Grade 1 Friday at The Festival for Tattersalls Cheltenham graduates

Stellar Story and connections after winning the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Stellar Story and connections after winning the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

THE BEST was certainly saved for last for Tattersalls Jockey Club Sales and the Cheltenham Festival race day action on Friday, following on from the recording-breaking Thursday evening Festival Sale, saw sale graduates bring home an excellent Grade 1 novice success and finish a fine Grade 1 second in the week’s highlight, the Grade 1 Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Stellar Story wore down The Jukebox Man in the dying strides of the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle to take the Grade 1 race by a head for owner Gigginstown Stud.

The seven-year-old Shantou gelding was bought by trainer Gordon Elliott at the Festival Sale in 2022 from Donnchadh Doyle’s Monbeg Stables for £310,000 – the gelding having unseated on his point-to-point debut at Kildorrery (that race was won by Corbetts Cross, winner of last week’s National Hunt Chase and also one who went through the Tattersalls Cheltenham sale ring) before he won his maiden at Castlelands.

The Albert Bartlett is regarded as a stepping stone to fences for the future staying chaser and that is certainly where Elliott sees Stellar Story’s prospects.

"He is a nice horse, and he is going to be a big staying chaser for the future," said Elliott.

Stellar Story closing in on success in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle  | Racing photos by Debbie Burt

Gerri Colombe: huge run in the Gold Cup 

Just half an hour later Gerri Colombe (below) in just his first season out of novice chase company ran the race of his young chasing life to finish an honourable second to Galopin Des Champs in the Gold Cup.

Unbeaten in three previous visits to Cheltenham, the Saddler Maker eight-year-old clearly loves galloping around Prestbury Park and on Friday came home 9l clear of the 2023 Grand National winner Corach Rambler, beaten only 3l by the winner.

Gerri Colombe, owned by Robcour, has won nine races and has never finished outside of the first two in 12 racecourse starts. He was bought as a winning point-to-pointer by Mags O’Toole from the Festival Sale in 2020 from Milestone Stables for £240,000

"We are very proud of him, the winner looks a superstar, but this is just our lad's first season out of novice company – with natural progression we have a lot to look forward to for next year," said Elliott, who added on Nick Luck on Sunday that he hopes that he will be able to run the horse next at Punchestown.

Despite it being a first year out of novice company, Gerri Colombe did himself proud in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup

Better Days Ahead rounded off the meeting in style

The very last race of the meeting, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle, went to Better Days Ahead, bought by Elliott and O’Ryan at the Festival Sale 2022 for £350,000 from Warren Ewing’s Bernice Stables.

It was a first Festival winner for owner Noel and Valerie Moran of Bective Stud – earlier in the week couple had just missed out on success with Found A Fifty, who went through the Cheltenham December sale ring in 2021 and was runner-up in the Grade 1 Arkle Challenge Chase.

Elliott was effusive in his praise of the support that the couple give to his stable and also the wider sporting world in County Meath.

He said to Racing TV: “I got as big a kick out of that as any winner this week. To win the Martin Pipe race – he is my idol in life. Noel and Valerie Moran of Bective Stud sponsor my yard, are one of my biggest supporters and very good friends. They sponsor Meath football, they are massive people in sport in Meath and to have their first Cheltenham winner is just unbelievable.

“What they do for the yard is unbelievable. No people deserve it more, they are putting so much money into the game – what they do for me, for Meath football and for everyone, I’m just absolutely delighted. They’ve been so good to me, I’ve been trying to get them a Cheltenham winner and have been hitting the crossbar, they are really going to enjoy this, they are brilliant people.”

Of the horse, he added: “He’s a big chaser, we have minded him for this race, he had a good run at Navan a few months ago, which helped us come straight here for this.”

It was also a first Festival winner for jockey Danny Gilligan, and the young rider reported: “I knew going out that he would love the ground, and he's a lovely chaser to look forward to next year.

“He's just a big galloper, and at the back of the last when he met the hill, he found another leg. I was switching out and switching in, and I got a lovely run up the rail turning in – thankfully it worked out. He's a fine, big horse and he gallops for fun.”

Plenty to look forward to from the bumper

Earlier in the week, the two Elliott-trained Weatherbys Champion Bumper runners, Romeo Coolio (below, left) and Jalon D’Oudairies (below, right), the joint top lots at the Festival Sale in 2023 when both sold by Monbeg Stables as winning pointers, acquitted themselves with honours in the Grade 1 National Hunt Flat race finishing second and third beaten just a length and three-quarters and two and a half lengths.

Mouse O’Ryan, speaking on Elliott’s behalf from the placed spot in the winners’ enclosure on Wednesday, said: “We are delighted with both horses, they ran great. We are really looking forward to both once they go over hurdles next year, they should be fine prospects.”

Romeo Coolio and Jalon D'Oudairies finishing second and third in the Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper