Thousands gather for first day at Cheltenham festival
The Cheltenham Festival is back for 2023 with a thrilling week of racing lined up in the Cotswolds for what is known as ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’, as racegoers descend on the iconic course.
The Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup bookend the four-day meeting as perhaps the two highest-profile Grade 1 races, with Constitution Hill triumphing in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, showing his class to win at a canter after starting as the overwhelming, heavily-backed favourite.
Meanwhile, Rachael Blackmore returns to Cheltenham looking to create more history after an astounding win to retain the Gold Cup in 2022 –a victory that helped the Irish trainers triumph handily over their British counterparts to easily land the prestigious Prestbury Cup, with a mighty 18 wins compared to just 10 for the home horses.
The festival provides a massive £274m boost to the local economy, a study from the University of Gloucestershire has found, and while organisers will be hoping the rain holds off, it promises to be an exciting week of racing regardless.
Follow all the Day 2 action from Cheltenham below:
Riders contest with new whip rule as Festival begins
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) recently reduced the permitted number of times jockeys can use the whip, lowering it from seven to six.
Jockeys face a possible suspension for exceeding this limit, while a rider’s horse can be disqualified if they make four or more strikes over a certain threshold. Suspensions have already caused some riders to miss out on Cheltenham.
Both trainers and animal rights charities have been critical of the measures, with the RSPCA’s director of policy calling them “a real missed opportunity for horse welfare”.
Chris Wilson15 March 2023 09:50
Cheltenham Festival 2023: Ruby Walsh on Edwardstone
“It doesn’t suit me to go against a Willie Mullins horse, but I am, and I’m going against Energumene and the more rain that falls the better chance he [Edwardstone] has,” Walsh said via Paddy Power.
“Edwardstone looks like he’s capable of handling soft ground. Of the two of them since this time 12 months’ ago, Edwardstone looks to be the one who has improved or maybe he’s just maintained his form and Energumene has regressed.”
Jack Rathborn15 March 2023 09:35
Rachael Blackmore earns Honeysuckle fairytale ending in horse’s final race before retirement
The sparkle of Henry de Bromhead’s superstar had seemingly been on the wane this term and the decision was made to return the dual Champion Hurdle heroine to the race she first announced herself in at the Festival for her swansong.
And the nine-year-old did not let her adoring public down by showing all the qualities that have made her one of the most loved and admired mares of the modern era.
Sent off the 9-4 joint-favourite, ever-loyal jockey Rachael Blackmore had Honeysuckle positioned in second throughout, tracking the front-running Love Envoi and although the pack swarmed as the field made their way down the hill, the order remained the same until after the last.
With Love Envoi refusing to lie down, the brave mare Honeysuckle responded to every urging of her rider to gallop up the Cheltenham hill one more time, going to the bottom of the well and digging deep to edge her way to a titanic one-and-a-half-length triumph.
Jack Rathborn15 March 2023 09:27
Cheltenham covers race track as temperature drops below zero
Cheltenham will deploy frost covers to save the vulnerable areas of its horse-racing tracks as temperatures hit sub-zero levels.
The mercury dropped to -2C in the early hours on Wednesday ahead of day two of the Cheltenham Festival, prompting the clerk of the course to take measures to protect the take-offs and landings around the obstacles, reported Racing Post.
“I’m very happy with the way things have gone, it’s been a nice, drying day. The forecasts are still suggesting we’re going to dip below 0C for a period tonight, possibly down to -2C, so we’ll probably cover take-offs and landings,” said Jon Pullin, the clerk of the course.
Jack Rathborn15 March 2023 09:18
Cheltenham weather: What is the going for Day 2?
After a sunny start to Cheltenham on day one, punters can expext some rain on Ladies Day. Temperatures are set to stay at around 7C and light wind, and there is a high chance of rain later this afternoon which could disrupt Wednesday’s late races.
The ground is trending towards soft at this stage.
Jack Rathborn15 March 2023 09:08
‘World’s most expensive’ pint of Guinness goes on sale at Cheltenham
“Club Black Velvet” will mix the thick black beer equally with English fizz, with Fitzdares’ chief executive claiming he had concocted the beverage to celebrate the new post-brexit deal for Northern Ireland, agreed at Windsor in late February.
Jack Rathborn15 March 2023 09:00
Good morning and welcome to Independent Sport’s coverage of Day 2 at Cheltenham Festival.
It’s Ladies Day and there is plenty of action to come.
But first let’s take a look at the results from Day 1, which saw joy for Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle.
Champion Day – Tuesday, March 14
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle:
- Marine Nationale (Michael O’Sullivan) 9-2
- Facile Vega (Paul Townend) 9-4 Fav
- Diverge (Mr P W Mullins) 25-1
- El Fabiolo (Paul Townend) 11-10 Fav
- Jonbon (Aidan Coleman) 2-1
- Saint Roi (Mark Walsh) 11-1
- Corach Rambler (Derek Fox) 6-1 Jt Fav
- Fastorslow (J J Slevin) 7-1
- Monbeg Genius (Jonjo O’Neill Jr.) 6-1 Jt Fav
Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
- Constitution Hill (Nico de Boinville) 4-11 Fav
- State Man (Paul Townend) 7-2
- Zanahiyr (D N Russell) 66-1
- Honeysuckle (Rachael Blackmore) 9-4 Jt Fav
- Love Envoi (J J Burke) 11-1
- Queens Brook (D N Russell) 16-1
- Jazzy Matty (Michael O’Sullivan) 18-1
- Byker (P Byrnes) 6-1
- Risk Belle (L P Dempsey) 10-1
National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup
- Gaillard Du Mesnil (Mr P W Mullins) 10-11 Fav
- Chemical Energy (Mr J J Codd) 8-1
- Mister Coffey (Mr Derek O’Connor) 11-1
Jack Rathborn15 March 2023 08:50
Looking ahead to Day Two
Tomorrow’s racing will have the Champion Chase where last year’s winner Energumene runs in the colours of Brighton & Hove Alboin owner Tony Bloom looking to regain the trophy.
We’ll have more live updates as the racing once again gets under way at 1.30pm.
Michael Jones14 March 2023 18:06
Cheltenham results today: Every race winner at the 2023 Festival
Tuesday opens with Champion Day and all eyes are on Nicky Henderson’s unbeaten Constitution Hill, while last year’s winner Honeysuckle goes for glory in the Mares’ Hurdle for what may be her final race.
Wednesday is Ladies Day and St Patrick’s Day falls on Thursday, before the Festival’s big climax with the Gold Cup on Friday.
Michael Jones14 March 2023 18:00
Trainer Willie Mullins on Racing TV:
“We’re very lucky to have two winners today. I was having a cup of tea, thinking this is over, I couldn’t see him winning until the other horse fell but you need luck.
“He has loads of stamina but he didn’t pick up the way I thought he would. I think the Irish National may come too soon for him. That was a tough race.”
Michael Jones14 March 2023 17:56