Cheltenham Festival: Native River romps to Gold Cup success

17 March, 2018, 01:26 | Author: Laverne Higgins
  • Footpad won the contest with a late flourish to outpace Petit Monchoir and take victory

He jumps for fun.

"The Gold Cup is the hardest race of the season as they go flat out and normally the big strong stayers win it", he said.

Might Bite's handler, Nicky Henderson, was looking to become the first trainer to capture the Cheltenham Festival's three signature races in the same year - the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup.

But the race was all about the memorable battle between last year's third-placed horse Native River and the King George VI Chase victor Might Bite.

A stunning performance from Native River who wins the Gold Cup @CheltenhamRaces and provides Richard Johnson with his second success in the race.

"Richard Johnson galloped and jumped as fast as he could and the horse never let him down once". I was getting squeezed, but at the second-last and the last he just wanted it so much.

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"I knew Nico [de Boinville] was there and to be fair to Might Bite, he has run a hell of race, but I think we just outstayed him".

"It's been a long 18 years", Johnson said.

"Those are two courageous horses, but I was pleased that Might Bite kept me company".

Irish trainer Willie Mullins - six-time a runner-up - will also have to wait another year to finally win a Gold Cup as none of his quartet looked like breaking the jinx.

Henderson conceded that Might Bite was beaten by the better horse, but feels his horse was disadvantaged by the very soft ground.

"He hasn't had a lot of chasing experience, so each race at this stage is going to be of benefit to him". Native River has been laid out for this and was given just the one prep run ahead of his second tilt at the Gold Cup.

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