Queen Mother Champion Chase - Wed March 14th 2012 

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Finian's Rainbow Shines for Henderson in Champion Chase

1 Finian's Rainbow 4/1
2 Sizing Europe 4/5 Fav
3 Big Zeb 13/2
8 ran Distances: 1¼l, 15l, 11l
TIME 3m 52.21s (slow by 0.21s)

Finian's Rainbow completed a magical afternoon for trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Barry Geraghty as he landed the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

Finian's Rainbow
© Racehorse Photos

Finian's Rainbow

Michael Buckley, the owned of Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Finian’s Rainbow, had to endure seeing three of his horses finishing second at last year’s Cheltenham Festival but has now won a “proper race”, according to Nicky Henderson. The trainer has now extended his record of Cheltenham Festival winners to 43 with three consecutive victories on today’s card.

He said: “Michael’s been with us a very long time and he’s had a lot of good horses and a lot of near misses. Three seconds here last year looked very tough, especially when we beat him with one of our own, but now he has won a proper race.”

Finian’s Rainbow and runner-up Sizing Europe were forced to gallop around the last fence as Richard Johnson was being attended to on the landing side following a heavy fall from Wishfull Thinking.

Henderson added: “I just hope they’re all alright because they had to miss the last fence. It was a good performance - he’s beaten the reigning champion and he really was back right on song today. We saw two very good horses battle on up the hill.

“I’ve never had a day like this before but there’s a long way to go and there are two more days to come. This is very special. It doesn’t happen without a lot of people doing an enormous amount of work. I only drive the ship, there’s a huge team at home: Corky [Browne], who’s been here through all 43 Cheltenham winners, and Connor, who rides Finian’s Rainbow every day. He keeps telling me how this horse is and he’s guided me through his preparation.

“After Ascot we started to think that he might want a bit further but I don’t think he does necessarily. I know he started point-to-pointing and the Ryanair crossed our minds but we thought we’d stick to this. When he’s really good like he is now he’s a proper two-miler. He was keen early on but he’s much more relaxed this year and you can just drop him in.”

Of the need to bypass the final fence, Barry Geraghty, rider of winner Finian’s Rainbow said:

“The sun was in our eyes coming off the final bend and I didn’t see they had it dolled off, and I didn’t realise we had to go round it until Andrew [Lynch, on Sizing Europe, on Geraghty’s left] started to move out and took me with him.

“They didn’t seem to have dolled off the whole fence and there was plenty of room to jump half of it, and if Andrew had jumped it I’d have gone with him. And we’d perhaps of paid the price for things not being that clear.”

Of the race and Finian’s Rainbow, Geraghty said:

“This horse has really turned a corner since he was beaten at Ascot [by Thursday’s Ryanair contender Somersby]. But that’s what Nicky Henderson does so well. Bob’s Worth was beaten last time as well, but he knows exactly how to get them right for the day that really matters. The two horses have been coming along beautifully together in their work at home.

“In the race, my lad travelled and jumped. The leader [Sizing Europe] stretched me a little bit coming down the hill, but I was still able to get plenty of breathers into him, and fill him up before the final turn.

“I felt I had him covered from there, and being forced out round the last fence made no difference. It was a cracking race between two top-class horses, no quarter given or asked.

“When you go to Cheltenham you’re happy with one winner. It’s days like this you dream about when you’re a kid with your ponies, and when you’re an adult too, come to that.”


Starting Price
Beaten Distance
Finian's Rainbow
N J Henderson
B J Geraghty
11st 10lbs
4 - 1
Sizing Europe
H de Bromhead
A E Lynch
11st 10lbs
4 - 5
1 1/4 length
Big Zeb
C A Murphy
R M Power
11st 10lbs
13 - 2
15 lengths
Nick Williams
N Fehily
11st 10lbs
20 - 1
11 lengths
Realt Dubh
N Meade
P Carberry
11st 10lbs
14 - 1
2 1/4 lengths
I'm So Lucky
D Pipe
T Scudamore
11st 10lbs
66 - 1
10 lengths


Sizing Europe
© Racehorse Photos

Sizing Europe


Trainer Henry De Bromhead was magnanimous in defeat, but said an incident approaching the final fence did not help runner-up Sizing Europe.

