'Magical' day for Waley-Cohen as Rajdhani's triumph keeps it in the family
Sam Waley-Cohen punched out Rajdhani Express (16/1) to claim a thrilling triumph in the closing Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap Chase.
The amateur rider, who partnered Long Run to win 2011 Gold Cup and will be back on board the same horse on Friday, appeared confident coming down the hill.
He began to assert on the run down to the final fence and held off the gallant Ackertac by a neck to strike in the colours of the rider's father, Robert Waley-Cohen, the Cheltenham chairman.
Although the Gold Cup is still to come, it has also been a memorable few days for the rider following the recent birth of his first child. "They say good things come in threes, so fingers crossed," remarked the well-known amateur.
"I'm so pleased for Rajdhani, we bred him at home, and his sister Shatabdi gave me enough wins to ride in the Grand National, so we know the family well.
"You come to Cheltenham and you don't dream you're going to win these races – it's magical."
Waley-Cohen Snr said: "It's my first home-bred winner at the Festival, so that's a huge pleasure.
It was a double on the day for trainer Nicky Henderson after the success of Simonsig in the Arkle Trophy.
"He has jumped great," said the Seven Barrows trainer. "It was very soft here last time and that wasn't his true form. I'd love to go for the Topham (at Aintree)."
Jockey Brendan Powell Jnr enjoyed his first winner at the meeting when storming to victory on Golden Chieftain (28/1) in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase.
The 3lb claimer, who is the son of former top jumps jockey Brendan Powell Snr, got a good tune out of the bottom weight, trained by Colin Tizzard.
"It all went to plan," said Tizzard. "We were half-worried he wouldn't get the trip – we didn't even know he was good enough to win a handicap at Cheltenham like this."
Meanwhile, following the abandonment of yesterday's Glenfarclas Handicap Chase at Cheltenham due to a frozen track, the race will now be re-run tomorrow.
Officials made the call shortly before the opening race of the Festival, and have re-fixed it for 5.15.