Paddy Power Gold Cup
(Grade 3 Handicap)
£160,000 added,
4yo plus,
2m 4f 110y, Class 1
Saturday 16th November 2013

Free Racing Tips

1 Johns Spirit 7/1
2 Colour Squadron 12/1
3 Hidden Cyclone 20/1
4 Attaglance 16/1
20 ran Distances: ¾l, 1½l, 3¾l
TIME 5m 7.02s (slow by 9.02s)

Johns Spirit fought bravely to deny the fast-finishing Colour Squadron and record a three quarter length victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham this afternoon.

Johns Spirit
© Racehorse Photos
Johns Spirit

The 7/1 second-favourite was left in front following the fall of Easter Meteor two fences from home and started to wander around on the run-in following a decent leap at the final flight but jockey Richie McLernon managed to keep his cool and gather his mount up for one final effort as Colour Squadron rallied in the closing stages.

Trainer Jonjo O'Neill was quick to praise his jockey following the race.

'It's brilliant for Richie ' he's a top jockey, a great horseman and a good man to have about the yard,' said O'Neill.

'This is a special race and it's great to have a runner, let alone win the race. I wasn't sure if he'd hang on after he jumped the last as he's just got a bit lonely.

'We were hopeful before the race but you can't be totally sure as we didn't know how he'd handle the traffic with his style of running. However, everything went to plan. He jumped well and travelled nicely throughout the race. Richie did the right thing by taking a pull at the top of the hill but the horse does lose concentration sometimes when he hits the front.

'I'm not sure whether he got the trip or not because he was idling. I'm talking off the top of my head, and we'll have to see how he is, but he could come back here in December for the big handicap (the December Gold Cup).

'We've had a great start to the season but I don't want to start counting my chickens. It's nice when they're running like this and we'll have a good celebration and enjoy things tonight though J P (McManus ' owner of the runner-up Colour Squadron) might review the rent now, but I hope not! I am sure that he will be delighted.'

'The owner (Christopher Johnston) has been with me for a while and we've had a number of horses together but this is by far the biggest winner that he's had.'

McLernon was delighted following the race and revealed that O'Neill was happy to let him ride his own race.

'I am lucky that I ride for Mr O'Neill, who always fills me with confidence. He lets me do whatever I want.

'I went wider than ideal ' I thought that they would give us a bit of fresh ground today but they didn't and the fences are narrow enough. If I went down the inner, I would have only have got blocked in, so I went wide and thank God he won.

'His jumping up the hill was brilliant and he just arrived there. I was able to fill him up down the hill and, fair play to the little horse, he looked around and fairly idled with a long way to go but he has stuck his head out and galloped away.'

The Paddy Power Gold Cup
£160,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f 110y, Class 1
20 ran
Going: Good, Good to Soft in places

Johns Spirit
Jonjo O'Neill
R P McLernon
10st 2lbs
7 - 1
Colour Squadron
P J Hobbs
T J O'Brien
10st 2lbs
12 - 1
3/4 length
Hidden Cyclone
J J Hanlon
Andrew J McNamara
11st 1lbs
20 - 1
1 1/2 length
J M Jefferson
B Hughes
10st 0lbs
16 - 1
3 3/4 lengths
Rajdhani Express
N J Henderson
Mr S Waley-Cohen
11st 4lbs
8 - 1
2 1/2 lengths
Wishfull Thinking
P J Hobbs
R Johnson
11st 7lbs
33 - 1
4 lengths
Champion Court
M Keighley
Ian Popham
11st 6lbs
6 - 1
7 lengths
Tap Night
Miss Lucinda V Russell
A P McCoy
10st 12lbs
16 - 1
1 length
Woolcombe Folly
P F Nicholls
Harry Derham
10st 13lbs
28 - 1
1 3/4 length
A King
W Hutchinson
10st 11lbs
40 - 1
3/4 length
N A Twiston-Davies
Sam Twiston-Davies
10st 5lbs
20 - 1
6 lengths
Miss V Williams
Aidan Coleman
10st 7lbs
33 - 1
29 lengths
Nadiya De La Vega
N J Henderson
A Tinkler
10st 3lbs
12 - 1
3/4 length
S Gollings
P Townend
11st 3lbs
28 - 1
12 lengths
Finian's Rainbow
N J Henderson
B J Geraghty
11st 12lbs
14 - 1
Vino Griego
G L Moore
J E Moore
11st 0lbs
25 - 1
Battle Group
J Farrelly
Brendan Powell
10st 13lbs
14 - 1
D Pipe
T Scudamore
10st 6lbs
8 - 1
Easter Meteor
Miss E C Lavelle
L Aspell
10st 3lbs
20 - 1
Gift Of Dgab
A J Martin
B J Cooper
10st 1lbs
20 - 1

Free Racing Tips

Colour Squadron
© Racehorse Photos
Colour Squadron

Connections of the Philip Hobbs'-trained Colour Squadron felt that Easter Meteor's fall at the second-last fence may have affected their chances of victory.

'It certainly cost me momentum and we were only beaten a neck,' said Colour Squadron's jockey Tom O'Brien.

Frank Berry, racing manager to Colour Squadron's owner J P McManus, said: 'He ran a blinder and we were probably beaten by a better one on the day, but he did get a bit tangled up [in the fall]. He jumped and travelled, and got a lovely ride from Tom.'

Third was Hidden Cyclone, trained in Ireland by 'Shark' Hanlon, who said: 'He jumped brilliantly but didn't quite get home. I think 2m 2f, or even two miles, would be his trip.'

Bottom-weight Attaglance, trained by Malcolm Jefferson, stayed on from some way back to take fourth on the run to the line.

The seven-year-old, who was 6lb out of the handicap, may try three miles again next time out.

Jefferson said: 'He ran a nice race ' the ground was a bit softer than he really likes. He just got tapped for toe but he stayed on again.

'He is very ground dependent so it is difficult to make plans. This ground was a bit dead. He is a very tough little horse and three miles may suit him now.

'Last season he had hardly any ground. He ran a good race and we are very happy with him.'

Champion Court, the 6/1 favourite, raced prominently in third or fourth but could not find any extra turning in and finished seventh.

His trainer Martin Keighley said: 'It was a disappointing performance ' he did not travel the way he normally travels in a race.

'He has jumped well but normally on his first run he is very keen but he wasn't today. We will check him over but he just ran a bit flat which he shouldn't have done.

'There must be something amiss somewhere.'

Ballynagour, the 8/1 chance trained by David Pipe, was pulled up by Tom Scudamore.

The trainer said: 'He ran well for a long way but cut out unfortunately.'

Free Racing Tips