Cheltenham Festival results: Lisnagar Oscar pulls off major upset as Samcro seals photo-finish victory
by Editor 2019
Lisnagar Oscar caused a 50-1 upset as reigning champion Paisley Park disappointed in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Making smooth progress on the near side, Lisnager Oscar hit the front before the final flight in the hands of Adam Wedge, to put trainer Rebecca Curtis back in the big time.
Lisnagar Oscar galloped on strongly up the hill to hold the challenge of Ronald Pump (20-1) by two lengths, with Bacardys (33-1) a further three lengths away in third place.
Apple’s Jade had set a decent gallop and opened up a big lead until she came back to the field after the third-last flight.
The runners bunched up, with several horses in with a chance two out, but it was Lisnagar Oscar who proved strongest to claim the coveted prize.
Curtis, recording her fifth Festival success, said: “It’s a shock he’s won. I didn’t think he’d beat Paisley Park, but I was hoping we’d have a good run here after the last time. It was like he’d just got his confidence back the last time. I’m just speechless.
“He was so well at home and I thought 50-1 was a massive price.”
Curtis has only recently had a baby girl, named Reeva, and added: “I had a cesarean and had a couple of weeks to recover, then I was straight back on it, as I hate sitting home doing nothing and I was straight back at the yard. You can’t have time off running a yard. You just get on with it.
“It is absolutely amazing at a time when I need it, as I’m just trying to rebuild the yard. We’ve had four winners here before, but it has been five years, so it is just great to have another one.
Wedge said: “Unbelievable, it’s fantastic. The little horse has tried his heart out. I couldn’t believe it when I hit the front, I was just praying he’d keep galloping – he fought like a little lion up that hill.”
Last year’s winner Paisley Park looked to be in trouble some way out and faded to finish seventh. His trainer Emma Lavelle said: “We’re massively disappointed, but it’s just one of those things – they’re not machines.
“He’s such a gorgeous horse and he’s come back absolutely fine. He’s been amazing horse for us who has done amazing things and I’m sure he’ll do amazing things again.
Samcro edged out Melon – and Faugheen – in a thrilling race for the Marsh Novices’ Chase. The 2018 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winner has had a chequered career since that Festival highlight – but returned to his best in a finish that had just about everything.
The pair battled it out up the famous hill and it could have gone either way, but in the end it was the Gordon Elliott-trained Samcro (4-1) who snatched the verdict on the line under Davy Russell.
Faugheen – with the packed stands willing the 2015 Champion Hurdle hero on – was right behind the first two in third spot, with Mister Fisher fourth.
Sent off the 3-1 favourite, Faugheen was away smartly, but Reserve Tank and Poker Play made the early running before Melon joined the leaders before the fifth fence.
There was early drama when Itchy Feet blundered and unseated Gavin Sheehan at the sixth fence. Samcro travelled well and there was all to play for until Faugheen made a mistake three out that cost him ground at a crucial time.
It left Samcro and Melon ahead of the pack with the former, wearing the Gigginstown House Stud colours, prevailing by a nose, as Faugheen rallied to be just another length behind.
Min was finally a winner in his fourth Cheltenham Festival when grinding out victory in the Ryanair Chase.
Always in the front rank, the Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old held the late challenge of Saint Calvados to take Grade One honours under Paul Townend.
Min, owned by Rich Ricci, was accompanied by Frodon up front in the early stages until last year’s winner started to lose touch, although he kept going for fourth.
Shattered Love and Aso were others unable to keep pace with Min, who turned up the tempo with Riders Onthe Storm falling three out when trying to get into contention.
A Plus Tard laid it down to Min (2-1) from that point, but the 7-4 favourite could not find what was needed from the final fence.
Sire Du Berlais led home a Gordon Elliott one-two as he recorded back-to-back victories in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Continuing a fine Festival for Elliott as well as jockey Barry Geraghty and owner JP McManus, Sire Du Berlais (10-1) was revitalised by wearing blinkers for the first time.
The Storyteller, Sire Du Berlais and Tout Les Permis jumped the last virtually together, and it was the first two from the Elliott stable who pulled away.
Sire Du Berlais, carrying top-weight, got on top close home to land the spoils by half a length. Tout Les Permis was six and half lengths away in third place, with Third Wind fourth and Relegate a never-nearer fifth.
Concertista maintained Mullins’ 100 per cent record in the five runnings of the Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham with a wide-margin success. Just touched off by stablemate Eglantine Du Seuil 12 months ago, Concertista went into this race still a maiden – but put that right in emphatic fashion. Daryl Jacob brought the six-year-old, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, with a powerful run in the straight and the 9-2 chance shot past stablemate Dolcita as she and stormed up the hill to win by 12 lengths.
In the final race of the day, Milan Native took full advantage of a late fall for One Style to win the Kim Muir Challenge Cup.