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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Things to take away from day three

Willie Mullins: was unstoppable on Thursday
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Marvellous Mullins joins the party

You cannot keep a good man down, and when that man has the services of the best jockey around and a multitude of good horses then it becomes all but impossible.

However, there was some sense of concern about whether Willie Mullins, so long the dominant force, would even get a place on the winner's board this week; even the impossible happened and Douvan met with defeat in the Champion Chase.

Ruby Walsh, on Un De Sceaux, is head and shoulders above the rest, as he was in the race

The drought ended with a monsoon on Thursday as Yorkhill, Un De Sceaux and Nichols Canyon all landed Grade 1s under Walsh and Let's Dance captured the Mares' Novices' Hurdle.

One day to go at the festival, could Mullins and co end a week that started so inauspiciously with a maiden victory in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup?

Handicapper has the final say

The handicappers have taken a bit of pounding over the last month,  with the Irish feeling particularly harshly treated by BHA handicapper Phil Smith and his team.

First came the Randox Grand National kerfuffle as Michael O'Leary took umbrage at Smith's perceived lack of leniency for his top performers. They were removed and firm opinions were traded by both sides on the matter.

Next came the Cheltenham Festival weights, and while there was respite for O'Leary, trainer Patrick Kelly was "like a raging bull" over the extra 6lb Presenting Percy was given for the Pertemps Final. It did not stop him running, and winning, while Road To Respect was another handicap winner for Ireland on the third day.

Davy Russell: excelled in the saddle

So perhaps Smith will feel a sense of vindication this evening. He even got an apology from winning jockey Davy Russell after the Pertemps Final.

Utter domination for Ireland

It was not so much a whitewash as a 'greenwash' at Cheltenham as Ireland won six of the seven races and all but secured the BetBright Prestbury Cup in some style.

With the notable exception of Nicky Henderson, the home team have been steamrollered by Gordon Elliott and then Willie Mullins, and they have been ably assisted by Pat Kelly, Noel Meade, Jessica Harrington, Alan Fleming and Henry de Bromhead.

It looks like it is down to Cue Card and Native River to restore some British pride in the Gold Cup.

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Could Mullins and co end a week that started so inauspiciously with a maiden victory in the Gold Cup?
E.W. Terms
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