Robbie McNamara a poignant Kim Muir winner on Spring Heeled
Tony McCoy claims first winner of week with Taquin Du Seuil
Taquin Du Seuil ridden by Tony McCoy (right) ahead of Double Ross and Samuel Twiston-Davies before winning the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. Photograph: David Davies/PA
Cheltenham – Day 3: There was a poignant winner of the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup as Robbie McNamara partnered Spring Heeled to victory in the final race of the day at Cheltenham.
McNamara’s cousin, JT McNamara, was left paralysed from a fall in the same race 12 months ago. Riding for Jim Culloty, famous for the three Gold Cup wins of Best Mate, McNamara had won the closing bumper on Wednesday in the same Dr Ronan Lambe colours on Silver Concorde.
McNamara got his mount into a beautiful rhythm at the head of affairs and despite market leaders Indian Castle and Cause Of Causes looming large, McNamara had saved enough to kick on again. A mistake at the last from Cause Of Causes secured the win for Spring Heeled, to give Culloty his second Festival win after Lord Windermere 12 months ago.
Roberto Goldback was third with Balnaslow fourth. It was Culloty’s first winner since August.
“That was unbelievable,” said Culloty. “He was a bit fractious as a young horse, a bit of a worrier and as a result of giving him time he ended up well handicapped. I thought if things went his way he had a right chance but there were 24 runners so he needed luck.
“After jumping the first I couldn’t have asked for anything better as he got a soft lead, and he had the right jockey on his back to give him a great ride from the front. You could call him the winner after jumping the first. I hope I’m here at the same time tomorrow (when Lord Windermere runs in the Gold Cup).”
McNamara said: “We didn’t really have a game plan, Jim said to jump off handy in fifth or sixth but they didn’t go mad and I was happy to just lob away in front. From some way out I was thinking that as long as he jumped his fences it would take a good one to come and get him.
“I didn’t know the runner-up was behind until I was just about to land and I heard something give it a clout. He’d run well here before and Jim just blamed the ground the last time, without that he could have been favourite today — Jim fancied him big time. This is lovely, yesterday was more of a relief as I’d been trying for so long to get one here. I’ll never forget that first one but this is magic, too.”
The day opened with Tony McCoy putting the pain to one side as he claimed his first win of the 2014 Festival, partnering Taquin Du Seuil to victory in the JLT Novices’ Chase.
The Jonjo O’Neill-trained 7 to 1 shot was noted moving into contention at the top of the hill and he swooped after the last to deny game front-runner Uxizandre, owned by JP McManus.
Double Ross made it a thrilling three-way duel but had to settle for minor honours in a tight finish.
McCoy, who suffered a heavy fall in the Fred Winter Handicap on Wednesday, said: “I’m a bit gutted I beat my boss (McManus), but obviously delighted for Jonjo.
“I always had great faith in this horse, he stays well and is quite cute, he saves a little bit for himself. I’m delighted for Jonjo. He’s a great fellow to work for.”
Fingal Bay defied top weight to win the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham in a thrilling finish from Southfield Theatre with Pineau De Re just behind in third.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Fingal Bay was a Grade One winner as a novice and returned from injury to win a qualifier for this race at Exeter from his stablemate If In Doubt.
Those two headed the betting but McCoy was pushing before the home turn on If In Doubt and faded out of contention, while Richard Johnson sat motionless on Fingal Bay (9 to 2 favourite).
However, Daryl Jacob also came smoothly on the scene on Paul Nicholls’s Southfield Theatre and the pair had a battle royal after the last, with just a nose between them.
Pineau De Re came from way back and weaved through to try and get in on the act just a neck back, with Trustan Times beaten less than a length in fourth.
Dynaste justified favouritism as he came with a power-packed finish to win the Grade One Ryanair Chase .
Beaten into second at the Festival last year, David Pipe’s charge flew up the run in to claim a clear-cut success in the hands of Tom Scudamore.
The front-running Hidden Cyclone kept on for second while Rajdhani Express posted a career-best effort in finishing third.
Ballynagour made amends for his eclipse as favourite last year when winning the Byrne Group Plate at the second attemptl.
David Pipe’s charge was sent off the 7 to 2 market leader in 2013 but could finish no better than eighth in the hands of Scudamore.
However, Ballynagour righted the record in style as he laughed at his rivals in winning by eight lengths from Colour Squadron.
Ballynagour made stealthy progress through the field and was noted travelling particularly well at the top of the straight, sitting in behind the well-fancied Third Intention, with Colour Squadron also on the bridle.
When Ballynagour made his move Colour Squadron had no answer and was left toiling as Tatenen took third and Johns Spirit fourth.
1 Taquin Du Seuil (A P McCoy) 7-1
2 Uxizandre (R Thornton) 33-1
3 Double Ross (Sam Twiston-Davies) 11-1
1 Fingal Bay (R Johnson) 9/2 Fav
2 Southfield Theatre 20/1
3 Pineau De Re 33/1
4 Trustan Times 33/1
Some bookmakers paid out on 5th home Jetson at 11/1
1 Dynaste (T Scudamore) 3/1 Fav
2 Hidden Cyclone (AJ McNamara) 10/1
3 Rajdhani Express (S Waley-Cohen 18/1
1 More Of That (B Geraghty) 15/2
2 Annie Power (Ruby Walsh) 11/8 Fav
3 At Fishers Cross (AP McCoy) 9/1
1 Ballynagour (T Scudamore) 12/1
2 Colour Squadron (AP McCoy) 5/1 Fav
3 Tatanen (A Thornton) 33/1
4 Johns Spirit (R McLernon) 9/1
Some bookmakers paid out on 5th home Third Intention at 7/1
1 Spring Heeled (Mr RP McNamara) 12/1
2 Cause Of Causes (Ms N Carberry) 13/2
3 Roberto Goldback (Mr S Waley-Cohen) 16/1
4 Balnaslow (Mr PW Mullins) 9/1
Some bookmakers paid out on 5th home Same Difference (Mr J Bargary) 16/1