An enquiry was held, adjourned from Cheltenham on Thursday 14 March 2019, into the use of the whip by Noel Fehily, the rider of the winner, EGLANTINE DU SEUIL in Race 6. After being interviewed and shown recordings of the race, Fehily was suspended for 4 days for using his whip in the incorrect place on the run to the line.
Race 1 - 1:30pm G1 JCB TRIUMPH HURDLE
PIC D'ORHY (FR) wore earplugs which were removed at the start and TIGER TAP TAP (GER) wore earplugs throughout the race. The circumstances surrounding SIR EREC (IRE) sustaining an injury shortly after jumping the fourth hurdle were considered by the Stewards. The BHA Head of Equine Health and Welfare was interviewed and reports taken from the trainer, Joseph O'Brien and Dr John Halley, the trainer's Veterinary Surgeon. The BHA Head of Equine Health and Welfare reported that SIR EREC (IRE) had passed a pre-race Veterinary Inspection earlier in the day. On arrival at the start, the colt had spread its right fore plate and was reshod, after which the BHA Veterinary Officer was satisfied with SIR EREC (IRE)'s suitability to race. The trainer reported that full radiograph images were taken of the colt in the days leading up to the race, which is the usual precautionary custom of the yard with respect to all runners. Mr O'Brien's Veterinary Surgeon further reported that there had been no radiographic evidence that would indicate anything that may lead to SIR EREC (IRE) sustaining an injury. Their evidence was noted. ADJALI (GER), placed seventh, became unbalanced rounding the home turn, shifting right-handed and carrying the winner, PENTLAND HILLS (IRE) onto GARDENS OF BABYLON (IRE), placed third, and FRENCH MADE (FR), placed eighth, which were both badly crowded for racing room, but after viewing a recording of the incident, it was found that no riding offence was involved. Following the race, Gordon Elliott reported that AUTHORIZO (FR), which was pulled up before the sixth hurdle, had a breathing problem.
Race 2 - 2:10pm G3 RANDOX HEALTH COUNTY HURDLE
Permission was given for MONSIEUR LECOQ (FR) to go early to post and be mounted in the chute; WHISKEY SOUR (IRE) wore earplugs throughout the race. MONSIEUR LECOQ (FR), ridden by Lizzie Kelly, unseated its rider on the way to post but the gelding was caught quickly. Having been examined by the doctor and Veterinary Surgeon at the start, both the rider and gelding were deemed fit to race. The performance of CROOKS PEAK, which finished twentieth of the 22 finishers, beaten by 38¾ lengths, was considered. Philip Hobbs' explanation that the gelding was unsuited by the Good to Soft ground, which in his opinion was riding softer than described, was noted. The performance of PINGSHOU (IRE), which finished last of the 22 finishers, beaten by 58¼ lengths, was considered. Colin Tizzard's representative could offer no explanation for the gelding's performance. Following the race, Davy Russell reported that MITCHOUKA (FR), which was pulled up, stopped quickly and Sam Twiston-Davies reported that LEONCAVALLO (IRE), unplaced, ran too freely.
Race 3 - 2:50pm G1 ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES' HURDLE
ALLAHO (FR), DORRELLS PIERJI (FR) and SALSARETTA (FR) wore earplugs throughout the race. The sponsorship in relation to LISNAGAR OSCAR (IRE), trained by Rebecca Curtis, did not comply with the Sponsorship Code of Conduct. Rebecca Curtis was warned as to her responsibility to ensure that the correct sponsorship is carried. Following the race, Barry Geraghty reported that BIRCHDALE (IRE), which was pulled up, stopped quickly; the gelding was routine tested. Davy Russell reported that DINONS (FR), which was pulled up, was never travelling; the Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding failed to reveal any abnormalities. Mark Walsh reported that he felt RHINESTONE (IRE) had lost its action so he pulled the gelding up as a precaution; the Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination revealed RHINESTONE (IRE) had lost its left fore shoe. The Veterinary Officer further reported that AYE AYE CHARLIE, placed eighth, lost its right fore shoe, DARLAC (FR), which was pulled up, lost both hind shoes and SALSARETTA (FR), placed seventh, had post-race ataxia.
