Leopardstown Christmas Chase
|Grade 1, Leopardstown 15:00
3m, Class 1
|Thursday 28th December 2017|
1 Road To Respect 8/1
2 Balko Des Flos 66/1
3 Outlander 16/1
12 ran Distances: 1¼l, 2¼l, 5½l
Time: 6m 8.40s (slow by 26.40s)
Road To Respect wins in a finish dominated by the maroon of Gigginstown!
Sizing John reported to be clinically abnormal post race
The winner, ridden by Sean Flanagan and trained by Noel Meade, powered to victory on the run-in to back up his other Grade One success in the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in April.
The 16-1 shot was chased home by Henry de Bromhead's Balko Des Flos and the Gordon Elliott-trained Outlander.
Gigginstown were also responsible for the fifth and sixth, in Alpha Des Obeaux and Valseur Lido.
Flanagan said: "He's been a very good horse to me in general and did everything perfectly today, I'm delighted.
"I thought halfway down the back I was too far back and was flat out and couldn't be much closer. There was no hiding place and it was a true-run race.
"To be fair, when I got a bit of room he came alive. He's got loads of speed. He's a very good horse."
He added: "I wouldn't be worried about the (Cheltenham) Gold Cup distance as he settled well there and he has won at the track before."
Meade said: "Everything went according to plan. The hood obviously worked well. Sean rode him the other day and he said maybe a hood might help him to settle early on. He settled great and he gave him a most beautiful ride.
"I suppose when it works out it's always a great ride, but it was actually an absolute peach of a ride.
"He's a Gold Cup contender now, so he'll go for the Gold Cup. Whether he runs in between or not, I don't know.
"I suppose if he did he would run back here, but we have to think where Disko is going to go as well. We'll talk to Eddie and Michael (O'Leary) and see what they are going to do."
He added: "I always felt we were travelling like a winner, but I didn't let a yip out of me until they were 50 yards from the line.
"Sean has gone from strength to strength for us since he took over (from Paul Carberry as stable jockey) and we couldn't be happier. We get on very well together and he rides very well. The more confidence he gets, the better he is riding.
"We were very hopeful as he was in terrific form. We knew he was in great shape and we were just hoping that he'd keep improving.
"He had to improve a lot to get up there, he had another 10lb to get up there. We thought he had, as he did a bit of work in Fairyhouse last week and did it very well."
Jessica Harrington will carry out a series of tests on Sizing John following his below-par effort.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup winner failed to fire in the Grade One contest, for which he was sent off the 9-10 favourite, trailing home a well-beaten seventh behind winner Road To Respect.
Following the race the seven-year-old was reported to be distressed and found to be clinically abnormal after being examined by veterinary staff at the track.
Harrington said: "The official report said he was a clinical abnormality after the post-race examination. He is sound now and his heart was OK.
"Basically he got slight hyperthermia and he got too hot. As soon as he cooled down, he was grand.
"I won't know anything else until I run some blood tests on him when I get back."
One place behind Sizing John was Yorkhill, whose trainer Willie Mullins said: "It's disappointing and I'm not sure he has a career as a three-mile chaser. It's back to the drawing board with him."
The Leopardstown Christmas Steeplechase
€150,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m, Class 1
Going: Yielding, Soft In Places
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Road To Respect (IRE) 8/1||S W Flanagan
|2nd||1¼||Balko Des Flos (FR) 66/1||D F O'Regan
|H de Bromhead||6|
|3rd||2¼||Outlander (IRE) 16/1||Rachael Blackmore
|4th||5½||Minella Rocco (IRE) 25/1||M P Walsh
|5th||5||Valseur Lido (FR) 16/1||N D Fehily
|H de Bromhead||8|
|6th||¾||Alpha Des Obeaux (FR) 66/1||B J Cooper
|M F Morris||7|
|7th||17||Sizing John 9/10F||R M Power
|Mrs J Harrington||7|
|8th||27||Yorkhill (IRE) 7/2||P Townend
|W P Mullins||7|
|PU||Carlingford Lough (IRE) 33/1||B J Geraghty
|J E Kiely||11|
|PU||Djakadam (FR) 8/1||D J Mullins
|W P Mullins||8|
|PU||Edwulf 66/1||Mr D O'Connor
|Joseph P O'Brien||8|
|F||Zabana (IRE) 28/1||D N Russell