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Cheltenham Festival day four – Minella magic in Gold Cup

Minella Indo capped a memorable week for Henry de Bromhead with victory in the pinnacle of the jump racing season, the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Finishing a length and a quarter ahead of stablemate A Plus Tard, Minella Indo was De Bromhead’s sixth winner of the meeting and also the final leg of a historic treble as the Waterford trainer became the first to saddle the winners of the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup in the same year.

Rachael Blackmore made history too when she was crowned the first ever female leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival, her Triumph Hurdle win aboard Quilixios being her sixth of the week.

The County Hurdle returned a big-priced winner as Belfast Banter prevailed at 33-1 for Kevin Sexton and Peter Fahey, with Vanillier another for Ireland when taking the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle for Mark Walsh and Gavin Cromwell.

The British did get a rare success when Will Biddick and Lorcan Williams teamed up to take the hunter chase with Porlock Bay, but the Irish dominance was further in evidence as they claimed the closing two contests of the meeting. It meant the score finished 23-5 to the visiting side.

Picture of the day

Gold Cup-winning jockey Jack Kennedy is congratulated by runner-up Rachael Blackmore (David Davies/PA)
Gold Cup-winning jockey Jack Kennedy is congratulated by runner-up Rachael Blackmore (David Davies/PA)

Quote of the day

“I think I’m still in my hotel, it’s Monday evening and I’m about wake up and nothing’s even started yet” – Trainer Henry de Bromhead in disbelief after a remarkable Cheltenham Festival.

Performance of the day

Quilixios strikes under Rachael Blackmore
Quilixios strikes under Rachael Blackmore (David Davies/PA)

Quilixios was a convincing winner of the JCB Triumph Hurdle, travelling with complete conviction throughout and jumping himself into the lead with two hurdles remaining. When asked to quicken by Rachael Blackmore, the four-year-old was deftly able to accelerate up the hill and was not stretched when crossing the line three and a quarter lengths ahead of his nearest rival.

Ride of the day

Porlock Bay (left) ridden by Lorcan Williams on the way to winning the St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase
Porlock Bay (left) ridden by Lorcan Williams on the way to winning the St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase (Tim Goode/PA)

When amateur riders were precluded from taking part at the Festival, Will Biddick recruited professional jockey Lorcan Williams to do the steering aboard Porlock Bay in the St. James’s Place Hunters’ Chase. Kept handy in the midfield for much of the race, Williams made his move with four fences remaining and took up the lead two from home, doing just enough to see off a challenge from Willie Mullins’ Billaway and prevail by a short head.