CHELTENHAM REVIEW WITH TURF TALK

Irish eyes are smiling as they sweep the boards at Cheltenham

Nineteen Irish trained winners

Patrick Grace

Reporter:

Patrick Grace

Irish eyes are smiling as they sweep the boards at Cheltenham

Sizing John takes the Cheltenham Gold Cup on St. Patrick's Day

In a week where Irish eyes were smiling, 19 of the 28 races at the Cheltenham festival were won by by Irish trained horses, the biggest cheer of the week though must go to Jessica Harrington's Sizing John in a thrilling Gold Cup on St Patrick's Day. Read on for all the reaction to the win.

Harrington on cloud nine after Gold cup win

Sizing John gave Jessica Harrington her first victory in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with her first runner when coming home a clear-cut winner of jumping's blue riband prize.
Given a patient ride by Robbie Power, the seven-year-old completed the English-Irish Gold Cup double in style to dispel any stamina doubts.
Djakadam travelled well for most of the race and looked as though he might end Willie Mullins' hoodoo in the showpiece event, but Sizing John (7-1) pounced to lead between the final two fences.
So often in the shadow of Douvan over two miles, Sizing John kept on strongly up the hill to score by two and three-quarter lengths from the staying-on Minella Rocco (18-1).
Native River (7-2) was a short head away in third and Djakadam - twice the runner-up - was fourth.
Owner Alan Potts said: 'It's unreal, it's my dream and it's come true.
'It's our first runner in the race, the jockey's first ride and Jessie's first runner.'
Harrington said: 'I can't believe it, it was amazing how he jumped and travelled.
'Robert said he wasn't going to go down the inside, but he did.
'It's absolutely fantastic, my first runner in a Gold Cup.
'He was running over two miles, but it was Robert who said he would stay and he did.
'Thanks to everyone at home, it's all down to the team.
'I can't believe it, I've got to get a Classic now (on the Flat)!'
Power, who won the Grand National on the Gordon Elliott-trained Silver Birch in 2007, said: 'Unbelievable, Jessica Harrington is a genius.
'I always said when this horse stepped up in trip he'd win.
'It's 10 years ago I won the National, I'm 35 now and appreciate it a bit more.
'Everyone has done a top-class job, it means more than any winner I've ridden for Jessica.'
Power went on: 'I had a lot of confidence in this horse, ever since the first day I rode him behind Douvan.
'We upped him to two and a half and then up to three - I was fully confident he'd always stay.
'I ended up jumping to the front at the second-last and I didn't want to do that until the last, but I was confident he'd stay up the hill.
'The plan was to be in the middle of the fence and keep out of trouble, but it was crowded on the outside so I took a chance and went down the inner and it worked perfectly. When you're on the best horse you can go anywhere.
'When he won at Thurles he didn't win until stamina kicked in and that convinced me he'd stay. It's thanks to Alan and Ann for letting us up him in trip and we said we'd come here after winning the Irish Gold Cup.'
Cue Card fell at the third-last for the second successive year, while Lizzie Kelly only got as far as the second fence where she and Tea For Two parted company.

Elliott leading trainer at Festival

Champagne Classic gave Gordon Elliott his sixth winner of the Cheltenham Festival when taking the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle under JJ Slevin.
Lizzie Kelly tried to make all on Coo Star Sivola, but the pack closed in two out, with Champagne Classic well positioned.
The 12-1 shot, owned by Gigginstown House Stud, was in the lead at the last and went on to score by two and a quarter lengths from Verni, with Runfordave, a stablemate of the winner, a length and a quarter back in third.
Coo Star Sivola stuck on for fourth.
Winning owner Michael O'Leary said: 'I think that was miraculous as he's probably the worst horse we own, but it will mean more to Gordon as this is a race he's always wanted to win because he's very close to Martin.
'When you buy in numbers there are some duds and he's one of them! The jockey gave him a great ride.
'We should be very grateful and very humble, it's great for Gordon and young JJ Slevin, he's ridden a couple of winners for us.'
Slevin said: 'Michael might not think he's much use, but he's good enough for me.
'I was lucky the ride came up and I put a call in and got it, but then I got offered another ride and Gordon wouldn't let me off him.
'He travelled everywhere, jumped every hurdle and was a winner all the way really.
'Gordon's had an unbelievable week and it's a privilege to ride for him.'
Elliott, who secured the title of top trainer at the Festival for the first time with the win, said: 'It's been an amazing week. To beat Willie, with the strength he has - and he's an amazing trainer - is brilliant.
'It's a credit to the staff and the owners, I'm part of a team so we'll enjoy it.
'Coming over I was hoping for one and we won the first race with Labaik so everything else has been a bonus.
'It's unbelievable, we had three winners Tuesday and had a bit of a drink, too much so we haven't touched a drop since. When we get home next week we'll have a staff party.
'Apple's Jade winning was sweet, Cause Of Causes was special but winning the Martin Pipe race is great.'
Charlie Deutsch was taken to hospital for further checks on an arm injury sustained in a fall from the Nicky Henderson-trained Rather Be.
He missed his intended ride aboard Callipto in the closing Grand Annual and Cheltenham spokeswoman Sophia Dale confirmed Deutsch was seeking further medical treatment.
She said: 'Charlie has gone to Cheltenham General Hospital with an arm injury.'

McCoy honoured with statue at Cheltenham

Sir Anthony McCoy was left 'very honoured and flattered' as a statue was put up in his honour at Cheltenham.
The bronze figure of the retired 20-times champion jockey, which was crafted by Dublin-based sculptor Paul Ferrier, was unveiled in front of racegoers in the Best Mate Plaza before racing on Tuesday.
During his long and successful career McCoy, 42, who is now part of the ITV Racing team, partnered 31 winners at the Festival, which included two victories in the Gold Cup and three Champion Hurdle successes.
His final victory came at his last appearance at the meeting in 2015, when steering the Alan King-trained Uxizandre to glory in the Ryanair Chase.
McCoy said: 'I can only say a huge thank you to Cheltenham. It was 20 years to this week when I won the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup and I had my first ride here in 1994. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have a statue put up in my honour.
'A lot of my friends say the statue has more personality than I have. I'm very honoured. I can say a huge thanks to Paul Ferrier who did this as he has made it just like me.
'I feel very honoured and flattered by it.'
Among those gathered at the unveiling was McCoy's former boss and leading owner JP McManus, who provided him with a number of his big-race Festival victories including Synchronised in 2012 Gold Cup.
He said: 'It's a lovely tribute. I'm very proud of it and delighted he is honoured in this way. It's very special. I can't think of anybody that deserves it more.
'It's unbelievable that Cheltenham have honoured him this way and I feel very proud for him and his family. We miss him, but thankfully he retired on his own terms.
'They (winners) were all special, but I think to win the Gold Cup was very special. I've only won one of them, but it is pride of place in my house.'

McManus made his own history this week when he had his fiftieth Cheltenham winner. Buveur D'Air took the Champion Hurdle in the famous green and gold hoops with stablemate My Tent Or Yours giving the Limerick owner a one-two in the race.