Ireland Sweep the Board at Cheltenham

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by Aodán Boland

This year’s Cheltenham may have been a bad week for the punter, but it’s been a fantastic couple of days for Irish horse racing with Gordon Elliott taking home the Leading Trainer Award, Ruby Walsh being named Best Jockey and Ireland comfortably beating England to win the BetBright Cup with a record number of winners.

Elliott bagged six winners, three seconds and three thirds to narrowly beat Willie Mullins who had six winners, two seconds and four thirds. Elliott had five winners on the opening two days,  25/1 shot Labaik won the opening race of the festival meanwhile Apple’s Jade and Tiger Roll also gave the Meath trainer win’s on Tuesday. Causes of Causes and Fayonagh gave him two winners on the Wednesday but Willie Mullins bagged four winners on Thursday to open it up again but it went down to the wire as Champagne Classic won the 4:50 race on Friday to secure the title for Elliott.

“It’s been an amazing week,” said Elliott.

“To beat Willie, with the strength he has – and he’s an amazing trainer – is brilliant.

“Coming over I was hoping for one and we won the first race with Labaik so everything else has been a bonus.

“It’s unbelievable, we had three winners Tuesday and had a bit of a drink, too much so we haven’t touched a drop since. When we get home next week we’ll have a staff party.”

Meanwhile Ruby Walsh has clinched the jockeys’ title for the eleventh time. Ruby had a superb Thursday riding four winners which was enough to win him the title. Robbie Power was second after his double on the final day to make it three festival winners for him.

The brilliance of Elliott and Mullins helped Ireland destroy England 19-9 in a memorable four days for Irish horse racing.

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