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Unheralded Coneygree combination steal a march on big guns to claim 'fairytale' success

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Nico de Boinville celebrates his win in the 15.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup

Nico de Boinville celebrates his win in the 15.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup

REUTERS

Nico de Boinville celebrates his win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Coneygree

Nico de Boinville celebrates his win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Coneygree

REUTERS

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Nico de Boinville celebrates his win in the 15.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup

Nico de Boinville, a professional jockey for barely a year, and unheralded trainer Mark Bradstock landed the most prestigious prize of the jump-racing season when Coneygree led from pillar to post for a fairytale Gold Cup success.

De Boinville's pass-me-if-you-can tactics in his first Gold Cup ride paid off as the lightly-raced 7/1 chance revelled in the rain-softened ground, digging deep to fend off the fast-finishing Djakadam (10/1) and Road to Riches (8/1). "Words can't describe it without using expletives. Unbelievable," De Boinville said. "I always knew I had enough left (to hang on).

"It was a great plan (to go for the Gold Cup). They knew the weather gods were looking down on us - the rain came at the right time."

Coneygree had a length and a half in hand at the line at the end of two stamina-sapping circuits of the Prestbury Park course, becoming the first novice chaser to win the showpiece since 1974.

"He's so deceptive, even when he gets in tight he's brilliant, it's all thanks to the Bradstock family, it's a great family effort," added De Boinville.

"He is so straightforward and I rode it as we planned, to send him on out in front over the first two and establish our rhythm, which we did, and to try and conserve a bit as we knew that the ground would be very testing."

Bradstock heads a small family-run stable with his wife Sara in Oxfordshire and they relish taking on the big guns of the jumping world with cheaply-bought horses.

"He's a fantastic horse. We've done it before in smaller races and we will still keep doing it, but it's fantastic to do it on the big stage," said the trainer.

Sara Bradstock, wife of the winning trainer and daughter of the late breeder Lord Oaksey, added: "It means anyone can do it. It doesn't need hundreds of thousands. He doesn't know he's a novice, does he?

"I've been saying 'when we win the Gold Cup' in the same sentence as I say 'when we win the Lottery', and I don't even do the Lottery. So that's how amazing it is. He jumped immaculately and Alfie (son) and Nico have spent lots of time getting his jumping right.

"We jumped him four times in the last week. We jump him all the time to keep reminding him.

"I wish he was here (Lord Oaksey), this is all about him. If you are going to get a fairytale and this sort of luck, he deserved it as he gave so much to everybody."

Willie Mullins, trainer of Djakadam, was satisfied with the performance of the six-year old, which he now confirmed will head to Punchestown.

Mullins said: "We had a fantastic run and I was just commending the winner's brave decision to run in the Gold Cup. It paid off and the winner did it the hard way in front."

Noel Meade said of Road To Riches: "He ran a great race. We're delighted and disappointed. What other way can you be?"

Paul Nicholls, trainer of the vanquished favourite Silviniaco Conti, which was seventh, said: "Noel (Fehily) is not really sure. My view is that the ground might have been deep enough for him. It was a bit more testing than we thought.

"Watching that I suppose he is better on a flatter track on better ground. If he's fresh and well we'll probably head to Aintree with him now."

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