Tuesday 12 December 2017

Solwhit crowned World champion

Solwhit finished strongly to win the World Hurdle at Cheltenham
Solwhit finished strongly to win the World Hurdle at Cheltenham

Solwhit arrived late on the scene to deny the Stewart family a fairytale victory with Celestial Halo in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham.

In the absence of Big Buck's it was left to Celestial Halo to carry the red and white silks of Andy Stewart for Paul Nicholls, and though he looked likely to win as they came down the straight, in the end he had no answer to Solwhit's surge up the hill.

So often the bridesmaid behind Hurricane Fly in his early days, the Charles Byrnes-trained nine-year-old was guided to a two-length success by Paul Carberry.

Bog Warrior and Bryan Cooper, replacing the injured Davy Russell, set out to make all, but Celestial Halo looked to have everything covered as the runners entered the straight. It was Solwhit who found a turn of pace to put the race to bed, however. Smad Place filled third spot, just as he did 12 months ago.

It was a stroke of luck for Carberry, who only became available when his intended mount Monksland picked up an injury last week. He was also out of action on Wednesday as he recovered from a fall on the opening day.

The jockey said: "He was idling a bit. I was always afraid to take it up too early. Charles said to attack at the last so I timed it as well as I could. Celestial Halo made a bit of a mistake at the last, and he pricked his ears a bit but kept going to the line."

Press Association

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