Nicky Henderson makes Cheltenham history on day two at the Racecourse
Cheltenham 2012 – Day 2
1.30 – Diamond Jubilee National Hunt Chase.
Teaforthree and jockey JT McNamara took top honours in the opener on day two. The 5/1 favourite sat handily throughout all four miles of the race; quickened when asked and jumped like a stag, proving to be the perfect ride for his top amateur jockey. Harry The Viking, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, finished off his race strongly, in true Manchester United style, to beat Four Commanders to the runner-up spot. Our Victoria, at a massive 40/1, ran on gamely to grab fourth place.
2.05 – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
The well fancied Simonsig won the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty combination proved to be successful again; but his seven length victory margin was slightly flattering as Cotton Mill, who appeared to be travelling well in second, refused at the penultimate hurdle. Felix Yonger, who stays longer than the mother-in-law, ran up the hill to take second place, leaving Monksland a further 11 lengths away in third.
2.40 – RSA Chase.
Trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Barry Geraghty combined again, this time Bobs Worth stayed on well to claim the RSA Chase. Hot favourite and Cheltenham banker, Grands Crus, cruised from fence to fence, making stealthy progress to challenge for the lead two out; however, in the end he was unable to quicken and challenge the front two. Bobs Worth, a 9-2 chance on the course, jumped the last well and found plenty to beat First Lieutenant. Call The Police rallied gamely to take third place. The disappointing Grands Crus faded into fourth place.
3.20 – Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Finian’s Rainbow completed a magical afternoon for Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty combination, as he landed the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Finian’s Rainbow turned over defending champion Sizing Europe after a controversial finish. The last fence was dolled off after first circuit fell on the first circuit. Finian’s Rainbow and the 4/5 favourite, Sizing Europe, cleared the penultimate, only to be confronted by a steward waving a chequered flag and only half of the final fence boarded off – Sizing Europe was forced to change his stride dramatically, losing momentum, and ultimately costing him the race. It was a complete farce. Former champion Big Zeb finished slowly up the hill for a 15-length third.
4.00 – Coral Cup.
Son Of Flicka gave trainer Donald McCain and jockey Jason Maguire their second winner of the week in the Coral Cup. Joint-favourite and second place specialist, Get Me Out Of Here, mounted a challenge, but Son Of Flicka responded well and prevailed by three and a half lengths. Get Me Out Of Here finished second, again, leaving Veiled and Silverhand filling the remaining places.
4.40 – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
Nicky Henderson continued his incredible afternoon as Une Artiste gave him his fourth winner of the meeting. Jeremiah McGrath steered the 40-1 outsider to victory. Kazlian looked to have pinched the race when kicking clear down the hill, but he was out of gas approaching the final hurdle. Une Artiste kicked on up the hill to beat Edeymi. Vendor finished a scrappy third, with what looked like a horror ride for Robert Thornton, while Kazlian finished fourth.
5.15 – Champion Bumper.
Willie Mullins won a seventh success in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, his 16/1 shot made all to land the spoils. Champagne Fever kicked clear down the hill and bravely stuck his head out to prevail by a length and a quarter from New Year’s Eve. Pique Sous finished third, to give trainer Willie Mullins a first and a third in the race.