Monday 22 January 2018

O'Neill does justice to McNamara's memory as Tiger Roll roars to victory

Trainer Gordon Elliott Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Trainer Gordon Elliott Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Gordon Elliott completed a famous Cheltenham treble with Tiger Roll in the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase thanks to a brilliant steer from Lisa O'Neill.

The late Co Limerick jockey - who enjoyed plenty success at the Festival and whose name was of course remembered in the title of the race this year - would have been proud of the composure shown by O'Neill as she guided the 2014 Triumph Hurdle hero to victory in the four-miler for Elliott and Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud.

The seven-year-old was pulling O'Neill's arms out running down the hill and picked up from the home turn for a ready three-length win.

After the unfortunate Edwulf - bidding to give Joseph O'Brien his first winner at the Festival - broke down after the last when looking booked for second, this left Missed Approach was left to take the runner-up spot ahead of Haymount in third.

A delighted O'Neill, who won last year's Kerry Grand National on Wrath Of Titans for Elliott, said: "It's surreal, to be honest. It's an overwhelming feeling.

"I was just hoping up the hill that there was nothing there to pass me. It's a good team effort and it's absolutely brilliant."

Elliott said of the jockey: "She's decent and is an absolute star. She pre-trains our horses and does everything for us. She's an absolute star and I'm delighted for her."

The Cullentra, Co Meath handler added: "I knew after three fences he was on a going day.

"He's a Triumph Hurdle winner and he's won here twice. He's never been moving so well at home.

"I can't believe it. To train three winners on the first day of Cheltenham. I thought if I had one this year I'd be delighted. It's a credit to the staff I have at home and the owners and the horses. It's brilliant."

The final race on the card was delayed by 10 minutes as Edwulf was being treated.

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