THE LETHEBY & CHRISTOPHER NATIONAL HUNT CHASE CHALLENGE CUP
1st (7) Hot Weld 33-1
Harding completes remarkable double
Amateur rider Richard Harding and trainer Ferdy Murphy completed a Cheltenham Festival double when Hot Weld won the Letheby & Christopher National Hunt Chase.
Twenty-four hours earlier they had combined to land the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase with You’re Special - remarkably both horses started at 33-1!
Harding, 24, who was booked for both horses through Irish agent Tom O’Mahony, is the younger brother of Brian, who won the Queen Mother Champion Chase on One Man. Richard Harding, who works for Liam Burke, said: “I’d not sat on either horse before I came over here. I spoke to Brian last night and he was pleased for me. I watched his victory on One Man on the television, and never thought I’d be here. To ride two winners is unreal.”
Murphy commented: “People have crabbed the horse a bit, but he’s a good-ground horse. He was second to Gold Medallist at Kempton last year and the winner was out on his feet, so we knew we had a good horse.
“This year the ground’s been soft, but he got his ground at Musselburgh and won a distance. He stays, he gallops and he had a good man on top, so how much more do you want? Howard [Johnson] did it for the north last year, so now it’s our turn.
“I’ve had a Festival double before (1996) with Paddy’s Return, who won the Triumph Hurdle, and Stop The Waller who won the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir. We also won the Royal & SunAlliance with French Holly, so we’ve had a few Festival winners.
“Dudley Moffatt [the former trainer] bred this horse and he’s got a full sister for sale. We’ll have to go up there and have a look at her.
“Richard is a good kid this fellow, isn’t he? He’ll be getting a few offers now. When the other horse came alongside I thought he might struggle a bit, but the jockey used his head and kept a little bit back.”
AHERNE DELIGHTED WITH SECOND
The fast-finishing 40/1 shot Beantown may have just failed to catch Hot Weld in the Letheby & Christopher National Hunt Chase but County Waterford trainer Sean Aherne was still delighted by the eight-year-old’s run.
“It’s a bit special to have been so close,” said Aherne. “Especially as his owner Eoin Barry went to school with me, the rider has been with me since he was a child and the horse was bred in Tallow, where we are based.
“I wasn’t that surprised at how well he ran because all he does is stay so four miles was right up his street and he made up plenty of ground from the last.”
J P McManus, owner of third-placed 7/2 favourite Far From Trouble, said: “We were third best, he was beaten by two better horses, what more can I say.”
LETHEBY & CHRISTOPHER NATIONAL HUNT CHALLENGE
1 HOT WELD (S Hubbard Rodwell) Ferdy Murphy 7-11-11 Mr Richard Harding
Non-runners: Deltic Arrow
Winning Trainer: FERDY MURPHY Trains at West Witton, Leyburn, North Yorkshire Riding career: Professional 1966-82; rode about 100 winners Date of first licence: 1990 Cheltenham Festival Wins: (5) Walwyn Muir (1996 Stop The Waller, 2006 You’re Special), Elite Triumph Hurdle (1996 Paddy’s Return), Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle (1998 French Holly), Letheby & Christopher National Hunt Chase (2006 Hot Weld) Other Major Wins include: John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase (2001 Ballinclay King) Tolworth Hurdle (1998 French Holly), Hennessy Gold Cup (1992 Sibton Abbey), Long Walk Hurdle (1997 Paddy’s Return), Christmas Hurdle (1998 French Holly), Sporting Index Chase (2001 Paddy’s Return), Scottish Grand National (2000 Paris Pike, 2005 Joes Edge) Rowland Meyrick Chase (2004 Truckers Tavern) Ballymore Properties Champion Stayers Hurdle (2005 Carlys Quest) Horses in Training (1995-2005): 25, 37, 40, 38, 55, 58, 106, 121, 116, 97; 66 Number of Winners (1997/98-2004/05): 27; 40; 34; 41; 68; 43; 31; 55 Wins this Season: 38
Winning Jockey: Richard Harding Background: Brother of jockey Brian Harding who partnered One Man to success in the 1998 Queen Mother Champion Chase Cheltenham Festival Wins (2): Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup (2006 You’re Special), Letheby & Christopher National Hunt Chase (2006 Hot Weld) First Win: Winter Star, Musselburgh, 18/12/05 Wins In Britain This Season: 3
Facts and figures:
1. The Letheby & Christopher National Hunt Chase has been run more times than any other race at The Festival, and is in its 136th year in 2006. Until the 1930s only the Grand National was more important than the National Hunt Chase in the jump calendar. The race had been run at a number of venues until it became a part of the new two-day National Hunt Festival at Cheltenham in 1911. It had also been run at Cheltenham in 1904 and 1905. It is sponsored for a first time by Letheby & Christopher in 2006.
2. The four-mile and one furlong Letheby & Christopher National Hunt Chase is the longest race run at The Festival.
3. The race is usually one of the best supported at The Festival, with very competitive fields each year. The largest post-war field size is 37 (1948) and the smallest 13 (1993). There is now a safety limit of 24 and last year 20 starters lined up.
4. Flimsy Truth, a 33/1 chance, set a record post-war time of 8 mins 11.09 secs in 1998 but that was beaten by Relaxation in 2000, who scored in 8 mins 0.60s.
5. Flimsy Truth is not the longest-priced post-war winner - that honour goes to Topsham Bay, successful in 1990 and last year’s winner Another Rum, who were both returned at 40/1. Castledermot, 6/4 favourite in 1949, is the shortest-priced.
LETHEBY & CHRISTOPHER NATIONAL HUNT CHASE CHALLENGE CUP PAST RESULTS
2005-WINNER-ANOTHER RUM 7-11-07 Owner-Ronald Lilley; Trainer-Ian Duncan
IRE; Jockey-Mr Mark O’Hare; SP-40/1
2004-WINNER-NATIVE EMPEROR 8-11-11 Owner-J C, J R & S R Hitchins;
Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Mr Robert Widger; SP- 5/1 Jt Fav
2003-WINNER-SUDDEN SHOCK 8-11-07 Owner-Darren Mercer; Trainer-Jonjo
O’Neill; Jockey-Mr Denis Cullen; SP-25/1
2002-WINNER-RITH DUBH 10-11-11 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill;
Jockey-Mr J T McNamara; SP-10/1
2000-WINNER-RELAXATION 8-12-00 Owner-Sir Philip Payne-Gallwey and Mrs
Vicky Wiggin; Trainer-Henry Daly; Jockey-Mr Mark Bradburne; SP-8/1
1999-WINNER-DEEJAYDEE 7-12-00 Owner- Mrs M Devine; Trainer-Michael Hourigan
IRE; Jockey-Mr Tony Martin; SP-13/2
1998-WINNER-WANDERING LIGHT 9-12-7 Owner- Anne Duchess of Westminster;
Trainer-Tim Forster; Jockey-Mr Rupert Wakley; SP-10/1
1997-WINNER-FLIMSY TRUTH 11-12-07 Owner-Martin Weston; Trainer-Martin
Weston; Jockey-Mr Mike Harris; SP-33/1
1996-WINNER-LOVING AROUND 8-11-13 Owner-Lord Tavistock; Trainer-Edward
O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Mr Philip Fenton; SP-10/1
1995-WINNER-FRONT LINE 8-12-07 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill;
Jockey-Mr John Berry; SP-7/1
1994-WINNER-CHRISTMAS GORSE 8-12-04 Owner-David Stoddart; Trainer-Nick
Gaselee; Jockey-Mr Marcus Armytage; SP-14/1
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