Racing: 10 of Cheltenham’s also-rans worth having another look at

Racing: 10 of Cheltenham’s also-rans worth having another look at
Paul Townend celebrates winning with Al Boum Photo alongside Rachel Blackmore onboard Monalee. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

THE Cheltenham Festival produced lots of top-class action, plenty of thrilling finishes and a number of impressive winners.

But what about the runners who came up short and possibly found trouble in running along the way?

Here are 10 horses to note from the 2020 Festival who should prove interesting to follow going forward.

Relegate was one who certainly caught the eye in Thursday’s Pertemps Network Final.

The former Champion Bumper winner was last bar one, approaching the third flight from home, and had a lot to do to mount a challenge. She stayed on late, doing her best work towards the end of the race, to finish fifth, on what was just her second outing for her current trainer, Colm Murphy.

Monalee lost his position at a crucial stage in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but the Henry De Bromhead-trained gelding delivered a very promising effort in defeat, where he stayed on well after the last fence to finish a close-up fourth.

Monalee’s Festival record is a very creditable one, as he has now finished in the top four in four different grade one races.

Eclair De Beaufeu shaped well in the Grand Annual. Sporting the maroon and white silks of Gigginstown House Stud, Gordon Elliott’s charge had his momentum halted by another Gigginstown runner, Jan Maat, who stumbled at the second last obstacle.

Eclair De Beaufeu recovered and found daylight, finishing a good second in the two mile contest.

Ben Dundee looks the one to note from the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate. Gordon Elliott’s runner was one of several horses produced brilliantly with a challenge by Davy Russell at the meeting.

The combination was hampered by fallers at the second last fence in the Plate, where they had to sidestep their way out of trouble, before running on to finish fifth.

Elixir D’ainay was travelling well in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, before being badly hampered at the third from home, and then coming down at the penultimate flight, at a stage when the race was just beginning to take shape.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding was eliminated from the contest as a result of some erratic jumping by his stablemate, Asterion Forlonge. He also took out Captain Guinness in the process, who is the other runner to follow from the race.

Henry De Bromhead’s charge was still in the reckoning, in what may have been a vintage renewal, when he was brought down.

Saint Calvados was given a peach of a ride by Gavin Sheehan to finish second in the Ryanair Chase. Settled at the back of the field, the son of Saint De Saints raced up the inner and, after being short of room at one point, he put in an untidy jump at the last when still in with a massive chance.

After being switched right on the run to the line, he rallied well to be a close second, going down by just a neck to Min.

Mill Green was certainly an interesting runner in the concluding contest on Gold Cup day, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, given that he came from the clouds to finish sixth.

Nicky Henderson’s runner was being pushed along virtually from the off.

He was held up at the back of the field and was the backmarker on the run to the second last.

Mill Green finished his race out strongly, and despite also being hampered at the final hurdle, he flew home to be sixth, only beaten by a little over four lengths.

It was a remarkable run.

The same could be said of The Bosses Oscar, another eye-catcher, who finished just in front of Mill Green. He never really got into the race and he met trouble in running in the home stretch as well. When he eventually got motoring late on, he stayed on to take fifth.

Thyme Hill didn’t get the clearest of passages up the Cheltenham hill, when finishing an eventual fourth in the three-mile Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. Phillip Hobbs’ charge was short of room on at least two occasions, up the home straight, but he kept on gallantly to place fourth, just a length and a half behind the winner.

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