A Look Back At Horse Racing In 2019
The world of horse racing in 2019 saw the usual emergence of new talent, whilst some old favourites also continued to produce the goods. There were many top-class events, some of which you’ll remember for their sheer brilliance, whilst others you may remember through your wallet. Either way, read on for the Betting Gods horse racing review of 2019.
The 2019 Cheltenham Festival Review
The 2019 Cheltenham Festival kicked-off in a punter-friendly fashion with Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh teaming-up to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with Klassical Dream. Mullins then doubled up with Duc Des Genievres in the Arkle to start anyone who’d placed a Mullins acca dreaming of a big pay day.
But Up For Review could only finish eighth for Mullins in the Ultima Chase, as the honours went to another leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival Nicky Henderson with Beware The Bear. The Mullins-trained Laurina and the Henderson-trained Buveur D’Air were then fancied to fight out the finish of the Champions Hurdle along with Apple’s Jade, but all three ran unplaced as the 16/1 shot Espoir D’Allen won easily.
More punters were then dealt another bitter blow when another Mullins hotpot, Benie Des Dieux, fell at the last with the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle with the race at her mercy, gifting the race to 10/1 shot Roksana. The day finished with a Cheltenham Festival win for Rachael Blackmore when she steered the well-backed A Plus Tard in the Close Brothers Handicap Chase.
Plenty of clock-watchers were on the winner of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, City Island, who frustrated the backers of the favourite Champ. The RSA Chase then saw Topofthegame beat Santini and Delta Work. William Henry then showed that class counts for plenty by just getting the best of the sadly now deceased Wicklow Brave in the County Hurdle.
Altior then won a thrilling Champions Chase but the way he struggled to beat Politologue and Sceau Royal suggested he was ready for a step-up in trip. The 2018 Grand National winner Tiger Roll raised the roof when landing favouritism in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. The Festival Bumper then unearthed three potential stars as Envoi Allen saw off Blue Sari and Thyme Hill.
Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival kicked-off with the JLT Chase and the winner Defi De Seuil and the runner-up Lostintranslation have since proved themselves top-class by winning grade 1 races. However, the two have taken different routes, with the former dropping back to two miles, whilst the latter has excelled for a step-up in trip.
Frodon then brought the house down with his win in the Ryanair Chase, giving regular pilot Bryony Frost a well-deserved first Cheltenham Festival winner. Paisley Park then confirmed his rating as the best staying hurdler on either side of the Irish Sea with a win in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
The Tattersalls Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle then proved a real placepot wrecker as the first three home were priced at 50/1, 66/1, and 40/1.
Cheltenham Gold Cup Day started with agony for punters and connections alike as Sir Erec was a fatality in the Triumph Hurdle. But the 20/1 winner Pentland Hills may well have bustled the favourite up anyway after winning by three lengths, despite blundering at the first.
There was another big-priced shock in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle when Minella Indo outstayed his rivals at 50/1 to give Rachael Blackmore a second win of the festival. After a quiet spell, Willie Mullins then ticked another big one of his bucket-list by winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Al Boum Photo. The meeting then closed with Jonjo O’Neill Junior riding his first Cheltenham Festival winner aboard Early Doors.
2019 Grand National Festival Review
Many of the Betting Gods tipsters met at Aintree for a bit of fun on day 1 of the Grand National Meeting, that started with Kalashnikov gunning down La Bague Au Roi in the opener. Despite drifting in the market, Pentland Hills then confirmed his star juvenile hurdler status by beating the equally promising Fakir D’oudairies.
The Betway Bowl then saw Kemboy lower the colors of Clan Des Obeaux, after which he was made favourite for the 2020 Gold Cup. After falling in the Champion Hurdle, Buveur D’Air continued his unlucky streak when Melon fell in front of him, arguably costing him the Aintree Hurdle.
Day 2 of the 2019 Grand National Meeting was mainly about Lostintranslation, who beat the RSA Chase winner Topofthegame by an impressive six-lengths on his first chase over three miles. Champ also appreciated the step-up to three miles in the Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, suggesting he would a chaser to follow in the coming months.
Those two performances bookended a stunning win by Min in the JL Chase, reversing the previous year’s form with Politologue by 20-lengths.
The 2019 Grand National day started with 11/1 and 20/1 winners, whilst If The Cap Fits announced himself as a staying hurdler of some potential when well-backed to win the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle. But it was Tiger Roll that again brought the house down when winning back-to-back Grand Nationals.
Irish Grand National
Every year seems to be a great year for Willie Mullins and, having already won his first Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019, he ticked yet another big wish off his bucket-list by winning his first Irish Grand National with the well-backed Burrows Saint.
2019 Punchestown Festival Review
Day one of the 2019 Champion Chase was a real mix of emerging talent and old favourites. Klassical Dream confirmed himself as the best two-mile novice hurdler with victory in the Herald Champion Novice Chase, whilst Delta Work proved himself best of the Irish three-mile Novice Chasers with a win in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novices Chase. But the biggest round of applause was reserved for Un De Sceaux after his win in the Boylesports Champion Chase.
