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Sir Des Champs jumps into Gold Cup picture with Novices' Chase win


Sir des Champs jumps the last fence and goes on to win the Novices' Chase

Sir des Champs jumps the last fence and goes on to win the Novices' Chase

Sir des Champs jumps the last fence and goes on to win the Novices' Chase

Sir Des Champs put down a Gold Cup marker for next year after maintaining his unbeaten record for Willie Mullins in the Jewson Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old, ridden by Davy Russell, shrugged off the attentions of Champion Court after the last to bound clear for a convincing four-and-a-half-length success.

For Non Stop was another nine lengths back in third, while fancied runners Peddlers Cross and Cristal Bonus were both disappointing as Sir Des Champs (3-1) proved a classy winner.

Champion Court and Zaynar took the field along in turns, with Micheal Flips close up and Sir Des Champs not too far away.

Cristal Bonus was soon struggling, while Peddlers Cross lost a good early pitch and a couple of mistakes saw him lose further ground.

Champion Court went on at the 11th fence, but Mullins representative followed his move and the battled it out over the last couple of fences.

The Irish raider then showed his superiority to score in tremendous style for owners Gigginstown House Stud, the racing establishment of Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary.

Winning jockey Russell said: "He's a very good horse.

"A lot of the credit should go to Aaron Madden who absolutely adores this horse, and since the first day he landed he's looked after him and he's done such a wonderful job.

"He jumped every fence, he never missed a beat."

O'Leary, who sponsors one of the feature races of the day, the Ryanair Chase, said: "It was a wonderful ride by Davy.

"We've been hitting the crossbar all week so it's great to finally stick one in the net.

"It's hard to know what you've got until you get here. Willie brought him along slowly and probably thought he wanted a lot further - he could have run in the other race (RSA Chase).

"We went close in that with First Lieutenant but we've won this."

Mullins said: "He was very good and I'm really looking forward to next year over longer trips.

"He was foot-perfect. Davy asked him plenty of questions and he came up every time.

"Davy rode him with great confidence. A good pace and plenty of jumping will suit him best."

Sir Des Champs was winning at the Festival for a second consecutive year, having struck 12 months ago in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap.

Mullins added: "This is the first time he's had a real test this year as Gigginstown have had so many good novice chasers so we've kept him going out in the country in lesser races.

"That has obviously built up his confidence because he was very good.

"Hopefully it will be the Gold Cup next year. I said to the owner I wasn't bothered what race he ran in this year as it is all about coming back on Friday next year.

"He might go to Punchestown if he runs again."

Paddy Power gave Sir Des Champs a 10-1 quote for the 2013 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Peddlers Cross is set to revert to hurdles after finishing last.

Trainer Donald McCain said: "I think we'll have to go back over hurdles.

"Jason (Maguire) said he was neat and grand, but just isn't as effective over fences as hurdles.

"It was still the right idea to try it and his work has been as good as ever - he worked all over Overturn (Champion Hurdle runner-up) last week.

"We'll put him away now and maybe start off over two miles hurdling."

Trainer Martin Keighley said of runner-up Champion Court: "I think the winner is a Gold Cup horse so that was a great run and everything went to plan.

"We'll see how he comes out of the race and maybe look at Aintree and Punchestown."