LONDON (Reuters) – Al Boum won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday in front of thousands of racegoers as the rest of the world’s sporting competitions were shut down by the coronavirus outbreak.
Jockey Paul Townend steered 10-3 favorite Al Boum to victory, holding off Santini and Lostintranslation in a thrilling finish to the week’s blue-riband race.
“Fantastic. An absolutely unbelievable day. Some said he was under pressure but Paul does his own thing. He probably rides better under a bit of pressure,” trainer Willie Mullins, who had three other winners on the last day, said.
While attendances have been slightly down for the festival, around 60,000 punters had been expected on Friday.
The sight of such large crowds assembled followed the British government’s decision on Thursday not to ban large gatherings, despite moving their response to the ‘delay’ phase.
Earlier the Premier League and Football League suspended all matches while the weekend’s Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland was also postponed.
Cheltenham provided extra hand sanitizer stations and extra toilet facilities in an attempt to contain any spread.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)