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The Byrne Group Plate (4:00pm) is a Class A Grade 3 handicap chase run over two miles and five furlongs and is open to horses aged five years old and upwards. The total prize fund in 2017 is £90,000 and the race will be run on Thursday, March 16.

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Recent Winners

The Byrne Group Plate (formerly called The Festival Plate, The Racing Post Plate and The Mildmay of Flete) has proven to be a successful race in recent years for the yards of Venetia Williams, Nicky Henderson and David Pipe, who have trained the winner of six of the last nine renewals.

Novice chasers have a good record in race as they often turn out to be well handicapped compared to their more experienced rivals. However, with the introduction of the Jewson Handicap specifically for novices, that trend may decline in coming years.

2018 The Storyteller
2017 Road to Respect
2016 Empire of Dirt
2015 Darna
2014 Ballynagour
2013 Carrickboy
2012 Salut Flo
2011 Holmwood Legend
2010 Great Endeavour
2009 Something Wells
2008 Mister McGoldrick
2007 Idole First
2006 Non So
2005 Liberthine
2004 Tikram
2003 Young Spartacus
2002 Blowing Wind
2000 Dark Stranger
1999 Majadou
1998 Super Coin
1997 Terao
1996 Old Bridge
1995 Kadi
1994 Elfast

2012 Byrne Group Plate Review

The Irish drought in this race continued with victory going to the David Pipe-trained Salut Flo, who was landing some tidy bets in the process having been punted into 9/2.

His backers had few anxious moments as the seven-year-old made all the running and never saw another horse. His jumping, which was fast and low, helped him steal ground at every fence and in hindsight he was an extremely well-handicapped runner.

The Cockney Mackem (10/1) did best of the remainder, staying on well to finish six lengths behind the winner, with Irish raider and outsider Glam Gerry (33/1) a further four and a half lengths away in third.

2011 Byrne Group Plate Review

Holmwood Legend (25-1) was the shock winner of Byrne Group Plate at the Cheltenham Festival for trainer Pat Rodford back in 2011.

The ten-year-old veteran jumped well and survived a slight scare at the last under Keiran Burke before striding home by three-and-a-half lengths.

Aimigayle (25-1) was back in second  and 9-2 favourite Beautiful Sound ran on well up the hill to finish third, with Consigliere fourth at 20-1.

2010 Byrne Group Plate Review

Another great advertisement for previous course form with the first four home having all won around here before and the fifth, Gwanako, having often saved his best efforts for this track. Also worth noting is the fact that two novices finished first and second, while all of the first three carried very little weight.

Martin Pipe was always a man to fear in Festival handicaps and his son David has taken little time to take up that mantle and hot on the hills of Buena Vistas success in the Pertemps, GREAT ENDEAVOUR was an impressive winner of this fiercely competitive handicap.

He's been disappointing as of late, but the return to better ground obviously helped and he has now won five of his nine starts under rules. Presumably he'll be aimed at all of the big handicaps next season.

Runner up, Sunnyhill Boy, was closing fast on the winner at the death. A few poor jumps probably left him further back than his jockey would have wanted and with the winners rating likely to go up more than his the Jonjo O'Neill trained seven year old could easily reverse this form if and when the first two meet again.

From Dusk To Dawn was third. Good ground is also the key to him and he stays further.

The evergreen Mister McGoldrick defied Old Father Time once more to finish fourth. He loves these competitive handicaps and he won this in 2008. Retirement will surely now be on hold for at least another season.

Gwanako (fifth) is very consistent but is too high in the handicap at the moment.

In Compliance (sixth) threatened to become a top class chaser a few seasons ago, but his progress was halted by injury and this is his level now. The ground is often too soft for him in Ireland so it was no surprise to see him run a big race here given the underfoot conditions.

Another trend of Martin Pipe's that David seems to be following is that it is often not his most fancied runner in a Festival handicap that comes up trumps and although Im So Lucky went off nearly half the price of the winner he could only finish eighth.

2009 Freddie Williams Plate Review

This year's Festival Plate was renamed to honour legendary Festival bookmaker Freddie Williams, who passed away last year.

Despite the huge field, very few managed to land a blow and it was left to the Venetia Williams pair of SOMETHING WELLS and Ping Pong Sivola to fight out the finish.

The two were at opposite ends of the market, but it was the less fancied Something Wells who got his head in front when it mattered, eventually wearing down his stablemate, who had shot clear at the top of the hill, after jumping four out.

The winner had fallen in last year’s Jewson, but he jumped well here and deserved a big race win, having been running consistently well for a while now.

It is hard not to feel sorry for the runner up Ping Pong Sivola, who made a brave bid for glory from such a long way out. She looked certain to be gobbled up by the winner two out, but battled on gamely all the way to the line and was denied by less than a length at the end.

There was a mile back to the third, Notable D’Estruval who did his chances no favours with a bad mistake at the second last

Three Mirrors, in fourth, was running on well at the end again, but he is making a habit of getting going all too late and is becoming expensive to follow.

