On The Fringe just fell short in his bid to become the first horse in history to win the Cheltenham Foxhunters for a third occasion, as he had to settle for fourth.
Ridden patiently, as has become his customary in the 3m2f contest run over the Gold Cup course, Enda Bolger’s charge came under pressure on the downhill run into the home straight as he struggled to make an immediate impression from his midfield position.
The Graham McKeever-trained Balnaslow ran a huge race from the front in the hands of Derek O’Connor and was still in front inside the final quarter of a mile.
However, when a big jump was needed at the final fence, as the 40/1 shot was challenged by Pacha Du Polder, the Peggy Hagan-trained gelding put in an extra stride making a mistake which handed the advantage to the eventual winner.
As the line approached, the Katie Walsh-ridden Wonderful Charm, stablemate to the winner, began to eat into his advantage and was just denied in the shadow of the posts, loosing out to the Bryony Frost-partnered 10-year-old.
Owned by the Stewart Family, the winner finished fifth in last year’s renewal when the centre of much publicity as he had former Olympic Gold medallist winning track cyclist Victoria Pendleton aboard.
On The Fringe valiantly stayed-on to try and retain his crown, however he was forced to settle for fourth and the honour of being the first Irish-trained finisher in the hands of Jamie Codd, just over two lengths in arrears of the winner.
Balnaslow, having run that cracking race finished fifth and second-best of the Irish, in front of the 100/1 shot Minella For Value who returned in sixth.
Fellow two-time Foxhunters winner Salsify finished tenth, Aupcharlie thirteenth, whilst Grand Jesture was the last of the Irish to finish in fifteenth.
Sweet As A Nut, one of the leading Irish hopes, fell heavily at the last but got to his feet having been attended to by the veterinary team on-course.
Anseanachai Cliste failed to get a run in the race as he was withdrawn by order of the stewards with the Racing Post reporting that the stewards “could not be satisfied the horse had been administered only normal feed and water on race day”.