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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Horses are not machines but Cause Of Causes is a legend

Noel Fehily celebrates victory on Special Tiara as Douvan trails home
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We have reached the halfway point of the Cheltenham Festival and what a two days of action we have had. We look at three things we can take away from day two for the rest of the meeting and beyond.

Anything can happen in jump racing

They are horses, not machines. If you have more than an occasional interest in the sport it is an expression you will have heard more than once and it could not have been illustrated more clearly than in an hour and a half window at Cheltenham on Wednesday.

Approaching the last Might Bite looked straight off the IBM production line. He was 20 lengths clear and pulverising his 'opposition'. Then he walked through the last, hung badly to his right and almost stopped, throwing away the entirety of his advantage before rallying to triumph by a going-away nose.

Then Douvan, who has looked as close to a machine as any horse in training since joining Willie Mullins, did the inexplicable – and lost. That he was beaten out of sight into seventh, and barely produced a leap that did not result in a mouthful of heart, suggests something was amiss, and even a trainer as brilliant as peaking his string for the festival as Mullins was left scratching his head.

Jamie Codd celebrates victory aboard Cause Of Causes
Causes Of Causes is a festival legend

Cause Of Causes joins some of the most illustrious names in Cheltenham Festival history by winning his third different race at the meeting by taking the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.

The remarkable nine-year-old had shown precisely diddly squat since his win in the Kim Muir Chase last year, and he showed exactly the same form between his win in the National Hunt Chase and Kim Muir.

But much like the thousands who light up and come to life when arriving at the festival each year, Cause Of Causes is never better than during this week and joins Flyingbolt, Bobs Worth and Vautour as a winner of three different races at the meeting. 

Flying Tiger (right) just beats off Divin Bere
Divin intervention raises hopes in Triumph

So far it has not been a week where things have gone to script, but surely those connected with Master Blueyes must be excited about their chances in the JCB Triumph Hurdle after watching the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

Master Blueyes finished just a neck behind Fred Winter second Divin Bere at Huntingdon in January before landing his next two starts in emphatic style. That included an 18-length destruction of Fred Winter winner Flying Tiger at Kempton last time – which makes his form look rather good for Friday's Grade 1.

Mind you, Divin Bere's trainer Nicky Henderson will also likely be a happy man. He rates his Triumph contender Charli Parcs far superior to his Fred Winter runner-up. 

Then Douvan, who has looked as close to a machine as any horse in training since joining Willie Mullins, did the inexplicable - and lost
E.W. Terms
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