St Patrick’s Day Derby - Thursday March 17th 2011 

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Cecil Takes St Patrick’s Day Derby Spoils

1 Plato 6/4 Fav
2 Nemo Spirit 14/1
3 Super Collider 6/1
12 ran

Legendary flat trainer Henry Cecil made his first visit to Cheltenham today - and saddled Plato (Lorna Fowler) to win the St Patrick’s Day Derby, in aid of Cancer Research UK.

Cecil, who has saddled four Derby winners at Epsom, said: “I cannot claim to be a National Hunt trainer yet, but it was great fun and all for a very good cause.”

As someone who is fighting cancer, Cecil knows the challenges faced by those hit by the disease. He added: “I would like to thank Cheltenham racecourse for letting us hold this race. It has raised more than £150,000, and that gives hope to cancer sufferers in the fight against this horrible disease.

“If people have hope and can be positive I feel they have more chance. It’s so important to remain positive.”

Maria Niarchos, who owns Plato, said: “That was excellent and a terrific result. I’ve never thought of having a winner at Cheltenham, but I’d follow Henry anywhere.”



Channel 4 Racing’s Alice Plunkett is the only woman to have ridden around Badminton and the Grand National course at Aintree, and she can add The Festival to that list after partnering Devil To Play to a fast finishing fourth place in the inaugural St Patrick’s Day Derby.

The mile and five furlong flat race was staged in aid of Cancer Research UK.

Plunkett settled her Alan King-trained mount towards the rear of the field and began to make ground down the hill only to be shuffled back on the rail, before finishing strongly up the hill to come home two and a half lengths behind the winner, Plato.

Plunkett said: “The horse ran an absolute blinder. I sat too far back because I thought they would go off faster than they did.

“He was swinging along coming down the hill and I should have made my ground up then but left it too late. It was a great buzz.”

Rodger Sargent, whose colours were carried to victory at the Festival aboard Tikram in the 2004 Mildmay Of Flete, was the length and a quarter runner-up aboard the Tim Vaughan-trained Nemo Spirit.
He said: “It was the buzz of a lifetime. I didn’t have a clue where I was positioned all the way through, I had no idea if I was in first, second or last, and then we ran on coming up the hill.

“I recommend it to anyone, it was brilliant.”

The “Shark” Hanlon-trained Super Collider carried Frostie Kelly into third place, a nose behind Nemo Spirit.

The jockeys’ agent, formerly a Flat apprentice with Aidan O’Brien, commented: “That was brilliant! He travelled really well down the hill and I thought he would get up but lacked a bit of fitness maybe.

“It was the greatest thrill in the world coming down the hill at Cheltenham - absolutely brilliant.“


Starting Price
Beaten Distance
H R A Cecil
Lorna Fowler
11st 10lbs
6 - 4
Nemo Spirit
Tim Vaughan
Rodger Sargent
11st 10lbs
14 - 1
1 1/4 length
Super Collider
J J Hanlon
Frostie Kelly
11st 10lbs
6 - 1
Devil To Pay
A King
Alice Plunkett
11st 10lbs
4 - 1
1 1/4 length
Sounds Of Jupiter
C Byrnes
Guy O'Callaghan
11st 10lbs
16 - 1
2 1/2 lengths
M Hourigan
Peter O'Reilly
11st 10lbs
20 - 1
Short Head
Mrs A L M King
Niamh Flynn
11st 10lbs
20 - 1
3/4 length
Kings Troop
A King
Liz Ampairee
11st 10lbs
10 - 1
1/2 length
Fool's Wildcat
G Elliott
Jamie Insole
11st 10lbs
12 - 1
T M Walsh
Killian McCarthy
11st 10lbs
16 - 1
1/2 length
Ambrose Princess
M Scudamore
Chloe Bowkett
11st 10lbs
25 - 1
4 1/2 lengths
Silent Jo
Jonjo O'Neill
Rachel Wyse
11st 10lbs
7 - 1
1 1/4 length


The 12 riders taking part were:

Alice Plunkett (38, from Dorset), is a regular presenter on Channel 4 Racing and competed professionally herself in Three Day Events, representing Great Britain in the European Championships at under 21 level. As an amateur jockey Alice rode for Champion Trainer Martin Pipe and is the only woman to have ridden around the Grand National course and Badminton Horse Trials. Alice is married to Three Day Event rider William Fox-Pitt. Cancer Research UK is a charity close to Alice’s heart as her sisters, Katie and Eloise, both lost their lives to cancer before they were 30.

Gordon Elliott (33, Co Meath, Ireland), became the youngest ever trainer to win the Aintree Grand National when victorious with Silver Birch in 2007. Equally adept at training flat horses, Elliott won the Ebor Handicap at York Racecourse with Dirar in August, 2010. Gordon first entered the racing world at the age of 13 when he worked for Tony Martin at weekends and holidays which developed into a full time job. Gordon took out his amateur jockey’s licence at the age of sixteen and went on to win over 200 Point-to-Point races and 50 under rules in both Ireland and Britain. Gordon currently trains a string of horses at Capranny Stables, 40 minutes from Dublin.

