MAESTRO MULLINS IN 179/1 FOUR-TIMER WITH RUBY
Let's Dance, under a sweetly-timed ride by Ruby Walsh, swept through late in the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle to bring up a 179/1 four-timer for himself and trainer Willie Mullins.
It was the first time a jockey had completed four winners in one day at The Festival, although it was not a new experience for Mullins - he and Nicky Henderson had achieved it in past Festivals, although Let's Dance's win in the colours of Rich Ricci completed a volte-face for owner, trainer and jockey, who had all been winless on the first two days of the meeting.
Mullins said of Let's Dance: "Looking at where she was turning for home a lot of things had to fall right, but they had gone a huge gallop and you probably don't expect mares to keep that up - and so it was. She was a second-season novice, too, which meant she had a better chance of jumping the last and flying away from it. Experience told.
"I wouldn't like to tell you what was going through my mind last night, but with the exception of Douvan, who had a veterinary issue, nothing else that was beaten should have won. Different tactics in the [OLBG] Mares' Hurdle might have made a difference, but losing to Apple's Jade was fair enough. There cannot be anything wrong with the horses because they were running well.
"Today I would have accepted just one winner. Yorkhill was in my mind, but people expect us to have winners here - we hope to have winners here. If it was that easy there would be no pressure and no fun in it. The last two days show you that. It's a tough place to win and we respect the place and the opposition here. We don't have a God-given right to win races, so to get a winner and get on the board was great, and it's been a huge bonus since.
"To have Ruby on our side is worth so much, because he can change his mind two or three times in races when things are not going to plan - he can read races and do what needs to be done and take a chance. He's a huge asset.
"Four winners today shows how good he is - we've been lucky in our time to witness Sir A P McCoy and Ruby Walsh, two fabulous jockeys with different styles, but at the top of their profession. Ruby's confidence was great, and that's why he was able to give Yorkhill the ride he did. He's not going to lose confidence just like that. He gave those horses some rides to win from positions they did today, because in the previous two days horses weren't winning from there.
"He didn't think about yesterday, he just rode today's horses as he saw them, and that's what he does so well."
RICCI DELIGHTED AS DANCE PUTS HER BEST FOOT FORWARD
American owner Rich Ricci was delighted to register his first victory of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival after the Willie Mullins-trained Let's Dance (11/8 favourite), was a ready winner of the Grade Two Trull House Stud Mares' Novice Hurdle under Ruby Walsh.
Always travelling well under Walsh, who along with Mullins, was completing a 178.6/1 four-timer, the five-year-old daughter of Poliglote made stealthy headway through the field entering the home straight and quickened clear impressively to score by two and three-quarter lengths ahead of Gordon Elliott's Barra in second, with a neck back to Dusky Legend, trained by Alan King, in third.
The trio also took the inaugural running of the two-mile contest last year with Limini.
A delighted Ricci said: "We are late to the party but we have bought the music! First of all, I am delighted for the staff because of the 50,000 euro bonus (Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Stable Staff Boonus). I am delighted for the yard - it has been a brilliant today (four winners).
"Joe Chambers deserves credit because Christmas time last season Let's Dance was second to Ivanovic Gorbatov and Joe said why not campaign her the rest of the way in Grade Ones.
"If she wins, she wins but if she doesn't, we can keep her a novice for next season and it has worked. She's got bigger and stronger and it has paid off.
"It is great to have one on the board. It is such a relief. It has been a brutal season, but there is no future in history and you have got to keep looking forward."
Ricci also commented on Douvan's disappointing seventh-placed finish in yesterday's Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, with the son of Walk In The Park subsequently found to be stiff behind after the race.
He said: "This game would tame a lion. When it is up, it is brilliant but when it is down, it is down.
"I never felt so low. It was just so deflating and crushing. Yesterday was just brutal and emblematic of the season we have had. It's just been one of those years - it happens.
"He's alright. I don't think its career threatening. We have sent him for an MRI scan today but I'm hopeful it's just a fracture or something.
"Ruby said he lost action behind after the second fence which he winged evidently, but it is just one of those things which happens and hopefully we have him back for next year."
4.50pm Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2)
1 LET'S DANCE (Susannah Ricci) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-07 Ruby Walsh 11/8 Fav
2 Barra (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-02 Bryan Cooper 12/1
3 Dusky Legend (Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes) Alan King 7-11-05 Wayne Hutchinson 20/1
Distances: 2¾, nk
Tote Win: £2.10 Places:£1.40, £3.70, £4.90 Exacta:£20.30
Willie Mullins - 52st winner at The Festival
Ruby Walsh - 56th winner at The Festival
BetBright Cup - standings after 20 races
Great Britain 6
BARRA COMES HOME STRONGLY FOR SECOND
Barra, trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Bryan Cooper, took second place behind the Willie Mullins-trained 11/8 favourite Let's Dance in the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle.
Michael O'Leary, owner of Gigginstown House Stud, in whose colours 12/1 shot Barra runs, said: "She had a super run. I thought she couldn't go with them for the first mile but she came home very strongly under a great ride from Bryan.
"The winner, Let's Dance, is a Grade One mare and is entitled to win - Ruby [Walsh] gave her a peach of a ride and it has been Willie's day. We are delighted to be second."
Gordon Elliott added: "She is a nice mare, a nice mare for the future."
Third was 20/1 chance Dusky Legend, who finished runner-up to Limini in the 2016 race.
Dusky Legend's trainer, Alan King, said: "She's run a marvellous race and we are thrilled with her. It was probably a stronger renewal with more depth to it this year. I wish they hadn't watered last night, as she's a proper good ground filly. But she's run a smashing race."
Jockey Wayne Hutchinson said: "An end-to-end two-mile gallop brings out the best in her, and she had the experience behind her. There looked more depth to the race this year and she's probably improved again on the back of last year's run."