18:06 Well all good things have to come to an end and the 2009 Festival is over.
Easy, Kauto Star regaining his Totesport Gold Cup crown and, in the same race, Denman showing he seems to have recovered from his cardiac problems.
Let us cross everything they both return fully fit next year.
As for future stars, well two from the bumper Dunglib and Some Present. Also The Queen’s Barbers Shop was not disgraced in the Gold Cup, is still young and will put in a better performance next year.
Meanwhile racing continues and our next live coverage will be from Fontwell on Sunday
From Cheltenham a very good evening.
18:00 Now things have settled down let us look at some of the quotes after the Totesport Gold Cup.
Ruby Walsh had no doubts about Kauto Star, "He's the greatest horse I've ever ridden. Two miles, three miles, now two Gold Cups. He's magic, he's a wonder horse.
"He travelled super all the way. I planned to follow Christian on Neptune Collonges over the second last, but he pinged four out, pinged three out and two out as well. I love him.
"When Sam on Denman moved up alongside me I didn't know what was going to happen off the bend.
"But in all fairness to him he has picked up, winged the second-last and galloped all the way to the line.
"Denman has run an incredible race because two weeks ago it was 50-50 whether he was going to run or not and he has turned into the straight upsides in a Gold Cup, an incredible performance."
Trainer Paul Nicholls was bullish, "He's fit, he's fresh, he was never going to get beat today, but what a race Denman ran - two weeks ago you'd have drawn stumps. It was a huge run from him and he'll be back next year.
"Kauto Star was fresh, very fit and the ground came right. He's a very good horse.
"My Will finished fifth as well, he ran a blinder. He will go to Aintree now with a massive chance.
"Neptune Collonges ran a cracking race, the ground had just gone against him.
"But to get Kauto Star here today and Denman to run as good as that will give everyone pleasure as well. What an unbelievable horse Kauto Star is."
Harry Findlay, part-owner of Denman, is already thinking about the decider next year, "It was so hard for us going into the race because we've said many times there is only one way to beat Kauto round here and we were never in a position to do that today.
"Like Paul said, two weeks ago we were a doubtful runner. I said two years ago I thought the pace of the race in the Gold Cup was so beneficial to Kauto Star and after a few fences today I thought he was a 4-7 shot.
"So for Denman to run so well off that pace - he's murdered them everywhere because they were genuinely going at two-and-a-half-mile pace throughout.
"I thought it was an outstanding performance, Sam was so happy with him, we were all so happy with him.
"If Paul gets them both back again it could be fireworks."
17:50 Lets get some of the housekeeping out of the way.
No surprise Ruby Walsh was top rider with seven wins, his nearest rival was Barry Geraghty with three.
In the trainers title Paul Nicholls was top with five runners, Nicky Henderson and Willy Mullins had three each.
17:35 Well here we are at the 26th and final race of the 2009 Cheltenham Festival.
Before the Festival began Paul Nicholls was asked what his best prospect for the Festival was, he had no hesitation in nominating Poquelin in this final race.
The horse was duly backed into 3/1 favouritism to give Ruby Walsh his eight winner of this years Festival .
He ran like an absolute dog, making several mistakes he was soon nearer last than first and never a player in the contest.
Lorient Express and Moon Over Miami were the pace setters with the former fading out of contention approaching two out.
As Lorient Express dropped out, Alan King’s Oh Crick ran on to challenge for the lead and soon the battle was underway for another thrilling Cheltenham finish.
The pair battled up the hill, well clear of their rivals and it was Oh Crick, under Wayne Hutchinson who took the honours by three parts of a length.
French Opera, who had been to the fore throughout took third spot, with Tramantano running on for fourth.
17:05 I haven't touched on the UK - Ireland score too much this afternoon - I am too polite, so all I will say is it is 5-1 to the home team so far this afternoon.
17:02 A new race for this years festival named, this year, in honour of former champion trainer Martin Pipe.
The 2m 4f contest attracted 23 runners, no fewer of which were saddled by Pipe’s son David.
Despite the mob handed approach the best the Pipe stable could do was finish third with the favourite Big Eared Fran.
The party pooper was Nicky Henderson with Felix DeGiles on board Andytown who was sent off a 25/1 shot and, to the delight of the layers, came home at odds of 25/1.
The layers were even happier with the runner-up, Midnight Chase, an Irish raider who came home at 100/1.
It was a race where the lead changed hands several times in the early stages, eventually Khachaturian and Little Schilling set the pace.
There was early drama when top weight Gaspara unshipped Andrew Glassonbury.
