Moscow Flyer defied history, as well as all his critics this afternoon, snatching victory in the Queen Mother’s Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
The 11-year-old highest rated chaser, extended his record to 18 wins from 18 completed starts over fences, to became the oldest horse for 20 years to win the two-mile chase.
In previous seasons, he has suffered from suspect jumping — capable of catapulting his jockey out of the saddle for no apparent reason — but trainer Jessica Harrington is convinced that such trouble is ancient history. Delighted by his flawless performance, she said: “I watched every fence. He may have been a little bit slow over the fence he fell at last year, but other than that he was foot-perfect.
“He was absolutely brilliant, he really was. He did it the hard way. We had a good lead-up to the race. It was fantastic and we’ll try our best to be back here in 12 months’ time.”
Lady luck was not smiling on the John Hales-owned Azertyuiop, who took this title last year when Moscow Flyer fell at the open ditch. He dropped his back legs in the water jump early on, losing ground and momentum, both of which he failed to recover adequately to prove any serious challenge to Moscow Flyer and runner-up Well Chief, although he came back impressively to finish third.
Well Chief, trained and owned by champion duo Martin Pipe and David Johnson, gave it his all in his attempt to steal past Moscow Flyer, but the six-year-old failed to catch Moscow Flyer before the post. His trainer was delighted by the youngster’s performance, labelling it “the best run of his life.”
Moscow Flyer’s jockey, Barry Geraghty, has some catching up to do in the Frankie Dettori flash stakes. He toppled over in his attempt at a flying dismount, but made up for it with a wicked grin: “He winged the last, gave it a foot!”
Queen Mother Champion Chase results
1. Moscow Flyer (B Geraghty) 6-4F
2. Well Chief (TJ Murphy) 7-2
3. Azertyuiop (R Walsh) 2-1