Cheltenham Review – John Cuts Rivals Down To Size

Sizing John stole the show in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as the first runner in the race for Jessica Harrington.

It was also the first ride in the race for Robbie Power and the biggest winner of the 19 enjoyed over four days at the Cheltenham Festival for Irish-trainers.

Puppy Power
Some had major doubts whether or not Sizing John would stay the gruelling test of the Gold Cup trip having spent the majority of his career chasing Douvan around over two-miles, but at the BoyleSports Cheltenham Preview Night, winning jockey Robbie Power had no concerns and he was fully justified.

Power said afterwards:

I had a lot of confidence. Since the first day that I rode him behind Douvan, I felt that all he did was stay.

He continued: “We went gradually to two and a half and then three miles in the Irish Gold Cup and up to three miles and two today. I have given plenty of Cheltenham preview nights and people were saying it was a bad Gold Cup; I was a bit insulted because every good Gold Cup winner has Grade 1 form over two miles.”

Harrington became the first Irish trainer to win the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup and her second winner at Cheltenham this week was the biggest of all.

The Kildare-based trainer said; “I can’t believe it. He was absolutely amazing. His jumping, the way he travelled. It’s thanks to Robert – he’s the one who said at Christmas, ‘he will stay’.”

Irish Eyes Smiling
The Irish domination at the Cheltenham Festival must be somewhat embarrassing for the English trainers and..

the travelling contingent ended the week with 19 of the 28 winners as Harrington and Power completed a double when Rock The World won the finale.

It was Gordon Elliott who took home the Leading Trainer Award. He had a tough start to the final day when many people’s Irish banker Death Duty fell at the last when way out of contention in the Albert Bartlett but the Meath trainer won the race he wanted to, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle, named in honour of his former mentor.

Champagne Classic was the Martin Pipe Hurdle winner on a day when Paul Townend rode a double for Willie Mullins.

An incredible haul from the Irish contingent and one that will have the English reeling… What will Phil Smith have to do next to get a level playing field?!