On a day that saw Shishkin come unstuck (or, indeed, stuck), in soft ground, Envoi Allen came clear to give Henry de Bromhead a near-twentieth win at the Festival. This was another day for the Irish, and not for the French, as it turned out, with Gold Tweet beaten to second-last, and Henri Le Farceur pulled up in the Stayers (Flooring Porter ran a fine race, but was popped in fourth behind now controversy-ridden Dashel Drasher). Nor too was it a day for Captain Morgs (running for the yellow ties of the Albatross Club), as he was pushed back to second last in the Pertemps Final.
The final day of last year's Festival belonged squarely to Willie Mullins. Racking five races (three back-to-back) in 2022, with Gala Marceau, Lossiemouth, Sharjah and Galopin Des Champs, we could be left with a similar picture this year. Gala Marceau, however (who beat Lossiemouth in the Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last month), faces Gust Of Wind in the Triumph Hurdle, a horse who's been running well of late.
Sharjah, meanwhile, is up against Pied Piper and Filey Bay in the County Hurdle, where stablemate Hunters Yarn also looks on the up, having fired at Navan and Naas. Embassy Gardens is the Mullins Albert Bartlett hope (a recent winner at Thurles, and a decent fourth to Good Land at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival). Elsewhere, Vaucelet looks set to take the Foxhunters, Zambella the Mrs Paddy Power Chase and Might I the final race of the Festival: the Conditional Jockeys Hurdle.
At 3:30pm, though, it's what we've all been waiting for, and the nation tunes into the Gold Cup. Taking on King George winner Bravemansgame, Galopin Des Champs gallops in from victory in the Irish Gold Cup last month. 2022's Irish Gold Cup winner, however, Conflated (who took the Savills Chase in December) looks hot on his heels. Noble Yeats, Minella Indo and A Plus Tard are also looking to make a return to form, while Protektorat (Haydock's Betfair Chase winner) rushes in with King George second Royal Pigaille, Cotswold second Sounds Russian, and last year's Denman Chase winning Eldorado Allen (a disappointing fifth in the same race this year).
Matt Chapman's Ones to Watch
I'm trying to go out with a bang, though it's fair to say I've had better tipping weeks! In the 1:30pm: Lossiemouth. Unlucky last time, I think she'll make up for it. In the County, it's Penbroke for the Skeltons. In the Albert Bartlett, Favori De Champdou loooks a strong stayer for Gigginstown Stud.
Then in the big one, the Gold Cup, I'll go with two. I think Galopin Des Champs will win, but I can't let Minella Indo go off at such a big price, so I'lll have little each way on Minella Indo as well. The Foxhunters: Vaucelet will be my selection. Allegorie De Vassy in the penultimate... and finally, exactly what I've been all week, I'll out with my nap of Friday each way: Cool Survivor in the Martin Pipe Conditional.
-> Catch me in person this morning, as I have been every day of the Festival, in the exclusive Racing Breaks Legends Lounge. I'll be dishing out tips with Sky's Mike Cattermole, ITV colleague Mick Fitzgerald and ace pundit Paul Kealy. Yeeehaaa!