Cheltenham Festival 2016 Results

The 2016 Cheltenham Festival certainly lived up to expectations… and many successful punter would say it exceeded them! With so many great stories emerging over the four days from 15th to 18th March 2016, here we bring you some of the highlights from each day.

Cheltenham Festival Day 1 Report – Tuesday 15th March 2016

Day one of the Festival kicked off with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and though many pundits and punters had predicted this would be the first of four opening day wins for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, it was the second favourite, Nicky Henderson’s Altior, that stole the show.

While that result dismantled a good number of Mullins fourfolds, those backing the horses of the great Irish trainer didn’t have to wait long for some winners: Douvan stormed the Arkle by seven lengths in a showing that proved his worth. Then – after Un Temps Pour Tour won the Ultima Handicap Chase at 11/1 – all eyes turned to Annie Power in the Champion Hurdle.

There were some major doubts about whether mare Annie Power could cut it with the boys in the feature race of the day, but she proved she very much could, winning by four and half lengths from My Tent Or Yours.

The Walsh-Mullins hat-trick was completed with Vroum Vroum Mag’s convincing victory in the Mares’ Hurdle, leaving many a punter smiling from ear to ear!

Cheltenham Festival Day 2 Report – Wednesday 16th March 2016

Mulline and Walsh got off to winning ways even earlier on day two, Yorkhill beating the JP McManus favourite Yanworth in the Neptune. Blaklion edged the victory in the RSA Chase for Nigel Twiston-Davies before 12/1 shot Diamond King stole the show in the Coral Cup.

But it was the Queen Mother Champion Chase that proved – once again – to be one of the most exciting races of the entire Festival. Odds on favourite Un De Sceaux was heavily backed to get the better of the winners of the last three renewals: Dodging Bullets, Sire De Grugy and the inimitable Sprinter Sacre – all of whom, so many pundits suggested, might well struggle to keep pace with the young pretender.

As it happened, though, the romantics amongst us were rewarded with a run of pure brilliance from one of the greatest there has ever been: Sprinter Sacre! Nicky Henderson’s 10-year-old has been through the mill in the last couple of years, but he looked good ahead of the start and travelled well in the early stages. He seemed to gain in fluency as the race went on and after a slight nod three fences out he showed his true class by stretching clear of this very high class field, the crowd going bananas, as he took victory by over three lengths from the favourite Un De Sceaux. For racing fans all over, this was a moment they will never forget and for many it will be the highlight of the 2016 Festival (especially those who backed him!).

Cheltenham Festival Day 3 Report – Thursday 17th March 2016

Day three saw yet more Mullins success: Black Hercules won the opener, the JLT Novices’ Chase with relative ease. After a 14/1 winner in the Pertemps, the Ryanair Chase took centre stage in which Vautour – another star from the Mullins stable – was hotly tipped after dropping down from the Gold Cup to compete after doubts about his form in training.

Those doubts were soon extinguished, however, after the seven year cruised to victory by six lengths from Valseur Lido. It left many punters (and indeed owner Rich Ricci) wondering what might have been if he’d been allowed to compete in the Gold Cup… but instead it was another popular winner with punters and an unpopular one with the bookies!

The World Hurdle saw one of the performances of the week when Colin Tizzard’s Thistlecrack ran clear of the field without seeming to break sweat in the run in, winning by seven lengths! A possible crack at the RSA Chase beckons for next year.

The Mullins-Walsh combination once more paid dividends in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle with the well-backed Limini bringing home the bacon for bettors, while Empire Of Dirt and Cause Of Causes were the day’s other winners.

Cheltenham Festival Day 4 Report – Friday 18th March 2016

And so to the final day and something very strange occurred: there was not a single winner for Willie Mullins!

Aidan O’Brien’s favourite Ivanovich Gorbatov (9/2) won the Triumph Hurdle in the opening race, while Dan Skelton’s Super Story won the County Handicap Hurdle at 8/1. Harry Fry saddled the winner in the Albert Bartlett (11/1 shot Unowhatimeanharry) before everyone’s attention was drawn to the main event of the day and the week, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

With four runners seen to be in contention for the Gold Cup in the eyes of most pundits – Don Cossack, Djakadam, Don Poli and Cue Card – it was one of the hardest Gold Cups to call for years. As it turned out one of the favourites, Cue Card, fell with three to go, leaving the other three to battle it out for glory.

It was Gordon Elliott’s Don Cossack – who went off as the 9/4 favourite – who took command in the final stages, showing his immense power and staying ability to outgun Djakadam and Don Poli and ensuring Willie Mullins had to settle for second place in the Gold Cup yet again.

The next race, the Foxhunter, was in the news ahead of the Festival because of the inclusion of Victoria Pendleton, with many predicting she wouldn’t make it round the Cheltenham course. After a tentative start in which the former Olympic cyclist stayed near the back and out of trouble, she grew in confidence on her stead Pacha Du Polder, and eventually not only finished the race, but ended in fifth position – an astounding result that had the crowd in raptures.

With a 14/1 winner of the penultimate race (Ibis Du Rheu) and a 28/1 shot (Solar Impulse) in the last race (the Grand Annual), another Cheltenham Festival was brought to a close.