Saturday 18 November 2017

Monday outlook

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Cheltenham footnotes

1Long Run's triumph on Friday completed an unusual double for Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson, who had teamed up to score with Bobs Worth earlier. It means that Henderson has landed the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup in successive years without the assistance of his stable jockey. Neither horse was in line to be ridden by Geraghty for obvious reasons, but it is a rare occurrence all the same.

2Speaking of notable misses, Dermot Weld must be wondering what he has to do to catch a break at the Festival. Relative greenhorns such as Gordon Elliott, Henry de Bromhead, Paul Nolan and Ian Ferguson can all now number more than one victory there. Weld, however, is 21 years and counting since Rare Holiday got him off the mark in the Triumph Hurdle. He has conquered the world with his exploits on the Flat, but Unaccompanied's defeat was the latest in a long line of frustrations for him in the Cotswolds.

Tentative plans at a glance for jumping stars

Big Buck's -- Aintree

Hurricane Fly -- Punchestown

Binocular -- Punchestown or Aintree

Kauto Star -- Punchestown or Sandown

Captain Chris -- Punchestown

Long Run -- Aintree or Auteuil

Denman -- Aintree

Menorah -- Punchestown

Peddlers Cross -- Aintree

Grands Crus -- Punchestown or Aintree

Quevega -- Punchestown

Ride of the weekend

Timmy Murphy on Bellflower Boy at Ffos Las on Saturday

This one was returning to fences after a prolific stint over flights, and had never won in 11 starts over the bigger obstacles before, although he was awarded a race at Limerick in 2008. Murphy has long been a master at conserving a horse's energy, and he was at his serene best on Bellflower Boy, sitting well off a strong pace before coming with a storming run.

Training feat of the weekend

JD Moore winning with Temlett at Cork

The seven-year-old hadn't run since finishing down the field at Punchestown for Willie Mullins in 2008 -- 1,061 days ago. He was 25/1 yesterday morning, before being backed into 11/2 joint favouritism. Paul Townend rode him as though defeat was out of the question, making all to land the gamble by two lengths.

An eye on the title

Willie Mullins' declaration that Paul Townend has his full support in his quest for the riders' title has changed the landscape of that contest. Ruby Walsh had been expected to take over stable jockey duties from Townend on his return from injury, which would have given Davy Russell a serious shot at the championship. With Mullins' intentions confirmed, Townend nine clear (75 to 66) and Russell two days worse off of the two after their respective Cheltenham bans, Townend is now in the driving seat.

Irish Independent

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