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Golden start for Team Tizzard
8:46am Wednesday 13th March 2013 in Sport
COLIN Tizzard’s Sherborne-based team delivered a third Festival triumph in four years with Golden Chieftan (28-1) who produced the most emphatic win of the day, routing a competitive field to take the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase.
The decisive victory will stand as a landmark in the career of claimer Brendan Powell, who at 17 years of age, had his first taste of Festival glory with his only ride of the day.
He said: “It is an amazing feeling. He is such a classy horse and he made the job very easy for me.
“It is a dream come true. I came here grateful for a ride – I never thought I’d ride a winner.”
The win marks a complete reversal of fortunes for the young conditional jockey, as he made headlines for all the wrong reasons in November when taking the wrong course at Fakenham to spurn a winning chance.
A delighted Tizzard said: “It all went to plan.
“We were half-worried he wouldn’t get the trip – we didn’t even know he was good enough to win a handicap at Cheltenham like this.”
Golden Chieftan travelled superbly throughout and steadily picked off all challengers during the second circuit before changing gears after the penultimate fence and scorching up the hill to score by 10 lengths – a margin that belied his dominance.
Meanwhile, stable jockey Joe Tizzard produced a magnificent run from improving Ohio Gold to place third in the day’s final race, the Rewards 4 Racing Novices’ Handicap (two miles, 4½ furlongs).
For most of the second circuit, a stunning Dorset double looked likely, but Ohio Gold was muscled out of it in front of the stands and a laboured jump at the last ended his hopes – a fantastic performance from horse and rider nonetheless. Strong local hope Rock on Ruby ran his heart out for fledgling trainer Harry Fry in the day’s feature race, the Stan James Champion Hurdle, but was blown back by Irish champion and legend elect Hurricane Fly.
Clearly off-colour last year when third behind “the Rock”, Ruby Walsh’s mount was able to back up the confidence of the Hibernian army who backed him into strong favouritism (7-4) and cheered him into the winner’s enclosure like a conquering hero.
The mood in the Fry camp after the race was also a positive one as rider, trainer, and horse all performed with distinction.
Fry said: “We’ve gone out there and served it up to them and just beaten by a true champion and a better horse on the day.
“We couldn’t have asked for anymore. As always, he’s put his all on the line and galloped from start to finish.
“Obviously we would have been delighted to have won, but to finish second to a champion like Hurricane Fly is no disgrace.
“It looked as though we might just have him (Hurricane Fly) on the ropes, but he is a true champion and has picked us up.
“Noel Fehily said he’s run as well, if not better, than last year.”
The decision to apply first time blinkers galvanised the Dorset-based runner into a bold, front running display, taking his hurdles confidently under a sup-remely confident ride from Fehily.