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Darver Star is what Cheltenham's all about

Darver Star could return to action at Aintree or Punchestown following his heroic effort at the Cheltenham Festival.

What is certain is that the Champion Hurdle third will go novice chasing next season.

It remains to be seen if racing will continue in the short term following restrictions put in place as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. As it stands, meetings are going ahead behind closed doors.

Trainer Gavin Cromwell is considering the Aintree Hurdle and Champion Hurdle at Punchestown for the eight-year-old gelding.

Meanwhile, Pat Cluskey has reflected on Darver Star's gallant display in last Tuesday's big race.

'It was a super run. In hindsight we couldn't have asked for more,' said Pat who, along with Simon Fagan and Seán Fanning, forms the SSP Number Twentytwo Syndicate, owners of the horse.

'The soft ground was not to our liking. The jockey (Jonathan Moore) said it was very tacky and holding.

'It was an absolutely tremendous race. He jumped impeccably except for nodding at the last, but he definitely wouldn't have got to the winner,' Pat continued.

The mare Epatante, in receipt of a 7lb allowance, led the field home. She beat Sharjah three lengths, with another three-and-three-quarter lengths to Darver Star who earned almost £50,000 for taking third.

There was drama at the outset. A third false start of the afternoon inconvenienced the locally-owned horse more than most, but once the contest got under way he settled into a nice rhythm.

Darver Star went second four out until taking up the running between the final two flights. Joined at the last by Epatante under Barry Geraghty, he couldn't match the finishing kick of the 2/1 favourite.

'He was brave as a lion,' Pat enthused.

There was no shortage of red-and-white scarves and Darver Star flags as he returned to be unsaddled.

'After the horse came back in there was a round of applause. I thought it was for the winner, but it was for our horse. It was emotional,' Pat admitted.

There followed an interview with Brian Gleeson for ITV which prompted host Ed Chamberlain to remark that is what horse racing ownership is all about.

Darver Star's participation in the Champion Hurdle certainly caught the imagination. Cluskey's Bar at Duffy's Cross streamed live their customers watching the race and this was picked up by the Cheltenham Racecourse Twitter which has 145,000 followers.

'The goodwill in the area created by the horse was unbelievable,' Pat added.

'On behalf of myself, Simon and Seán, I want to thank all the local people, our neighbours and friends who supported us and wished us well.

'It's been an amazing experience over the last few months,' concluded Pat, who also singled out David Browne for his early work in preparing Darver Star for a career which has yielded five wins, one second and three third-place finishes from 14 outings.

The Argus