Race 4 - 3:30pm G1 MAGNERS CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
AL BOUM PHOTO (FR), BRISTOL DE MAI (FR) and KEMBOY (FR) wore earplugs throughout the race. MIGHT BITE (IRE) was pulled up quickly after the second last fence as the rider felt something was amiss with the gelding, thereby interfering with YALA ENKI (FR), placed seventh, but after viewing a recording of the incident, it was found that no riding offence was involved. Following the race, Ruby Walsh reported that he pulled BELLSHILL (IRE) up after making a bad mistake. Nico De Boinville reported that MIGHT BITE (IRE), which was pulled up, stopped quickly; the Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding failed to reveal any abnormalities. Davy Russell reported that PRESENTING PERCY, which started favourite and finished eighth, was never travelling following an early mistake and his saddle had slipped mid-race; the gelding was routine tested. The Veterinary Officer reported that ELEGANT ESCAPE (IRE), placed sixth, lost its left fore shoe and SHATTERED LOVE (IRE), unplaced, had post-race ataxia.
Race 5 - 4:10pm ST. JAMES'S PLACE FOXHUNTER CHASE
Following the race, Miss Gina Andrews reported that HAYMOUNT (IRE), which was pulled up, was never travelling.
Race 6 - 4:50pm G3 JOHNNY HENDERSON GRAND ANNUAL HANDICAP CHASE
Permission was given for GINO TRAIL (IRE) to go early to post and be mounted in the chute and MARRACUDJA (FR) to be mounted in the chute. MARRACUDJA (FR) wore earplugs throughout the race. Kielan Woods, the rider of the winner, CROCO BAY (IRE), was suspended for 2 days for using his whip above the permitted level from the penultimate fence. Following the race, James Best reported that MR MEDIC made a bad mistake, after which he pulled the gelding up and Gavin Sheehan reported that ALL SET TO GO (IRE) made a bad mistake, after which he pulled the gelding up.
Race 7 - 5:30pm MARTIN PIPE CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS' HANDICAP HURDLE
GETAREASON (IRE) wore earplugs throughout the race. Having reviewed the start, the Stewards were satisfied that MOUNT MEWS (IRE) had refused to race and was deemed to be a runner. Having reviewed recordings of the false start, the Starters were satisfied that no riders should be reported for contravening the starting procedures.
The Starter reported that Ricky Doyle, the rider of ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS (FR), had deliberately faced his horse backwards. The rider and the Starter were interviewed and recordings of the incident were shown. Doyle was suspended for 2 days, on dates to be notified to him, for misconduct at the Start. Following the race Sean Houlihan reported that GARD DE JUILLEY (FR), unplaced, was never travelling and Thomas Dowson reported that SAKHEE'S CITY (FR), unplaced, was inconvenienced by the false start. The Veterinary Officer reported that DISCORDANTLY (IRE), unplaced, lost its right hind shoe.
HOLLAND COOPER TOP JOCKEY AT THE FESTIVAL 2019 - NICO DE BOINVILLE
Nico de Boinville, the Holland Cooper Top Jockey at The Festival 2019 with three winners, reacted: "I am over the moon.
"You do not come into a week like this thinking you have any sort of a chance [of being top jockey]. You know you have good rides, but you know how hard it is to convert them here.
"You have to remember that I am riding for a genius of a trainer (Nicky Henderson) because we have been pushed this year. We haven't had an easy build-up with all the snow and flu jabs so it has been a difficult prep for all these horses.
"I was saying earlier that I think one of the standout training performances was Santini, because we have had so many problems with him. For him to come and run like he did, we are really looking forward to next season.
"It has been a great week."
His three victories came through William Henry in the Coral Cup, Altior in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and Pentland Hills in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
In other news Willie Mullins was crowned The Irish Independent Leading Trainer at The Festival for a sixth time after an absence of two years, but it went to countback on placings before the result was confirmed.
This time it was Nicky Henderson, who last won the title in 2012, who gave him most to do, rather than Gordon Elliott, who took the title from Mullins in 2017 and won it again last year, and after both trainers ended on four winners it was Mullins' five seconds against Henderson's four that clinched it.
Mullins had not been optimistic at the start of the week, so he was delighted to be proved wrong.
He said: "It's a big surprise. Looking at Nicky's team at the start of the week I thought he was going to be hard to beat, so I'm delighted for the yard and delighted for all of our owners, who give us such support. It's a testament to everyone who backs me that I've won it again."
He added: "We got a great start, winning the first two races. We didn't think we had a great team of novices but we ended with three novice winners, plus the Gold Cup, which was unbelievable after so many near misses. I thought I'd never win the Gold Cup, so that was a major surprise and a nice one."