IT was a Cheltenham week that had it all – that magical racing mix of high emotion and breathtaking, heart-pounding performances.
Yes people, Cheltenham's 2023 Festival may be over for another year, but the memories will live long.
For those in charge of this great sport it provided a timely reminder that racing is a game to stand up for and be proud of. Don't ruin it.
Everything you need to sell it was at Cheltenham over the last four days.
We ended with a brilliant Boodles Gold Cup hero in Galopin Des Champs. Willie Mullins has a horse that can come back and do it again and again.
My Saturday tip in the Midlands Nationals
What a ride by Ireland's champion Paul Townend. Just sublime.
Speaking of jockeys, Davy Russell was absent from the Gold Cup, a late defection from eventual third Conflated.
Davy should remember that to most racing fans he is a hero. An absolute belter of a man.
Most read in Horse Racing
Reaction as Galopin powers home to take the Gold Cup in Cheltenham thriller
Idris Elba joins stars at Cheltenham as racegoers celebrate Gold Cup day
Guinness-loving horse that cost £800 tipped for glory at Cheltenham Gold Cup
Cheltenham Festival punters pile into seedy pop-up strip club near race track
HOW TO GET FREE BETS ON THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL
Tuesday was an 'I was there' moment, and to experience Constitution Hill's romp in the Unibet Champion Hurdle and then the dreamy success for Honeysuckle in the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle was something truly special.
Constitution Hill now has a rating of 175 and it's going to be hard for him to better that as you have to wonder who will take him on in the Aintree Hurdle.
I'm delighted for owner Michael Buckley, who has answered every call and message over his star and talked beautifully about owning a huge performer. Buckers is a class act.
That said, for those expecting a walk in the park at Aintree remember Pridwell turned over Istabraq under a fabulous Tony McCoy back in the day. There are no certainties in this game.
And just when you think there is one you end up looking a fool.
Honeysuckle bowed out in the Mares', and some of you will read this thinking: "How can you have enjoyed that Matt? Didn't you slag her?"
Well that's how social media might interpret things, but of course we know that world is one of twisted folk.
Now don't get me wrong, there's no doubt in my mind at all Honeysuckle should have defended her Champion Hurdle crown against Constitution Hill.
Sport is about competition of generations and you shouldn't just run away and go for the easy option when you think you might not win.
On that basis, no underdog would ever take their chance and every favourite would land every race.
However, any intelligent individual can divide that with the emotion behind Honeysuckle's victory for trainer Henry de Bromhead and his family who so sadly and recently lost their son Jack. Rachael Blackmore rode a blinder.
The crowd rose to the occasion and gave team de Bromhead the reception they deserved. I relished and joined in with every minute of it.
The love this sport has for those in it is second to none. It's one of the reasons why those of us who are hooked on it know it's in the blood forever.
Incidentally, top man Henry offered me the job as his 'race planner' when we chatted mid-week.
Rest assured it was tongue in cheek!
Wednesday's Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase fell apart, but no one can deny Energumene was impressive for Willie Mullins.
What a day for his owner Tony Bloom, who also saw his beloved Brighton victorious later that night.
The Champion Chase division is not a strong one, and it will be interesting to see what Arkle hero El Fabiolo can do going forward.
He's a big boy and looks very good.
Shishkin never jumped a twig in the Ryanair, but what a victory for Envoi Allen, who has become a Festival legend. Blackmore was excellent once again.
As for Shishkin, when he's in the mood he was in when scoring at Ascot he can do anything. Here he was never going to win at any trip.
The deepest impression of the week, though, was arguably left by Ballymore hero Impaire et Passe who is surely a class act for the future.
Finally, it was a joy to be part of the ITV coverage over the four days and the editorial team on this paper.
Of course I'm biased, but the pullouts were sensational and a huge amount of work was put into them behind the scenes.
Read More on The Sun
Coca-Cola makes huge change to another iconic fizzy drink after Lilt
Shoppers love Matalan’s new Spring range – but they all have same complaint
While others in print cut their coverage of racing, the Sun goes from strength to strength.
We love it. And if you wonder why, just re-live Cheltenham 2023 once again. Yeeehaaa!
FREE BETS GET OVER £2,000 IN SIGN UP OFFERS HERECommercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply. Begambleaware.org
Remember to gamble responsibly
A responsible gambler is someone who:
- Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
- Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
- Never chases their losses
- Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
- Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
- Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org
Source: Read Full Article