Cheltenham Festival 2015 Results

Day One

Apart from John Inverdale and his choice of eye wear, trainer Willie Mullins dominated the headlines on Day One at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival. He completed a 1-2-3 in the Champion Hurdle, which saw 4/5 favourite Faugheen come out on top and landed some other very tasty winners too.

The seven-year-old Faugheen was ridden by Ruby Walsh, and it came in ahead of Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly to maintain its unbeaten record. They all finished ahead of AP McCoy and Jezki, who came fourth in the Irishman’s final Champion Hurdle. The win for the favourite justified Walsh’s decision to pick the horse over Hurricane Fly, an animal he has won with in this race twice before.

“The betting suggested it was an easy decision but I knew how they had both been working at home, so it was massive for me,” said Walsh. “But Faugheen is an incredible little horse.”

That wasn’t all for Mullins, as he went on to win four races throughout the day, three of which were ridden by Walsh. They looked set to pick up a fourth win together in the Mares’ Hurdle, but Annie Power’s fall at the last allowed Glens Melody, another of Mullin’s horses, to take the win. Paul Townsend rode the 6/1 winner, and that meant Mullins had completed a 62/1 four-timer. All the action was witnessed by a record crowd, with 63,249 in attendance. It was a bad day for the bookies and would have been even worse had Annie Power won, as she seemed certain tyo do with just one hurdle to go.

Earlier on in the day, Walsh won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on favourite Douvan, making it the third year running that he and Mullins had won the opener. They followed that up with a win in the Arkle, as 4/6 favourite Un De Sceaux won by six lengths from 33/1 shot God’s Own to make it two wins from two for the pair.

Mullins’ successful opening day equalled the record set by Nicky Henderson of four winners in one afternoon at Cheltenham, set on the second day in 2012. He wasn’t able to get a fifth win to break the record, as the Irish trainer saw his horse, Perfect Gentleman, finish fourth in the National Hunt Chase. Cause of Causes (8/1) came out on top in it, ridden by Jamie Codd.

Druid’s Newphew won the Handicap Chase, while Paul Townsend got his second win of the day in the final race. He rode Irish Cavalier (11/1) to win ahead of the 6/1 favourite Thomas Crapper, with many piling in, so to speak, on that one, purely for the name we suspect.

Day Two

Dodging Bullets was top gun on day two at Cheltenham, as the 9/2 shot won the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The horse, bred by Frankie Dettori, was ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies and came in one and a quarter lengths ahead of Somersby (33/1) and Special Tiara (18/1).

After the race, Dettori praised the Olympian effort of the horse and Twiston-Davies’ fantastic ride. “He was bred to win the Derby, but this is second best. It’s the equivalent of the 100m final at the Olympics and what a horse,” said the Italian.

Dettori’s Usain Bolt on four legs was well priced at 9/2 despite coming in to the race as the form horse, he was behind two former champions, Sprinter Scare and Sire De Grugy, in terms of the betting. Sprinter Scare pulled up during the race, which was just his second in the last 15 months after a heart scare.

The win for Dodging Bullets completed a double for Twiston-Davies and trainer Paul Nicholls, after Axux Pit Soins won the Coral Cup in the previous race. The 9/1 shot came in ahead of Zabana and 17/2 favourite Actival.

Nicholls completed a hat-trick of wins in the penultimate race of the day, as Qualando won the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle. His horse was a 25/1 shot, and it came in ahead of another of Nicholls’ in Bouvreuil. The Saint James (33/1) came third, followed by Starchitect (16/1).

Northern Irish attendees should have picked out the winner in the day two opener, as Windsor Park won the Neptune Hurdle. The horse, priced at 9/2 and ridden by Davy Russell, came in ahead of AP McCoy on Parlour Games (13/2) and Ruby Walsh on Nichols Canyon, the pre-race favourite in the betting.

Russell picked up a second win during the Cross Country Chase, but that was not the focus of the race. A photographer suffered a broken leg when a horse went through the rail and caught him. Patrick McCann, who works for the Racing Post, had to react quickly to move himself out of the way, but he still got caught up in an incident that went viral online. Russell’s win came on Rivage D’or (16/1) which was trained by Tony Martin.

Trainer Willie Mullins followed up his incredible opening day at the festival with a win from the favourite in the RSA Chase. Don Poli (13/8) was jockeyed by Bryan Cooper, and the horse is currently being touted as a possible Gold Cup candidate in 2016. The final race of the day, the Champions Bumper, was won by 9/2 favourite Moon Racer.

