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15th Mar 2024

Cheltenham Friday live: All the tips, drama, interviews and results

Niall McIntyre

Can Galopin Des Champs make it two-in-a-row?

Keep up to date with all the action from Gold Cup day in our live-blog below. (It might take one minute to load.)

Party continues for Willie Mullins

The drought is over for Willie Mullins who, having had no winner on Thursday, is back in the winners enclosure with JP McManus’ Majborough winning the Triumph Hurdle for the Kilkenny trainer.After the race, Mullins said that when the horse first came into the yard, he immediately saw him as a potential Gold Cup horse.

“He’s some beast, that’s what he is.”

Ridden by Mark Walsh, Majborough (6/1) led home a 1-2 for the Irish trainer, with Danny Mullins’ mount Kargese having been beaten into second place.

It means that the celebrations continue for Mullins, who now has seven winners for the week.

Having racked up a century at Cheltenham on Wednesday, he told the Racing Post how he partied late into Thursday morning in a shindig organised by Ballyburn’s owner Ronnie Bartlett at the Ellenborough Park Hotel.

“The place was rocking and I was in there for an hour before reversing to the bar. It must have been about 4am when we finished up. There was a good Irish contingent, including the Robcour and JP McManus crowds, Ruby Walsh, AP McCoy and David Casey.

“What’s the point having winners if you don’t enjoy them and celebrate them?” said Mullins.

“What I find fascinating is that the show goes on without me – and it does that because I have such a remarkable team.

“We had eight runners in the bumper but I didn’t go near the saddling stalls. My team did all that. I’m so lucky to have the team we’ve put together over the last 30 years.”

The Prestbury Cup

Perhaps as a consequence of Willie Mullins’ continued success, Ireland’s dominance over England continues at the Olympics of horse-racing. In fact, over the last eight years, England have only won the Prestbury Cup once.

They enjoyed a very successful Wednesday however, with Dan Skelton’s four winners at least bringing their tally for this year to a more respectable number.

With Mullins (6) backed up Henry de Bromhead (2), Emmett Mullins (1), Gavin Cromwell (1), Joseph O’Brien (1), and Gordon Elliott (1), Ireland still lead by 12-8 heading into the final day.

The ground

John ‘Shark’ Hanlon’s Gold Cup hopes are pinned on the shoulders of his horse Hewick. They lie in the hands of Wexford jockey Jordan Gainford but they all lie helplessly in the lap of the weather gods. Shark, the Kilkenny trainer, has said in the build-up to the festival that, should the weather go against him on Cheltenham week, ‘the people’s horse,’ will not race.

27 July 2022; Jockey Jordan Gainford celebrates on Hewick after winning the Tote Galway Plate during day three of the Galway Races Summer Festival at Ballybrit Racecourse in Galway. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Hewick, just like Joseph O’Brien’s Banbridge (favourite for Thursday’s Ryanair chase) is a hard ground horse and will not race if the weather is wet, and the ground soft.