AS THE Cheltenham Festival closed all the plaudits were deservedly going to jockey Rachel Blackmore as she finished the meeting as the top rider, with five wins and a highpoint of a Champion hurdle triumph aboard the unbeaten Honeysuckle, sadly Herefordshire connections were left to reflect on a mix of disappointing results, writes Graham Saveker

The drying ground for the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday saw under-par performances by both Richard Johnson’s mount Native River and the highly thought after novice chaser of trainer Venetia Williams Royale Pigaille.

Native River was under pressure from the outset and despite Johnson's urgings they were powerless to get involved and eventually finished fourth behind the eventual winner Minella Indo.

Pre-race concerns over the ability of Royale Pigaille to transfer his impressive recent performance in winning in the soft ground at Haydock to the fast –run pace of the Cheltenham Blue Riband event were ominously realised as jockey Charlie Deutsch struggled to get his mount to get involved in the race and they finished a tame sixth place with Williams’s other runner the 150/1 outsider Aso a more distant eighth place.

Williams had earlier in the week seen her runner, Cloudy Glen, in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase finish a game second behind the Irish victor Mount Ida for jockey Robbie Dunne.

Much Marcle trainer Tom Lacey saw his consistent hurdler Tea Clipper out-perform his 33/1 odds in the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle on the Wednesday of the meeting finishing third.

However, his up and coming Grade one performer Adrimel, a 12/1 shot in Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, was running prominently until the third last hurdle but eventually pulled up by jockey Johnson when his chance had gone.

The two and a half mile Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase saw a final appearance for Happy Diva from the Byton yard of Kerry Lee.

After making moderate progress halfway in the competitive handicap Happy Diva faded to finish 11th in the 21 runner field and Lee announced after the race that her performer had been retired and a stud career beckons.