Lucky win for This Is Serious


Charlie Swan profited from an outrageous slice of good fortune as a horse he trains, This Is Serious, secured an unlikely victory at Musselburgh yesterday.

The Tipperary raider, a 5 to 4 chance, looked certain to be beaten as he toiled in second place in the Fine Blue Handicap. But he was left in a clear lead when Celtic Giant, some 20 lengths clear at the time, exited after jumping the second-last fence.

At first it looked like the 10year-old, the winner of the Kim Muir Chase at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival, would manage to stay on his feet. But Bruce Gibson's desperate attempt to stick in the saddle were in vain.

Even then the race was not over, for This Is Serious's stride was shortening on the run-in and David Casey had to keep him going to hold Free by one and three-quarter lengths.

The victory rubbed salt in the wounds for bookmakers who had early been hit by three other winning favourites and one joint-favourite.

This Is Serious had been forced down from 7 to 4 on the course after attracting a string of four-figure wagers, including one of £8,000.

"It's good to be born lucky," grinned Swan. "But this horse was unlucky himself the other day when he fell when he was in the lead."

Swan has had one other winner at Musselburgh and he said: "I like coming here. The ground is very good here and they do a good job looking after the track."

Swan has another important task later this month when he teams up with Istabraq.

The triple Champion Hurdle hero is returning to action in the December Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown on the 29th.

"Istabraq is the main reason why I'm still riding," said the 32-year-old nine-times Irish champion.

"I haven't sat on Istabraq yet but Aidan (O'Brien) tells me that he's better than ever and I can't wait to get back on board."

Richard Johnson highlighted the skills that have made a him realistic challenger to Tony McCoy in the title race to deliver What's Up Boys a winner.

The Cheltenham Festival scorer, trained in Somerset by Philip Hobbs, was virtually lifted to victory in the Creative Sampling Novices' Chase.