Richard Forristal's race reads: Day 2
1.30 National Hunt Challenge Chase (Amateur riders) 4m
Credit must go to Derek O'Connor (right) for an excellent ride on Chicago Grey. The point-to-point supremo has at times come in for criticism for dropping horses out too far under rules, but he judged this to perfection, and showed up many of his colleagues by poaching an uninterrupted passage around the inside from the back of the field.
His patience certainly reaped dividends, as Chicago Grey had the reserves to repel Beshabar, which had made a lot of the running. Alfa Beat and Some Target both ran honest races, but just weren't good enough to land a blow. Arabella Boy never got into it.
2.05 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle 2m 5f
For once things didn't go Ruby Walsh's way in this. Having dropped So Young in at the rear, he found himself forced very wide to challenge after the second last and a mistake at the final flight meant that third was the best the favourite could manage.
Oscars Well raced keenly in the middle of the pack down the inner. He travelled well turning in and was upsides in front at the last, but a blunder there cost him dearly.
Rock On Ruby also crept into it from the middle and was poised to take advantage of the others errors at the last, only for Davy Russell to galvanise First Lieutenant with one of his now trademark last-gasp finishes at the Festival. Russell had sat close to the pace in an effort to make the most of his horse's stamina, but still got tightened for space jumping the last, and only led on the line. It was a fine riding performance.
2.40 RSA Chase 3m
Bostons Angel prevailed in a thrilling finish, after racing handily for most of the way, before being left in the lead by Quel Esprit's fall three out. Jessies Dream did get to the front in between the last two, but wavered up the straight and seemed to lose out to a horse that simply wanted it more.
Timmy Murphy had given Jessies Dream a fine steer, dropping in, but staying out of trouble on the outer, only for the horse to undo his good work by running around at the most crucial point in the race. Robbie Power was positive on the winner, which jumped well and showed great heart to win his third successive Grade One.
Quel Esprit, a faller here over hurdles last year, had jumped well, and led down the back the last time. He was travelling kindly when he fell for the second time in a row.
Mikael D'Haguenet exited too early -- at the ditch down the back -- to say how he would have fared, but things aren't going his way over fences, either. Time For Rupert struggled from a long way out, though he did plug on for fifth.
3.20 sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase 2m
Briefly after they landed over the third last, the predicted showdown between Big Zeb and Master Minded looked as though it might materialise, but Master Minded failed to pick up on ground that was too good for him. He then made a horrendous mistake at the second-last, but his chance was gone anyway.
As was the case on Sizing Australia yesterday, positive tactics paid rich dividends for Andrew Lynch on Sizing Europe. Traditionally when the Arkle winner tackles the established champion chasers, there is plenty of hype, but the decision to try Sizing Europe over further earlier in the season meant he was coming here under the radar.
Lynch had him either upsides or in a clear lead from the start, and the only time the partnership looked in trouble was when Big Zeb loomed large two-out. The winner picked up again, however, and Big Zeb, which made a mistake at the eighth, had no more to give. Captain Bee Cee and Golden Silver stayed on to fill the minor places.
4.00 Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) 2m 5f
The gamble on Call The Police never threatened to bear fruit once the race developed in earnest, and there appeared to be no excuse other than that he wasn't good enough.
Carlito Brigante, fourth in last year's Triumph Hurdle, was making his handicap debut, and crucially had been given the same rating by the English handicapper as his Irish mark. For Non Stop and Daryl Jacob made a bold bid for glory from the top of the hill, but was only ever giving Carlito Brigante a lead before taking a crashing fall when beaten at the last obstacle.
Russell (left) sat behind the leaders from the start before easing to the front at the last, turning a supposedly competitive handicap into a procession to score by six lengths.
4.40 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 2m
For a long time it looked as though Plan A might see a mockery made of a second successive handicap, but despite appearing to travel into the race with ease turning in, he ultimately paid the price for racing a fraction keenly early on. When push came to shove, he emptied alarmingly, taking a well-beaten fourth at the death.
What A Charm, on the other hand, had been hard at work under Paul Townend for some way. Another making his handicap debut, he just kept finding for Townend's urgings, eventually battling to a brave neck success.
In fairness, the runner-up Kumbeshwar was game as well, and couldn't be faulted in defeat. He was another that took a keen hold, with his rider allowing him to stride on after the first. It was no small feat to finish as well as he did.
5.15 Weatherbys Champion Bumper 2m
Knights Pass was beaten as soon as the field swung down the hill half a mile out. It was a disappointing effort for a horse that had apparently been highly thought of.
Raise The Beat, Dynamic Approach, Double Double, Tusa Eire and Lord Gale never factored, and Lord Gale actually pulled up, which rarely happens in a bumper. Star Neuville and Aupcharlie, both of which raced in mid-division, were bang there turning in, but Cheltenian, second on its debut for Liz Doyle in October, found most.
Star Neuville faded badly, though Aupcharlie kept on for third behind Cheltenian and Destroyer Deployed. The winner came from off the pace to win going away, in what might not have been a vintage renewal.