Day three of the Festival was easily the best day yet with some brilliant stories unfolding as the afternoon wore on.
Here are the highlights of one of the greatest day’s racing witnessed at this, or any other track:
Most Successful Owner
JP McManus. The Cheltenham Festival’s all time leading owner was responsible for the first two winners on the card, both ridden by Barry Geraghty for trainers Philip Hobbs and Gordon Elliott as his Defi Du Seuil took the opening JLT Novices’ Chase before Sire Du Berlais landed the Pertemps Final.
Both horses went off favourite and naturally were roared home by the Cheltenham crowd, while McManus even bookended a terrific day when he managed to win the closing Kim Muir Challenge Cup with yet another trainer, Ted Walsh this time responsible for saddling for the well supported Any Second Now.
Undoubtedly this came from Frodon in the Ryanair Chase. Paul Nicholls’ admirable and game seven-year-old grey was so expertly ridden by Bryony Frost and jumped so boldly as usual around here that it was a joy to behold.
Having stayed right in the front rank throughout, he was joined by Asa with two to jump and lost the lead before the last. Half a length down with under a furlong to go, Frodon battled back up the hill and went on to score his first Grade One win by 1¼ lengths at the line.
His rider said afterwards that her horse was like Pegasus, and the way he jumps these Cheltenham fences you would honestly think he did have wings.
Having already won three times this season, in the Ryanair Frodon was as classy as he was brave with Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost terrific in their respective performances today and over the course of the season.
Stayers’ Hurdle winner Paisley Park along with his connections. His owner Andy Gemmell has been blind since birth but is a great sport and attends as many major sporting events as possible including the Melbourne Cup, the Kentucky Derby and the cricket World Cup.
Paisley Park fell ill a couple of years ago and almost died, but his trainer Emma Lavelle coaxed him back and nobody lost faith in his racing ability even when he didn’t look up to an awful lot.
Having run through his usual flat spot in the £300,000 Stayers’ Hurdle, he eventually hit top gear and got on top to win his second Grade One race. A genuine fairytale story.
Theme of the Day
It’s all about the girls! Ladies Day at Cheltenham may have been on Wednesday but only in name as it turned out, as day three went a long way to showing off the talents our sport has within the female ranks.
Along with Bryony Frost’s superb ride on Frodon and the awesome training performance of Emma Lavelle to get Paisley Park to this point, there was time for another expert ride and it came from Lizzie Kelly aboard Nick Williams’ Siruh Du Lac.
The six-year-old jumped brilliantly in the Stable Plate and came home three parts of a length clear of favourite Janika to land the £61,000 first prize.