Glory for Ireland as JP McManus' Ivanovich Gorbatov wins JCB Triumph Hurdle
Published 18/03/2016 | 14:03
Ivanovich Gorbatov gave Aidan O'Brien his first Festival winner since the mighty Istabraq when storming home in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
O'Brien has very much concentrated on the Flat since Istabraq captured the third of his Champion Hurdles in 2000, but Ivanovich Gorbatov (9-2 favourite) was well worth the wait.
O'Brien's son Joseph, who has recently retired from riding, has been supervising the young hurdler's preparation ahead of getting his full training licence and Ivanovich Gorbatov, owned by JP McManus, delivered in style to give jockey Barry Geraghty his first success of the week.
Relishing the better ground, Ivanovich Gorbatov made up for his defeat at Leopardstown to defeat two horses from the all-conquering Willie Mullins' stable with Apple's Jade beaten a length and a quarter in second and Footpad six lengths away in third.
Geraghty said: "I've been banking on this lad all week. I've had a couple of good rides and they've been running well, but it's good to get a score on the board.
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"He's only had two runs over hurdles and three on the Flat, I'd say he's a horse who can do it well and it's nice to do it for the boss.
"Joseph has done brilliantly, he told me the first day what he was, he loved him and he loved him for today.
"He had him so well schooled - I'd say he (Joseph) can only do well (training)."
Joseph O'Brien said: "It's unbelievable, I don't think it's sunk in yet.
"It's very hard to put into words what I'm thinking right now.
"I was very hopeful but Barry was more confident than anyone, he rode him the last day and was happy to put a line through it, he just said the ground was to blame.
"We were very happy today because the ground was very different.
"It's not really sunk in yet. It's hard to compare (to winning the Derby) but it's right up there."
In the second race of the day, Superb Story gave brothers Dan and Harry Skelton their taste of first Festival success when winning a dramatic race for the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Superb Story led after jumping what should have been the second-last but the final flight was omitted while Wayne Hutchinson received treatment for a fall from Montbazon on the first circuit.
Thankfully, Hutchinson eventually got up and walked away.