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2018 Cheltenham Festival winners - The six best winning performances from this year's Festival

Brian Healy in Latest News 27 Mar 2018

Brian Healy picks out his six best winning performances across the four days of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.


The dust has now settled on another cracking Cheltenham Festival week, and throughout the four days of top-class horse racing action, there were several notable performances through the week as 28 races went to post.

For every winner, there was a hard luck story, and once again the ‘greatest show on turf’ didn’t disappoint the legions of racegoers and TV viewers from around the world who bore witness to the happenings of those four fantastic days in March.

Here, Brian Healy picks out his six best winning performances of the week.

SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE - SUMMERVILLE BOY


The Cheltenham Festival opener was all about Willie Mullins’ Getabird, who had been talked about in the lead-up to the race as an early banker; but the Irish raider was a spent force having pulled hard. Amy Murphy’s Kalashnikov kicked for home jumping two out, and he looked set to add another big win to his record.

But, smuggled into the race by Noel Fehily, Tom George’s Summerville Boy looked a big danger on the heels of that rival only to be put on the back foot by a mistake; immediately under pressure, the writing looked on the wall, but Fehily gathered his mount and galvanising his willing partner the pair ran on well to challenge over the final hurdle where he made another mistake.

But he stuck on well on the climb to the hill to get the better of Amy Murphy’s charge and score by around a neck. It had looked an unlikely success jumping two out, but snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat in such a manner has to go down as one of the runs of the Festival.

Summerville Boy overcame plenty of trouble in running to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.


RSA CHASE - PRESENTING PERCY


This race looked a potential showdown of Irish starts Monalee, who had won the Flogas Novices’ Chase, and Presenting Percy who arrived on the back of a defeat behind Our Duke in the Red Mills Chase.

It was Pat Kelly’s Presenting Percy who came out on top in the end, beating his rival by seven lengths at the line. The Sir Percy gelding was always travelling strongly under Davy Russell, and having quietly crept into contention as the field swept down the hill for the final time he took up the running on the run to the second last fence, after which, there was only going to be one winner.

Drawing readily clear, he was spring-heeled at the last and stormed up the hill to post an impressive success over his fellow Irish raider and jump into the Gold Cup picture in future years.

CHAMPION CHASE - ALTIOR


The eagerly-anticipated showdown between Douvan and Altior never really materialised as Willie Mullins’ star departed the race four fences out when still travelling strongly. The Walk In The Park gelding took off a stride early and hit the fence on the way down, leaving Patrick Mullins no chance to survive.

The Irish star had travelled like the Douvan of old up until that point; Altior however had ran in snatches somewhat, looking ill at ease on the testing ground and needing to be niggled by jockey Nico de Boinville.

Nicky Henderson’s charge had to be ridden away from the third-last, and as the field turned into the straight, he was in danger being left by his rivals as they swept past him. But levelling up for the second-last fence, Altior suddenly found his stride, and a power-packed finish ensued as he collared Min jumping the last before sprinting away up the hill for a comfortable success which for a time looked unlikely.

Having looked in trouble turning into the straight, Altior powered up the hill for a comfortable win in the Champion Chase.



MARES’ NOVICES’ HURDLE - LAURINA


Progressive mare Maria’s Benefit tried to make all the running, and Stuart Edmunds’ charge helped set a strong pace. However, she had nothing left to give between the last two hurdles and tired to finish fourth.

However, Willie Mullins’ Laurina never came off the bridle in sauntering to a wide-margin success under Paul Townend, who was deputising for the injured Ruby Walsh on board the Spanish Moon mare. Racing in midfield, she crept into the race going easily jumping three from home before effortlessly cruising into the lead between the final two obstacles.

Despite a slight mistake at the last, she was never in any danger and she coasted home up the hill to post a near-twenty lengths success to post what was arguably the most visually impressive win of the Festival.


KIM MUIR CHASE - MISSED APPROACH


One thing had been evident in each of the first three days of the festival in that those who liked to race prominently had largely failed to get home in the testing ground.

That was until Missed Approach made every yard of the running under Noel McParlan to score a narrow success over the well-fancied Mall Dini. Indeed, Pat Kelly’s charge had looked for some time the likeliest winner, as he appeared to travelling much the better of the two rivals as the pair locked horns from the third last.

There was little between the pair as they jumped the last, with Mall Dini still looking the stronger; but despite a mistake at the final fence, Warren Greatrex’s charge pulled out more on the run to the line to deny Mall Dini by a half-length, always holding on.

Missed Approach (left) made every yard of the running to deny Mall Dini in the Kim Muir.


GOLD CUP - NATIVE RIVER


Might Bite had been all the rage with punters in the lead-up to the Blue Riband contest, but conditions were in favour of Colin Tizzard’s charge who had finished third the previous year behind Sizing John.

The pair were never far from each other at the head of affairs, pressing each other for the lead which Native River wouldn’t relinquish; but Nicky Henderson’s charge travelled like the winner and took a narrow advantage jumping the second last having looked to be galloping all over the Tizzard runner turning into the straight; it looked a case of when and how far Might Bite would win once big race jockey Nico de Boinville pressed the button.

But the dogged Native River dug deep to get back into the race on the run to the last having been headed, and jumping the last slightly in front he stayed on strongest to claim the win over his rival who possibly just didn’t quite get home in the tacky ground.

The pair never saw another rival until after the line; but the performance may have left a mark on both horses who gave their all in the Cheltenham mud to serve up a Gold Cup cracker.

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2018 Cheltenham Festival winners - The six best winning performances from this year's Festival

Brian Healy picks out his six best winning performances across the four days of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.

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