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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Festival reflections: a brilliant banker and a brotherly bear hug

Laurina: an extremely impressive winner of the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle
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The Steve Palmer 'this will not be beaten' award

Samcro deserves an honourable mention in this category, but the noise around the campfire for several months was that nothing was going to be able to lay a glove on Laurina.

The Willie Mullins-trained mare proved to be in a different league to her rivals, and she may well be taking on the boys next season, perhaps in the Champion Hurdle.

Whichever route she takes, she looks a serious proposition.

The What Happened Next award? – kindly sponsored by A Question Of Sport

We will never know, and it is futile trying to decide, but Douvan's premature exit from the Champion Chase led to much talk of 'what if'.

It is impossible to tell whether he would have put it up to Altior to the line, but there was no denying that some of his jumping down the back straight was electric and like the Douvan of old.

Hopefully a rematch will not have to wait a year and Douvan can return to his previous pomp.

Douvan (left): showed his old swagger in the Champion Chase
The Irish eyes are smiling award

Towards the end of day three, St Patrick's Thursday, the electronic scoreboard for the Prestbury Cup was turned off, presumably to save any further embarrassment for the beleaguered British trainers.

Following Altior's Champion Chase win, the wait for another for the home team extended for nine races until Missed Approach held on in the final race of the third day, the Kim Muir.

A much better Friday added a sheen of respectability to the final scoreline, with Ireland winning 17-11, but the contest was over before the final day and between them Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins carried off over half of the 28 races over the four days. It will be interesting to see how the British respond next year.

The 'He ain't heavy he's my brother' award - kindly sponsored by The Hollies

Perhaps the most enduring image of the festival was Harry Skelton's unbridled joy at partner Bridget Andrews winning the County Hurdle on Mohaayed.

What it means to have a festival winner, and this was a first for Andrews, was encapsulated in Skelton's reaction as he leaped on to brother and winning trainer Dan post-race.

The yard's solidarity was evident, and Dan Skelton's strength was also impressive, as he stood firm in the face of 10st 11lb worth of jockey jumping on to him.

The carried out on their shield award

Connections of Kalashnikov and Might Bite were entitled to feel aggrieved after magnificent efforts in defeat, but they should not be too downcast as their time will surely come again.

Kalashnikov travelled and jumped but was just worn down by Summerville Boy, who could have easily come to grief earlier in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle after a mistake. Amy Murphy has an exciting novice chaser in the making and he will be one to follow next year.

The Gold Cup was ultimately a match, but what a match it was, as Might Bite and Native River slugged out in a race for the ages.

Better ground would have helped Might Bite, but he more than played his part in an epic confrontation and here's hoping the rematch will be another box-office treat.

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A much better Friday added a sheen of respectability to the final scoreline, with Ireland winning 17-11, but the contest was over before the final day
E.W. Terms
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