The second day of the 2019 Punchestown Festival was all about the stayers, and Minella Indo confirmed his 50/1 Cheltenham success was no fluke with a win in the Irish Daily Mirror Novices Hurdle. Kemboy also confirmed the big impression he had created at Aintree by beating Al Boum Photo in the Punchestown Gold Cup. Sadly, the Punchestown Festival the legendary Ruby Walsh announced his retirement from the saddle after the race, though he seems to have made the transition to horse racing pundit with the minimum of fuss.
The Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle saw Unowhatimeanharry roll back the years with a 16/1 win in the main race of the day. But it was Chacun Pour Soi that had the bookies running for cover after being well-punted to beat Defi Du Seuil in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novices Chase.
Real Steel showed he’s a force to be reckoned with on a right-handed track with victory in the EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase, and nobody could deny Buveur D’Air a change of luck in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
The fifth day of the 2019 Punchestown Festival also saw two more horses get a welcome change of luck. Benie Des Dieux claimed compensation for her Cheltenham fall with victory in the Annie Power Mares Champion Hurdle, whilst Fusil Raffles showed he was one of the best juvenile hurdlers around in the AES Champion 4-Year-Old Hurdle, after being forced to miss the Cheltenham Festival.
2019 English and Irish Classics
Willie Mullins may have dominated the end of the 2018/19 National Hunt season, but it’s Aidan O’Brien that continues to dominate on the flat. He took the first Classic of the season, the 1,000 Guineas, with the well-backed Hermosa under the ever-improving Wayne Lordan. He then followed that with a win for Magna Grecia in the 2,000 Guineas under son Donnacha O’Brien.
Hermosa then doubled up in the Irish 1,000 Guineas under Ryan Moore. But it was Charlie Hills that broke the O’Brien stranglehold when Phoenix Of Spain won the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
It was then John Gosden’s turn to get in on the act when Annapurna won the Epsom Oaks, but O’Brien made it four classics for the season with Anthony Van Dyck in the Derby. Padraig Beggy then made it five classics for O’Brien when riding outsider Sovereign to success in the Irish Derby.
But it was Gosden that won the Irish Oaks, this time with the impressive Star Catcher. Gosden then won the St Leger with Logician to confirm himself as the best of the current English horse racing trainers.
Royal Ascot 2019
The stars are always on show at Royal Ascot and Lord Glitters proved best of an average bunch of older milers with a win in the opening Queen Anne Stakes. Day one also saw Blue Point claim a second King’s Stand Stakes, whilst Circus Maximus returned from a flop in the Derby to excel over a mile in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
However, the standout performer of the week was Stradivarius, who won another Ascot Gold Cup. Sir Michael Stoute extended his record of having trained the most Royal Ascot winners when Crystal Ocean grabbed a first Group 1 success in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on the third day. Meanwhile, Advertise’s win in the Commonwealth Cup was the highlight of day four.
But the sprinting honours for the week went to Blue Point who scored for the second time at the meeting with victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, only to be retired to stud straight afterwards.
But Godolphin unearthed a new star in Pinatubo. The unbeaten son of Dubawi heads into Christmas as a short-priced favourite foe next season’s 2,000 Guineas, which is hardly surprising considering he’s rated higher than Frankel was at this stage of his career.
The 2019/20 National Hunt Season
There’s always a big buzz about a new National Hunt season and with so many exciting novices showing their hand, the old stars were expected to face stiff opposition if they wanted to keep their crowns.
One of the first of the novice chasers to throw his hat into the Champion Chase ring was Defi Du Seuil. His win in the Schloer Chase set up a tilt at the Grade 1 Tingle Creek, and Sandown’s pre-Christmas highlight featured five grade 1 winners including Un De Sceaux. But Defi De Seuil beat them all.
One star that wasn’t at Sandown was reigning Champion Chaser Altior, as connections decided to step him up in trip with a view to a tilt at the King George Chase. However, he seemed laboured in the final stages over 2 miles and 5 furlongs as he lost his unbeaten record over jumps to the impressive Cyrname. Altior is now set to return to two miles in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on December 27.
Another horse that threw his hat into the rings for the King George in November was Lostintranslation, who took the Grade 1 Betfair Chase. It was a great performance to beat Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai with ease, to leave connections dreaming of a £1 bonus if he can win the King George and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
But Lostintranslation is set to face some stern opposition in his quest to win the second of the bonus races, the King George VI Chase at Kempton Boxing Day. That includes last year’s winner Clan Des Obeaux and the highest-rated jumper currently in training Cyrname.
But the place for top-class performers over the Christmas Period looks to be Leopardstown. The Leopardstown Christmas Festival runs from the 26-29 December and the likes of Laurina, Fakir D’oudairies, Samcro, Faugheen, Chacun Pour Soi, Blue Sari, Beni Des Dieux, Kemboy, Presenting Percy, Delta Work, Minella Indo, and Klassical Dream are all set to run.