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Memorable Cheltenham for Dorset stables
7:20pm Friday 15th March 2013 in Sport
THECheltenham Festival came to a spellbinding climax yesterday under a deluge that did little to dampen the spirits of a crowd numbering some 67,000 racegoers, writes David-Lee Priest.
They were treated to one of the most dramatic Gold Cups in years as Nicky Henderson’s indomitable stayer Bobs Worth came back like Lazarus from a seemingly hopeless position at the bottom of the course.
The 11-4 favourite surged forward to pick off the front-running former champ Long Run (7-2) and then reel in Ireland’s leading hope Sir Des Champs (4-1), before staying on bravely to seal a victory that rocked the grandstands at Prestbury Park.
For a race that so often fails to produce its promised duels, this renewal delivered in spades – rarely have the placed horses been welcomed back into the paddock so vociferously.
Friday’s two local runners of note ran respectably.
In the CGA Foxhunter Chase that traditionally follows the Gold Cup, Chapo-turgeon trained by Seaborough’s Rich-ard Barber failed to get into top gear on the tacky ground, which saw only four of the 23 runners able to complete.
Later on, Colin Tizzard’s gutsy two-miler Oiseau de Nuit with son Joe on board, finished a gutsy third in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual.
The race which saw the Sherborne-based handler take the spoils in 2011 with the same animal brings to a close what may have been the best festival in recent times for runners with local connections.
The clear highlight was Cue Card’s stylish win in the Ryanair Chase on Thursday, one of two wins for the Tizzard team.
Fifteen years to the day that Robert Alner claimed victory in the Gold Cup with outsider Cool Dawn, local yards are very much in the ascendency.
With a crop of talented juveniles, a stable flagbearer in Cue Card, and the increasing involvement of Joe Tizzard in training operations, the future looks bright for the Colin Tizzard team at Venn Farm.
Elsewhere in the county, up-and-coming trainers Harry Fry (of Seaborough, near Beaminster) and Anthony Honey-ball (Mosterton) delivered strong training performances to claim runners-up spots in the Champion Hurdle (Rock On Ruby) and Champion Bumper (Regal Encore) respectively.
Dorset can also boast one of the most popular horses (and owners) in training with genuine group-class performer Hunt Ball, who, according to trainer Keiran Burke, could well go to Aintree for the Betfair Bowl in three weeks’ time.