Cheltenham 2018 Day Two Review – Awe Inspiring Altior
Awesome Altior, super Samcro and the peerless Presenting Percy led the way on day two of the Cheltenham Festival but there was drama when Ruby Walsh’s meeting came to an end after just nine races.
Samcro travelled beautifully throughout the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle under the ultra cool Jack Kennedy and those who had backed him to keep up his unbeaten record on this, his toughest assignment yet, were never given the need to have a moments worry as he powered up the hill for a convincing success.
BoyleSports introduced Samcro at 3/1 for the RSA Chase and he’s just 8/1 to win the Gold Cup next year.
After a blank day on day one, Elliott was naturally relieved that the banker obliged.
Elliott said; “With horses like this, there is lots of pressure on them delivering, but Samcro did it well and we can enjoy this now.”
“We are very lucky to have him and I wouldn’t be afraid to bring him back in trip. He has loads of pace and he only comes awake when the race starts to get going.”
“Jack Kennedy said when got to the front, he pulled up again. It’s great to have horses like this and I’m delighted for Michael O’Leary and all of our staff who work so hard.”
“He’s proved his class today and I do think he has the class and speed to stay over hurdles.”
“Shane McCann rides Samcro out every day and knows him – he does all the work with him and I only train him. He does all the hard work. This is a big team effort that I have at home and it worked out great.”
“There was a lot of pressure today – for Jack, for me and for the whole team – so I am delighted. He’s a big idle devil and just does what he has to do.”
“Michael likes having chasers so we’ll have a chat before making any decision. He was bought to be a chaser but we’ll talk about it.”
“We had a rough day yesterday with Apple’s Jade running below par and Mossback sadly losing his life, but in this game, you just have to pick your head up and go again.”
Presenting Perfect Percy
Presenting Percy was equally, if not even more impressive when he won the RSA Chase under Davy Russell for trainer Pat Kelly who was saddling a winner at the third Cheltenham Festival in a row but for Russell it was an incredible 13 consecutive years with a winner at the Cheltenham Festival.
Winning owner Philip Reynolds was thrilled afterwards and said; “I was hoping that Presenting Percy was a Graded horse and was so thrilled for him when we won the Galmoy at Gowran Park because he has got a bit of a slagging about being a handicap horse.”
“I knew that he was a Graded horse but, to come here and do what he did, is mind-blowing. It means so much to me, it’s incredible and I am in pieces.”
“You need to be really, really tough to win an RSA and you need to stay more than three miles. Pat wanted to get to the bottom of both those. He wanted to know if he stayed more than three miles, which is why he ran in the Porterstown, and he also wanted to know that he could be tough, which is why we ran him in open company twice.”
“Pat Kelly [trainer] is an absolute genius. Davy Russell had a very, very hard decision to make. He could have ridden Monalee and the two of them were lying up upside each other coming to the last. I owe my life to those two guys and it’s fantastic.”
Ruby’s Recurring Nightmare
Unfortunately for Walsh his Festival ended at the second last fence and he will see his specialist next week in Dublin before knowing the full extent of the injury that looks to be an aggravation of the leg break he suffered from Let’s Dance in November.
Altior’s brilliance was undeniable but there’s no doubt that most racing fans had a sense of ‘What if’ as Douvan came down at the fourth last fence under Patrick Mullins.
That said, Altior came from looking in a spot of bother midway through the race to leaving Min behind where it mattered..
..and Nicky Henderson made it two from two in the championship races here this week.
“To watch the horse do that, well, he was electric. In behind he wasn’t doing that much, but getting lots of cover and getting a very cool ride. For a second he looked in trouble and I thought ‘This isn’t going to happen’, but as soon as he saw daylight he knew where he was going,” said Henderson who still holds the edge over Willie Mullins with more Cheltenham winners.
“To find those gears in that ground off that pace, you have to be pretty good. It was a great race on paper, and I’m glad to hear that Douvan and also Charbel [who fell] are alright.”
“We’ve been lucky enough to be down this road many times and it’s 90 per cent relief and 10 per cent joy.”