Willie Mullins claims record eighth Cheltenham winner of the week with Killultagh Vic

No fairytale ending for McCoy as he finishes fourth in final race at the Festival

Milsean ridden by jockey Danny Mullins (left) leads from eventual winner Martello Tower ridden by Adrian Heskin during the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on Gold Cup Day   at Cheltenham. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Milsean ridden by jockey Danny Mullins (left) leads from eventual winner Martello Tower ridden by Adrian Heskin during the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

 

Willie Mullins made history by training a record eight winners at a Cheltenham Festival when Killultagh Vic landed a thrilling victory in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.

The six-year-old, ridden by Luke Dempsey, was all out to see off Noble Endeavour and grab the verdict in a terrific tussle up the hill.

Killultagh Vic (7-1) stuck on resolutely to score by a head, with another Mullins runner Roi Des Francs, the 3-1 favourite, four and a half lengths away in third. Kauto Grand Mogul was fourth at 33-1.

Mullins said: “I thought Luke gave him a great ride, he was beaten and then he pulled it out of the fire.

“It’s his first ride for me, as far as I can remember. He was available last week so I booked him.

“We thought he was working well at home, but he’s not a great jumper.

“Luke got him settled and then looked for some nicer ground, when he got some light at his hurdles he was good.

“Luke has been riding out of his skin recently and we were lucky to get him, a good jockey is a big plus in this race.

“I used to ride with his father, Philip, so I’m delighted to put him up on a winner.”

Of his record achievement, he said: “It’s been fantastic. It’s so hard and competitive, but we’ve had such a fantastic spring. We’ve had no sickness with any of the horses and we’ve had a great preparation.”

Dempsey said: “For the owners and Willie to put me up, it’s brilliant. The last two weeks have been unbelievable, it’s a great day.”

There was to be no fairytale ending for Tony McCoy as he could not quite win the race named in his honour on his final ride at the Festival but gave it a bold effort as he finished fourth on Ned Buntline.

Victory in the A.P. McCoy Grand Annual Chase went to Next Sensation, who made amends for defeat in the same race 12 months ago when he had made most of the running.

Tom Scudamore rode the eight-year-old, trained by his brother, Michael, with more restraint this time, yet still had Next Sensation (16-1) prominent throughout.

Scudamore waited until the straight to ask his mount for one big push, although it briefly looked like McCoy was bringing Ned Buntline with a winning run.

However, it flattened out and it was another horse the soon-to-retire champion could have ridden, Eastlake, who came late to snatch second spot, with Croco Bay third.

Given a reception fit for a winner as he returned, McCoy said: “It’s amazing, but I feel a bit guilty as Next Sensation won the race.

“It’s a very emotional thing. It’s very special, and something I really appreciate. This is something I’m really going to miss.”

The result means British-trained runners edged out their Irish counterparts 14-13.

On The Fringe stormed clear in the closing stages to run out an impressive victor of the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup.

Nina Carberry was content to bide her time for most of the extended three-and-a-quarter-mile trip as Carsonstown Boy helped set the pace, until bringing the Enda Bolger-trained 10-year-old into contention two out.

Once Carberry pressed the button the race was as good as over, with On The Fringe (6-1), owned by JP McManus, putting daylight between himself and the opposition.

He galloped to glory by 17 lengths from Following Dreams (50-1). Paint The Clouds, the 11-4 favourite, was another neck away.

Carberry said: “I’m so pleased for Enda and everyone, JT (McNamara) always believed in him and always said he would win this.

“He was so impressive today and showed us what he could do.

“I’m so pleased Enda and JP (McManus) let me back on him as I’m at Aidan O’Brien’s now so I can’t ride at Enda’s as much as I used to.”

Bolger said: “That was great, he’s been threatening to do that but I wasn’t expecting that kind of performance.

“He ran a great race at Leopardstown last time when he was just beaten by Prince De Beauchene, who is far from a hunter chaser.

“That was a good yardstick, he’s gone and done it today and everyone is happy.

“If everything is fine we’ll go to Liverpool.”

Mags Mullins saddled her first Festival winner when Martello Tower came out top in a gruelling battle for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

In another race dominated by Irish raiders, Martello Tower (14-1) ground out victory for owner Barry Connell and his retained jockey Adrian Heskin.

Martello Tower took the lead from long-time leader Milsean, ridden by the winning trainer’s son, Danny, who used to be Connell’s number one.

There was just half a length between them at the line, with No More Heroes a length away in third.

Wicklow Brave handed Willie Mullins a 25-1 surprise in the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle.

Paul Townend, riding his third winner during the four days, swept through the field to lead before the final flight as he put the race to bed in a matter of strides, turning one of the most competitive handicaps of the season into a procession as he won unchallenged by eight lengths.

Irish raiders dominated as Eddie Harty’s Sort It Out was second, with Tony Martin’s Quick Jack a length and a quarter back in third. Max Dynamite and Analifet, both trained by Mullins, were fourth and fifth.

Mullins said: “He just didn’t get away on terms in his last two runs, so all the other horses were going up the weights and he stayed where he was.

“His work at home was good, but he missed the break on his last two runs.

“I gave Paul one instruction, get him away and see what he had.”

Peace And Co gave trainer Nicky Henderson his sixth success in the JCB Triumph Hurdle and a 1-2-3 after a hard-fought battle with stable companions Top Notch and Hargam.

Barry Geraghty rode a patient race on the 2-1 favourite, as Dicosimo made the running before finding his way to the near side rail to make his challenge on the run to the final flight.

He was soon on the heels of his two stablemates at the last and it quickly developed into a duel between the two principals, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.

Peace And Co, a winner on the course in January, powered up the hill to land the spoils by a neck from Top Notch, with Hargam and Tony McCoy four lengths away in third.

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