Turning the Cheltenham Festival Pink: Rich Ricci’s Main Contenders

S Ricci jockey colours
JockeyColours, Wikipedia

In the current century, perhaps the most instantly recognisable silks at the Cheltenham Festival have been those of Mrs Susannah Ricci (wife of US multi-millionaire Rich Ricci): Douvan, Vautour, Faugheen and Annie Power are amongst those to have carried the Baby Pink and Green Spots.

Whilst not quite the dominant force as in years gone by, the Riccis have picked up at least one win at the last four Cheltenham Festivals, and here we highlight five of their top contenders for 2024.

Lossiemouth – Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle

If the pink and green colours make it to the Winner’s Enclosure in 2024, this highly-rated mare is the horse most likely to take them there. Beaten just once in seven starts, this daughter of Great Pretender has scored twice in Grade 1 company, including the 2023 Triumph Hurdle.

Gaelic Warrior – Turners Novices’ Chase

Whilst the career of Lossiemouth has been largely incident-free, the same isn’t true for fellow Willie Mullins inmate, Gaelic Warrior, who heads to Cheltenham following an abject display at Leopardstown, which saw him finally get rid of Paul Townend at the last. Not the ideal prep, but this is a seriously talented horse on his day, as evidenced by two Grade 1 wins and a solid runner-up effort in the 2023 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Monkfish – Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup

Perhaps the forgotten horse in this year’s Gold Cup is this 10-year-old son of Stowaway. Back in 2020, Monkfish was the next big thing to hail from the Mullins yard and rubberstamped his quality with wins in the 2020 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and 2021 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. The world looked to be his oyster – only for injury to strike. Raced only three times since, a fluent recent success on his return at Gowran Park suggested that much of the old ability remains. If back to his best, he could be the horse to cause a shock.

Allegorie De Vassy – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase

This event for the mares sees a clash of famous silks. The JP McManus-owned Dinoblue is the clear market leader but is yet to win at Cheltenham or over this trip. Allegorie De Vassy can’t quite tick both boxes but is a distance winner who finished a gallant second at last year’s meeting. Should any chinks emerge in the stamina of Dinoblue, Allegorie De Vassy is the most likely to take advantage.

Bialystok – BetMGM County Handicap Hurdle

Whilst more associated with success in the Grade 1 events, the Riccis also have a number of entries in the handicaps. The pick of whom may be this five-time winner, who looked to be on the way to win number six when brought down last time out at Leopardstown. If enjoying more luck here, he could go close to handing Mullins a sixth County Hurdle success.