First Lieutenant Takes Charge of Betred Bowl
1 First Lieutenant 7/2
Brian Cooper’s wonderful run of success continued today when he landed the Grade One Betfred Bowl Chase on the Mouse Morris-trained First Lieutenant, who is owned by Gigginstown House Stud boss Michael O’Leary.
Cooper, who on Saturday teams up with Rare Bob in the John Smith’s Grand National, rode three winners at the Cheltenham Festival and his success today broke his duck at Aintree. His mount, who was runner-up in the Ryanair Chase at The Festival on his latest outing, won by three-quarters of a length and one length from Menorah and Silviniaco Conti.
He said: “This horse has been so good to me – he’s been knocking on the door in so many big races and has run into good horses like Bobs Worth and TidalBay. It’s great that he finally got his head in front and proved how good he is.
“I was on and off the bridle during the race, but he jumped so well, which was a big help. I knew he’d stay, but I didn’t want to get to the front too soon. I winged the last two and he’s fierce tough. He gave his all at the end.
“It’s a dream come true to ride three winners at the Cheltenham Festival and then come here and win a big race. I feel sorry for Davy Russell [first jockey to Gigginstown House] who is riding at Thurles today, but is not allowed to ride in Britain at the moment [due to the need to pass a medical following a fall at The Festival], but a win like this is great for Mouse and Mr O’Leary.
“I try not to think about all the publicity. I’m very grateful for the chance to ride in these races. I just keep doing what I do every day and don’t see the need to change anything.”
Of his ride on Rare Bob, Cooper said: “I just hope we get a clear round. We were brought down at the fifth last year. He’s got a nice weight and I’m hopeful of a good run.”
First Lieutenant, runner-up in the Lexus Chase at Christmas and in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, bagged a richly deserved third Grade 1 success with a hard-fought win over Menorah in the Betfred Bowl.
Trainer Mouse Morris had extra cause for celebration on his 62nd birthday and raced across the winner’s enclosure punching the air while muttering, “Yes, yes, yes.”
The trainer said: “He hasn’t run a bad race all year so he deserves this Grade 1 – he’s just a really good, honest horse. It was a toss-up between running him in the Ryanair and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham – we went for the Ryanair and bumped into a very good Cue Card on the day. That’s the way it goes.
“The horses all ran well at Cheltenham without blowing the trumpet.”
Morris was full of praise for his charge’s young jockey, Bryan Cooper, 20, who added yet another big-race success to his hat-trick of winners at the Cheltenham Festival.
He said: “He’s a young man and it’s a young man’s game. He gets on really well with First Lieutenant. The horse just stayed on today.”
Asked whether First Lieutenant would head next to the Punchestown Festival, Morris added: “We’ll have a meeting!”
Betfred Bowl Chase (Grade 1)
Philip Hobbs was pleased with Menorah’s performance after the eight-year-old was edged out by First Lieutenant in a thrilling finish to the Betfred Bowl.
The 14/1 shot had disappointed in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last time out but showed that running to be all wrong by pushing the winner all the way, eventually going down by three-quarters of a length.
“He needs decent ground really and because of the weather we’ve had, we’ve been struggling with him all season,” said trainer Philip Hobbs.
“He’s got this reputation as being a bad jumper which is nonsense really as he’s jumped well on the whole in the majority of his races. It’s great that he’s stayed this trip as it opens up our options a bit.
“Decent ground is really important to him as he jumps really well out of it and he clearly gets a trip of three miles on this sort of surface. He’ll probably have a summer break now as there’s a lack of races for him. I’ve entered Captain Chris at Punchestown (in the Punchestown Gold Cup) and after this, I wish I’d entered Menorah really.”
Paul Nicholls was in a philosophical mood after Silviniaco Conti’s defeat in the Betfred Bowl. The even money favourite was travelling well until making a mistake at a crucial point in the race and his trainer felt that cost him the race.
“Ruby (Walsh) said he thought he’d have won if he hadn’t made a mistake and I’d probably agree,” said Nicholls.
“He’s proved he stays and he’s run on really strongly. It’s hard to come here after Cheltenham as they’re geared up for that one race and you never know how much you’ve got left for the rest of the season. I left it to Ruby to ride him and he just wanted to let him hunt round the back and get his confidence back after his fall at Cheltenham.
“We’ll start again next season and probably take a similar route to this one, starting at Haydock in November (in the Betfair Chase).”
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