Quilixios handed Rachael Blackmore her sixth victory of the week in the JCB Triumph Hurdle, which immediately prompted quotes of 12-1 for next year’s Unibet Champion Hurdle.
His impressive performance also secured a fifth win of the 2021 Festival™ supporting WellChild for trainer Henry de Bromhead and a third for Cheveley Park Stud.
Rachael Blackmore told ITV Racing: “It’s incredible. Henry has only had this horse a very short space of time, so all the work was done for him by everyone at Cullentra Stables, so it’s all thanks to their work really. Henry just had to get him here on the boat, so big thanks to all of them. He’s a smashing horse and thanks also to Cheveley Park for putting me up, it’s brilliant.
“My parents are getting a great kick out of it, so it’s brilliant. They would have loved to have been here today, like a lot of people, but I’m just happy I’m here and that these horses are here.”
The jockey said to Racing TV: “The race was straightforward, he knows his job. We got a nice tow into it and I was able to pick it up then after the second last. From watching him and talking to Jack Kennedy, I knew he would stay very well and he did that up the hill.
“All the work’s been done with him in Cullentra, so it’s down to them really and I was just very lucky to get on him today.
“I didn’t think we went a mad gallop, but I was comfortable enough where I was. I could kind of feel where people were. When we turned to go down the hill he ran in my hands a little bit, he got a little bit lit up there, but he came back then on the climb again.
“He felt plenty quick today and I would say he’s a very nice horse for the future.”
Speaking after the race de Bromhead said: “It’s been an incredible week - the stuff you dream about. Quilixios is a gorgeous horse: obviously we have just got him. We’re delighted for the Thompsons of Cheveley Park - they are great supporters of ours.
“Rachael was brilliant on him, and all credit to Gordon (Elliott) and his team; the horse looked amazing when he came down to us. We’ve done very little - it’s down more to them than to us. Everyone was very helpful, we knew he jumped really well and obviously we’ve seen him a good bit, and he’s been really impressive. He’s just a lovely horse to do anything with, gorgeous-looking, lots of size and scope, and will be a lovely chaser in time, I’d say.”
De Bromhead added that there are no firm plans as yet for where he will head next. He said “I’m not sure what he’ll do from now on - we haven’t had him long. We’ll enjoy today and see what everyone will like to do.”
Reflecting on Blackmore’s week and her career in general, the trainer added: “We all know how good Rachael is; we’ve always said how lucky we feel to have her on our team. She’s riding out of her skin, obviously.
“It was Eddie O’Leary who recommended her to me nearly three years ago and we said we’d try it out. We were trying her on the Gigginstown horses, and within two or three months she was practically riding all of ours, she was so good. She’s a great person and works very hard, is really good to work with and a brilliant rider.”
David Pipe, trainer of runner-up Adagio, said: “I’d normally never happily take second, but we’d have taken that before the race as it looked an above average Triumph.
“He had colic not so long ago, so to do that was fantastic, and remember he came out of a claimer. We’ll see how he comes out of this, but he’s quite a tough horse and Aintree is the obvious place if he runs again. There will be lots more good days to have with him.”
Adagio’s jockey Tom Scudamore added: “He’s run super. We were beaten by a better horse on the day, with no excuses, but he’s a fine horse and you have to be happy with that in what looked like a vintage Triumph Hurdle.”
Willie Mullins, trainer of third home Haut En Couleurs and Tax For Max, who was sixth, said: “It was a very good run and we’re delighted with him. He jumped and galloped and he’ll come on a lot for that. We’ll head to Punchestown we think. Tax For Max was very green and it’ll be educational for him for the future.”
Lisa O’Neill, representing Denise Foster, trainer of fourth placed Zanahiyr, the 11-8 favourite, added: “It was a little bit disappointing. He probably ran a bit too keen and struggled to get up the hill after that. We’ll take him home and see how he is after the run before making a decision about running again this season.”
Alan King, trainer of fifth placed Tritonic, said: “He just floundered away a bit on that ground. We’ll see about Aintree, but he might go back on the Flat instead.”
1st - Quilixios – Henry de Bromhead IRE 4-11-00 Rachael Blackmore 2-1
2nd - Adagio – David Pipe 4-11-00 Tom Scudamore 10-1
3rd - Haut En Couleurs – Willie Mullins IRE 4-11-00 Paul Townend 20-1
11/8 Fav Zanahiyr (4th)
Distances: 3¼, hd
Time: 4m 06.37s
Winning Owner: Cheveley Park Stud (7th success at The Festival™ supporting WellChild
Breeder: Stiftung Gestuet Faehrhof
Breeding: b g Maxios -Quilita (GER) (Lomitas)
Henry de Bromhead – 14th winner at The Festival™ supporting WellChild
Rachael Blackmore – 9th winner at The Festival™ supporting WellChild