Cheltenham Festival live blog: Day 4
This live event has finished
Turning into a great day for Davy Russell. Savello has closed the Festival by winning the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual.
Bit hectic, as you can imagine, following that Gold Cup but it's North Yorkshire time again now with Viva Colonia and Lucky Landing hoping to give Norton the best possible Festival send off with victory in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual.
Well. That was dramatic and it's still going on. Lord Windermere is first past the post at 20-1 but there's a stewards' inquiry in progress. He seemed to veer strongly to his right across Own His Own. Will the result stand?
The bell has gone.
We will soon be under way. Who will it be? Bobs Worth, Silviniaco Conte? Or will another star be unveiled in jump racing's showpiece contest?
The Gold Cup has been delayed as a result of everything that happened in the Albert Bartlett but, hopefully, it's going to be just a few minutes.
We've now got the biggest race of the season. The Betfred Gold Cup.
Well it's all been happening here.
Very Wood, 33-1, has won the Albert Bartlett but there was a big delay as Daryl Jacob received medical attention after apparently suffering a leg injury on the way down to the start.
Urban Hymn was handy but ran out of petrol and finished well down the field.
Briar Hill fell on the first fence of the back straight, second time around. Owner Graham Wylie is having a miserable Festival at the moment.
A number of his promising horses have failed to go in. Ruby Walsh was set to ride Briar Hill but is obviously in hospital and his replacement, Paul Townend, has been stood down for the day after getting a kick.
David Casey rode Briar Hill and will have to pick himself up off the deck to ride the supplemented Own His Own in the Gold Cup.
RT @RacingPost: Ruby Walsh has a compound fracture of his right humerus and will have surgery at Gloucester.— @Boggo1 14 March 2014
Urban Hymn is now set to take the stage for Norton's Malcolm Jefferson in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.
He's a 16-1 shot behind Briar Hill, who is now ridden by Paul Townend.
As he said earlier, Jefferson has chasing in mind for Urban Hymn but he has won his last two starts over hurdles and likes to go from the front.
Assuming a front running position will obviously be more difficult and Jefferson feels he can sometimes be a bit sloppy over his obstacles - because they are just too small for him - but he is looking for a big run, on ground he believes will suit.
It's been a tough week but that's the way it is here, little margins make such a difference - with a few inches here or there, we could have had four winners."Paul Nicholls
And Paul Nicholls has his first Festival winner of the week.
Lac Fontana, 11-1, has won the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle, from Arctic Fire. Gutting for the runner-up, who was pipped close home.
A bit of a rest for North Yorkshire raiders with no representatives in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle.
Cheltenian, at 11-2, rather fittingly heads the market with Arctic Fire in next at 8-1. His jockey was meant to be Ruby Walsh but the Irishman has a suspected broken wrist following a horrible fall on Abbyssial in the first.
Tiger Roll was an impressive winner of the Triumph at 10-1. Rutherglen and Pearl Castle were fifth and seventh respectively.
You can hear what their trainer, Norton's John Quinn, had to say by clicking the link below:
Followed by Pearl Castle. Calipto now drifting in the market as Royal Irish Hussar assumes favouritism. Pearl Castle is 11/1, Rutherglen is at 10s. The bell has gone. Not long to go now.
Here's Rutherglen in the parade ring...
One other to note is Plinth.
Aidan O'Brien hasn't had many jumpers since he trained the venerable Istrabraq to all those Champion Hurdle wins but the Flat superstar brings Plinth over from Ballydoyle and he's an intriquing prospect.
All the 14 runners need to shape up against Calipto if they are going to win Grade 1 honours.
Paul Nicholls goes into the fourth day of the Festival yet to celebrate a winner but he holds this lad in high regard and he is definitely unexposed, having had just two runs for his new yard.
They were good wins too, clear cut and both of which came at Newbury, and it's no surprise the punters have steamed in for him.
The absence of Le Rocher opens the race up a touch and Guitar Pete, the winner of a Grade 1 hurdle at Leopardstown, demands plenty of respect.
He's trained by Dessie Hughes, who saddled Our Conor to a 15 length victory in this race last year.
Rutherglen, Quinn's other runner, is going for a five-timer today.
He's won at Wetherby, beat Mr Vendman by 21 lengths at Bangor, was tidy in a six length victory over Thorpe at Musselburgh and won a Flat race at Kempton on the all-weather as the trainer got a pre-Cheltenham spin into him.
He didn't face the sort of company that he will encounter here but he's never lost for his trainer, who has purred about his stamina and his attitude.
Pearl Castle might be the speedier, and it's possible Rutherglen will go over further in time, but an iron will to win can take you a long way in the racing game - maybe all the way to Triumph victory.
Let's get a little further into the form for the Triumph.
Pearl Castle has taken a bit of a battering since since winning at Doncaster in February - beating Zamoyski by two and a quarter lengths as a 4/6 favourite.
Not a lot went right for him in that race, though, he stumbled after taking the third from home, he was obstructed and had to be switched left to get a run and still managed to win.
These are the sort of issues that can sink a lesser horse but Pearl Castle dealt with them and still won. I think he's got a game attitude.
It was at Doncaster the previous month where he really made us all sit up and notice.
