Unfancied Gutteridge nudges out favourite
Gutteridge, trained in Wales by David Evans and the 33 to 1 outsider of the field, gave a severe knock to the prestige of the home-trained novice chasers by just touching off His Song in yesterday's Irish Field Chase.
His Song, unbeaten in his two previous chases, started the evens favourite against a five-strong field that was completed by Promalee, Amberleigh House and Spirit Dancer. The race looked to be going to plan until the fourth last when Promalee and Spirit Dancer fell.
That still left His Song to stalk the always prominent Gutteridge and despite Tony McCoy's mount having "climbed" at a number of his fences, he was still travelling much the best as they approached the last. Once over, however, His Song found disappointingly little and, in a driving finish, Tommy Treacy forced Gutteridge's head back in front on the line.
"His Song didn't jump well out of that ground and my initial reaction is to take him back to two miles," said Mouse Morris but McCoy reported: "He was never travelling and he made a desperate choking noise at the second last."
His Song was subsequently scoped last night and was found to have a lung infection.
The post-race noises out of Powys-based Evans were of disbelief as Gutteridge is in Ireland as "company" for stable-companion Master Beveled, who has been based at Tipperary racecourse waiting for a clash with Istabraq in the McManus Hurdle.
"I thought if there were a couple of fallers we might get some prize-money," smiled Evans, who won with his first jump runner here. "The owner (Englishman Geoff Cashmore) doesn't even know he is running today but this is a lovely jumper. We can't go back home until Tuesday anyway so we may as well run Master Beveled in that hurdle now."
Ruby Walsh hit the 35 mark for the season with Glazeaway in the maiden hurdle but Paul Carberry narrowed the gap in the championship to five with a double on Kings Banquet and Greenflag Princess.
The post-race developments took some attention away from Kings Banquet's victory but his trainer Noel Meade said: "This horse is progressing nicely. He wouldn't want really heavy ground but we will stick with two and a half mile novices."
Pat Flynn is already thinking of Cheltenham's County Hurdle for Gan Saru after the blinkered runner stayed on much too well for the favourite Darbela in the handicap hurdle.
Amateur Alan Fleming rode his first winner since returning from a 30 race-day ban when Fidelius took the bumper for trainer Jim Kavanagh.