Read all the news from the final day of the Festival (17 March)…
A Gold Cup of firsts — but no joy for Tizzard’s two
Sizing John’s victory in the Timico Gold Cup was a first for trainer Jessica Harrington, jockey Robbie Power and also owners Ann and Alan Potts.
The seven-year-old son of British sire Midnight Legend — a 7-2 shot ahead of the race — was fresh from winning the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February.
The gelding (main picture and below) and the Grand National-winning jockey beat Jonjo O’Neill’s Minella Rocco into second, with the Colin Tizzard-trained Native River holding on for third under Tom Scudamore.
“I can’t believe it — he was absolutely amazing,” said Jessica. “It is a first runner in the race for me. He jumped like a buck and it is his jumping that has got him there the whole way.”
Cue Card and Paddy Brennan came to grief at the third last fence — the same as last year. Fortunately, both horse and jockey were unscathed.
Meanwhile, Lizzie Kelly — the first woman to ride in a Gold Cup for decades — departed from Tea For Two at the second fence.
The winning jockey, who won the 2007 Grand National aboard Silver Birch, said: “Jessica Harrington is a genius and I always said that when Sizing John stepped up in trip it would be the making of him.
“It was 10 years ago when I won the Grand National, I’m 35 now and appreciate this a lot more,” added Robbie.
The trainer-jockey duo followed their big win up with victory in the finale of the day, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup, with the Michael Buckley-owned Rock The World.
Paul Nicholls dominates the Foxhunter
It has been a quiet Festival for Champion trainer Paul Nicholls but he cleaned up in today’s St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge — claiming the first and second spot.
Pacha Du Polder (pictured, below), under a well-timed ride from Bryony Frost, stormed up the Cheltenham hill to take this year’s honours — the Gold Cup for amateur jockeys.
The 10-year-old gelding was the ride of Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton last year when they finished a credible fifth, however the son of Muhtathir made it look easy this time around.
Nicholls’ other charge, Wonderful Charm, took the runner-up spot after a late surge to the finish line under Katie Walsh.
Defi Du Seuil continues his unbeaten form
An emotional Philip Hobbs told of his relief after Defi Du Seuil continued his unbeaten form since joining the yard, when winning today’s opening race, the Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle.
Under the Champion jockey, Richard Johnson, the four-year-old gelding — unbeaten now in seven races — fended off the Gordon Elliott-trained Mega Fortune into second.
“He’s been favourite all year and it’s great when it goes right — he’s such a fantastic horse,” said the trainer who has two previous JCB Triumph Hurdle victories under his belt with Detroit City and Made In Japan.