He beat I Got Power by 16 lengths and the only time he has been beaten as a hurdler was at Wetherby when he encountered softer ground than he would like.
If he handles the track, the dry ground is to his advantage and he would be a handy players at a nice each-way price.
Noel Fehily, who rides Rutherglen for the first time in the Triumph, has been chatting about his mount in the parade ring.
He said: "He's won three juvenile hurdles and has looked quite good winning at Musselburgh, Wetherby and places like that.
"Obviously, this is a step up for him but John Quinn knows what he needs for the Triumph and, hopefully, he is in good form.
"They will go quick in the Triumph and I don't think there will be any problems with him settling."
Quick going update. It's good, good to soft in places on the New Course.
Here's today's non-runners:
1.30pm 4 Ballyglasheen
2.40pm 2 Blakemount
3.20pm 3 First Lieutenant
Norton trainer Malcolm Jefferson has been talking about Urban Hymn, who runs in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at 2.40pm.
"He's done nothing wrong," he said of his six-year-old, who will be ridden by Brian Hughes.
"We are very pleased with him. He's more of a chaser than a hurdler but I thought a year over hurdles would do him good.
"He ran at Doncaster last time on horrible ground and I don't think he wants that sort of ground. He's a lovely mover and a lot like that do like better ground.
"I think nice ground will really suit him and I am hoping he is a Cheltenham horse in the making.
"The New Course will suit him. He gallops, he stays."
John Quinn, who saddles Pearl Castle and Rutherglen in the JCB Triumph Hurdle, has found it hard to split the pair.
My personal view is that Pearl Castle is the faster horse and the drying ground will probably suit him a little better but this is what he told us, before the Festival, when we asked him about his two big runners.
Rutherglen: “He’s in very good form.
He was on a mark of 128 for a month and we were thinking about running him in the Fred Winter but he got put up seven pounds and he’s now up to 135. He’s a very genuine horse and he has won his last four.
“I hope he’s got a sporting each way chance. He’s very tough, he’s well and he never knows when he is beaten. That’s an invaluable trait.
“There will be horses that are more fancied but he is a good, hard knocking horse.”
Pearl Castle: “He won at Doncaster earlier in the month and he got hampered turning in.
"He made a mistake at the second last that would get a lot of horses beaten and he had to switch to the left.
“He still won well and that’s the mark of a smart horse. It didn’t happen for him at all and he still won nicely.”
Who is The Press tipster Tom O'Ryan keen on today? You'll not be surprised to learn he's sticking to the locals:
The fog was dense this morning but, as you can see, it's starting to burn off nicely. We should be in for a cracking day.
If Pearl Castle lands over the final flight anywhere near the front, I will scream the sitting up room down!! #CheltenhamFestival— @cj_mcdougall 14 March 2014
Today is all about Pearl Castle 🏇💷🙏 in first race!! Brian Hughes on top, good jockey... #Winning #Cheltenham Just got 4/1 Bobs Worth way WH— @damhnaic 14 March 2014
I'm going crazy on the video front this morning but this one, from The Telegraph, is definitely worth a view. An overview of the Cheltenham track with champion jockey AP McCoy as your guide...
Here's what the experts think about this year's renewal...
This year's Gold Cup marks 50 years since the brilliant Arkle won the first of three straight titles at the Festival.
It's one of jump racing's great moments. Watch it below:
Lots of pace in the triumph hurdle, maybe too many front/near the pace runners could set it up for Pearl Castle coming through up the hill— @oniztiptoes 14 March 2014
They are not the only Northern raiders hoping to take a piece of Cheltenham glory back to North Yorkshire.
Urban Hymn runs for Norton trainer Malcolm Jefferson in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (2.40pm) and Sheriff Hutton's Stephanie Easterby has Ganbei running in the CGA Foxhunter Chase (4pm).
We've two chances in the final race of the Festival too. Viva Colonia and Lucky Landing, trained in Norton by Brian Ellison and Tony Coyle respectively, are set to run in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase.
A big final day at the Festival, with the showpiece Gold Cup up for grabs at 3.20pm, and big day too for Norton trainer John Quinn.
He's saddling Pearl Castle and Rutherglen in the JCB Triumph Hurdle that opens proceedings here at 1.30pm.
It's a race that has been dominated by the big trainers in recent years but Quinn has broken that stranglehold - when Countrywide Flame won as a 33-1 outsider two years ago.
We'll get into their merits a little later on but both could go well at an each-way price.
Good morning from Cheltenham and let's start with some breaking news from the fourth day of the Festival.
Last Instalment will run in the Gold Cup.
His team have walked the course - although how they did this in the thick fog surrounding the track I've no idea - and decided it is safe for him to run.
It's somewhat controversial.
His trainer, Philip Fenton, is facing a court case on charges of possession of banned substances, including anabolic steroids.
A BHA visit to his yard before the Festival found no traces of any substances in his horses.
Now we have got that out of the way, remember to stay with me this afternoon as I take you through all the action from the final day of the Festival at Prestbury Park.
Remember you can get involved as well. Use the comments facility below to send in your views, your best bets, and anything else that takes your fancy.
Or contact me on twitter too at @scarrollpress. Use the hashtags #cheltenham or #cheltfest
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