Cheltenham 2018 Day Three Review – Irish Domination
Irish domination continued and even when the banker for many, Un De Sceaux, got turned over, there was still a relatively well fancied alternative to the favourite in Balko Des Flos to make sure that the Irish kept winning.
Michael O’Leary landed the Ryanair Chase for the first time when the Galway Plate winner powered past last years winner Un De Sceaux on a day when the first six races all went to Irish trainers and brought the tally up to 15 for the week so far.
The Prestbury Cup may be a gimmick but the facts are far from irrelevant as, with a day to spare, Irish racing can be proud of the fact that we have once again enjoyed more success than the locals at the Cheltenham Festival, even regardless of what happens today but you’d get some price about an Irish blank on the final day.
Return Of Des Flos
De Bromhead is usually reserved in his nominating of future big targets but even…
he was hopeful that Balko Des Flos could return for the biggest test of all in 12 months time.
“We’ll see what happens next. We focused on this race. There are plenty of different options coming up: Aintree, Punchestown. We’ll see. Hopefully next year he might develop into a Gold Cup horse. He ran really well behind Road To Respect over three miles at Leopardstown at Christmas. Or we’ll come back for the Ryanair again,” said the Waterford trainer.
“To win any Grade One here is fantastic, and especially a championship race. To get one of the big ones is the icing on the cake of a great season. It hasn’t sunk in at all! This is the focus of the season.”
Mullins Breaking Records
Penhill and Laurina gave Willie Mullins a record equalling and then record setting 60th and 61st winner at this meeting and the latter brought him beyond Nicky Henderson as the most successful ever trainer at the Cheltenham Festival.
Laurina was a special mare to do it with but his training of Penhill was special in its own right as the horse was…
winning the Stayers Hurdle having not raced since finishing second at the Punchestown Festival last year.
BoyleSports ambassador Robbie Power was delighted with the efforts of Supasundae but he had to give best to the clearly very talented Penhill and Mullins can look forward to Punchestown with him also.
“A lot of credit has to go to Holly Conte who leads him up, rides him and does everything with him. She has virtually trained this horse herself I think. She minds him because he is fairly fragile. I will attribute this to Holly,” said Mullins.
“He has had lots of niggles which needed tending and that’s why we missed the Flat season as we were trying to get him ready and that is when he had problems.
“I would like to put him away now for Cheltenham next year. I don’t know what will happen when I say that to connections, but he is not suited to training for the Flat.
“I was hoping to get a run into him, but coming here without a prep race to win a championship race is a huge achievement to the horse.
“I was quite surprised how little he was blowing during the race – he was way fitter than I thought he was. I would imagine he will go to Punchestown now.”
Of setting a new benchmark for trainers at the meeting, he added; “When you come here first you dream of having just one winner so this is unbelievable.”
Gordon Elliott’s treble included the victory of Shattered Love against the geldings in the Grade 1 JLT Novice Chase while Davy Russell then partnered Delta Work and The Storyteller to victory to go into the final day as leading jockey.