It's been a fantastic four days at Cheltenham with cash splashed by punters all over the shop. This year's Gold Cup took the best part of £6.5m on the Betfair Exchange.
Mullins got off to a flyer with the first three winners on Friday!
Vauban oozed class as he cantered all over his rivals in the Triumph Hurdle down the home straight and grabbed the running rail before fluffing the final flight. That would not be enough to stop him, as old rivals Fill Dor and Pied Piper jumped fluently and tried to peg him back on the run-in. However, Vauban's afterburners kicked in, and he powered to victory, crossing the line with plenty in hand looking like a special horse.
Backers did not need to worry - unless you were me and thought he was about to fall at the last - as Vauban never traded higher than 3.3 as the money was safe from pillar to post! Go on, you good thing!
From one good thing to another as Willie Mullins' State Man landed a significant gamble 4/1 into 11/4 industry SP in the County Hurdle.
Still, punters would have got their money worth backing the Betfair SP that returned 4.47/2!
State Man never looked in trouble despite hitting a high of 6.86/1 on the Betfair Exchange, but once jumping the second last, he loomed up in the home straight with as Paul Townend gave him an identical ride to Vauban in the first. He certainly was a graded horse in a handicap!
Hillcrest disappoints, and Mullins claims Bartlett
It looked as though Haydock may have left a mark on Hillcrest, who was sent off joint 9/4f with Ginto, but he never travelled a yard and was out to 6.611/2 jumping the third flight. Ginto, in turn, loomed up in the home straight and was yet to be asked for his effort but took a false step at the road crossing and was unfortunately fatally injured.
The Nice Guy, ridden by Sean O'Keeffe, got the better of stablemate Minella Cocooner ridden by Paul Townend, who traded at a low of 1.51/2 as he won going away at the finish. It was a decent performance for a horse having just his fourth run of his career, and he is now unbeaten and looks an exciting prospect - you no longer need to have plenty of experience to win this race!
Is there anything Rachael can't do? A Plus Tard lands Gold
It was a thrilling renewal of the Gold Cup, and Henry De Bromhead repeated the feat of 2021 by landing the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup but this time, the 2021 runner-up A Plus Tard, reversed the result with Minella Indo (2nd).
A Plus Tard put 15 lengths between himself and his stablemate runner-up Minella Indo from the back of the last to the line in an emphatic performance. With this win, he claimed the title of the best-staying chaser in training - for now.
Winning rider Rachel Blackmore can do no wrong in the National Hunt sphere, and riding her mount for pace in a Gold Cup was a touch of class. She has such a racing brain in her head that she is near on uncomparable with any other riding at this time.
This week, Henry De Bromhead's horses were under the microscope with people suggesting they were "out of form", but if this wasn't enough to rubbish that nonsense trainer form angle, I don't know what is.
The winner traded at a high of 6.611/2 while the runner-up Minella Indo traded as low as 1.51/2!
A Plus Tard scoring in the Gold Cup for Rachel saw his price cut to 3/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook for the 2022 Cheltenham with Galopin Des Champs out to 7/2 for the same race.
Bilaway grows wings to run down 1.16 leader
Bilaway was Willie Mullins' fourth winner on the day, but it took every blade of grass over the 3m2f trip to run down Winged Leader, who was matched for £16,907 at 1.16 in the running. Bilaway traded a high of 21.020/1.
It was a valiant effort by Winged Leader who took the running up around the home bend and fought off the persistent challenge of Mighty Stowaway 33/1 and went clear from two out. Agony for backers of Winged Leader who had been popular in the Betfair Sportsbook ante-post market was nabbed right on the line.
Gusty, determined little Elimay gets redemption a year on
The 2021 Mares Chase runner-up Elimay went one better in this year's renewal with a terrier-like performance up the Cheltenham hill as she ground out an unlikely victory. Her jumping was far from slick, and she stuttered into a few fences, losing a bit of ground here and there, and her rider Mark Walsh had to switch behind runners approaching the second last fence when her gap was closed on her.
That, in turn, saw Scarlett Dove and Pink Legend both trade at 1.162/13 and 1.814/5 in the running, but her attitude was fantastic, and she left nothing on the track and kept finding and finding up the Cheltenham Hill to win by a length.
Elimay recorded Willie Mullins' 10th winner of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival on what was a remarkable day for the trainer.
Lannnnggggerrrrr Dannnnnnn - No one likes a winger, still!
Oh, heartbreak for punters who backed Langer Dan in the Martin Pipe as he crashed out at the second when brought down by a faller. Heavily backed into favouritism before the off, and in the Betfair ante-post markets, it's fair to say the bookies were probably saved with that one after Elimay.
Bandbridge 12/1 went on to score in the Martin Pipe under an excellent prominent ride and fought off Cobblers Dream, who traded at a low price of 1.341/3 to round off the Cheltenham Festival.