Day Three

Cole Harden caused a shock on day three at Cheltenham by coming out on top in the World Hurdle. The 14/1 shot finished above the Paul Nicholls pair of Saphir Du Rheu (5/1f) and Zarkandar (6/1) to take the fourth race of the day, giving jockey Gavin Sheehan and trainer Warren Greatrex their first win at the festival.

Nicholls was looking to follow up a fantastic showing on day two, as the trainer had three wins in total, and he looked well placed to add to it in the 15:20 race. Instead he took second and third, coming in just ahead of AP McCoy on At Fishers Cross.

After the race, Greatrex hailed the jockey and horse for a fantastic turnaround in form. “I believed in the horse, but I was struggling with him early season,” he said. “I’m normally a cool customer but I got very nervous and the emotion showed after he had won. Gavin deserves enormous credit for getting everything right on him.”

Despite finishing fourth in the World Hurdle, McCoy did land his first win in his final Cheltenham Festival in the Ryanair Chase. After 11 unsuccessful attempts this week, the Northern Irishman finally got the win as Uxizandre (16/1) won by five lengths from Ma Filleule (5/1) and the 5/2 favourite Don Cossack. McCoy will be glad to have got the win before his final day at Cheltenham, and his last race here is named after him, the AP McCoy Grand Annual.

Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins have been no strangers to the winner’s enclosure this year, they had four winners together over the opening two days of the 2015 Festival, and they added another with victory in the JLT Novices’ Chase. The 6/4 favourite Vautour jumped superbly and came in 15 lengths clear of Apache Stronghold (7/1) and another of Mullins’ horses, Valseur Lido (9/2).

The penultimate race saw a huge win, as 33/1 shot Darna won the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate. Elsewhere, trainer Nicky Henderson got off the mark at this year’s festival with Call the Cops, who won the Pertemps Network Final. The 9/1 chance came first ahead of Unique De Cotte (14/1) and The Tourard Man (20/1).

The final race of day three saw The Package (9/1) deliver the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup, giving Jamie Codd his second win at this year’s festival. He came in ahead of Bless the Wings (28/1), Buddy Bolero (20/1) and Grand Vision (11/1).

And then there was day four and the Gold Cup…

Day Four

Coneygree became the first novice to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup since 1974 on a fantastic final day at Cheltenham. Nico de Bionville rode the horse home despite a late surge from Djakadam (10/1) and Road to Riches (8/1).

It was an incredible story, one which stole AP McCoy’s chances of winning the Gold Cup on his final day at Cheltenham before retiring. He came ninth on Carlingford Lough, and he was unable to record a win on his final day. The big story was Coneygree, with the horse coming from a small stable to romp to glory. De Boinville has been a jockey for less than a year, and that result left him understandably delighted.

“It’s unbelievable; words can’t describe it,” De Boinville said. “He dug deep but I always knew he had enough left. I always knew I could do it, but good horses make good jockeys.” He added, “I’m just so grateful to the owners for keeping the faith, because there are so many big-name jockeys out there who I respect and who could and would have ridden him but they kept the faith in me. I’ll be eternally grateful to them.”

AP McCoy couldn’t get a winner on his final day at the Festival, but he did finish his week in a race named after him, the AP McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase. He came fourth in that on joint favourite Ned Buntline (4/1), which was won by Next Sensation (16/1). McCoy’s best finish of the day came in the opener, the JCB Triumph Hurdle, which was won by favourite Peace and Co (2/1).

Elsewhere, trainer Willie Mullins’ fantastic 2015 Festival continued as he had two winners on the final day, bringing him up to a record total of eight wins at this year’s Festival. Ruby Walsh rode four of those, making him top jockey. Mullins’ first win of the day came in the Vicent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle as Wicklow Brave (25/1) took victory. Mullins took the record in the penultimate race, as Killitagh Vic (7/1) won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap.

There was another Mullins success, but this time it was Margret rather than Willie, as Martello Tower won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. The 14/1 shot came in ahead of Willie’s Milsean (33/1), who was ridden by his son Danny.

On The Fringe took the Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup, with the 6/1 shot coming in ahead of outside Following Dreams (50/1) and favourite Paint The Clouds (11/4).

All in all the 2015 Cheltenham Festival brought us the usual mix of fantastic racing action, big name winners and one or two major surprises… so roll on 2016!