Elgin proves a Greatwood Hurdle marvel at Cheltenham

Elgin (left) wins the Greatwood Hurdle from Misterton
Elgin (left) wins the Greatwood Hurdle from Misterton

Elgin gave a battling performance to hold long-time leader Misterton in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Alan King's five-year-old, owned by the Elite Racing Club, was ridden with great patience and tactical skill by Wayne Hutchinson.

He kept Elgin wide and delivered him to challenge on the rail at the second-last. Misterton proved a tough nut to crack, but his partner proved more than willing, to prevail by a neck.

Old Guard was four and a half lengths away in third and The New One was fourth.

Hutchinson said: "That was fantastic. Full credit to the boss. The horse ran two weeks ago and it was sort of a second thought, but he was in good form at home and he has produced him again on the day.

"I had a torrid run on the outside, but he was very honest and kept coming for me.

"He was tough and stuck his neck out to the line. He's very genuine and was a good novice last year."

King said: "It was a long run-in and I'm delighted with him. He's progressive and he's race-fit.

"He won at Ascot and I was worried this might come a little bit quick, but he came out of it very well. The ground was the unknown and Wayne was wise to get that better ground.

"He might go back to Ascot for what was the Ladbroke. He's a tough horse."

King went on: "He needed to be like a tiger when Harry Fry's horse (Misterton) came looming up. He always looked like he was holding him.

"We will just creep away at the moment. He had an issue with his knees in the past. When he was a young horse with James Fanshawe he never ran because of that. I think the patience has paid off."

Harry Fry said of Misterton: "It doesn't get much closer. He has run a career-best and I'm delighted with him, he has been beaten a neck from a pound out of the handicap.

"It was a brillant run. The horse has given it his all. He jumped and travelled well and did everything right. He will probably to go what was the Ladbroke next."

There was a sad postscript to the race, with Ian Williams revealing his smart dual-purpose performer London Prize had suffered what proved to be a fatal fall, just a week after winning the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.

Paying tribute to his Cesarewitch runner-up on Twitter, the trainer wrote: "Tough game. Thank you for all your kind messages.

"We will all have great memories of such an honest, tough and brave horse."

Elgin was a 10/1 winner in Sunday's Pick 7 game
Elgin was a 10/1 winner in Sunday's Pick 7 game

The Paul Nicholls-trained Old Guard (8/1) finished a fine third under 5lb conditional Bryony Frost. The six-year-old son of Notnowcato stayed on gamely up the punishing Cheltenham hill to fill the placings.

Frost, who landed the mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase aboard Black Corton on Saturday, said: "It was a brilliant run. Now he is getting an older and more mature horse, he wants a bit of a trip I think these days.

"The ground was maybe a bit too soft for him but he didn't really cry out on that ground. He just struggled to go with them at the top of the hill when they turned on the speed a little bit and I just wasn't able to go with.

"I lost two lengths on the field and I wasn't able to latch on to them quite as much I would've wanted to and then he stayed up all the way up the hill. You will see this horse improve again as he goes up in trip. It's not been a bad weekend for me, that's for sure."

Richard Johnson steered top-weight The New One (7/1) to fourth place and Britain's champion jump jockey was pleased with the nine-year-old son of King's Theatre's performance, commenting: "He has run a great race. He is a star and I am sure he will be back here for the International Hurdle in a few weeks time."

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