Cheltenham Festival: The Ultimate Guide - 2021-03-05


The road to the winner’s enclosure


THERE aren’t many races at the festival that you could categorically say British trainers dominate, but this is one. Not since 2006 has an Irish-trained horse won the race, and that trend continued last year as the Brendan Powell-ridden The Conditional scored for David Bridgwater. After moving from Martin Hassett in the summer of 2019, the son of Kalanisi kicked off his career in Britain at Worcester off a mark of 132, where he was well beaten by The Hollow Ginge and Follow The Bear. But just a few weeks later he got off the mark over fences – at his eighth attempt – at Cheltenham’s October meeting, beating West Approach and Cogry. After that success off a mark of 131, The Conditional was seen next at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy, where he was narrowly beaten into second by De Rasher Counter. His final performance before the festival was a well-beaten fourth off a rating of 142 when sent off favourite at Warwick. At the festival The Conditional was given a mark of 139, only 2lb higher than his Ladbrokes Trophy run. On the day he was sent off a well-fancied 15-2 shot. After being bumped into at the first fence, he got him into a nice rhythm early, tracking the leading pack and jumping smoothly. After halfway, as the race warmed up, The Conditional continued to catch the eye behind the leading trio on the inside rail. One by one the field started to struggle, and as they came down the hill and around the turn it looked a battle between Cepage, Kildisart and Vinndication, with The Conditional just in behind. At the second-last he ran straight through the fence and his nose almost touched the floor. But that mistake did not hinder him too much as he pinged the last and bounded up the hill, fighting hard to hold off Kildisart in an exciting finish. In a sad postscript, The Conditional lost his life at Newbury last month. Anthony Ive



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