After Wishfull Thinking fell at the fence and rolled under the rail on the first circuit it was partly dolled off. Yet as Sizing Europe under Andrew Lynch, and winner Finian’s Rainbow, the mount of Barry Geraghty, rode towards it they seemed unsure whether it was to be jumped or not.

Little more than ten metres from the wings Lynch on the inside began pulling on the right rein to go round the jump, a move that carried Geraghty with him. Horses following behind were also ridden around the fence.

De Bromhead said: “It [swerving around the fence] certainly didn’t help. We were eventually beaten fair and square, but things didn’t fall as you would like them through the race.

“Andrew felt that had he been able to jump the final fence it would have helped him. He had make a more exaggerated move than Barry, absolutely. He had hugged the inner which was great and would have helped had the fence been there to jump.

“When you are out in front you need something to keep aiming at and unfortunately we didn’t have the last - whether it cost us or not I don’t know. I’m obviously disappointed not to win, but it didn’t happen today. He ran a blinder, he always does. I’ll talk to Ann and Alan [Potts, Sizing Europe’s owners] about future plans.”

Colm Murphy, trainer of third-placed Big Zeb, who won the race two years ago, said: “I’m delighted with him. He doesn’t have the same pace as of old, but I’m pleased he battled on and it’s great to be in this place [the winner’s enclosure] once again. Given his age [11] they just went a gear too quick for him.

“I’d say Punchestown will be on his agenda if he comes out of this race okay.” QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE ROLL OF HONOUR

(Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase since 2007, Queen Mother Champion Chase 1980-2006, previously National Hunt Two Mile Champion Chase from when first run in 1959)