It was another of those races which developed in the final stages with Big Eared Fran running on down the hill but never challenging the leaders.
However once the winner hit the front the result was never in doubt.
16:27 After the Gold Cup we have the Christies Foxhunters, frequently referred to as the amateurs Gold Cup.
There has been a trend in recent years to send former top class chasers out hunting so they can qualify for these Hunter Chases. It was an absolute delight, therefore, for a true pointer to take the 2009 renewal.
Indeed because Cappa Bleu had never raced in a hunter chase before he almost did not get into this afternoons contest, however badgering of the handicapper meant he was allowed to take his chance and quite frankly he won the contest with consummate ease in his first outing under rules.
Settled quietly in the main bunch for most of the contest, top point-to-point rider Richard Burton bought him into third place and a challenging position as they came down the hill.
As they turned for home though it looked as though he may have to settle for second best at Turthen looked very much the winner in front and Cappa Bleu did not look that keen to pass him.
Also in the leading group was Baby Run who had led for the last two miles of the 3m 2f contest.
Turthen led jumping the last but under a driving Richard Burton ride Capp Bleu soon took the lead and was running on at the end to claim a twelve length victory.
It was very close for second as a resurgent Baby Run seemed to get a second wind and almost overhauled the runner-up.
The favourite Juveigneur, another of those former handicappers, was let down by his poor jumping.
15:46 Wow – the king is back as Kauto Star outshone the opposition to become the first horse to regain the Totesport Gold Cup after losing it.
He simply outclassed a high class field, showing his poor run last year was a one off.
The win gave jockey Ruby Walsh his seventh winner of the meeting.
There was good news for winning trainer Paul Nicholls as last years winner Denman came home second, thirteen lengths behind his stablemate and certainly showing improved form from his last outing at Kempton.
Exotic Dancer ran his usual brave race to come home third, whilst last years third Neptune Collonges was fourth.
Neptune Collonges set the early pace but was joined by Snoopy loopy as they climbed the hill for the first time.
By the time they started the second circuit the field had established a good rhythm with Neptune Collonges and Snoopy Loopy still setting the pace but with Kauto Star and Denman tracking the front pair, along with Madison Du Berlais, who defeated Denman at Kempton.
As usual Exotic Dancer was held up near the rear.
Halcon Genelardais, who never looked happy, was pulled up at that juncture.
As they came down the hill for the final time it was a Nicholls 1-2-3 with Neptune Collonges leading but both Kauto Star and Denman in pursuit.
Turning for home Ruby Walsh bought Kauto Star to the front and as soon as he hit the front his only danger was the final two fences.
As he approached the last there was a collective breath holding but he put in a perfect jump and his lad, who was standing next to me was ecstatic with joy shouting he’s won.
Indeed he did win, easily. There was a bit of a battle for second where it looked for a while as though Exotic dancer would overhaul Denman but the big beast held on.
The crowd erupted as the king reclaimed his throne.
I can’t wait for next years renewal.
14:58 For a moment it looked as though the Albert Bartlet was going to give Ruby Walsh a seventh win of the meeting, however the green team were finally back in the winners enclosure again as
Weapons Amnesty grittily held on a resurgent challenge from Ruby on the favourite Pride Of Dulcote.
Den Of Iniquity and Alpha Ridge had set out in front in this three mile marathon for up and coming hurdlers. Ruby was happy to settle the favourite in third or fourth.
There was a massive cheer when Ruby made his move coming down the hill and he soon drew clear.
However Western Charmer had not read the script and he tracked the favourite and was in the lead by the last and looked to be running away with the race. However to a cacophony of sound Ruby Walsh did everything to get back into contention and was slowly eroding the lead of the the Irish raider but the line came in time for Western Charmer.
The Midnight Club came home a running on third.
14:25 There is a £100,000 bonus on offer for any horse who wind the Imperial Cup at Sandown the Saturday before the Festival and who then goes on to win a race at the Festival, a not impossible task as the Pipe team have taken the bonus on several occasions.
Dave’s Dream was the one aiming for the double this year and was consequently sent off the 7/2 favourite for our second contest, The County Hurdle.
Unfortunately he was not to win the hurdle, only coming in sixth in a race that looked, on paper, to be a very open contest.
In reality it turned out to be something of a one sided contest, which gave Ruby Walsh his sixth winner of the Festival. American Trilogy was the eleven length winner and the only surprise was that on the faces of punters when they saw the starting price of 20/1. How often does a Nicholls / Walsh combo go off at that long a price.
Khyber Kim was the early pace setter, leading until just after three out.
