Brindisi Breeze puts the wind in trainer Russell’s sails

If ANYONE had any remaining doubts that Lucinda Russell deserves to be ranked among the top trainers in these islands, they surely disappeared on Friday. The brilliant victory of Brindisi Breeze in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle gave Russell her first Cheltenham Festival winner, and was the high spot of a memorable Festival for this happy punter.

What a rollercoaster ride we had over the four days. The eclipse of Hurricane Fly and Binocular in the Champion Hurdle should have been predictable but wasn’t foreseen by anyone, while the staggering performance of Sprinter Sacre in the Arkle was a joy to behold. I was at Cheltenham on Wednesday to witness the dominance of one of my favourite trainers, Nicky Henderson, and, even though I backed Sizing Europe in the Champion Chase, I had to concede that Finian’s Rainbow was a deserving winner. Simonsig and Bob’s Worth meant we had cash to drown our sorrows, however.

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Big Buck’s had to dig deeper than ever before to win the World Hurdle on Thursday but still confirmed himself the greatest staying hurdler of all time.

On Friday my bets were on early as I took myself off to my bijou Edinburgh south side club, The Cockatoo. My fellow customers could not have been more loudly advised – bet Brindisi Breeze each way, I told all and sundry. In truth, I thought the money was for the place odds, as Boston Bob was rightly the favourite, and obviously a lot of punters agreed, as Graham Wylie’s horse remained the “jolly” while there were some hefty each-way bets for the Scottish hope. Campbell Gillies gave Brindisi Breeze a perfect ride, and the roof just about came off The Cockatoo to celebrate the Scottish victory.

The sad end to Kauto Star’s career in the Gold Cup was a reminder that, in racing, our heroes have short careers. It was the saddest moment of the Festival, but already we are looking forward to next year when Scotland’s Queen of Cheltenham will surely enjoy more success.