Cheltenham Festival 2018 Weighed Inby Well Polished Cheltenham, Mar 2018
This years Cheltenham festival had the softest ground in 18 years – however most of the big guns still fired on the big occasion!
The Irish banker of the week Samcro deserves an honourable mention, but the noise around the campfire for several months was that nothing was going to be able to lay a glove on Laurina. The Willie Mullins-trained mare proved to be in a different league to her rivals, and she may well be taking on the boys next season, perhaps in the Champion Hurdle. Whichever route she takes, she looks a serious proposition.
We will never know, but Douvan’s premature exit from the Champion Chase led to much talk of ‘what if’. It’s impossible to tell whether he would have put it up to Altior to the line, but there was no denying that some of his jumping down the back straight was electric and like the Douvan of old. Hopefully a rematch will not have to wait a year and Douvan can return to his previous pomp.
Connections of Kalashnikov and Might Bite were entitled to feel aggrieved after magnificent efforts in defeat, but they should not be too downcast as their time will surely come again. Kalashnikov travelled and jumped but was just worn down by Summerville Boy, who could have easily come to grief earlier in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle after a mistake. Amy Murphy has an exciting novice chaser in the making and he will be one to follow next year.
The Gold Cup was ultimately a match, but what a match it was, as Might Bite and Native River slugged out in a race for the ages. Better ground would have helped Might Bite, but he more than played his part in an epic confrontation and here’s hoping the rematch will be another box-office treat.
Roll on Aintree for the Grand National meeting, where a few of those who skipped the Cheltenham festival could make a big impact!