Coming to two out it looked to be an open race with several in contention. But Walsh produced his run coming for home.
The bookies must have been even more delighted with the runner-up Stradbrook who came home at 66/1 and to add to the bookies delight the third and fourth Cockney Trucker and Nortonthorp Lad were returned at 17/2 and 50/1 respectively.
13:50 We have three hurdles to start racing today, so the ground can be saved for the Gold Cup.
The Triumph Hurdle, over 2m 1f set us under way and this is always a lively contest.
Ebadiyan set the pace and it looked as though he could be involved in the shake up until, that is, he inexplicably ran out two from home.
This left the grey Zaynar in front, although he was being challenged by the favourite Walkon on his left.
The two were engaged in a good battle approaching the last and Zaynar put in the better jump and we were then treated to a typical Cheltenham finish with Robert Thornton doing his best, but just being unable, to get the favourites head in front, going down by three parts of a length.
Mourad took third spot, 2¾ lengths behind the front pair. Starluck was a good looking fourth and the promising Trenchant was doing his best work at the end to come fifth.
13:13 Tony McCoy has been presented with his special award for riding 3,000 National Hunt winners.
Contained inside the bowl were the names of all 3,000 winners.
On the podium was Peter Scudamore as well as Sir Peter O’Sulleven. The award was presented by, arguably, the greatest flat jockey Lester Piggot.
This afternoon McCoy rides Exotic Dancer in the big one and he will, no doubt, be a popular winner.
12:48 I am off to fight my way through the crowd in an attempt to catch the presentation to AP McCoy - I may make it in time.
12:47 Just a quick update on the weather - it is still drizzling but as before more annoying than significant.
It is absolutely heaving out there now making it almost impossible to get around – this is going to be a fun afternoon and the chances are anyone watching the racing on TV will probably get to see a great deal more than those of us here on course.
12:29 Well an hour to go before we begin the action on the final day here at Cheltenham. Although the crowds outside are the biggest of the week, here in the Guinness Media centre it actually seems a lot quieter - apart from the band.
Most of my Irish colleagues seem somewhat subdued, although I gather there was a big party in town last night which may explain why they are rather quiet tonight.
Cheltenham is the only racecourse in the UK with its own pharmacy – apparently paracetamol is a big seller.
There are two press rooms here at Cheltenham – the main one is reserved for the trade papers, national press and domestic broadcasters, whilst the remainder of us are in the Guinness Press Centre.
If you are interested the photo to the left shows a hacks working desk!!! Notice the healthy eating!!!
12:15 Well The Queen has arrived but don't ask me what she is wearing - I didn't get to see her. It is heaving out there now and getting around this afternoon is going to be a challenge.
We have another non-runner Perce Rock in the finale, another who ran yesterday.
It has just been pointed out to me by Rupert Bell that Barbers Shop is the only British bred runner in the Gold Cup
11:53 As Kauto Star attempts to become the first horse to retain the Gold Gup after not successfully defending their title, attention also turned to another Gold Cup great Best Mate, who won the race three years running in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and who only missed out on attempting the quadruple after breaking a blook vessel eight days before the 2005 renewal. He was the first horse since the great Arkle to win three Gold Cups.
Sadly he collapsed and died shortly after competing in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on 1st November 2005.
He was cremated and his ashes are buried near the winning post here at Cheltenham.
A statue of Best Mate now stands near the parade ring here at Cheltenham and, this morning, a wreath in the colours of his owner Jim Lewis was laid by the statue.
11:45 Needless to say Friday is the busiest day at the Festival and even almost two hours before the first race the place is heaving. This photograph is of the Guinness Village, where they serve a very large amount of, well Guinness.
It is quite surprising the number of regulars who make a bee line to this area and it certainly gets lively round here as the afternoon progresses and the black stuff gets flowing.
Despite its popularity I somehow have a suspicion that The Queen will not be popping down here for a swift hald during the afternoon.
They have just announced that a special presentation will be made to AP McCoy at 1:00 to commemerate his 3,000 winners. The award is to be presented by Sir Peter O'Sullevan and Lester Piggot.
10:50 That infernal band has started up again - I hadn't realised just how repetitive their set it - it is beginning to annoy me now!!!
The gates have been open almost half an hour now and the crowds are flocking in. A good atmosphere but not quite the same buzz as we had a year ago.
The drizzle has now eased - now very light, just hanging in the air.
10:28 Buena Vista, who ran yesterday, is a non-runner in the Martin Pipe at 4:40, the official reason being he has not eaten up.
