Day two at the Cheltenham Festival dawned slightly warmer than yesterday and the name on everyone’s lips was Sprinter Sacre. The big bay looked in a class of his own as he danced around the parade ring before the Queen Mother Champion Chase today.
He didn’t disappoint, jumping brilliantly apart from a tiny mistake at the ditch and storming up to the post to beat Sizing Europe by 19 effortless lengths.
Trainer Nicky Henderson said, ” It was the worst 5 minutes of my life, absolute hell. He finds it so ridiculously easy you worry complacency could creep in.”
Sprinter’s jockey Barry Geraghty said, “He’s top class. Hopefully he’ll stay sound and we will get a lot of fun out of him.”
The first two races on the card were a father and son affair; Willie Mullins and Patrick Mullins taking the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase with Back in Focus. The favourite swept past Tofino Bay as he tired on the run up. Willie Mullins was a very proud father in the winner’s enclosure and it meant a lot to him to have a winner with his son up.
The Twiston-Davies family were celebrating after the Neptune Investments Novices Hurdle when the better ground allowed The New One to show off his turn of foot. Rule the World fought valiantly but couldn’t match the pace. The favourite Pont Alexandre came third and didn’t seem to be travelling from quite a way out. Willie Mullins said he was disappointed and perhaps soft ground is the key.
Lord Windermere managed to edge out Goulanes in the RSA Steeple Chase. His jockey Davy Russell said, “All credit to Jim Culloty and the lads, I only had to steer him today.”
The Coral Cup went to outsider Medinas trained by Alan King. There was a photo finish for second which Alan King also clinched with Meister Eckhart by a nose and Willie Mullins’ Fiveforthree took third after an absence of 727 days.
The Fred Winter was claimed by Flaxon Flare who cleared the last gaining lengths in the air and charged up the hill winning by four and a half lengths.
The Bumper was won by a rarity; a horse ridden by Ruby Walsh, trained by Willie Mullins with a starting price of 25-1. Briar Hill takes Willie Mullins bumper wins total up to 8.
Tomorrow the two big races are Ryanair Chase and the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. The current favourites are First Lieutenant in the Chase and Oscar Whisky in the World Hurdle.