The Cheltenham festival went ahead, despite the rise of the current pandemic, which was a surprise to many. Looking back now, this should probably not have occurred, with the Grand national also being cancelled, as fans now look ahead to next year with offers already available for the race at grandnational.org.uk. This is due to the fact that Tiger Roll has been given the green light to again attempt to land the race next season. On top of these cancellations, both the Olympic games and European championships have been postponed and now moved to next year, posing an exciting time for British Racecourses.
Despite this, it was a memorable four days at Prestbury park, with Ireland again landing the Prestbury Cup. This was following stellar weeks for both Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins, with the latter finishing as the top trainer. The pair both finished with seven winners and seven seconds, with Mullins then topping the table with six third placed finishers. France finished the week with one winner, Great Britain finished with 11 winners and Ireland topped the table with 16 winners.
Ireland had a very successful week, with a large number of winners, but who were their top three winners across the week?
Day one kicked off the meeting with Honeysuckle running out the winner of the Mares hurdle for trainer Henry De Bromhead. She was sent off as the 9/4 second favourite, behind Benie Des Dieux. The latter was expected to extend her trainers incredible record in the race. However, the race was not run to suit and Honeysuckle got the first run turning for home and was able to kick clear and hold on by half a length. This meant she extended her record to an unbeaten nine in a row and she will be a major force moving forward. She is also the current favourite to defend her title in the Mares race next year.
Another horse who maintained his unbeaten record with a victory at Cheltenham was Envoi Allen. The Gordon Elliott trained six year old is without a doubt one of the most exciting horses we have seen for some time and could just be a future Gold cup winner in waiting. He has now extended his unbeaten record under rules to eight, with an impressive 4 ¼ length victory in the Ballymore novices hurdle. Envoi Allen will now be expected to head over fences and is already favourite in many of the markets for the festival next year in the novice chase division.
The final horse to make the list and a now two time Gold cup winner is Al Boum Photo. The Willie Mullins trained eight year old will now be set the task of landing a third Gold cup in a row next year. He has a similarly quiet preparation this year and it paid off, as he held on by a neck from the strong finishing Santini. This meant that Al Boum Photo followed in the footsteps of the likes of Easter Hero, Cottage Rake, Arkle, L’Escargot, Best Mate and Golden Miller. The latter of course winning five in succession. It now sets up for a fascinating wait to see whether the horse could land three Gold cups in succession.