CHELTENHAM, England — Native River delivered an exhibition in front-running to outlast favourite Would possibly Chunk in an exhilarating duel to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Britain’s most prestigious jumps race, on Friday.
Ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, 5-1 shot Native River took the lead proper from the beginning and was by no means handed within the race over three miles and a couple of half of furlongs in entrance of a crowd of 70,000.
After they jumped the final fence, Native River and Would possibly Chunk had been neck and neck, however Johnson obtained a kick out of the Colin Tizzard-trained horse on the uphill end and Native River gained by Four half of lengths — a yr after ending third within the race.
For Johnson, it was a second victory within the Gold Cup — 18 years after his first on Seems Like Hassle.
“It’s been a long 18 years,” Johnson stated. “To be sincere, I used to be a passenger.
“The extra I requested from him, the higher he jumped.”
Would possibly Chunk’s handler, Nicky Henderson, was seeking to grow to be the primary coach to seize the Cheltenham Pageant’s three signature races in the identical yr — the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup.
It was Would possibly Chunk’s first defeat over fences, and Henderson stated the heavy going did not do the horse any favors — particularly in opposition to a rival who’s a previous winner of the Welsh Nationwide and the Hennessy Gold Cup
“It was the fitting factor to trace Native River as a result of no different horse obtained into the race, he needed to be in the fitting place,” Henderson stated of the Four-1 favourite.
“On higher floor, stamina would not have been a difficulty. However in that floor it’s important to work a lot tougher. The winner is a Welsh Nationwide winner and the rationale I’ve by no means gained that race is as a result of I can not discover horses that go in that floor.”
Native River gained his house owners 369,822 kilos ($515,000).
Anibale Fly, a 33-1 shot, was third.