FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED ON DAY THREE OF THE FESTIVAL
St Patrick's Day saw racegoers (and the sun) return to The Festival™ for an exhilarating day of action. The horses and jockeys put on a special show in front of a star-studded crowd which left the Prestbury Cup poised at Great Britain 10 - 11 Ireland going into Friday. Here’s five things we learned on Day Three…
IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK
The Festival™ sees people flock to Gloucestershire from all over the country - and the world. And amongst some of Cheltenham’s biggest fans are some of our most loved stars.
TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher talked about how happy she was to be back at Cheltenham: “It's bliss being back, I love Cheltenham. I really missed it last year, I think we all did.
"I'm a big supporter of women in sport and seeing the female jockeys come through as strongly as they have, only in the last few years. The men love it, they embrace it, and that's what we need. It's one of the only sports where you do see the men and women on an equal playing field so to speak. For me, that's really exciting.”
Ex-England and Premier League striker Peter Crouch said: "I love being back at Cheltenham. I used to come here with loads of football teams, but I'm retired now and Paddy Power have invited me back, so I'm loving it.
"I missed Cheltenham last year. It was difficult, because I went the last three years before that. It's become part of the ritual really.
"It's great to be back and see crowds again and see the buzz. It's been amazing.
It’s not easy to get a winner at Cheltenham and when former Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was asked about being involved with more Grand Tour in the future he joked that he can’t rely on his Cheltenham winnings - or lack of - to support his lifestyle.
"Oh, we'll be doing more of that nonsense. Of course we will. Yes, it's all we can do. I've got to earn a living. I've got to pay for everything I lose here! Which is everything, I never win.”
Hammond, a huge racing fan and racehorse owner, added: "I'm absolutely chuffed to bits to be back at Cheltenham. I've been many, many times before - it's on my doorstep, so it's a favourite of ours and my daughters, they love it.”
THERE’S ALWAYS DRAMA AT THE FESTIVAL™
Day three got off to a dramatic start as Bob Olinger was gifted the Turners Novices’ Chase when 5-6 favourite Galopin Des Champs parted company with jockey Paul Townend at the final fence.
Galopin Des Champs was running away with it at the time, but the stumble handed trainer Henry de Bromhead his 17th Festival success, while jockey Rachael Blackmore chalked up her 11th Festival win.
Winning jockey Rachael Blackmore said: “It’s fantastic to win but nobody likes winning in those circumstances. It’s brilliant to see Paul (Townend) and Galopin Des Champs are both okay and that’s the main thing.”
“I was happy with him throughout the race. He made one or two little errors but I thought on the whole he jumped well enough. There is definitely room for improvement there. His jumping is improving the whole time.”
“I was beaten today before my speed was going to come into it. He might have jumped a bit better if the ground was quicker. In summary it’s fantastic to get a win.”
BAKE OFF STAR GLAD TO AVOID A ‘SOGGY BOTTOM’
Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown was excited to be at The Festival™ but admitted she was glad her first Cheltenham experience was today and not yesterday!
"This is my first time at Cheltenham. I've been to other races but never Cheltenham. I was really surprised by the sheer amount of people, but we've definitely got the weather for it.
“It's a bit better than yesterday. It looked very, very soggy - love a soggy bottom!
"It's lovely to people watch here. It's one of those girl things of, 'What do I wear?' Then I think, 'Am I overdressed?' But you know what, it's lovely to get dressed up."
Speaking about wearing green on St Patrick's Day, she said: "I don't think it was deliberate. Maybe subconsciously. I love green anyway, so I'm happy to celebrate in my green today.”
HOW TO NAME A RACEHORSE
Flooring Porter won the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle for the second year in succession, beating Thyme Hill with 2019 winner Paisley Park staying on to take third.
But it was trainer Gavin Cromwell who gave an insight into the naming of their winning horse, explaining: “A couple of the owners have a pub which is the ‘Porter’ part of the name and another guy has a flooring shop, so that’s where the name comes from.
“They’re country people and they’re making sure they’re enjoying it. I have a feeling there will be more than one night of celebrating!”
And after their success in front of a boisterous Cheltenham crowd, Cromwell was certain they’d be back for more.
“The crowd here is just magic. It was amazing here when Espoir D’Allen won the Champion Hurdle but we came here as an outsider and he wasn’t that expected. Coming here today we had one of the fancied ones and we fancied him.
“It all worked out so it’s fantastic. We’ll be back here in 12 months’ time (to defend his crown), absolutely.”
Ned Hogarty, of winning owner group The Flooring Porter Syndicate, said: “We all needed this at home. It’s been strange times the last couple of years and this is a morale boost.
“If anyone had told me we wouldn’t have won again until now I wouldn’t have believed them. The horse was due it, we were due it, the parish was due it, and the country was due it. Hopefully we can all celebrate and drink a few pints on St Patrick’s Day.
COOLE AS YOU LIKE
Cheltenham specialist Coole Cody won for a fourth time at the Home of Jump Racing by taking the Craft Irish Whiskey Co. Plate Handicap Chase.
The popular 11-year-old gave trainer Evan Williams his second Festival winner – 14 years after High Chimes in the 2008 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase.
“It sums him up that performance. He is 11 years of age and he has got so many miles on the clock but he will sit back and kept fighting all the way for you. He is a remarkable horse,” Williams gushed.
“It has been a long time since we have had a Festival winner and they are hard to come by. I think as you get older you start to appreciate the little things a bit more. My family at home are very heavily involved.
“I think every single winner and especially every big winner brings it home how incredibly lucky I am to be doing this for a living. This is a special place and this is a special day.”