Irish dominance continues as Flooring Porter wins Stayers’ Hurdle
Jockey Danny Mullins steps in and finally gets his first Cheltenham Festival winner
Flooring Porter ridden by Danny Mullins on their way to winning the Stayers’ Hurdle on day three of the Cheltenham Festival. Photograph: PA
Jockey Jonathan Moore endured a maelstrom of emotions at Cheltenham on Thursday when forced to give up the winning ride on Flooring Porter in the Stayers Hurdle.
Having suffered a fall at Naas at the weekend, Gavin Cromwell’s No. 1 rider rode out at Cheltenham on Thursday morning only to conclude he wasn’t fit enough to take up the feature race engagement.
It was a first festival victory for Mullins after a handful of runner up placings while it was another major Cheltenham Grade 1 for Cromwell to add to Espoir d’Allen’s Champion Hurdle in 2019.
He was a JP McManus horse but Flooring Porter supplied a heart-warming story for the eponymous four-member syndicate of publicans and floorers that own him.
Nevertheless it required a heart of stone not to feel for Moore who turns 27 this week and was forced to miss out on what would have been the greatest success of his career.
“I rode this morning and I wasn’t able to stand up right out of my irons. I was too sore. I said to Gavin that I wouldn’t be able to do that horse justice and to put Danny Mullins up on his back,” he said.
“I’m delighted for the horse. I knew Leopardstown (at Christmas) was no fluke. What a great story. I’m just so proud of the horse. He showed what he could do,” he added.
Moore was at the finish to welcome back Mullins and the quirky winner who has been a transformed character this season under pace-forcing tactics.
There was one brief moment of waywardness after the last when Flooring Porter started to hang but Mullins, equipped with pre-race instructions from Moore, quickly gathered him together to power up the hill.
Even in an unprecedented wider context there was no disguising how poignant a moment it was for Moore whose professionalism in making such a difficult decision was praised by Cromwell.
“He thankfully and rightly stood himself down and said that Danny would be very suited.
“It was unfortunate for Jonathan but a smashing ride from Danny and it’s all down to Jonathan’s instructions. He’s a quirky ride and he gave Danny plenty of instruction. Hats off to Jonny, so unselfish. I’m very grateful to him.
“He veered a little right when he jumped the last, just where the rail is cut away, and he was basically looking for the rail. When he got the rail he took off again,” the Co. Meath trainer said.
After breaking his festival duck, Mullins said: “He (Moore) was the first man to come and congratulate me and that was a real bittersweet moment for him and a real mark of a solid man to congratulate me first and foremost.
“I was going to give him a big slap on the back but I thought that wouldn’t go down well. I had my feet in the irons but he had done all the work.”