Saint Roi (centre) jumps to the front in the County Hurdle

Cheltenham Friday review: Saint Roi lands major gamble in County Hurdle


A review of the rest of the action from Cheltenham on Gold Cup day as Saint Roi landed another almighty gamble for the JP McManus team.

More joy for green and gold team

Saint Roi continued JP McManus' golden Cheltenham Festival by landing a major gamble in the Randox Health County Hurdle.

The owner has won every handicap hurdle at the four-day meeting so far and the five-year-old, backed from 12/1 to 11/2 favouritism, was always cantering under Barry Geragty.

He went to the front jumping the last and on only the fourth start of his career, thundered up the hill to beat stablemate Aramon by four-and-a-half lengths.

Another Willie Mullins runner, Buildmeupbuttercup (16/1) was fourth, a place behind Embittered (14/1). Value Bet selection Elusive Bell (20/1) finished fifth.

Riding his fifth winner of the week, Geraghty said: "He was electric, for a horse with little experience, the pace they went, he was very good. Willie was sweet on him and he's not a bad judge.

"It's what you dream of, you come here and one winner is all you want. It's brilliant when they keep coming. There's no doubt about it, it's a privileged position to ride such good horses for good people and it is a pleasure. It's a fun game in this sport, I enjoy it."

It's been some week for JP McManus and Barry Geraghty

Mullins said: "I enjoyed that a bit more than the last one (fortunate victory in Triumph Hurdle). It was a proper race - he is a good horse. We were very lucky to win the last one.

"Barry is riding out of his skin. I said to JP on Monday evening we might have one for you. This fellow did a lovely bit of work during the week and I think he said to me he wouldn't back him in case he stopped him. He did what he showed me in his final bit of work the other day, which was way better than before, and Barry executed the job fantastic.

"They all arrived down at the second last with fighting chances and you wouldn't know which one to back. He is better than that, but he was handicapped nicely - I thought we had enough ammunition for the Supreme, but there we are."


Pass just the ticket at 66/1

It Came To Pass caused a mighty 66/1 upset in the St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup at Cheltenham.

It was a family affair, as the winner is trained in County Cork by Eugene O'Sullivan, who sent out Lovely Citizen to take this prized hunter chase in 1991, and was ridden by his daughter, Maxine.

Marcle Ridge made the running and soon had the runners stretched out before he came back to the field and was headed three out.

Shantou Flyer went on under his owner David Maxwell, but it was not long before It Came To Pass came on the scene with a well-timed challenge. The 10-year-old put daylight between himself and his rivals and had 10 lengths to spare over 11-4 favourite Billaway at the line.

Shantou Flyer was five lengths away in third, with Staker Wallace another three and a quarter lengths back in fourth.

The winning trainer said: "I'm over the moon. We won this race 29 years ago, with my brother William riding. Sadly my father isn't with us anymore, but I'm sure he was looking down on us today.

"We've a great family operation at home, there's an awful lot of people involved and a lot of hard work.

"Maxine does an awful lot of work and she's a brilliant girl. She has little faith in herself and her riding, but she is brilliant."

It Came To Pass enters the winners' enclosure

Maxine O'Sullivan said: "He just loved it the whole way and everything went right. I couldn't have asked for a better run round. We knew if he returned to his old form that he would have a serious chance, and he did. He was better today than he's ever been. We knew he'd stay really well.

"It's really special for our family. My uncle won it in 1991, my dad trained it and my granddad owned and bred it. Unfortunately my granddad died in the last couple of years, but he'd be so proud. This is our Gold Cup. It's such a family business. It means a lot to us."

Mate lands Grand Annual plunge

Chosen Mate was the punters' friend as he justified strong market support to lift the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase.

Gordon Elliott's seven-year-old cruised into the lead at the third-last under Davy Russell and held a clear advantage at the final fence.

He got in a bit tight to the obstacle, but it made no difference and the 7-2 favourite powered up the hill to win by a length and three-quarters from Eclair De Beaufeu.

Us And Them was three and a half lengths back in third, with Greaneteen a neck away in fourth.

Chosen Mate lands a gamble in the Grand Annual

Elliott said: "He definitely could win a graded race. I said if you can get him in a rhythm over his first four fences he will win. Thankfully he won.

"Robbie Power was going to ride him, but then Davy decided he wanted to ride him and I'm thrilled he rode him, as he is a brilliant jockey and I'm lucky to have him."


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