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THE FESTIVAL™: BOODLES CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP REACTION AND STATISTICS

18th March 2022 Cheltenham

Rachael Blackmore creates history again as she becomes the first female jockey to win the Grade One Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup on A Plus Tard.  

Blackmore created history by becoming the first female jockey to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle in 2021 on Honeysuckle (and won the race again in 2022 on the same horse). 

Blackmore was also the first female jockey to taste success in the Randox Grand National, partnering Minella Times to victory in 2021. She has now ridden 12 Festival winners. 

This year’s result is a reversal of the 2021 result. In 2021, Minella Indo defeated A Plus Tard by a length and a quarter while in 2022 A Plus Tard got the better of Minella Indo by 15 lengths. 

A Plus Tard and Minella Indo are both trained by Henry de Bromhead, who has now saddled two Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup winners and 18 winners in total at The Festival.  

A Plus Tard is the 28th Cheltenham Gold Cup winner to be trained in Ireland.  

A Plus Tard is owned by Cheveley Park Stud. Best known as the leading British owned and based owner-breeder on the Flat, the Thompson family’s operation has also now enjoyed significant success in Jump racing since it stepped up its involvement in the sport in 2018.  A Plus Tard becomes Cheveley Park’s first Gold Cup winner and 10th winner overall at the Festival. Cheveley Park Stud enjoyed Classic success on the Flat with Russian Rhythm in the 2003 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. 

Returned the 3-1 Favourite today, A Plus Tard is the 32nd market leader in 94 runnings of the Gold Cup to succeed.  

A Plus Tard won the Novices’ Handicap Chase at The Festival in 2019, was third in the 2020 Ryanair Chase and runner-up in the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup. 

Rachael Blackmore told ITV Racing:  

“I can’t believe [winning the Grand National] is not even 12 months ago. I don’t know how I am this lucky! It’s phenomenal. 

“I was happy, I was kind of where I wanted to be, there were probably more horses in front of me throughout the race than I wanted. I had the three horses around me that I wanted to be around me, I had a wall of horses in front of me turning in, but they made sure I didn’t go too soon like I did last year. It’s just incredible. I tried to hold onto him a bit more this year and look, it worked.  

“I was happy if [Minella Indo] did go and I didn’t get him, I was just happy I wasn’t upsides him this year and I was trying to do something different. I kind of knew after the second last that I had more horse under me than I did last year, I didn’t think I would be 15 lengths clear though. 

“When I took out my licence, I didn’t think I would be riding at Cheltenham, let alone a favourite in the Gold Cup. I’m so lucky to be getting the chance to ride horses in these kinds of races. This is the Gold Cup, you know what I mean?  

“It was ideal for me [that they went steady early], he jumped really well this year, I was in my comfort zone everywhere and I was just happy everywhere. It’s lovely when you’re in a race like that and you’re where you want to be.” 

“I never even dreamt I could be doing this and I am. What I’m doing now is a dream I could never allow myself to have because it was not even in my reality. You can never dream too big because this is something I never thought would be possible.” 

Winning trainer Henry de Bromhead said:  

“Incredible. What a ballsy ride by Rachael - she was just unreal. She hunted away there; they went a good gallop and she was very brave, I thought, and brilliant. 

“I didn’t really get too involved in the plan, to be honest. She told me one day that she was just going to ride him to use his pace and his speed - that’s what she said she was going to try and do, and she did it. She knows him better than anyone. Brilliant.  

“It’s ridiculous [having had the first two home in the Gold Cup two years running] - it’s just mental. The class of him there - he was so impressive, and Minella Indo ran an absolute blinder there as well, he really did. He was brilliant as well. Incredible stuff. 

“Rachael was so brave, the way she went about it, and that was it. It got to that stage [in the race] that if it was going to happen, it was going to happen. Both horses got a lovely passage; Robbie [Power] was brilliant on Indo and Rachael amazing on A Plus Tard. 

