Trainer Martin Pipe clocks up his fifth victory in the Thomas Pink Gold Cup at Cheltenham with the surprise winner Cyfor Malta

Hot favourite Chicuelo and AP Mc Coy missed out on winning the prestigious Cheltenham title when beaten by the less fancied stablemate Cyfor Malta, ridden by Barry Geraghty.

AP Mc Coy had wasted a week of sweating, starving and disciplined deprivation to reduce his 5ftb 10in frame to do 10st 1lb on hot-favourite Chicuelo.

But Chicuelo completely fluffed his lines, failing to jump a single fence with any fluency before being pulled up two out.

The agony for McCoy turned in ecstasy for the other half of his act, Martin Pipe. McCoy will have been cursing as he watched Chicuelo’s stable-companion, Cyfor Malta, ridden by Barry Geraghty,take over where his mount should have been over the last two fences – in control.

McCoy lost his irons at the fence before the water and has had few unhappier or more frustrating rides round national hunt’s favourite course. For Pipe, the moment will be filed in the memory bank under “glorious” for Cyfor Malta, if “puzzling” for Chicuelo.

Cyfor Malta won the race four years ago and has been plagued with problems ever since.

“He has been wrappedin cotton wool,” admitted Pipe, who was winning his fifth Thomas Pink in seven years and making his first racecourse appearance for three months following an ankle operation. Producing him to win first time out was in the highest traditionsof the 12-times champion trainer’s wizardry.

He admitted: “I thought Chicuelo would win, getting all that weight. But he never jumped a fence. Tony had the choice.”

Indeed, after saying he didn’t want to discuss the afternoon’s events, McCoy allowed himself the brief comment: “I was pleased for Cyfor Maltabecause I like him as a horse. Other than that it was a fairly sad day.”

Poliantas, trained by Paul Nicholls and Wave Rock, trained by Philip Hobbs, were runners up.

Read the full report from Cheltenham in this week’s Horse & Hound (21 November), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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