Comeback kid Tiger rolls back years at age of 11

The Wednesday of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival was the scene of an emphatic comeback as Tiger Roll stormed to victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.

The 11-year-old dual Grand National hero has been out of sorts since finishing second in the race last term, but announced himself right back to his best with an 18-length dismissal of his old foe Easysland.

The complexion of the feature Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase had altered minutes before it began when title-holder Politologue was a late withdrawal – and Henry de Bromhead’s Put The Kettle On went on to reverse this season’s form with Chacun Pour Soi and prevail by half a length.

Monkfish was regarded as unbeatable in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, but perhaps showed himself a little more fallible than previously thought as he put in a slightly patchy round of jumping before triumphing nonetheless by six and a half lengths – a more modest margin than many expected for the 1-4 favourite.

Heaven Help Us, based at the stable of greyhound trainer Paul Hennessy, was a 33-1 winner of the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle, while the concluding Weatherbys Champion Bumper was taken by the undefeated Sir Gerhard – making it a Grade One double for Rachael Blackmore after the earlier success of Bob Olinger.

Picture of the day

Rachael Blackmore celebrates victory in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper aboard Sir Gerhard
Rachael Blackmore celebrates victory in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper aboard Sir Gerhard (Michael Steele/PA)

Quote of the day

“If I could bottle what she has I wouldn’t have to ride again, I’d sell it and be a rich man” – Aidan Coleman on Put The Kettle On after their victory in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Performance of the day

Tiger Roll and jockey Keith Donoghue clear a fence on the way to winning the Glenfarclas Chase
Tiger Roll and jockey Keith Donoghue clear a fence on the way to winning the Glenfarclas Chase (David Davies/PA)

Tiger Roll looked totally revitalised as he revisited some of his best form with an easy victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, becoming the only horse to take the race three times in the process. Sent to the front of the field from the beginning, he handled the loops of the cross-country track like the seasoned veteran he is and was left completely unchallenged as he turned the final bend and cruised up the hill. Unbelievably, that is now five Festival wins for the great horse.

Ride of the day

Nick Scholfield riding Sky Pirate (yellow) clears the last to win The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
Nick Scholfield and Sky Pirate (yellow) clear the last to win the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Nick Scholfield, recently recovered from a complex leg break, picked a perfect path aboard Sky Pirate through a packed field in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase. Travelling sweetly before meeting the final bend, the eight-year-old was sent to lead after the last fence and had enough in reserve to battle up the hill and hold off the challenging Entoucas.

What’s next?

Paisley Park ahead of the 2020 Stayers' Hurdle
Paisley Park will be back to try to reclaim his Stayers’ Hurdle title (David Davies/PA)

The Thursday of the Festival is when the stamina stars come to the fore in the three-mile Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle. Paisley Park would be a fairytale winner if he were to recreate the performance that won him the race in 2019, but Denise Foster’s Sire Du Berlais poses a threat alongside 2020 champion Lisnagar Oscar. Elsewhere, the unbeaten Envoi Allen is the headline act of the Marsh Novices’ Chase – with the Ryanair Chase also promising a real contest as the Willie Mullins trio of Min, Melon and Allaho do battle.

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