“It definitely does [mean more this year than last] - it’s the crowds, just looking here at the stands. It’s just incredible and this is what it’s all about. It was amazing to win it last year, but it’s triple amazing this year. 

“What an awesome performance, to show that speed at the end of three and a quarter miles is unreal.” 

Richard Thompson of successful owner Cheveley Park Stud, said:  

“It’s absolutely fantastic, winning the Gold Cup. Incredible. My father would be loving this. He was behind the project and this horse was one of the last he saw win before he died. He watched the Gold Cup obviously for many years, and to win it is incredible. I can’t even speak. It’s a fantastic day for the family. That was all class. We know he’s got so much quality and Rachael rode the perfect race. It’s the Gold Cup, anything can happen, but it looked so smooth. 

“I did feel she [Rachael] was quite far back but I knew she had a game plan and I trusted the game plan. She’s totally delivered. Unbelievable. What a day’s racing, with Rachael winning the Gold Cup. We won the Grand National 30 years ago but this is certainly right up there. Rachael riding, Henry training - what a fantastic combination.” 

Robbie Power, who rode runner-up Minella Indo, said:   

“No excuses. He’s run his race, he jumped brilliantly, and he’s travelled beautifully. I thought when I quickened off the bend down to the second last they’d have to come and get me, but A Plus Tard is a year older and a year stronger and he probably saw the trip out a bit better. But I wouldn’t make any excuse for my horse. I’m delighted for him. 

“After last year that will mean even more to Rachael. This is the pinnacle. It’s the race we all want to win. I was hoping it was going to be me but it wasn’t. 

Harry Skelton, jockey of third-placed Protektorat, said:  

“That was absolutely brilliant. Everything went well, I just met two too good, but he stuck on well after the last. I couldn’t have asked for any more. He ran his heart out, he really did.” 

Dan Skelton, trainer of third-placed Protektorat, said:  

“To be honest he shouldn’t have been third after the mistake he made at the last. There was no stride there and Harry had to keep the momentum up, but he’s run his heart out and done best of the Brits. I know it’s a boring saying, but we are slowly nibbling back, and this is only a seven-year-old, so maybe we’ll get a few more goes at it. We’ll keep trying. 

“The winner was fantastic and it’s a great Gold Cup for Henry and his team. To be fair the A Plus Tard we saw at Haydock in the autumn was never ever going to get beat, and he’s returned to that after surprisingly getting beat at Christmas. Fair play to them.” 

Davy Russell, who partnered Galvin to finish fourth, said:   

“He ran a blinder. He just lacks that little bit of gear. He stayed on well and gave us everything.” 

Charlie Deutsch, rider of Royal Pagaille (5th) said:  

“It was a good run and we jumped well in the most part. Two big mistakes, but he kept on up the hill and being on a bit softer ground really helped him.” 

Willie Mullins, trainer of Al Boum Photo (6th), Asterion Forlonge (7th) and Tornado Flyer (pulled-up) said: 

“Asterion Forlonge jumped very well I think and letting him enjoy himself is by far the best option, but we might bring him back in trip as Bryan said he could be better off back in trip. Paul said Al Boum Photo did everything he asked him and it was just that maybe time is catching up with him – perhaps that’s as good as he is at this stage of his career. Danny said that Tornado Flyer never fired, he never travelled. It was very soft the last day, so maybe it was the ground.” 

Danny Mullins, rider of Asterion Forlonge (7th), said:  

“He seems fine afterwards. He just didn’t find the same rhythm he had at Kempton.” 

Nick Schofield, jockey of Santini (8th) said:  

“It was a super run and he just lacked a few gears from four out to three out but he ran on up the hill.” 

Callum Bewley, jockey of Aye Right (9th) said:  

“He gave a good accounth of himself. He’s a big wrong at the weights with those other horses and it told, but we’re happy with him.” 

Nico de Boinville, rider of Chantry House (pulled-up) said:  

“He’s ok afterwards.” 

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