10:16 Most of the discussion around here surrounds the Gold Cup – certainly not as heated as last year when we had the great Denman / Kauto Star debate.
Most people seem to think Kauto Star is most likely to win but the shrewdies are saying he is far too short at 2/1.
Unlike last year quite a few are being spoken about as potential winners, even the perennial bridesmaid Exotic Dancer.
At the end of the day we can debate the merits of each of the runners until the cows come home – we will not get the answer until just after 3:20 this afternoon.
10:11 It has just started raining, nothing too heavy, just a steady drizzle.
09:55 The place is absolutely swarming with police and security officers ahead of The Queen coming this afternoon. There are some very mean looking police vehicles here, looking more like armoured cars than anything else.
09:40 Two non-runners so far, Take The Breeze is a self certificate (lame) in the County Hurdle and Chapoturgeon, who won yesterday, misses the finale.
09:27 Good morning from Cheltenham for the final day of the 2009 Festival. The sky is grey and the going is now good to soft, good in places.
the wind is still head on down the straight but not as strong as yesterday.
There is fresh ground on the chase course so the going for the Gold Cup at 3:20 should be perfect.
More importantly I have survived the bacon and egg roll - they remembered me and made sure the egg was well done!!!
- - - - -
Racing on the final day will be on the New Course
The highlight of the final day, for most, is the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Last year it featured the great Kauto Star / Denman debate and we all know what happened.
This year the rivalry is renewed but under different circumstances. Denman has received treatment for a herat condition and his belated seasonal return at Kempton was, to say the least, disappointing. Some say it will take a miracle for Denman to win back to back Gold Cups.
Will Kauto Star regain the crown he lost to his stable mate last year? Or will War Of Attrition regain his 2007 crown?
We will be on-course eraly on Friday morning bringing you all the build up to the big race, which goes off at 3:20. Of course there are six other races on the day, starting at 1:30, and we will not be forgetting those either.
We will have full coverage, results, reports and reaction to all the afternoons action.
Return to race archive:
12 Take The Breeze (lame - SC)
9 Buena Vista (not eaten up - SC)
3 Perce Rock (not eaten up SC)
7 Central House (going)
11 Chapoturgeon (ran yesterday)
Results - New Course
1:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle 2m 1f
1st 18 Zaynar 11/2
2nd 17 Walkon 4/1 fav
3rd 8 Mourad 14/1
Distances ¾ & 2¾
Places £2.00 £1.80 £3.20 £1.90
Time 4' 03.7"
2:05 Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle 2m 1f
1st 15 American Triology 20/1
2nd 28 Stradbrook 66/1
3rd 25 Cockney Trader 17/2
4th 24 Nortonthorp Lad 50/1
27 Ran NR 12
Distances 11l, 3 1/4l, 1/2l
Fav 18 Dave's Dream 7/2 (6th)
Places £3.50 £19.40 £2.30 £11.50
Time 4' 05.2"
2:40 Albert Bartlet Hurdle 3m
1st 17 Western Charmer 8/1
2nd 12 Pride Of Dulcote 3/1 fav
3rd 13 The Midnight Club 14/1
Distances 1/2l & 2l
Places £3.30 £1.90 £2.90
Time 5' 58.6"
3:20 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup 3m 2f 110yds
1st 8 Kauto Star 7/4 fav
2nd 5 Denman 7/1
3rd 6 Exotic Dancer 8/1
Distances 13l & 2 1/2l
Places £1.50 £3.00 £2.10
Time 6' 45.5"
4:00 Christie's Foxhunter Chase 3m 2f 110yds
1st 7 Cappa Bleu 11/2
2nd 23 Turthen 25/1
3rd 3 Baby Run 14/1
Distances 12l & 1/2l
Fav 13 Juveigneur 7/1 (Upl)
Places £2.80 £12.60 £4.60
Time 6' 54.5"
4:40 Martin Pipe Conditionals' Hurdle 2m 4f 110yds
1st 10 Andytown 25/1
2nd 24 Midnight Chase 100/1
3rd 11 Big Eared Fran 7/2 fav
4th 22 Font 14/1
23 Ran NR 9
Distances 9l, 7l & 2l
Places £5.00 £14.70 £1.90 £4.50
Time 4' 58.7"
5:15 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase 2m 110yds
1st 19 Oh Crick 7/1
2nd 10 Moon Over Miami 20/1
3rd 11 French Opera 10/1
4th 16 Tramantano 33/1
18 Ran NR's 3, 7 & 14
Distances 3/4l, 7l, 4 1/2l
Places £2.50 £5.00 £3.20 £8.70
Time 4' 09.5"