Trainer Howard Johnson, jockey Graham Lee and owner Graham Wylie added a third win to their Cheltenham Festival 2005 tally with Inglis Drever in the today’s feature race, the three mile Ladbroke World Hurdle.
The 5-4 French-trained favourite Baracouda was unable to quicken sufficiently up the hill at Prestbury Park under Tony McCoy, and finished in second place for the second year in a row. Third was the Irish horse, Rule Supreme.
There was a fast early pace in the race as Knife Edge set a strong early gallop in the lead, which saw the field of 12 stretched over some 20 lengths during the first circuit. Baracouda and Inglis Drever were both held up for most of the race, only making a move once the final hurdles were in view.
After the final flight Inglis Drever, Baracouda and Rule Supreme swept past Westender, who had led for much of the second circuit, to battle for the title up the hill. All were travelling well, but Inglis Drever, who was second at Cheltenham last year as a novice, proved too good for his rivals.
A delighted Graham Lee, who had never ridden a winner at the festival prior to this week, told Radio 5 Live: “He didn’t travel very well — I was having kittens early on — he jumped OK, but by god he’s tough. He finished really well.”
Trainer of the defeated favourite Baracouda, Francois Doumen, said: “There is no disgrace. He ran a proper race and was fairly beaten. He is still an outstanding horse. He has run here four years in a row and has never been worse than second.”
Ladbroke World Hurdle result
1. Inglis Drever (G Lee) 5-1
2. Baracouda (AP McCoy) 6-5F
3. Rule Supreme (DJ Casey) 4-1