Sport Fairyhouse

Monday 1 May 2017

WATCH - Yorkhill's disastrous leap at the last gifts Ryanair Gold Cup to Michael O'Leary's Road To Respect

Owner Michael O'Leary, left, and jocker Bryan Cooper after winning the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Steeplechase with Road To Respect during the Fairyhouse Easter Festival at Fairyhouse Racecourse in Ratoath, Co Meath. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Owner Michael O'Leary, left, and jocker Bryan Cooper after winning the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Steeplechase with Road To Respect during the Fairyhouse Easter Festival at Fairyhouse Racecourse in Ratoath, Co Meath. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Alan Magee

Road To Respect capitalised on Yorkhill's eccentricity to win a dramatic race for the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.

Despite jumping violently to the left, Yorkhill looked like making all the running as the field straightened up for home.

The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old - winner of the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham - negotiated the second-last fine but took a long look at the final obstacle, where he almost ran out at the wing, before taking it clumsily.

That let in Road To Respect (7-2), who was left in front in the hands of Bryan Cooper on the run to line. Yorkhill rallied for Ruby Walsh and the 4-7 favourite closed with every stride, but the post came just in time for the Noel Meade-trained winner.

Road To Respect was himself a Cheltenham victor having claimed the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase, and Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, who owns the winner under his Gigginstown House stud banner, said: "He was great. Clearly the best horse finished second, but you have to jump them.

"Usually we struggle to win any of these Ryanair-sponsored races - normally Willie or JP (McManus) win them all, but it's very nice.

"I think Noel has brought him on incredibly well this year. His run in Cheltenham was fantastic. He is very closely related to Road To Riches, so I'd say clearly good ground is the key to him and he got good ground in Cheltenham and he got good ground here today.

"Yorkhill is clearly the superior horse, but we are very happy to win one."

Meade said: "We thought about running him in the (Irish) National. He worked on Wednesday and we just thought he might need another week. If he'd worked better we might have run him in the National, but it's all worked out great.

"The other horse (Yorkhill) did it all wrong and we benefited from that. He's obviously a very good horse. We were hoping Willie's horse would do that and he did. All is fair in love and war!"

He went on: "I think he's a proper Grade One horse anyway. He was electric at Cheltenham and he's proved it. I think our fella will improve and get further. I don't know if he'll go to Punchestown. We'll have to discuss it with Eddie and Michael (O'Leary), but that more than likely will be it for this season.

"He's a horse that doesn't take a lot of work, and I think the less you do with him the better he is."

Cooper said: "We went a good gallop and Ruby was obviously jumping out to his left and to be fair my lad was going a little left as well. I was jumping and winging everywhere and I was keen not to let Ruby off too quick. My lad took me everywhere.

"It's hard to know what would have happened, but if Ruby had jumped the last any way well he would have won. He has given away so many lengths and is still on the bridle turning into the straight. He (Yorkhill) obviously has a massive engine. He had me cooked everywhere. They are there to be jumped.

"My lad is tough and galloped all the way to the line."

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