Cheltenham Festival 2013 Results 

One of the highlights of the annual jumps season is the multi-day celebration held at Prestbury Park in Cheltenham since 1902 called the Cheltenham Festival. The 2013 edition took place on Tuesday through Friday, 12~15 March, featuring 27 races, including the betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and eleven other Grade 1 events, plus celebrity visits and one terribly unfortunate accident.

Day One began with the william hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle won by jockey Ruby Walsh aboard Champagne Fever at 5/1, clearly beating the 15/8 favourite My Tent Or Yours by half a length. That was followed by the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase, where top-rated Simonsig ridden by the Festival’s 2012 Top Jockey Barry Geraghty was successful over the two-mile course at 8/15.

The afternoon’s big event, however, was the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy worth just over £227,800. Walsh guided the favourite Hurricane Fly to the finish line for his second win and a payout at 13/8 odds, and then the jockey added a third win in the Grade 2 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, riding 8/11 favourite Quevega to victory.

Four Class 1 races were scheduled for the second day of the festival. The Neptune Investment Management Novices` Hurdle (Registered Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle) was captured by The New One at 7/2, and the RSA Chase went to Lord Windermere at 8/1. The day’s biggest prize pool was £208,300 for the sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase, with jockey Barry Geraghty taking the honors atop highly favoured Sprinter Sacre at 1/4 odds. Then, Ruby Walsh added his fourth Cheltenham win by piloting a 25/1 long-shot, Briar Hill, to victory over joint favourite Regal Encore in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, securing his claim to “Top Jockey” of the Festival for the seventh time in the past ten years.

Celebrity watchers certainly had their opportunities at the 2013 Festival. On the third day of racing, the Duchess of Cambridge’s younger sister, Pippa Middleton, attended on the arm of wealthy (and eligible) banker Tom Kingston. Pippa has been dating stockbroker Nico Jackson, who was not present, but most the gossip focused on the £815 canary yellow coat she wore, designed by Katherine Hooker.

Two big events worth £156,612.50 each marked the Thursday card. First came the Ryanair Chase (registered as The Festival Trophy Chase), in which First Lieutenant was favoured at 2/1 but was beaten when rider Joe Tizzard charged ahead on 7/2 Cue Card to win by nine lengths over the two-mile-five-furlong distance. Then, Irish rider Paul Carberry put on a show in the ladbrokes World Hurdle over three miles, bringing Solwhit to the winner’s circle at odds of 17/2.

Late in the day, however, tragedy struck as Irish jockey J.T. McNamara, 37, took a career-ending spill in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup. He was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for surgery on his fractured C3 and C4 neck vertebrae. Later reports indicated that the Limerick native, who had planned to retire from the sport in the summer, was paralysed from the neck down. There was plenty of emotion, with jockeys and trainers close to tears.

A light rain fell as Friday started with 4/1 Our Conor winning the two-mile-one-furlong JCB Triumph Hurdle. That was followed by the 11/8 favourite At Fishers Cross taking the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (registered as The Spa Novices` Hurdle Race) over three miles.

For the three-mile-two-and a half-furlong Cheltenham Gold Cup race, the mood finally brightened a bit when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made their appearance. Five months pregnant at the time, Kate hid her bump under what the Daily Telegraph described as “a blush coloured Joseph coat, accessorised with a dark chocolate brown bow trimmed Betty Boop hat from Lock & Co, brown gloves, brown patterned tights and knee high brown boots.”

Riding for trainer Paul Nicholls, Ruby Walsh was vying for his fifth win of the Festival and the victor’s share of the £227,800 Gold Cup prize pool, but his horse, Silviniaco Conti, fell at the third-last fence. That gave jockey Barry Geraghty all the encouragement he needed to guide 11/4 favourite Bobs Worth to a resounding triumph by seven lengths over 7/1 Sir Des Champs, while 7/2 Long Run came in third. It was the 50th Festival win for Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson, who had passed the all-time record for victories at the meeting in 2012.

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