The Walsh, Ricci, Mullins team revelled in another dominant and stupendous Tuesday. However it was a special lady who took the headlines.
That old bird was Annie Power; the magical mare absolutely destroyed her male counterparts yesterday. Her jumping and boundless enthusiasm, a year after her greatest tragedy, left the horse racing world surprised and absolutely delighted.
Connections, so obviously moved by her juddering fall at last year’s festival, were filled with verklempt after she sang her redemption song. It was another Tuesday hat trick for the imperious trio represented by the famous baby pink and green polka dot silks – the most talented jockey of a generation, a munificent owner, and a genius trainer.
Odds-on for four races – Min being the first – the trio began the day being eclipsed by a superb show of alacrity by Nicky Henderson’s Altior. Despite Min’s colours being lowered Mullins wasn’t perturbed.
He had the giant, laconic, elegant, and athletic Douvan in the second. He broke the field, in such a manner that I will state that if he doesn’t win the 2017 Gold Cup I will eat my trilby, washed down with a good claret.
The renaissance of the majestic mare followed and a visibly emotive Walsh had to jump aboard another Ricci/Mullins mare – Vroum Vroum Mag. Unlike the puissant front running styles of her stablemates, Vroum Vroum was given a patient ride from Walsh.
Walsh’s arms like motionless velvet gloves are noticeably more relaxed than his colleagues. This elegant stillness in the saddle belies his extreme horsemanship and strength. Where a lot of jockeys arms flail around like drowning men – Walsh allows his legs, with just the merest subtle squeeze, to control the race’s destiny.
After Tuesday’s heartfelt scenes one would be forgiven for expecting a rather more subdued and less plutocratic day on Wednesday.
However, this is Cheltenham, and Sprinter Sacre has a very serious chance of the greatest comeback since Seabiscuit. There would not be a dry eye, present company included, if the big black airplane was to win the Queen Mother chase.
Wednesday is littered with big chances for the iconic green gold hooped silks of legendary owner JP McManus – made famous by the retired Sir Anthony McCoy, but now worn by the brilliant Barry Geraghty. McManus and Geraghty have Yanworth in the 1.30, More of That in the 2.10, and Jossies Order (also McManus but ridden by the exceptional Nina Carberry) in the eccentric Cross Country race at 4.10 – all appear bulletproof to me.
Elsewhere, Jaleo looks nicely handicapped in the penultimate race. The bumper is the last of the day; a race that has been won by Willie Mullins a record eight times, Mullins has seven runners, so I have chosen exclusively from his pack and stuck on Augusta Kate.
1.30 Yanworth (NAP)
2.10 More of That
2.50 Rock the Kasbah
3.30 Sprintre Sacre
4.10 Jossies Order (nb)
5.30 Augusta Kate