Here are six things making headlines on Day Two of The Festival™, presented by Magners.
CONTROL, ALT(IOR), DEFEAT
When the going gets tough, Altior seems to just get tougher.
Of his record-equalling 18 consecutive victories over obstacles his win in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two of The Festival™ will go down as his hardest fought. And my word did he earn it.
Ten-times Champion trainer Paul Nicholls claimed at the Magners ‘Road To Gold’ preview at Cheltenham Racecourse on Sunday night that Altior “will be beaten one day”.
For a while here it looked as though Nicholls own 11-1 shot Politologue could be the one to dethrone the champion and jockey Nico de Boinville.
However, Altior will rightly go down as the horse of a generation and wasn’t for passing. The 59,209 racegoers in attendance can say they were at Cheltenham the day a true legend won for the fourth time at the Festival and equalled a record.
Next stop Sandown Park on bet365 Jump Finale day for number 19?
FINE TIGER FEAT BUT GRAND NATIONAL BID IN DOUBT
It wasn’t only Altior who was trending ahead of Facebook and Instagram’s extraordinary afternoon malfunction on Wednesday afternoon.
Tiger Roll’s victory – also a fourth triumph at Jump racing’s Olympics – further fanned his celebrity status as an equine rock ‘n’ roll star for the 21st Century.
Hugely popular, the pocket rocket was roared home by a crowd in awe of his 22-length success in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.
But before punters could reach for their phones to place a little bit more on Tiger winning a second successive Randox Health Grand National in three weeks’ time, a cautionary note was sounded.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO and the horse’s owner, said afterwards that he may not head to Aintree on 6th April, insisting he has nothing to prove.
The world, Michael, is watching with interest.
THE CODD FATHER: PART II
Some things are guaranteed during Festival week.
Guinness will be drunk. Tweed will be worn. The Irish will arrive in their thousands. And amateur jockey Jamie Codd will get the better of the professionals at least once over the four days.
Followers of the ‘Codd Father’ hadn’t even spent their winnings from his classy ride on Le Breuil in the National Hunt Chase at the end of day one by the time he was back in the winners’ enclosure on day two in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
His victory on Envoi Allen was yet another example of determination and brilliance from a man long-admired by Festival fans.
Codd rides the fancied Measureofmydreams in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase on day three in a bid to win the ‘lucky last’ on each of the first three days of The Festival.
Oppose him if you dare.
GOOD GORD! ELLIOTT’S WEEK GOES FROM SOUR TO SWEET
How’s your memory?
At the end of day one of the 2018 Festival trainer Gordon Elliott was reflecting on a win-less day at the home of Jump racing.
He went on to take the leading Festival trainer’s title after saddling a string of winners on day two and over the rest of the week.
Fast forward 12 months and there is a distinct air of deja vu.
The County Meath trainer endured a first day without victory, but was celebrating two wins on day two – Tiger Roll and Espoir Allen.
This time last year he headed back to his lodgings in the Cotswolds, ordered a Chinese takeaway and plotted Festival domination.
Sweet and sour chicken and an egg fried rice anyone?
O’BRIEN CELEBRATES HIS FIRST (OFFICIAL) FESTIVAL WINNER
Three years ago Joseph O’Brien trained the JCB Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov in all but name.
That day his father Aidan was the man whose name went in the racecard as Joseph’s license hadn’t been registered in time.
His first official victory at the Festival must have tasted extra sweet on day two this year then, as Band Of Outlaws defeated 20 rivals to win the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
Winning jockey J J Slevin left it late before making his move on the 7/2 favourite –but O’Brien said that was always the plan.
Chances are we could see the 25-year-old trainer back in the winners’ enclosure on Friday with Sir Erec in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
MURRAY MINTED AFTER A DAY AT THE FESTIVAL?
Who knows what tennis superstar Andy Murray said to the jockeys during a pre-racing tour of the dressing room on day two?
But he seemed to be enjoying himself, posting pictures on social media and prompting his mum Judy to suggest he had found a couple of winners too.
If his wife Kim’s celebrations on the balcony of their box in the Princess Royal Stand were anything to go by the Murrays managed to pick more than just a winner or two.
Maybe his good fortune rubbed off on jockey Harry Cobden too. Less than 90 minutes after the pair chatted in the Cheltenham dressing room Cobden was celebrating his first winner of this year’s Festival.