GBI RACING

5 things we learned from day two of the Cheltenham Festival

Altior got the job done at Cheltenham

Altior has heart as well as class

Altior passes the post for a fourth Cheltenham Festival success
Altior passes the post for a fourth Cheltenham Festival success (Paul Harding/PA)

Altior galloped into Cheltenham folklore as he won at the Festival for the fourth year running, taking his winning streak to 18 with a heart-stopping triumph in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. Altior’s talent has never been in doubt, but on this occasion he had to show guts and determination to retain his crown.

Tiger rolls on to Aintree – or does he?

Tiger Roll's connections celebrate after the nine-year-old's win in the Glenfarclas Chase
Tiger Roll’s connections celebrate after the nine-year-old’s win in the Glenfarclas Chase (Nigel French/PA)

Gordon Elliott has had a poor start to the Festival, but the horse that could be guaranteed to give him a lift was Tiger Roll, who repeated last year’s victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase with a terrific display, over three and three-quarter miles and 32 fences of all description.

The nine-year-old is becoming a jump racing legend. That was his fourth win at the Festival and appeared to set him up perfectly for a return to Aintree in an attempt to become the first horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals since Red Rum in 1974. However, owner Michael O’Leary was quite downbeat on the idea in the aftermath, so it might be best to hold bets for now.

Walsh talent comes to the fore

City Island and Mark Walsh return after their win in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham
City Island and Mark Walsh return after their win in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Mark Walsh has had to live in the shadow of Barry Geraghty as number two to JP McManus as well as his namesake Ruby Walsh, but he is finally enjoying his time in the limelight. After winning the Champion Hurdle on Espoir D’Allen for McManus on Tuesday, Walsh was at his strongest as he outpointed the Geraghty-ridden Champ on City Island for Sean and Bernardine Mulryan, sponsors of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Barber could have another Denman in Topofthegame

Harry Cobden salutes the crowd after steering Topofthegame to victory in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham
Harry Cobden salutes the crowd after steering Topofthegame to victory in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham (Paul Harding/PA)

Memories of Denman were revived as Topofthegame won the RSA Chase for owner Paul Barber. Barber’s colours were carried to victory by Denman in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008, 12 months after he had taken the staying novices’ prize.

Denman was nicknamed ‘The Tank’ and Topofthegame is similarly built. At 17.3 hands he is a giant and one with plenty of ability. Like Denman, he is trained by Paul Nicholls and looks sure to have a big future.

Joseph joins elite band with Outlaws

Trainer Joseph O’Brien (right) with his first Cheltenham Festival winner, Band Of Outlaws
Trainer Joseph O’Brien (right) with his first Cheltenham Festival winner, Band Of Outlaws (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Joseph O’Brien made another notable addition to his impressive CV when Band Of Outlaws gave him his first official Cheltenham Festival winner. It is well known he supervised the preparation of Ivanovich Gorbatov, trained by his father, Aidan, ahead of his win in the 2016 Triumph Hurdle.

Joseph took out a licence himself not long after that, after retiring from the saddle, and the 25-year-old has wasted no time in making his presence felt in the training ranks under both codes. His Flat victories include the Irish Derby and Melbourne Cup, while over jumps he has the Irish Gold Cup to his credit.

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