable as Colreevy beats Elimay in the inaugural running of the Mrs @paddypower Mares' Chase 🏆
👉 https://t.co/VI613aaTOm#CheltenhamFestival pic.twitter.com/zMta4t4yod
Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle
And the week ended with a bonus for Mullins as he was crowned leading trainer of the Festival after a sixth Cheltenham win of the week with Galopin Des Champs in the Martin Pipe Handicap. Langer Dan for the Skelton yard won the Imperial Cup last week and was going for a £50k bonus here but couldn’t lay a glove on the winner despite traveling into the race strongly and finished a couple of lengths behind the winner. Floueur and Whatsupwithyou ran on to claim third and fourth at big prices but the leading pair had stretched well clear.
On to Aintree…
That’s the Cheltenham Festival wrapped up – a record-breaking one for trainer Henry de Bromhead, jockey Rachael Blackmore and all the Irish horses who had an astonishing 23 wins from 28 races. Now it’s on to Aintree for a lot of these superstars for the Grand National meeting starting April 8, where we will see fierce rivalries renewed and champions attempting to retain their crowns.