Rachael Blackmore brings her haul for the week to five winners

Allaho destroys field; Chantry House takes Novices’ Chase as Envoi Allen crashes out

Jockey Rachael Blackmore and trainer Willie Mullins after winning the Ryanair Chase with Allaho. Photograph: PA

Jockey Rachael Blackmore and trainer Willie Mullins after winning the Ryanair Chase with Allaho. Photograph: PA

 

Rachael Blackmore approaches her date with destiny in Friday’s Gold Cup with at least one hand on Cheltenham’s leading rider title after a double on Thursday.

Only a spectacular exit by the hot favourite Envoi Allen in the opener appeared to prevent an Irish clean-sweep of all seven races on Day 3 of the festival.

It was the second day running the home team were left grateful for a single victory and talk of any Anglo-Irish battle for supremacy looks hollow on a score of 17-4 so far.

But if racing’s ‘next big thing’ let the side down, the biggest story in sport right now did anything but.

Blackmore followed a dominant front-running display on Allaho in the Ryanair Chase with a cool late finish on Tellmesomethinggirl in the mares novice hurdle.

It brought her haul for the week to five winners, two clear of her nearest rival Jack Kennedy, and one more than the entire British haul this week. She is 1-6 to lift the top rider award.

If both victories carried the stamp of a rider on a wave of momentum rarely seen before at Cheltenham, they also underlined Blackmore’s dominance of this most unique of festivals.

A behind-closed-doors event taking place in the most dispiriting of circumstances, and on the back of huge controversy for the sport, has been transformed by a single figure.

The 31 year-old Tipperary rider has claimed to be “overwhelmed” by the events of the last three days but she has never once looked like it.

Ultimate pro

“I’m genuinely just so overwhelmed by these last few days. It’s all about the horses you’re getting on and I just feel so lucky to be riding for the people I’m riding for,” Blackmore said.

However Tellmesomethinggirl’s trainer Henry De Bromhead, enjoying his own fourth win of the week, was quick to praise the jockey as “the ultimate professional.”

Having won Wednesday’s bumper for Mullins and Cheveley Park Stud on Sir Gerhard, Blackmore followed up for the same connections with a free-wheeling success on Allaho.

The 3-1 favourite had a dozen lengths in hand of Fakir D’oudairies at the line and left Mullins hugely impressed.

“The first thing I did when Rachael come back in was lift her number cloth to see if the lead bag was in there as it looked like Allaho was just carrying Rachael around there!

“He was just awesome. His galloping and his jumping, if you put it together I was hoping he could do that over three miles. But if he is only a two and a half mile horse that will do me,” he said.

One of Mullins’s nephews, Danny, secured a first festival success on Flooring Porter in the Stayers Hurdle and another, Emmet, trained his first Cheltenham winner when The Shunter earned a £100,000 bonus for landing the Grade 3 Plate.

The 20 year-old claimer Jordan Gainford did the steering on the versatile 9-4 favourite who scooped the bonus for adding this to a win over hurdles at Kelso earlier in the month.

“We booked Jordan because he’s catching everyone’s attention. The owner was insistent on claiming 7lbs and at that Jordan was the only option. He showed why today,” said Mullins who rode his uncle’s Sir Des Champs at the festival a decade ago.

Bryan Cooper tasted ultimate Cheltenham glory in 2016 with Don Cossack’s Gold Cup and returned to the festival winners enclosure once again on Paul Nolan’s Mrs Milner in the Pertemps.

Another mare, Mount Ida, brought up the sixth Irish victory in the Kim Muir, scoring for Denise Foster’s Cullentra team and giving Jack Kennedy some consolation for his tumble from Envoi Allen.

Jack Kennedy walks back along the course after falling from Envoi Allen. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire
Jack Kennedy walks back along the course after falling from Envoi Allen. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire

His 11 race unbeaten stretch ended in anti-climax on his first start for Henry De Bromhed with a clumsy exit at the fourth fence that the 4-9 favourite was lucky to escape from unscathed.

“Jack (Kennedy) said he was a little bit keen. He just launched at the fence, unfortunately, and that was it,” De Bromhead said.

It left JP McManus’s Chantry House to give Nicky Henderson a 70th festival success - six behind Willie Mullins - and Envoi Allen with the dubious distinction of being the only one of the three novice hotpots to fluff his lines this week.

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