(Featured image courtesy of Gloucestershire Live)
The fourth and final day of Cheltenham saw us have four runners.
Our first runner was Double Shuffle in the Gold Cup.
Shuffle has long been a stable star, always turning up in the biggest races and running consistently well near every time.
He began the season on a bad foot when falling at the first in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby.
A constant fresh horse, he was probably needing the edge taking off of him on his first outing.
Following his tumble he went on to finish second at Aintree in a Grade 2 and fifth in the King George, an admirable run at a big price.
Shuffle’s final start before Cheltenham saw him finish second by one length in a Grade 3 Handicap to a horse carrying 1stone 6lbs less than him.
We were over-the-moon with his run and felt he really deserved the win that day.
Shuffle lined up in the Gold Cup as he has fully established himself as a Grade 1 chaser.
He jumped well, staying out of trouble but lost touch at the 15th fence and so Johnny decided it was best to look after the horse and pulled him up.
Shuffle wasn’t going to place and there will be more big races in him in the future so it was a sensible decision to save him for then.
He’s been such a loyal servant and we’re pleased has been able to take his owners, the Crossed Fingers Partnership, to the biggest days in National Hunt racing.
Our second runner on the final day was Bun Doran in the Grand Annual Chase.
Another wonderfully consistent horse for same owners, the Crossed Fingers Partnership, Bun went into Cheltenham following a near perfect preparation.
Very much a Cheltenham horse, he started his campaign at our local track.
He won a valuable Handicap Chase comfortably by eight lengths to a decent field of runners, justifying favouritism.
Bun went to Cheltenham again in December and was narrowly beaten into second place by a subsequent winner.
We really fancied Bun to go close at the Festival as so were all anticipating the run but one person who was more excited than the rest was Shane, Bun’s everyday rider.
Shane had been telling us all season that he will win the Grand Annual and he was so almost right.
Paddy had the horse in touch and crept him into the race until challenging strongly at the last.
He looked as though he was going to go on and win but couldn’t head the eventual winner.
We were delighted with Bun’s run and couldn’t be more pleased with how he’s gone through his season.
Our final two runners of Cheltenham came in the last race, the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
Both Doctor Dex and Casa Tall got a run when the final declarations came out.
Doctor Dex had always shown a lot of promise in his bumpers without getting a win.
One of our best work horses, we always anticipated the penny to drop with him at some stage and thankfully it did on his second hurdles start at Wetherby.
He won the Maiden Hurdle going away and followed it up with another win in a Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster.
Dex had relatively little experience for a race such as the Martin Pipe but still deserved his place on the start line.
We were pleasantly surprised with how well he took to the race, jumping well and keeping on nicely at the end to finish seventh.
He will have gained invaluable experience from the race and we’re so pleased he, once again, showed his promise for his owners, the Crossed Fingers Partnership.
Casa Tall had progressed well this season finishing fifth in Wincanton and then second at Chepstow to a promising type.
The challenge we’ve had with Casa has been settling him, which he’s learnt to do with every run this term.
He was running a very similar race to Dex, in fact they were upsides for most of the race.
Casa had every chance when turning into the home straight and just weakened when approaching the final flight.
We were so pleased with how he settled, jumped and was not fazed by the occasion.
We hope he will have gained even more, invaluable experience from this race and will only improve again going forward.