Susannah Ricci

Susannah Ricci, the wife of American millionaire Rich Ricci, has had horses registered in her name since 2007 and, alongside Co. Carlow trainer Willie Mullins, has proved the scourge of bookmakers at the Cheltenham Festival ever since. Mrs. Ricci opened her account at the Festival in 2009, courtesy of Mikael D’Haguenet in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, but her pink and green colours have since been carried into the winners’ enclosure a further 18 times.

Her winning tally has included several multiple winners, such as Champagne Fever, who won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper in 2012 and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2013, Vautor, who won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2014, the JLT Novices’ Chase in 2015 and the Ryanair Chase in 2016, and Douvan, who won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2015 and the Arkle Challenge Trophy in 2016. Perhaps her most famous Festival winners, though, have been Faugheen, who won the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in 2014 and the Champion Hurdle in 2015 and

Annie Power, who fell at the final flight in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, with the race at her mercy, in 2015, but returned to win the Champion Hurdle in 2016.

More recently, Monkfish won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2020 and the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase in 2021. He suffered his first defeat over fences when beaten 8 lengths by stable companion Colreevy in the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown on his final start of the 2020/21 season, but remains a top-priced 6/1 joint-favourite for the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2021

Ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup, the main topic of conversation was whether or not defending champion Al Boum Photo, trained by Willie Mullins, could emulate Golden Miller, Cottage Rake, Arkle and Best Mate by winning the ‘Blue Riband’ event three years running. Still only a 9-year-old, Al Boum Photo was sent off 9/4 favourite to do so but, having been outpaced on the run to the second-last fence, could only stay on to finish a creditable third, beaten 5½ lengths.

Victory went to Minella Indo, trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Jack Kennedy, who stayed on gamely in the closing stages to beat stable companion A Plus Tard, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, by 1¼ lengths. Sent off at 9/1, Minella Indo was the lesser-fancied of the pair, but few would begrudge him his victory after he had looked all over the winner of the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival before failing to withstand an extraordinary finishing effort by Champ, who made up eight lengths or more from the final fence. History was made, not by Al Boum Photo, but by Henry de Bromhead, who became the first in his profession to saddle the winners of the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the same Cheltenham Festival.

Cue Card

Owned by Mrs. Jean Bishop and trained by Colin Tizzard in Milborne Port, Dorset, Cue Card made a winning debut at the Cheltenham Festival when, in 2010, he belied inexperience and odds of 40/1 to win the Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Having just his second start, he was confidently ridden by Joe Tizzard and romped clear in the closing stages to beat Al Ferof by 8 lengths.

Al Ferof would reverse that form in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2011, for which Cue Card started favourite, but could only finish fourth, beaten 6½ lengths. Sent over fences at the start of the 2011/12 season, Cue Card understandably proved no match for Sprinter Sacre in the Arkle Challenge Trophy, but still finished a clear second. Indeed, he was back at the Festival in 2013, making all the running to beat First Lieutenant by 9 lengths in the Ryanair Chase.

Cue Card did not run at the Cheltenham Festival until 2016, by which time he was an established staying chaser. Indeed, fresh from victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the King George VI Chase at Kempton, he was sent off 5/2 second-favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in pursuit of ‘The Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown’ and the accompanying £1 million bonus. Sadly, it was not to be; he was still disputing the lead, travelling well, when coming to grief at the third-last fence.

Cue Card returned to the Festival twice more, failing to complete the course when well-fancied for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2017 and 2018. At the end of his career, he had won 16 of his 41 races, including nine at Grade One level, and £1.45 million in prize money.