Last year’s eighth, Cossack Dancer defied odds of 100/1 to finish a respectable fifth, whilst the winner of the Jewson at least year’s Festival, Finger Onthe Pulse was sixth, running here off a 15lb higher mark.

Other challengers to the front two might have emerged, but for some carnage four out. Le Burf, who was still travelling okay in the chasing pack, was the first to fall, bringing down the staying on Perce Rock in the process. Pop, who was also starting to get into the race, fell independently at the same obstacle.

2008 Racing Post Plate Review

Arguably the most competitive race of the meeting produced the biggest shock of the Festival as veteran MISTER MCGOLDRICK turned back the clock to land this valuable handicap in hugely impressive fashion.

The winner spread-eagled the field running down the hill for the final time, turning the race into a procession, and the eventual winning distance was 13 lengths, with a further 11 lengths back to the third.

This was Mister McGoldrick’s finest moment since finishing third in the 2006 Queen Mother, but the handicapper is likely to have his say as a result and he may struggle to win again in the near future.

If you take the winner out of the race then Gwanako would have been an equally impressive winner. This was just his third run over fences and he looks sure to improve with time / experience. He looks like one to follow next season especially given his powerful connections.

Fundamentalist also ran a blinder in third, as this was his second run at the Festival in the space of just 48 hours. He has at last started to fulfil the immense promise he first showed when winning the Sun Alliance Novices Hurdle at the 2004 Festival.

Bible Lord, in fourth, spoilt his chances with some iffy jumping. He remains well enough handicapped to win a big prize next season.

Another Festival favourite, Palarshan, flew up the hill in his customary fashion to take fifth, whilst Boychuk (sixth) ran his usual race, dropping out of condition when the pace started to quicken before rallying when the contest was all but over – he is becoming increasingly frustrating and difficult to win with.

The well backed favourite, Don’t Push It, was beaten when coming to grief two out. He was hugely promising last season, but has had a badly interrupted campaign this year and so shouldn’t be written off just yet. In time, he may benefit from a further step up in trip.

2007 Racing Post Plate Review

Another example of a horse coming back to show his best form at the Festival, as the 2005 Coral Cup winner IDOLE FIRST claimed the most valuable handicap of the meeting.

Certain horses just seem to be suited to the Festival – be it because of the fast pace of the races, the uniqueness of the Cheltenham circuit, the invariably decent ground or simply the time of year – and the Venetia Williams trained runner was always travelling well just off the pace and rarely looked like losing after taking over the lead swinging for home. In fact, he positively sprinted clear on the run in and was still over four lengths in front at the death.

As if to emphasis the point about Festival specialists, Palarshan put up an incredible performance in second. The 2003 Grand Annual winner had been off the course for 728 days going into the race but finished best of all to pip a whole host of horses for the runners up spot. Not only was this a great effort from the horse, it was also a tremendous training feat by Henry Daly.

Mariah Rollins, Le Volfoni, Slim Pickings and Reveillez (who won last season’s Jewson) were the horses who were passed by Palarshan on the run in and left to battle it out for third.

For Mariah Rollins, who just won that battle, this was the mare’s best run by far since joining Nicky Henderson from Ireland. The drying ground was clearly the key.

Le Volfoni in fourth, also relished underfoot conditions. He has had a light campaign so far as connections have waited for the ground to improve and he could yet win a decent race before the end of the season if we have a dry spring.

Slim Pickings travelled noticeably well throughout the race, but lacked a change of gear when it mattered. A step up in trip should bring about further improvement in the horse, who has clearly thrived since moving to Tom Taaffe.

Reveillez and Madison Du Berlais both ran well, but have been penalised for winning decent events in the recent past and consequently are in the grip of the handicapper.

Opera Mundi was a very well backed favourite, but ran no sort of race. Much better was clearly expected and he may well leave this form behind in the future.

2006 Racing Post Plate Review

NON SO’S success in this fiercely competitive handicap provided trainer Nicky Henderson with his second consecutive win in the race. It also provided the horse with a deserved big race success, which he’s looked like securing on a number of occasions in the past only for his jumping to let him down.

There was no such problem here as, having just taken up the running, he cleared the last two fences in style to win going away.

Kelrev was equally well clear in second. However, having been ridden off the pace he was too far off Non So when that horse kicked for home, and his pursuit of winner up the straight was always going to be a forlorn one. Kelrev loves these big handicaps as the break neck speed at which there are invariably run seems to suit him well.

The third, Graphic Approach, was returning to form here and seemed to enjoy the drop back in trip having disappointed at Sandown last time.

Saintsaire, a stable mate of the winner, was the unlucky horse of the race. He took a crashing fall at the last when in third place, having led for most of the race. He was nicely clear at the top of the hill and kept on bravely – he deserved better. Thankfully, having stayed on the ground for sometime, he eventually got back to his feet and was only winded.

The eye catcher amongst the stragglers was undoubtedly Le Passing. He was practically tailed off at one point, but flew home to finish seventh, having passed umpteen horses on the way. He is well worth looking out for when he next gets his favoured heavy ground.

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