Scotland thwarted Ireland's biggest hope of salvaging a poor week when Brindisi Breeze yesterday scored a breakthrough victory for Lucinda Russell and her flourishing Kinross stable. Boston Bob, sent off hot favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, was undone by a bold ride from young Campbell Gillies – one that would have done justice to Russell's partner, Peter Scudamore, in his prime.
Boston Bob was taken off his feet and his rally up the hill was not enough to claw back Brindisi Breeze, who saw it out by two lengths. Russell acclaimed her own Braveheart. "He's not the fastest in the world, but he's so tough and he doesn't like horses passing him," she said. "He jumps quickly, too, and will be a fantastic chaser next season."
The same plainly holds true of Boston Bob, and the Irish did at least contrive two winners on the day. Alderwood, in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle, was their first of the week not trained by Willie Mullins, albeit their gratitude was only extended as far as the champion trainer's brother, Thomas. Tony McCoy, who had himself endured a barren meeting until yesterday, did well to sit tight when almost brought down on the home turn. "It's great to match Tony [another brother] and Willie, and my father, and my cousin Seamus, in having a winner at the Festival," Mullins said. "I've been feeling left out and it's lovely to get it on my CV."
Rodger Sweeney finally ended the embarrassment of trainers beyond the Mullins clan when saddling Salsify to win the Christie's Foxhunter Chase under a cool ride from his son, Colman. Otherwise, however, the themes of the week abided.
Malton celebrated a double through Attaglance, in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle, and Countrywide Flame, shock winner of the JCB Triumph Hurdle. Ridden along furiously and apparently going nowhere on the run to the last, Countrywide Flame achieved an unfeasible overdrive to hold off Hisaabaat.
Though few punters could have found a case in favour of the 33-1 winner, among neutrals this will have been a popular success. John Quinn is greatly respected on the circuit, for the way he deals with horses and people alike, and also has a fine record from limited resources on the Flat. "This horse is not very big – 15.1 [hands] and a fingerprint – and he got buffeted about," Quinn said. "But he's very tough and hardy and stuck at it really well."
Attaglance also represented a shrewd operator in Malcolm Jefferson, whose success with Cape Tribulation on Thursday had been his first here since 1995. "If I'd had to wait for another 17 years for the next one, I don't think I'd be here," the veteran trainer remarked.
But the curtain came down in fitting fashion when Nicky Henderson extended his record-breaking spree with a seventh success, thanks to a ride of consummate daring from Paul Carberry on Bellvano in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase – a race run in honour of his late father. "That's the icing on the cake," he said. "To me and my daughters it's just about the most important race of the week."