The Cheltenham Festival 2019 was overall, a successful one for us.
Although we didn’t manage to come home with a winner we are still so pleased with how the majority of our horses ran.
Tuesday began with our runner in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, The Big Bite.
Owned by Heather Haddock and Neal Griffith, Bite went into the race on the back of a successful campaign including two emphatic wins at Chepstow and Haydock.
Despite his fourth place finish at Kempton on his final start before the Festival, where all went against him, he was still very much deserved of a place on the starting line in the Supreme.
Bite jumped the best he has yet, we have always felt that a faster run pace would suit his jumping much better.
He was still in contention, up in the front ranks, right up until the swing into the home straight.
Noel Fehily said that he wasn’t enjoying the softer ground so wasn’t overly hard on him once he was beat.
We’re still very pleased with The Big Bite’s run despite the final position.
Our second runner on the day was Clondaw Castle in the Racing Post Arkle.
Supplemented for the race on the back of fancied runners either being withdrawn or preferring other races, the Arkle looked an open contest and one worth taking on.
Clondaw had earned his place in the race again, on the back of a successful and progressive season winning two races comfortably and finishing a narrow second in another.
Clondaw’s jumping has been something to behold this season, he has an intelligent brain and endless scope.
The Arkle turned into a dramatic race with an unseat, a fall and a brought down.
Ciaran Gethings kept Clondaw clear of the trouble which paid dividends in getting into a nice position which allowed him to still be there, traveling down the final hill.
The eventual winner was very impressive on the day, quickening away smartly from Clondaw around the final bend.
Ciaran reported that Clondaw probably wasn’t suited to that morning’s deluge which provided ground that wasn’t the horse’s optimum.
The third race saw Activial and Singlefarmpayment go head to head in the Ultima Handicap Chase.
Activial has had a fantastic first season for us finishing second on his first start, winning the next, narrowly being denied into second in his third start and not disgraced on his most recent outing.
Singlefarmpayment had earned his place in the Festival line-up with two solid efforts in handicap chases at Cheltenham this season.
Finishing fourth first time out and then just getting headed on the line by Cogry in December when 7lb worse off than the winner.
Activial ran his usual bold front running race, jumping superbly and putting pressure on the rest of the field.
He then gutsed out the finish up the hill to place a not-too-far-away, sixth.
We were so pleased with how Activial settled as that was previously, a sticking point of his.
Singlefarmpayment just didn’t fire for whatever reason in the race.
He was always towards the rear and struggled to get into any sort of race which is unlike him at Cheltenham.
He has since come home and seems absolutely fine so we will be able to go again with him soon enough, hopefully.
All four horses have come out of their races sound and healthy.