Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mullins' Double Sees Trainer Take Place in Festival History

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mullins' Double Sees Trainer Take Place in Festival History

Article excerpt

IRELAND'S domination of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival reached new heights on St Patrick's Thursday, when trainers from the Emerald Isle saddled the first six winners to wrap up the BetBright Cup from Great Britain with a day to spare.

Willie Mullins edged ahead of Nicky Henderson as the winningmost trainer in Festival history, as a double courtesy of Penhill and Laurina took his tally to 61 in all and seven for the week.

Gordon Elliott is just one behind his great rival in the race for the top trainer award at this year's meeting, thanks to a treble through Shattered Love, Delta Work and The Storyteller.

Not to be left out, Henry de Bromhead got in on the act with Balko Des Flos in the Ryanair Chase.

The latter's success saw Gigginstown House Stud's Michael O'Leary finally get his hands on the owner's trophy for the Ryanair Chase he has sponsored since 2006.

After several near-misses, he struck gold when Balko Des Flos outpointed last year's winner Un De Sceaux under Davy Russell.

Successful in the ultra-competitive Galway Plate in the summer, the 8-1 chance stepped up to Grade One company and starred on a brilliant day for Gigginstown, who also graced the winner's enclosure with Shattered Love and Delta Work.

"It's taken me 15 years to win the Ryanair, so I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to get seriously drunk upstairs in the next couple of hours!" said O'Leary. "On a serious note, it's great for Henry. Henry has hit the bar a couple of times this week, so it's great to see him have a winner."

De Bromhead said: "I thought the ground had gone against us. It hasn't been raced on as much and it seemed nicer ground than yesterday, but I was still worried about it.

"Michael is very happy to have won it and I'm delighted to be the one to get it for them."

Cue Card was pulled up by Paddy Brennan and trainer Colin Tizzard stressed the team would not be rushed into making any quick decision on the 12-year-old's future. …

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