Cheltenham Festival

Henderson And De Bromhead Blast Potential Changes To Mares' Hurdle At Cheltenham

Nicky Henderson and Henry de Bromhead have spoken out against the rumoured changes to the National Hunt programme in Britain that would see Grade 1 winners not being qualified to run in the Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.  Dual Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle signed off on her glittering career for de Bromhead by notching a 13th Grade 1 and a second Mares' Hurdle success in what many people describe as one of the greatest moments in Cheltenham Festival history back in 2023.  Henderson has trained a galaxy of star...

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Nevin Truesdale: 'Racing Must Adapt to the World Around Us' 

Imagine a world in which British racing's problems have been solved. There is plenty of prize-money to go round, at least 12 runners in every race, attendance figures are up, the Cheltenham Festival has returned to three days and the Derby to a Wednesday.  Okay, let's not be completely fanciful. The four-day Festival is here to stay, as is the Saturday Derby, but if you spend an hour in a room with Jockey Club chief executive Nevin Truesdale, you may leave it feeling that some of the other items on...

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Cheltenham Was Always About the Horses and Britain Has Lost Ground 

When I started covering the Cheltenham Festival in the late 1980s it was still a place of myth and legend: whiskey priests, all-night card schools, hopeful (but not expectant) Irish pilgrimages, farmers with chances of winning a race and wince-inducing whip-use up the hill. It was a place chiefly for aficionados - the county set and jump racing hardcore, leavened with once-a-year urban tweedies who loved the racing and knew what it meant to watch Dawn Run win both a Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup. A place, in other words, for...

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Galopin Des Champs Seals Golden Week For Mullins, Again

CHELTENHAM, UK--Believe it or not, Willie Mullins drew a blank on day three of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, with Capodanno (Fr) (Manduro {Ger}) and Jade De Grugy (Fr) (Doctor Dino {Fr}) faring best of their trainer's 11 runners on that card when finishing fourth in their respective races. Twenty-four hours without a winner at the Festival is a long time in Willie's world, the one in which he hit the target six times across the first two days of the meeting. Thankfully for him after Thursday's 'drought', there was a...

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Skelton Takes Trainers' Championship Lead As Brits Fight Back

CHELTENHAM, UK--St Patrick's Thursday at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival could turn out to be a pivotal day in the career of Dan Skelton, with the prize-money pocketed by his two winners--taking his overall tally for the week to four--seeing him leapfrog his long-time mentor Paul Nicholls in the battle to be crowned champion trainer in Britain. Skelton had been the one man to put up any resistance to the Irish on Wednesday's card when winning the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle with Langer Dan (Ire) (Ocovango {GB}) and the Johnny Henderson...

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Two Queens But Only One King as Mullins Rules Cheltenham 

CHELTENHAM, UK -- "It's the Willie Mullins five as they come towards the last." Commentator Ian Bartlett issued a line to strike dread into the hearts of rival trainers. Mullins had picked up where he left off, with Ballyburn (Ire) (Flemensfirth) leading home his stable-mates Jimmy de Seuil (Fr), Ile Atlantique (Fr), Mercurey (Fr) and Predators Gold (Fr) in the G1 Gallagher Novices' Hurdle. The only other finisher, and one of two British-trained runners, was Ben Pauling's Handstands (Ire), tailed off, while Jingko Blue (Fr) continued a week of woe...

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A Mullins Treble Puts Cheltenham Century in Reach

CHELTENHAM, UK -- The biggest cheer all day at Cheltenham came from the Ascot crowd. Sir Francis Brooke, first Her Majesty's and now His Majesty's Representative at Ascot was engulfed by back-slappers and well-wishers as the horse he owns with Richard Pilkington, Chianti Classico (Ire) (Shantou {Ire}), ground his way through the extended three miles of the Ultima Handicap Chase to provide the sole strike for Britain on a day dominated - predictably - by Willie Mullins.  Chianti Classico's trainer Kim Bailey has had his share of Cheltenham glory but...

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'State Man Must Win' – Q&A With Haras de Saint-Voir Boss Nicolas de Lageneste

There are few more respected figures in French National Hunt racing than Nicolas de Lageneste.  It seems as though everything de Lageneste turns his hand to, be that breeding, training or simply owning racehorses, it is a success. Last year he completed the rare achievement of being crowned champion National Hunt owner and breeder in the same season. Nobody has ever done that before.  Fewer still would be capable of nurturing a horse like Il Est Francais (Fr) (Karaktar {Ire}). Not only did de Lageneste breed the superstar chaser, who...

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He's Mustard: The Champion Hurdle Contender Carrying Big Dreams for the Fowlers' Small Stable

Sometime in the next few days there will likely be footage of a convoy of vast wagons carrying Gordon Elliott's army of horses from Co Meath to Cheltenham. Ten minutes down the road from Elliott's stable, a single two-box will pull out of the drive at Rahinston to make that same journey. On board will be Colonel Mustard (Fr), an outsider for the Champion Hurdle but very much the star of Lorna Fowler's string of 15 jumpers.  Of all the Festival races, the Champion Hurdle has been hogging the headlines...

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'We're Up Against Monsters' – Molony On Kenny Alexander's Cheltenham Squad

Peter Molony, racing manager to Kenny Alexander, says he cannot split the powerful owner's Jade De Grugy (Fr), Kargese (Fr) and previous Cheltenham Festival scorer Telmesomethinggirl (Ire) when it comes to picking the operation's best chance of a winner at Prestbury Park next week.  The Rathmore Stud boss also provided a passionate riposte to some of the criticism being levelled at the mares' races at the Cheltenham Festival by stating that their horse of a lifetime Honeysuckle (GB) may never have seen a racetrack had it not been for the...

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Champion Hurdle Favourite Constitution Hill to Miss Cheltenham

Constitution Hill (GB) (Blue Bresil {Fr}) will not run at the Cheltenham Festival, trainer Nicky Henderson has announced. The unbeaten and defending Champion Hurdle hero worked poorly at Kempton Park last Tuesday, putting his participation at the showpiece meeting in major doubt. A scope showed mucus in his lungs and despite slightly more positive news in the following days, results of a blood test on Thursday proved to be another blow. However, Henderson stressed that another blood test on Monday would probably prove to be the "acid test", and on...

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National Hunt Chase to be Named in Memory of Maureen Mullins 

The G2 National Hunt Chase at next week's Cheltenham Festival will be run in honour of the late Maureen Mullins, who died last month at the age of 94.  The move, which was announced by Cheltenham Racecourse on Monday, was welcomed by her son Tony, who said, "Undoubtedly the correct race for a great stayer." The matriarch of a hugely successful Irish racing dynasty, Mullins's late husband Paddy saddled six Festival winners, including one of the greatest National Hunt mares of all time, Dawn Run (Ire), who remains the only...

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