'It has all fallen into place' - Sean Flanagan's reaction after Road to Respect's big win at Leopardstown
Road To Respect led home a one-two-three for Gigginstown House Stud with Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John well beaten in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase at the Dublin track.
The winner, ridden by Sean Flanagan and trained by Noel Meade, powered to victory on the run-in to back up his other Grade One success in the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in April.
"He has been a very good horse and he did everything perfect today, I'm delighted," declared Flanagan.
"When I got a bit of room after jumping the second last, he came alive. He has loads of speed. He is a very good horse. It has all fallen into place."
The 16-1 shot was chased home by Henry de Bromhead's Balko Des Flos (66-1) and the Gordon Elliott-trained Outlander (8-1).
The odds on Road To Respect for the Cheltenham Gold Cup have been slashed as the success of the Gigginstown stable continued at Leopardstown.
They were also responsible for the fifth and sixth, in Alpha Des Obeaux and Valseur Lido.
Paddy Power slashed Road To Respect to 8-1 from 20-1 for the Gold Cup, with King George winner Might Bite the 4-1 favourite from 11-2 and Sizing John out to 8-1 from 4-1. RaceBets and Betfair cut Road To Respect to 10-1 for the big prize in March.
Meade said: "Everything went according to plan. The hood obviously worked well. Sean rode him the other day and he said maybe a hood might help him to settle early on. He settled great and he gave him a most beautiful ride.
"I suppose when it works out it's always a great ride, but it was actually an absolute peach of a ride.
"He's a Gold Cup contender now, so he'll so for the Gold Cup. Whether he runs in between or not, I don't know.
"I suppose if he did he would run back here, but we have to think where Disko is going to go as well. We'll talk to Eddie and Michael (O'Leary) and see what they are going to do."
He added: "I always felt we were travelling like a winner, but I didn't let a yip out of me until they were 50 yards from the line.
"Sean has gone from strength to strength for us since he took over (from Paul Carberry as stable jockey) and we couldn't be happier. We get on very well together and he rides very well. The more confidence he gets, the better he is riding.
"We were very hopeful as he was in terrific form. We knew he was in great shape and we were just hoping that he'd keep improving.
"He had to improve a lot to get up there, he had another 10lb to get up there. We thought he had, as he did a bit of work in Fairyhouse last week and did it very well."
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