Year Winner Age/Wt Jockey Trainer Owner SP Ran

2011 Sizing Europe 9-11-10 Andrew Lynch Henry de Bromhead IRE Ann & Alan Potts 10/1 11
2010 Big Zeb 9-11-10 Barry Geraghty Colm Murphy IRE Pat Redmond 10/1 9
2009 Master Minded 6-11-10 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls Clive Smith 4/11F 12
2008 Master Minded 5-11-10 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls Clive Smith 3/1 8
2007 Voy Por Ustedes 6-11-10 Robert Thornton Alan King Sir Robert Ogden 5/1 10
2006 Newmill 8-11-10 Andrew McNamara John Murphy IRE Mary Hayes 16/1 12
2005 Moscow Flyer 11-11-10 Barry Geraghty Jessica Harrington IRE Brian Kearney 6/4F 8
2004 Azertyuiop 7-11-10 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls John Hales 15/8 8
2003 Moscow Flyer 9-12-00 Barry Geraghty Jessica Harrington IRE Brian Kearney 7/4F 11
2002 Flagship Uberalles 8-12-00 Richard Johnson Philip Hobbs Elizabeth Gutner/Michael Krysztofiak 7/4F 12
2001 No Race (Foot and Mouth)
2000 Edredon Bleu 8-12-00 Tony McCoy Henrietta Knight Jim Lewis 7/2 9
1999 Call Equiname 9-12-00 Mick Fitzgerald Paul Nicholls Mick Coburn,Paul Barber,Colin Lewis 7/2 13
1998 One Man 10-12-00 Brian Harding Gordon Richards John Hales 7/2 8
1997 Martha’s Son 10-12-00 Rodney Farrant Tim Forster Paddy Hartigan/Michael Ward-Thomas 9/1 6
1996 Klairon Davis 7-12-00 Francis Woods Arthur Moore IRE Chris Jones 9/1 7
1995 Viking Flagship 8-12-00 Charlie Swan David Nicholson Roach Foods Ltd 5/2F 10
1994 Viking Flagship 7-12-00 Adrian Maguire David Nicholson Roach Foods Ltd 4/1 8
1993 Deep Sensation 8-12-00 Declan Murphy Josh Gifford Robin Eliot 11/1 9
1992 Remittance Man 8-12-00 Jamie Osborne Nicky Henderson Jim Collins Evs F 6
1991 Katabatic 8-12-00 Simon McNeill Andrew Turnell Pell-Mell Partners 9/1 7
1990 Barnbrook Again 9-12-00 Hywel Davies David Elsworth Mel Davies 11/10F 9
1989 Barnbrook Again 8-12-00 Simon Sherwood David Elsworth Mel Davies 7/4F 8
1988 Pearlyman 9-12-00 Tom Morgan John Edwards Valerie Shaw 15/8F 8
1987 Pearlyman 8-12-00 Peter Scudamore John Edwards Valerie Shaw 13/8F 8
1986 Buck House 8-12-00 Tommy Carmody Mouse Morris IRE Mrs Phil Purcell 5/2 11
1985 Badsworth Boy 10-12-00 Robert Earnshaw Monica Dickinson Doug Armitage 11/8 5
1984 Badsworth Boy 9-12-00 Robert Earnshaw Michael Dickinson Doug Armitage 8/13F 10
1983 Badsworth Boy 8-12-00 Robert Earnshaw Michael Dickinson Doug Armitage 2/1 6
1982 Rathgorman 10-12-00 Kevin Whyte Michael Dickinson J Lilley 100/30 9
1981 Drumgora 9-12-00 Frank Berry Arthur Moore IRE D Monahan 25/1 9
1980 *Another Dolly 10-12-00 Sam Morshead Fred Rimell Ian Urquhart 33/1 7
1979 Hilly Way 9-12-00 Mr Ted Walsh Peter McCreery IRE J W Sweeney 7/1 9
1978 Hilly Way 8-12-00 Tommy Carmody Peter McCreery IRE J W Sweeney 7/1 10
1977 Skymas 12-12-00 Mouse Morris Brian Lusk IRE Mathew Magee 7/2 8
1976 Skymas 11-12-00 Mouse Morris Brian Lusk IRE Mathew Magee 8/1 7
1975 Lough Inagh 8-12-00 Sean Barker Jim Dreaper IRE A Martin 100/30 8
1974 Royal Relief 10-12-00 Bill Smith Edward Courage Edward Courage 6/1 6
1973 Inkslinger 6-12-00 Tommy Carberry Dan Moore IRE Mrs M Jenney 6/1 6
1972 Royal Relief 8-12-00 Bill Smith Edward Courage Edward Courage 15/8 5
1971 Crisp 8-12-00 Paul Kelleway Fred Winter Sir Chester Manifold 3/1 8
1970 Straight Fort 7-12-00 Pat Taaffe Tom Dreaper IRE George Ansley 7/4F 6
1969 Muir 10-12-00 Ben Hannon Tom Dreaper IRE Waring Willis 15/2 11
1968 Drinny’s Double 10-12-00 Frank Nash Bob Turnell Paul Mellon 6/1 5
1967 Drinny’s Double 9-12-00 Frank Nash Bob Turnell Paul Mellon 7/2 8
1966 Flyingbolt 7-12-00 Pat Taaffe Tom Dreaper IRE Mrs Jean Wilkinson 1/5F 6
1965 Dunkirk 8-12-00 Dave Dick Peter Cazalet Bill Whitbread 8/1 6
1964 Ben Stack 7-12-00 Pat Taaffe Tom Dreaper IRE Anne, Duchess of Westminster 2/1 5
1963 Sandy Abbot 8-12-00 Stan Mellor George Owen Mrs J D McKechnie 5/1 5
1962 Piperton 8-12-00 Dave Dick Archie Thomlinson Archie Thomlinson 100/6 7
1961 Fortria 9-12-00 Pat Taaffe Tom Dreaper IRE George Ansley 2/5F 5
1960 Fortria 8-12-00 Pat Taaffe Tom Dreaper IRE George Ansley 15/8F 7
1959 Quita Que 10-12-00 Bunny Cox Dan Moore IRE Mrs D R Brand 4/9F 9

*Another Dolly finished second to Chinrullah, who was subsequently disqualified after failing a post-race urine test

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