How Don Cossack clicked a massive accumulator, and the horse you should back next time out
It was a very special Cheltenham Festival this year, made even more unbelievable by the red-hot tipping streak.
But if you’re looking for a horse slightly under the radar at Cheltenham to follow in the future, keep your eyes on Apple’s Jade for Willie Mullins. She was second in the Triumph Hurdle, little more than a length behind Ivanovich Gorbatov at 12/1, and she was very impressive. Bryan Cooper kicked on between the second-last and the last fence and had the majority of the field on the ropes. Fair play to trainer Joseph O’Brien and Ivanovich Gorbatov for popping over the last and battling to the line to win, but Apple’s Jade’s performance was eye-catching and she’s one to follow.
I’ve never had a tipping streak like last week’s Cheltenham ever before.
Annie Power justified favouritism to win the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday at 5/2 which wasn’t a massive surprise, but then on Wednesday Sprinter Sacre blew the field away at 5/1 in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Diego Du Charmill just about got his nose in front in the Fred Winter at odds of 13/2. Sprinter Sacre was stunning as he beat the short-priced Willie Mullins favourite Un De Sceaux, while Sam Twiston-Davies and Diego Du Charmill only just held on from the strong-finishing Romain De Senam. At that point I was thinking that I could be well in.
Thistlecrack was one of the best bets of the week so I was confident that he’d win the World Hurdle on Thursday which he did with relative ease, and then it was all going onto Don Cossack in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He went on to win at 9/4 on Friday afternoon, beating Djakadam by four-and-a-half lengths, and secured the 1,023/1 Festival fivefold on the Paddy Power Blog!
The highlight of the Cheltenham Festival has to be Sprinter Sacre winning the Champion Chase. Every racing fan had hairs stand up on the back of their neck as he kicked around the bend and up the hill. Plenty of people thought that if Sprinter Sacre could get back to his best then it would be a really good battle with Un De Sceaux, but nobody deep down – bar Nicky Henderson maybe – thought that Sprinter was going to perform quite like he did.
The change of gears as he started up the Cheltenham hill was incredible to see, it was a phenomenal turn of pace. Three years ago this horse won the Champion Chase by almost 20 lengths but after so long on the sidelines there were obvious doubts going into the race.
It was incredible for him to get back to that level. He’s a class horse.
It was also great to see Annie Power finally get her Cheltenham moment. It’s been 22 years since a mare won the Champion Hurdle so it was a fantastic achievement for Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh and the team. The way she did it blew me away. She proved a lot of doubters wrong flying up that hill and she was running away from the field at the last. Memories of last year’s final fence fall were well and truly banished.