1 Benefficient 20/1
2 Dynaste 11/8 Fav
3 Changing Times 100/1 13 ran Distances: 3¼l, 1l, nk
TIME 5m 4.80s (slow by 14.80s)
Tony Martin, generally considered to be one of the shrewdest trainers in the business, was celebrating a 20/1 winner in the opening race on Thursday's card, the Jewson Novices' Chase, when Benefficient overhauled hot favourite Dynaste with a mighty last-fence leap to win by three and a quarter lengths.
Mobbed by a delighted pair of owners and their many friends who had made the pilgrimage from Ireland, Martin managed to utter a few words of praise for horse, owners and jockey.
He said: "They're a grand bunch of lads and this is wonderful for the owners. It's what racing is all about, winning a race like this.
"The horse is learning his racing better all the time. We had a hood on him today and that helped with the atmosphere. He's a really exciting horse for the future.
"I don't know how he was a 20/1 shot as he won a Grade One last year, though I wasn't pleased with him at Cheltenham last time, I felt he didn't really come down the hill. I was more inclined to go to Aintree but the boys wanted to come here.
"That's what it is all about. It's what you get up every morning for - to hopefully end the year by coming here with a live chance.
"I thought that, if everything went well, he wouldn't be out of the first three. We were obviously very much afraid of Dynaste.
"We knew that he would get the two and a half if everything went right for him and our jockey was excellent. We got the run of the race and he jumped brilliantly.
"As far as I am concerned, Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, Paul Carberry and Tony McCoy are out on there own but this young fellow is on the way up. He will be there when the others are long gone and retired. He is an excellent rider and the next Ruby Walsh."
"The horse came for him everywhere he went - he didn't overface him, but, by God he came for him every time he asked. He is a good moving horse - he doesn't bend his knee too much and the better ground definitely helped.
Benefficient's Irish-born owners Aiden Shiels and Niall Reilly are both now resident in Queens in New York.
Reilly said: "He's a giant-killer. He should have won the Arkle on Tuesday but we said we wanted to take on Dynaste. The tactics were ten thousand per cent right.
"We've been known to celebrate when there's hardly anything happening so I'd say you'll hear about us today!"
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Bryan Cooper, son of two-time winning Festival trainer Tom Cooper, notched his own first success at the meeting on Benefficient, three and a quarter-length winner of the opening Jewson Novices Chase. The gelding, a 20/1 shot trained by Tony Martin, rallied from the last fence to thwart 11/8 favourite Dynaste.
"This is what you dream of when you are very small", said Cooper, 20. "I've always come to the meeting with my dad, and I led up Total Enjoyment when she won the bumper in 2004. But to be on the back of a winner is something else."
Cooper paid tribute to his mount's toughness and determination. "He jumped great all the way," he said of the Beneficial seven-year-old, "and I was able to keep him running sweetly. Because he was switched off I got to fill him up all the way round. The others went past him between the last two but I knew I had a little bit left.
"I spotted a gap on the inner and went for it, and I knew if I got a good jump at the last I'd be right there. He came up like a man and winged it and that sealed it. He landed running and galloped up the hill right to the line. He's a real tough one and loves his racing.
"It's unbelievable to win a race at Cheltenham. Tony (Martin) told me to sit, even if I did get headed turning in, and let him fill himself away. I thought I had a bit more speed than them.
"He is such a tough horse and he has done so much for me. He gave me a first Grade One and now my first Cheltenham win.
"The hood made him settle down a little bit - he is a bit of a worrier and it helped me get a little bit more control. It seemed to work, anyway.
"The better ground helped him today - e has run on heavy ground all winter."
Dynaste, 11/8 favourite for the opening Jewson Novices' Chase, took up the running and looked all over a winner heading to the home turn, but he had no answer to the rallying Benefficient.
The 20/1 winner, trained in Ireland by Tony Martin, had clawed back the deficit to a neck at the final fence, and soon pulled clear of Dynaste, who finished three and a quarter lengths behind in second, and one length ahead of third-placed Changing Times, a 100/1 shot for Nigel Twiston-Davies' stable. In fourth, a neck behind, was another Gloucestershire-based horse, Module, trained by Tom George.
David Pipe, who trains Dynaste, said simply: "He wasn't good enough," while jockey Tom Scudamore said: "He's run a fine race, and I thought we would win going to the second-last fence. He's proved best of the British horses, but the Irish seem to have the upper hand in staying novice chases this season."
Sam Twiston-Davies, who rode third-placed Changing Times, said: "He stayed on really well and wants further," while Tom George said of Module: "I don't know what happened at the top of the hill, but Paddy [Brennan] said he was very badly hampered and went from cantering to losing his position on the bend.
"He stayed on from there and Paddy is thrilled, because he's run a solid race and will stay three miles in future. He was staying on and staying on but perhaps didn't get the luck in running. I'm pleased with him. That's the first time he's had a real race since he won here [in January last year], because he took his two most recent races easily, so I would think we will take him to Aintree. He's still a fresh horse."
Jewson Novices' Chase (Grade 2) £100,000 added, 5yo plus, 2m 4f, Class 1 13 ran
Going: Good to Soft (GOOD in Places)
A J Martin
B J Cooper
20 - 1
11 - 8
3 1/4 lengths
N A Twiston-Davies
100 - 1
T R George
P J Brennan
16 - 1
N J Henderson
B J Geraghty
5 - 1
C L Tizzard
25 - 1
11 - 1
N J Henderson
A P McCoy
25 - 1
P F Nicholls
D A Jacob
20 - 1
3 1/4 lengths
T J Taaffe
D N Russell
22 - 1
W P Mullins
A E Lynch
15 - 2
3 3/4 lengths
D McCain Jnr
J M Maguire
100 - 1
W P Mullins
12 - 1
JEWSON NOVICES’ CHASE FACTS AND FIGURES
The Jewson Novices’ Chase was introduced at The Festival in 2011. Run over two and a half miles, the race currently carries Grade Two status. Its distance falls between the two-mile Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase and the RSA Chase, staged over an extended three miles.
Noble Prince, trained in Ireland by Paul Nolan, captured the inaugural running in 2011 in the hands of multiple champion jockey A P McCoy, while the 2012 renewal also went to an Irish-trained horse, the Willie Mullins-trained Sir Des Champs.
Jewson sponsors the contest for the third time in 2013. The company is a good supporter of The Festival, having previously backed the novices’ handicap chase from 2005 to 2010.