Unibet Irish Gold Cup
|Grade 1, Leopardstown 15:35
3m, Class 1
|Sunday 3rd February 2019|
1 Bellshill 2/1
2 Road To Respect 5/6F
3 The Storyteller 8/1
4 ran NR: Al Boum Photo, Anibale Fly, Balko Des Flos,
Edwulf, Monalee, Noble Endeavor
Distances: shd, 7½l, 37l Time: 6m 6.70s (slow by 24.70s)
Bellshill and Road To Respect served up a thriller
What a finish to the feature! Bellshill is now a five-time Grade 1 winner with victory in the Unibet Irish Gold Cup for Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins at @LeopardstownRC #DRF— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 3, 2019
Results ➡ https://t.co/7iJOPsdIyZ pic.twitter.com/gGLkpJyfnP
A raft of non-runners on account of the fast ground reduced the field to just four runners, but racegoers were still treated to a fantastic contest.
Just after halfway Flanagan kicked into the lead but while he tried to break away, Road To Respect lost ground to his main rival at several fences down the back straight.
Nevertheless, a big leap at the last appeared to give Road To Respect the advantage as Bellshill (2-1) did not start gaining ground on him until the final 100 yards.
The gap closed with every stride and Walsh was in overdrive as the pair crossed the line together, with Bellshill getting the verdict in the photo finish.
Mullins said: “He jumped brilliant and Ruby was great on him. We’re very keen to take him to Cheltenham, he needed the run badly at Christmas.
“Ruby was fantastic. We didn’t want a slow pace and he didn’t think there was much pace in the race so he elected to make it.
“Then when Sean went by him, Ruby was happy to sit there. What I really liked about the horse was that every time Ruby wanted a jump, he took two lengths out of the one in front.
“He knew he had that in hand and he was very confident and cool over the last three fences, I thought.
“He used the other horse as a lead. I thought he might pull out more after the last, but he pulled out enough.
“A lot of horses didn’t turn up, but still the quality horses were here and they served up a fantastic race.
“We might have a few nice horses to go to Cheltenham with this year.
“He’s always promised to be this good. Now he’s won his Irish Gold Cup and hopefully we’ll follow on, maybe, next month.
“He was very good at Christmas, but he needed it. Road To Respect was unlucky at Christmas, but we needed it.”
Unibet Irish Gold Cup (Grade 1)
3m, Race Value: €225,000
Going: Good, Good to Firm in places
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Bellshill (IRE) 2/1||R Walsh
|W P Mullins||9|
|2nd||s.h||Road To Respect (IRE) 5/6f||S W Flanagan
|3rd||7½||The Storyteller (IRE) 8/1||D N Russell
|4th||37||Outlander (IRE) 9/1||J W Kennedy
|NR||Al Boum Photo (FR)||P Townend
|W P Mullins||7|
|NR||Anibale Fly (FR)||B J Geraghty
|A J Martin||9|
|NR||Balko Des Flos (FR)||Rachael Blackmore
|H De Bromhead||8|
|NR||Edwulf||Mr D O'Connor
|Joseph P O'Brien||10|
|NR||Monalee (IRE)||R M Power
|H De Bromhead||8|
|NR||Noble Endeavor (IRE)||K M Donoghue