ELLIOTT IS NOW SEVEN UP
Gordon Elliott's incredible success at The Festival 2018 continued when Farclas won the first race of Gold Cup Day, the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
The Irish trainer now has seven victories to his name this week - and 21 at The Festival in total. It was his second JCB Triumph Hurdle victory; he first took the Grade One for juveniles in 2014 with Tiger Roll, who has since added two more Festival triumphs to his record (National Hunt Chase, 2017 and Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, 2018).
Ridden by 18-year-old Jack Kennedy, Farclas, who was beaten into second on both his outings over hurdles at home in Ireland, scored by a length and three-quarters over Mr Adjudicator at odds of 9/1. The 6/5 favourite, Apple's Shakira, finished fourth.
Elliott said: "We are having an unbelievable week. I keep saying it but the staff I have, the owners and the horses - it is unbelievable and a big thanks to everyone.
"Farclas was just beaten in a Grade Two on his first start and then he was beaten in a Grade One by the horse who was second today. There was only a good jump between them, so the Irish form has stood up."
It was a sixth win of the week for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud. O'Leary said: "I am very surprised. I didn't think that the fillies would be beaten today but they both pulled very badly the whole way round. Farclas got a beautiful ride - he has only run twice and been beaten twice, so it was one of those nice days when, if he hadn't won today we would have kept him as a novice for next year.
"He settled and he is getting stronger and stronger. He was a little bit weak when [O'Leary's brother] Eddie bought him in France and Gordon always loved him. He was a bit inexperienced and I think it probably suited him that it was a small field today. The two fillies didn't settle and the winner and the runner-up have come from the back. It's the Spring Juvenile form from Leopardstown - the positions have changed - and it's great for Gordon and for Jack.
"There is so much talent in Ireland. Davy Russell demonstrated yesterday what he can do at the age of 38 and Jack is clearly one of a group of new, young jockeys coming through in Ireland. They are very fortunate. A lot of the best horses are now being kept in Ireland by Rich Ricci, J P[McManus], myself and others. It's a golden era in Irish racing that we have most of the best horses with very good jockeys and very good trainers but sadly this will turn. I remember 15 years ago we could only get one winner here."
FAR HAS TOO MUCH CLASS FOR RIVALS
Jack Kennedy recorded his fourth winner of this year's Cheltenham Festival and fifth victory overall, following 9/1 shot Farclas' success in the G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle.
The four-year-old son of Jukebox Jury stayed on powerfully after the final flight to score by one and three-quarter lengths from Willie Mullins's Mr Adjudicator (8/1) in second.
18-year-old Kennedy, who now joins Davy Russell at the top of the standings in the Holland Cooper Leading Jockey Award, said: "Another Ryanair flight has arrived on time!
"Farclas was keen between the first two hurdles, but he then settled nicely and jumped great.
"He stayed well and did it nicely in the end. He is still green and is improving, so he's a nice one to look forward.
"The small field helped as it gave him plenty of room and allowed him to get into a jumping rhythm.
"Farclas has run very well on his last two starts and has been improving the whole time.
"Gordon had him spot on for the day. Everyone keeps saying it but Gordon is a genius. He does so well with these horses. It is unreal.
"I am in there [Gordon's] every day full-time. He just leaves no stone unturned and his attention to detail is second to none."
"Farclas is not slow, but he stays well and I think the stiffer finish helped him. I can't believe how this week has gone. Gordon Elliott and the O'Leary's have been so good to me - I'm very lucky."
1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)
1 FARCLAS (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 4-11-00 Jack Kennedy 9/1
2 MR ADJUDICATOR (David Bobbett) Willie Mullins IRE 4-11-00 Paul Townend 8/1
3 SAYO (Palmerstown Racing Partnership) Willie Mullins IRE 4-11-00 Danny Mullins 33/1
6/5 fav Apple's Shakira (4th)
Distances: 1¾, 3½
Tote Win: £10.00 Places: £2.10, £1.80, £7.00 Exacta: £41.30
Gordon Elliott - 21st winner at The Festival
Jack Kennedy - 5th winner at The Festival
BetBright Cup - standings after 22 races
Great Britain 6
MULLINS' FOUR INCLUDE SECOND AND THIRD
Ireland continued in merry fashion when the final day of The Festival opened at Cheltenham, taking the first three places in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
The Nicky Henderson-trained 6/5 favourite Apple's Shakira raced too freely for her own good, and was spent as Irish rivals sped past approaching the final hurdle. Farclas (9/1), became trainer Gordon Elliott's seventh winner this week when scoring by a length and three-quarters from the Willie Mulins-trained Mr Adjudicator (8/1), whose stablemate, Sayo (33/1), was a further three and a half lengths further back in third.
Mr Adjudicator beat the winner, who was still a maiden over hurdles before this victory, when they met at Leopardstown last month. Mullins said of today's runner-up: "Paul [Townend] said the ground was the big difference. He just never travelled on it. Sayo jumped great and showed a big improvement on his last run - both horses would appear to have a bright future."
Townend said: "My horse ran a cracker. I would say that the ground is probably heavier than he wanted, but I thought he ran his heart out to get as close as he did.
"I thought I had a life at the last - I got underneath it a bit - but, the second we landed and the further we were going, the other horse [Farclas] was beating us by further."
Mullins also ran Saldier (fifth) and Stormy Ireland, who led for much of the race, but had lost pole position when falling at the last. Her trainer said she was fine afterwards, and that Saldier was another who found the ground too testing and had not jumped well enough.
Henderson said of Apple's Shakira: "She was far too keen - I think we'll put a hood on her and head to Aintree."
GOING AFTER THE FIRST
Jack Kennedy, rider of the 9/1, one and three quarter-length winner Farclas, said: "Soft to heavy."
Paul Townend, partner of second-placed Mr Adjudicator, said: "Heavy."
Daniel Mullins, on board 33/1 shot and third Sayo, said: "Heavy."
Barry Geragthy, on board the fourth 6/5 favourite Apple's Shakira, said: "Soft"
Richard Johnson, on board Gumball, said: "Heavy."
Wayne Hutchinson, jockey of Redicean, said: "Soft to heavy."
David Mullins, rider of Saldier, said: "Soft to heavy."
Jamie Moore, rider of Sussex Ranger, said: "Soft."