Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1)

THIS was the one that got away last year but 12 months on Rachael Blackmore and A Plus Tard exacted revenge on stablemate Minella Indo with a tremendous effort to land chasing’s holy grail in a style seldom seen.

The 2021 runner-up has occupied the favourite’s position for the Gold Cup ever since his stunning comeback at Haydock in November. There followed a surprise defeat against Galvin at Christmas but A Plus Tard showed just why he went off the 3/1 favourite with a stunning effort which marks him out as a Gold Cup winner of rare distinction.

In another big race tour de force from Henry de Bromhead, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned A Plus Tard was given a ride of poise and patience by Blackmore. Following on from her Champion Hurdle success on Honeysuckle on Tuesday, National Hunt racing’s shining light became the first rider since Norman Williamson in 1995 to complete the Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup double at the same meeting. In another notable statistic for the record books, this was the first time in Gold Cup history that Irish-trained horses have won four consecutive editions of the great race.

In a race run at something of a stop-start gallop Blackmore was coolness personified. She took her time in midfield and had every confidence in her mount and the eight-year-old rewarded his rider’s confidence with a performance of the highest calibre as he left his rivals toiling in vain in the closing stages.

The nature of the pace in this year’s Gold Cup meant that plenty of horses still held chances on the approach to the third last.

At this stage, A Plus Tard had a wall of horses in front of him and it looked as though he might have his work cut out when the defending champion Minella Indo stuck for home off the last bend.


When A Plus Tard was presented with the opportunity to challenge his response was nothing short of electric. He quickly closed down Minella Indo to challenge at the last and then he showed a devastating change of gear to surge clear on the climb to the line and hit the line with some 15 lengths to spare.

Minella Indo was an honourable second ahead of the chief home Protektorat with Galvin taking fourth.

“I can’t believe it. It’s amazing and great for everyone involved. Rachael was so brave, she just kept sitting and sitting. Robbie gave Minella Indo a great ride but the pace A Plus Tard showed at the end of three and a quarter miles was just incredible,” declared de Bromhead after sending out a Gold Cup one-two for the second year in succession.

“Rachael said she wanted to ride him for pace and use his pace. As I always say the team at home are brilliant and they have done an amazing job. It’s brilliant for Rachael.

“We’re very lucky to have her. Really this is the stuff you dream about,” added the elated winning trainer.

Rachael Blackmore added: “I can’t believe it. I’m just so lucky to ride all these good horses and so lucky to be on horses that bring you places like here. Not every jockey gets to be in this position. I had a choice between the one-two last year and this year I was lucky to be on the right one. It’s overwhelming really. I just gave A Plus Tard a better ride this year and it’s worked out.”

Comment: Blackmore cool in the heat of battle

THE four-day spectacular drew to a stunning crescendo yesterday afternoon with A Plus Tard’s amazing Gold Cup success which contained a myriad of captivating storylines.

Firstly there was a strong sense that this year’s champion and Rachael Blackmore had some unfinished business with the Gold Cup after their defeat last year and they rectified that defeat in a style rarely seen.

The winning jockey was typically modest afterwards and always deflects praise elsewhere, but the reason she finds herself in this position is that she is a truly brilliant jockey with an innate ability to make the right calls in the heat of battle. Once again she was coolness personified and displayed the sort of poise and polish that have long been the hallmarks of her decorated career.

De Bromhead’s achievement

For Henry de Bromhead this success represented another memorable achievement. To win back-to-back Gold Cups is something and to send out a one-two for two years in succession is a singular achievement.

Elsewhere this was a day that belonged to Willie Mullins who won four of the first five races and the last gasp success of Billaway in the hunters’ chase broke new ground for the trainer who set a new record of nine winners for this meeting. We have long known it but Mullins is a man who has the uncanny knack of making the extraordinary look routine.

This week yet again emphasised the incredible depth of talent at the disposal of the perennial champion trainer and who knows what sort of tally awaits when he returns to Prestbury Park in 2023?

Highlight Of The Day

A PLUS Tard’s Gold Cup triumph. A brilliant display that contained a level of quality and superiority seldom seen in this race.