Lorna Fowler (32, Newmarket), is a broadcast journalist and regular presenter for . Lorna grew up surrounded by horse racing as her mother, Sue Bradburne, is a trainer and brother, Mark Bradburne, a NH jockey. After studying English and Classics at Glasgow University she moved to Newmarket where she became known as the ‘voice of Newmarket’ through her job as MC on race days. Lorna has ridden in approximately 100 races both on the flat and over jumps and has recently married Harry Fowler, auctioneer and amateur jockey and the nephew of Jessica Harrington who trained Festival winner Moscow Flyer.

Killian McCarthy (32, Kildare, Ireland), has heard a few tales about riding at The Festival from his brother-in-law, Ruby Walsh and hopes to gain a few tips from the winning-most rider in Festival history. He works for software company SoftCo in Ireland and regularly rides out for father-in-law, Ted Walsh, whom he hopes will provide him with a horse to ride. Killian got first-hand experience of being in the Winner’s Enclosure at The Festival when leading up Daibiroun, who won for Nina Carberry in 2005, and is looking forward to being able to become part of the Walsh family’s rich history at Cheltenham.

Liz Ampairee (38, Surrey), runs her own Marketing and Management company, specialising in horse racing events. She regularly rides out for Roger Ingram at Epsom and Bob Buckler in the West Country. Liz project managed Richard Dunwoody’s South Pole expedition, 1000 Mile Challenge and recently joined him on his expedition to the Great Wall of China. Liz is currently working with Grand National winning jockey, Bob Champion, on the forthcoming Champions Legends Race at Aintree.

Guy O’Callaghan (25, Naas, Ireland), lives and works at Yeomanstown Stud in Co Kildare where he is involved first hand in the family business of breeding and pin-hooking. Guy has ridden for many different trainers in Ireland, England, France and New Zealand and is hoping his cousin, Michael O’Leary, owner of War of Attrition, will provide him with a horse to ride in the St Patrick’s Day Derby. Guy hopes to hear the roar of the Irish in the crowd as he climbs the famous Cheltenham hill.

Rachel Wyse (26, London), has represented Ireland in show jumping at Junior European level and takes part in eventing competitions. Rachel is currently based in London as a presenter with Sky Sports News having previously fronted an equestrian programme for them covering show jumping events. She began her television career on Irish programmes, including TV3's Irish motoring show Xcelerate. She's a graduate of the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire, with a degree in Business Studies and Arts Management.

Andrew (Frostie) Kelly (30, Carlow, Ireland), can call on a wealth of experience he gained as an apprentice at Aiden O’Brien’s for five years, riding 19 winners on the Flat and over jumps. Frostie, as he is known to his friends, is now a jockey’s agent working with Davy Russell and Niall Madden among others

Rodger Sargent (39, London), works as an Advisor to Ila Security and has close links to the racing world. He has ridden in two charity races, at Market Rasen in 2004 and Fontwell in 2010. Rodger has experienced Festival glory with his horses Tikram and Top Cees and is hoping fellow owner, England footballer Michael Owen, might provide a horse for him to ride and come and support him on St Patrick’s Day. He rides out regularly for Gary Moore, at Ingleside Racing Stables in Sussex.

Niamh Flynn (28, Co Meath, Ireland), is a Marketing Executive for Tattersalls Ireland and took part in the Punchestown Charity Race last year. Niamh has gained valuable race riding experience in her job as a work rider for Derby winning trainer John Oxx. She has show jumped at top national level and worked for top International stars, Conor Swail and Cameron Hanley.

Chloe Bowkett (26, Gloucester), is an Events Manager at Cheltenham Racecourse. Chloe has taken part in Pony Club activities from the age of eight, is an experienced show jumper and event rider. Racing runs in her family’s blood, her father bred and owned steeplechaser, Shylock’s Retreat, who finished second in the Aintree Fox Hunters’ Chase.

Peter O’Reilly (49, Dublin, Ireland), Peter, who held an amateur licence during the 1980s and 90s, has personal motivation to ride in the St Patrick’s Day Derby and raise money for Cancer Research UK as his sisters have battled both breast and ovarian cancer and last year he lost his sister-in-law to lymphatic cancer. Approaching his 50th birthday Peter sees riding in the St Patrick’s Day Derby as the perfect way to celebrate his half century.

The Racecourse’s Managing Director, Edward Gillespie, said: “This will be the last time for several years that St Patrick’s Day is on a Festival race day and the occasion will be marked by a series of events and displays with a uniquely Irish feel. The Cheltenham team is hoping that the special charity race and the presence of Henry Cecil will add further interest to what is already a spectacular day of high-class Jump racing.

“It is a privilege for us to be welcoming Henry to The Festival for a Derby of a slightly different nature, especially one that is being run in aid of such a good cause.”

Jools Tait, Director of Partnerships of Cancer Research UK, added: “We are thrilled to be involved in this exciting addition to The Festival 2011.

“Last year’s charity race on Ladies Day helped us to raise over £150,000 at Cheltenham and, with the generous support of Henry Cecil, we are hoping to exceed that figure this year.

“The money raised will make a real difference to the vital work of our scientists, doctors and cancer patients both now and in the future. We wish all participants the best of luck and hope that they enjoy the day."

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