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Countrywide Flame (R): Stayed best in fast run race

Countrywide Flame (R): Stayed best in fast run race

Countrywide Flame (R): Stayed best in fast run race

Countrywide Flame provided another Cheltenham winner for the north when landing the Triumph Hurdle.

Just 24 hours after Cape Tribulation gave Malcolm Jefferson and emotional win, John Quinn saddled the pint-sized 33/1 shot to defeat some well-touted rivals in a competitive heat.

The juvenile still had nine horses in front of him turning into the straight after Sadler's Risk had made much of the early running.

Baby Mix, Hollow Tree and Dodging Bullets cruised there looking the most likely winners on the long run to the final flight, with the latter joined by the well-backed 5/1 favourite Grumeti at the last.

But they were swamped for finishing speed by Countrywide Flame, who sprouted wings under Dougie Costello to win by three lengths in the end, with Hisaabaat (20/1) taking second and Grumeti threequarters of a length back in third.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Dodging Bullets (20/1) was just run out of it in fourth.

"He's not very big, but he's tough," said the winning jockey. "Horses like this are brilliant."

"I was getting knocked about going to two out and I thought I would just try and find some room going to the last.

"He pricked his lugs and flew the last. It's great for all the lads in the yard."

Quinn added: "He's never run a bad race yet but I did think he had to find plenty to win.

"I'm surprised he won, but I expected him to run a good race as he's never run a poor race over hurdles yet.

"He's won three races, been second in a Listed race, and was third in a Grade One in Ireland and second in a Grade One at Chepstow.

"He's very tough and hardy and stuck at it really well. He's not very big, and got buffeted about, but I'm really pleased.

"The one thing I was slightly worried about was whether he would jump round here at this speed, but he jumped brilliantly.

"I'm delighted to have another winner for the north, I was delighted for Malcolm (Jefferson) on Thursday and I'm delighted for myself today. He'll go to Aintree now."

Iain Turner, racing manager for Gremati's owner Max McNeil, said: "We're happy. He jumped the last in the lead and we thought we were going to win but he's still a hell of a horse.

"He probably couldn't quicken on the ground, but he seems fine and we will just see how he is."

Paul Nicholls felt Dodging Bullets had acquitted himself well on what was only his second start over obstacles.

He said: "It was a great run and we thought there was nothing to lose by running in a Grade One because he's still a novice next year and I imagine he will stay hurdling next season."

Nicholls' Pearl Swan crashed out at the last flight but the trainer reported the horse to be fine after his fall.

Sporting Life