Sunday 23 April 2017

Tombstone upset in Coral Cup but Gordon Elliott bounces back to claim two second day winners

Supasundae ridden by Robbie Power lead the field over the final flight before going on to win The Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle Race run during Ladies Day of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 15, 2017. Photo credit should read: Julian Herbert/PA Wire.
Supasundae ridden by Robbie Power lead the field over the final flight before going on to win The Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle Race run during Ladies Day of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 15, 2017. Photo credit should read: Julian Herbert/PA Wire.

Supasundae took charge of the Coral Cup for trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey Robbie Power, with Gordon Elliott's pre-race favourite Tombstone finishing fifth.

Owned by Alan and Ann Potts, the 16-1 chance came into his own approaching the final flight and was much too good for Taquin Du Seuil, who succumbed by two lengths.

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Who Dares Wins and Monksland finished third and fourth respectively.

Power said: "He's galloped all the way to the line.

"He was a very, very good bumper horse and beat Yanworth in the (Aintree) Bumper.

Harrington said: "I only inherited him this year from Henry de Bromhead so it's absolutely fantastic.

"Good ground was the real making of him. We knew he'd improve a real lot on that ground."

Tombstone, the 7-2 favourite, was most disappointing.

Earlier, Willoughby Court showed stunning bravery to land the Neptune Investment Management Novice' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The 14-1 chance, trained by Ben Pauling and ridden by David Bass, had looked a sitting duck once Neon Wolf made his move.

But try as he might along the run-in, the 2-1 favourite could not get on level terms with the front-running Willoughby Court, who was announced the winner after a photo-finish, getting the nod by a head.

"My horse drifted right and drifted left again," said Bass. "It's brilliant for Ben and his team.

"I'm so grateful to him and his owners to ride a nice horse like this."

Messire Des Obeaux finished third at odds of 8-1.

In the second, Might Bite defeated stablemate Whisper in the RSA Chase in one of the most dramatic finishes in recent Cheltenham Festival history.

The former was a mile clear under Nico de Boinville, but a less-than-fluent leap at the last gave Whisper just a squeak.

Whisper then suddenly grew inspired along the run-in, whereas Might Bite - who fell at the final fence at Kempton on Boxing Day with a Grade One prize at his mercy - faltered as he hung badly to his right and was even headed.

De Boinville managed to correct his path with the aid of a loose horse and the Nicky Henderson-trained pair eventually flashed past the post in unison, but Might Bite (7-2 favourite) was announced the winner by a nose.

De Boinville said: "He did exactly the same in his hurdles run around here, the same thing happened. Without the loose horse I wouldn't have won.

"He's a thinker but he's so talented, he jumped for fun - he should have five or 10 lengths.

"It's great for the owners and great for guv'nor, he's having a great time of it. I kept faith with this horse, I can see why others might not!

"We'll see (if he is a Gold Cup horse), we might have to iron out a few issues, but he's definitely got the ability."

Henderson said: "What to make of it all? It just goes to show why you run two horses in a race."

Elliott rebounded in the 4.10, as Cause Of Causes claimed the third Festival success of his career with a tremendous display in the Glenfarclas Chase.

Having won the National Hunt Chase in 2015 and the Kim Muir 12 months ago under Jamie Codd, the combination were among the market leaders for this cross-country event at 4-1.

French raider Amazing Comedy led to the second-last, but was soon swamped by a trio of JP McManus-owned runners and Bless The Wings.

Elliott's Cause Of Causes picked up to lead at the final obstacle and galloped up the hill for a nine-length success over stablemate Bless The Wings.

Cantlow, the 9-4 favourite, was third ahead of Auvergnat in fourth.

Elliott said: "He seems to come well at Cheltenham every year.

"He's an absolute superstar and we love him to bits. Jamie also gave him a great ride.

"It was a great result as we also had the second.

"If you have a plan, you have to try and do it right.

"We've had an unbelievable week. It's been a dream come true. "

Nick Williams then gained his first Cheltenham Festival winner as Flying Tiger ran out a 33-1 victor in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle.

The well-fancied Divin Bere moved smoothly towards the front end rounding the home turn before being joined by Nietzsche at the final flight.

However, it was Flying Tiger who finished best, getting up to beat Divin Bere and provide champion jockey Richard Johnson with his first winner of this year's Festival.

In the last, Fayonagh came from nowhere to land the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

Gordon Elliott's mare was a 7-1 shot to add to her previous victories at Naas and Fairyhouse and though she badly missed the start, the six-year-old fairly flew home under star amateur Jamie Codd and was ultimately well on top at the line.

The victory completed doubles on the day for Elliott and Codd following the earlier success of Cause Of Causes in the Glenfarclas Chase and takes the trainer's tally to the week to five with two days to go.

Elliott said: "Five winners in two days? I can't believe it."

The Mags Mullins-trained Debuchet filled the runner-up spot, a length and a quarter away, with Nicky Henderson's Claimantakinforgan best of the British in third.

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