Saturday digest: news and results round-up

Leighton Aspell riding Many Clouds (L, yellow/green)

Many Clouds and Thistlecrack do battle before a tragic conclusion

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

 By Mark Scully 6:26pM 28 JAN 2017 

CHELTENHAM hosted a sensational nine-race card, with Doncaster also serving up a fascinating support offering on a day loaded with Cheltenham Festival clues but one that will ultimately be remembered for the sad loss of Many Clouds. Here is how a dramatic and heartbreaking afternoon unfolded.

The highly-anticipated potential clash between leading Triumph Hurdle hopes Charli Parcs and Defi Du Seuil, both owned by JP McManus, is called off after the former is declared a non-runner in the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial. “Barry [Geraghty] walked the course and decided it was on the soft side,” said Defi Du Seuil’s trainer Philip Hobbs.

In the absence of Charli Parcs, Defi Du Seuil coasts to victory in the manner one would expect of a 1-5 favourite. Trainer Philip Hobbs confirms he will head straight to the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the festival in March, for which he’s as short as 7-2 and no bigger than 5-1.

Grade 1 winner Royal Vacation wins the second race at Cheltenham, a handicap over 2m4f, for Colin Tizzard at 12-1. Favourite Singlefarmpayment was brought down earlier in the contest in a race strewn with jumping errors throughout.

Paddy Brennan riding Royal Vacation clear the last

Royal Vacation: an RSA Chase prospect now?

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

Royal Vacation trimmed to 20-1 generally for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival while his price ranges from 12-1 to 25-1 for the National Hunt Chase, as is Might Bite, who surely would have beaten him when falling in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. Might Bite now a standout 8-1 with Betfair.

Nicky Henderson confirms Charli Parcs will head to Musselburgh for next Saturday’s Triumph Hurdle Trial.

Willie Mullins rules Faugheen out of Sunday’s Irish Champion Hurdle. “While we’re not sure what the problem is, he could have tweaked a muscle behind,” said Mullins, who confirmed the Cheltenham Festival remains on the agenda.

Nicky Henderson’s Constantine Bay comes out on top in a thrilling battle with No Hassle Hoff to land the Grade 2 Albert Barlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster. He was trimed into 16-1 for the Albert Barlett Novices’ Hurdle at the festival.

Sutton Place runs out a seven and a half length winner of the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas. Bookmakers respond by shortening the Gordon Elliott-trained winner into a best-priced 10-1 for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.

Un De Sceaux - Ruby Walsh wins from Top Gamble

Un De Sceaux jumped brilliantly throughout at Cheltenham

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Seven days later than planned, Un De Sceaux jumps superbly to land the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase, winning by five lengths from the returning Uxizandre. He is a best-priced 7-2 for the Ryanair Chase.

There is a stunning conclusion to the Grade 2 Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase as Many Clouds gets the better of a titanic tussle with Thistlecrack to end the King George VI Chase winner’s unbeaten record over fences.

From joy to total despair. Many Clouds collapses and dies after crossing the line. The cruelest of blows after such a fantastic horse race and a punch in the stomach for all who follow the sport.

Up at Doncaster, Forest Bihan defeats Cloudy Dream by a length and three quarters to win the Grade 2 Lightning Novices’ Chase.

Away from the jumps action, there is Group 1 joy for Frankie Dettori in South Africa as he partners Edict Of Nantes to victory in the Investec Cape Derby at Kenilworth.

As the news of Many Clouds death is digested, thoughts also turn to Thistlecrack’s defeat, with Betfair easing the previously unbeaten novice out to 5-2 for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Vroum Vroum Mag (Ruby Walsh) celebrates

Will there be celebrations for Vroum Vroum Mag again in March?

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Vroum Vroum Mag gets it done in the Grade 2 Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster but not like the 1-5 favourite she was, coming out on top by a head from Midnight Jazz at the end of a lengthy battle. Sky Bet were not impressed and eased Vroum Vroum Mag out to 2-1 from 6-4 for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

That was impressive. Wholestone travels well from the front to win the Grade 2 Neptune Investment Management Classic Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. The longer Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle will be his festival target, according to trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, with Wholestone a best-priced 10-1 shot for that race with five firms.

ZIGA BOY with T Bellamy Doncaster 28-1-17

Ziga Boy: rivals had no answer to front runner

  PICTURE: Martin Lynch (  

There are tremendous scenes of celebration from jockey Tom Bellamy as he steers the likeable Ziga Boy to a second straight Sky Bet Chase victory, jumping boldly from the front and returning an SP of 10-1.

Mark Walsh completes a fine treble at Naas as The Gatechecker lands a gamble in the penultimate race of the day at 9-4. Walsh earlier scored aboard Sutton Place and then Anibale Fly in the Grade 3 Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase.

He’s done it again. It’s another win for Unowhatimeanharry and not without a long look through the legs by jockey Barry Geraghty. The Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle looks his for the taking and he is a best-priced 2-1.

Star performance

Away from the superstars, a word for jockey Jamie Bargary, who was rewarded for a bold front-running ride with a win in Cheltenham’s Grade 3 handicap chase, live on ITV4. His mount, Foxtail Hill, got very tired late on but had done enough to hold off the late charge of Saphir Du Rheu. The winner was introduced to Paddy Power’s Brown Advisory Plate market at 20-1.

Horse Racing News | Racing Post

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