Cheltenham Day Two: Energumene and Delta Work claim back-to-back victories

Willie Mullins and Paul Townend are again proving a winning combination on the second day of the festival
Cheltenham Day Two: Energumene and Delta Work claim back-to-back victories

Press Association

Here's the latest from the second day of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival...

5.30pm Weatherbys Champion Bumper

A Dream To Share 4/1

The last result of the day will be one to remember for 18-year-old jockey John Gleeson, claiming a win in his first ever ride at the festival.

Willie Mullins' charge was again the one to watch, but Fact Or File could not hold on to deny A Dream To Share and trainer John Kiely a special win.

4.50pm Grand Annual Chase

Maskada 20/1

Maskada was able to make the most of a slip up from Dinoblue to take the penultimate race of day two.

Henry de Bromhead was back in the winner's enclosure, following Tuesday's dream result with Honeysuckle, this time joined by jockey Darragh O'Keeffe.

Although the race favourite started well, the closing two fences proved her undoing, leaving room Maskada to take the win.

Dinoblue, trained by Willie Mullins, ultimately came home in second, followed by Global Citizen.

4.10pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase

Delta Work 5/4

Delta Work defended his Glenfarclas Chase title as Gordon Elliott won the Cheltenham Festival cross-country feature for the fifth time in seven years.

Last year Delta Work had to play the role of pantomime villain as he spoiled the retirement party of Tiger Roll by edging out the dual Grand National winner in a thriller.

But this time around he was the people’s favourite, with the 10-year-old was sent off the heavily-backed 11-10 market leader.

Kept in the perfect place throughout by Keith Donoghue, he edged his way to the lead shortly after jumping the Aintree fence for the final time.

Delta Work was soon joined at the head of proceedings by stablemate and 11-4 second-favourite Galvin and it was soon obvious the classy Elliott duo were the only ones with a real chance of taking home the first prize.

Matching strides approaching the last, Donoghue always looked to be holding on to that little bit more than Davy Russell aboard Galvin and so it proved in the closing stages as Delta Work came home with a two-and-a-half-length advantage.

Donoghue was picking up his fourth victory in the race having steered Tiger Roll to success in 2018, 19 and 21, while both the winner and runner-up will now head to Aintree for the Randox Grand National.

Betfair make Delta Work 14-1 from 20-1, while Galvin is 16-1 from 25s for success in Liverpool on April 15.

Elliott said: “I love the cross-country race. It was great to have the one-two and see Galvin run a great race because he will come on for it.

“I’m pleased for Keith who is having his best ever season, but Jack (Kennedy, injured stable jockey) is a team player and he’s here lending his support. Jack will be back on these horses when he’s passed fit to return.

“Both horses will now go for the Grand National.”

He added: “I hoped it would be Delta’s day, to be honest, but really I don’t care what wins as I just love having winners.”

3.30pm Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase

Energumene 5/4

Energumene defended his Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase crown in imperious style at Cheltenham – routing the opposition to become the first back-to-back winner of the day two feature since Altior in 20018 and 2019.

Only third in the Clarence House Chase behind reopposing pair Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone, he arrived at the Festival with a point to prove.

Backed into 6-5 favourite as the rain continued to pour throughout the afternoon, his supporters would have had barely a moment of worry as he produced a performance of real dominance to light up a gloomy second day.

In a change of tactics, Energumene was ridden forwards by Paul Townend – keen to keep tabs on Niall Houlihan on the front-running Editeur Du Gite.

Travelling with real zest, Townend was an image of supreme confidence after four out at the same point Rachael Blackmore aboard Captain Guinness and Edwardstone were beginning to appear in Energumene’s wing mirrors.

However, the writing was on the wall for the nine-year-old’s rivals from the moment Energumene poked his nose in front at the third-last and with Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone soon beaten off, it was left to Captain Guinness to chase home Energumene in vain as Townend asked his mount to stretch clear.

Owned by Brighton & Hove Albion supremo Tony Bloom, Energumene returned a 10-length winning verdict back to Captain Guinness in second and having given Willie Mullins a first Champion Chase success 12 months ago, he took the master of Closutton’s overall Cheltenham tally to 92 Festival winners.

2.50pm Coral Cup Hurdle

Langer Dan 8/1

Langer Dan made it third time lucky at the Cheltenham Festival when holding on for a brave success in the Coral Cup.

The big meeting has been a cruel mistress for the Dan Skelton-trained seven-year-old in the last two seasons, bumping into Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs in the 2021 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle before being brought down at the second flight when sent off favourite for the same race 12 months ago.

This year, stable jockey Harry Skelton was given his chance aboard the 9-1 winner and despite having plenty to do when short of room two out, he was inspired in the saddle from the home turn.

Hitting the front halfway up the run-in, he drove his mount home with vigour to hold off An Epic Song (second) and Campround (third) in three-way tussle at the finish.

2.10pm Brown Advisory Novices' Steeple Chase

The Real Whacker 13/2

The Real Whacker made every yard to give Patrick Neville a fairytale victory in a thrilling edition of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

A winner at the Prestbury Park track on both of his previous outings this term, including the ‘Dipper’ over shorter on New Year’s Day, he was bounced out by Sam Twiston-Davies to take up his customary position at the head of affairs.

The Real Whacker (8-1) produced a clinical round of jumping on the front end, with the Daryl Jacob-ridden Bronn hot on his tail throughout.

Despite Galia Des Liteaux, 5-4 favourite Gerri Colombe and the heavily-backed Sir Gerhard all edging their way into contention when the race began to develop, as the runners turned for home at the bottom of the famous hill it was The Real Whacker and Bronn that were still disputing matters.

Bronn was beaten off after the last, but the drama did not end there as Jordan Gainford conjured up extra from the fast-finishing Gerri Colombe who was staying on strongly as The Real Whacker’s stride began to shorten.

But the line came just in time to give Neville his first winner at the Festival and the inspired Twiston-Davies his first since 2016.

“It was a fantastic race, it’s always a privilege to be asked to ride in these races,” said the delighted winning rider.

“I was lucky to ride him in the Dipper, let alone today as well. Paddy Neville, all the way through, has been a great supporter. He said he was in wicked good nick and fair play, he was absolutely spot on.

“He races in a great manner – although he’s in front and he’s doing a lot of the hard work you’re able to get the breathers in everywhere you want. With his jumping he’s always filling himself up, my God it feels like a long way up the run-in!”

1.30pm Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

Impaire Et Passe 15/8

Impaire Et Passe produced a devastating performance to lead home a Willie Mullins one-two-three in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Despite being the talking horse of the pre-Festival preview circuits he was usurped as favourite shortly before the tapes went up by Paul Nicholls’ Hermes Allen and allowed to go off at 5-2.

The winner, runner-up Gaelic Warrior and Barry Connell’s Good Land were all marking each other in mid-division for the most part as Champ Kiely gave Hermes Allen a lead at the front end.

But when Hermes Allen moved up to eyeball Champ Kiely and forced the pace to quicken four out, the pack were edging their way closer to the action and as the runners descended towards two out, it was clear Paul Townend had plenty of horse underneath him.

Taking the brave route up the inner, the five-year-old was soon in the clear and Townend simply had to keep his mount’s momentum moving forwards as he scooted up the hill to return a six-and-a-half-length verdict.

Gaelic Warrior and Champ Kiely filled the podium positions for the Closutton yard, as Mullins enhanced his fine record in the race, registering his sixth victory and following up Sir Gerhard’s triumph 12 months ago.

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