THE QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
1st (9) Newmill 16-1
Newmill the new champion
Praise was heaped on jockey Andrew McNamara after he rode Newmill to victory in today’s Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Having his fourth ride at The Festival, McNamara, 22, made all the running on the John Murphy-trained winner. Murphy said: “He’s a top-class jockey and a future champion. My only orders were be up there and out of trouble.”
Murphy, who has trained the horse for the past year, then said: “Thank God that’s over! Everything went right, out there in front. I was a bit frightened that Central House might buzz him up and take him on - he gets buzzy when he thinks about jumping and thinks about life, but he kept dictating and Andrew did everything top draw.
“Two weeks ago I decided we’d go for this race rather than the [Smurfit Kappa] Champion Hurdle, but I didn’t tell the owners because they had all the badges and bets.”
Newmill has been running in hurdle races and chases this season, and had chased Brave Inca vainly in two races before Christmas, but Murphy said: “If he met Brave Inca and Macs Joy now he’d be a totally different horse. We’ve been building his confidence, but I’ve no regrets about not going for the Champion - it’s not better than this. He’ll stay three miles, but he’s such a cruising speed he’s brilliant over two. He might run at Punchestown, but he’s best when he’s fresh.”
Andrew McNamara said: “This wasn’t so surprising - we were quietly confident. He galloped the whole way to the line. I heard a noise behind [when Kauto Star fell and Dempsey unseated] but I wasn’t sure what was going on.
“He took quite a blow on the far side, but when we ran down the hill I knew it was going to be a good one to beat us.”
McNamara’s father, Andrew snr, trained Boreen Prince to win the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy in 1985.
QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
1 NEWMILL (IRE) (Mary Hayes) John Joseph Murphy IRE 8-11-10 Andrew McNamara
Non-runner: Accordion Etoile
Moscow Flyer, winner of the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy in 2002 and the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2003 and 2005, has been retired afer finishing fifth in today’s Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Trainer Jessica Harrington said: “He was badly interfered with when Kauto Star fell and was always struggling to get into the race from then onwards, although he never stopped trying.
“The interference put him off balance and I thought for a moment he might have gone.
“He was maybe a bit unlucky but would not have beaten the winner.”
Owner Brian Kearney added: “He was the first horse I ever owned and although it’s sad it has come to an end, he’s given us some many great memories over eight years of racing.
“I would like to thank Jessica and all her team for looking after him so well over the years.
“I am not sure where he will go at this stage but I’m sure he’ll be well looked after in his retirement.”
Queen Mother Champion Chase Boasts Joint Largest Field Ever
A total of 13 runners have been declared for Wednesday’s showpiece Queen Mother Champion Chase, which is set to feature its joint largest field ever. There were also 13 runners in 1999 when the race was won by Call Equiname.
The 12-year-old Moscow Flyer, successful last year and in 2003, bids to emulate Badsworth Boy (1984-86) and become only the second three-time winner in the race’s history. Skymas in 1977 is the only other 12-year-old to have captured the two-mile contest.
At the other end of the age spectrum, only Inkslinger in 1973 has won as a six-year-old so likely favourite Kauto Star also has history against him.
Paul Nicholls’ charge has not run since winning the William Hill Tingle Creek Trophy Chase at Sandown on December 3. The runner-up that day, Ashley Brook, has not been declared for Wednesday’s race due to a knee injury but third-placed Oneway will reoppose.
Moscow Flyer is one of no less than six Irish-trained runners with others including the Mouse Morris-trained Fota Island, winner of the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase at last year’s Festival and four-length victor of the Grade 2 Normans Grove Chase at Fairyhouse on January 22.
Central House, whose rider Roger Loughran mistook the winning post when third in the Grade 1 Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown after Christmas, has since made amends with a victory in the Grade 2 Byrne Group plc Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on February 5.
The novice Accordion Etoile finished third in that contest with Watson Lake in fourth while Newmill comes to Cheltenham on the back of a four-length win in the Grade 2 Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles on January 19.
There has never been a French-trained winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase but Kario De Sormain, a first Festival runner for France’s 11-time champion trainer Jean-Paul Gallorini, bids to set that record straight. The mare, who will be ridden by Thierry Majorcryk, scored over hurdles on heavy ground at Fontainebleau on February 22.
Fundamentalist has already tasted success at The Festival, having landed the 2004 Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle.
Dempsey, carrying top weight of 11st 12lb, finished two-lengths second to Tysou in the Victor Chandler Handicap Chase at Sandown on February 4, Mister McGoldrick captured the Skybet.com Castleford Chase at Wetherby on December 27 while River City had an unconventional preparation with his latest start coming in an all-weather maiden at Wolverhampton on March 3.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase 22/02/06
There are 20 contenders remaining in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the highlight on Wednesday, March 15. Moscow Flyer, seeking his third success in the two-mile championship contest, heads the acceptors and is set to face stiff competition from the likes of Ashley Brook, Central House, French raider Kario de Sormain, Kauto Star and Fota Island.
THE QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
20 entries remian after February 21 forfeit stage
THE FOLLOWING 9 HORSES WERE TAKEN OUT AT THE FEBRUARY 21 FORFEIT STAGE: ANDREAS (FR), BAMBI DE L'ORME (FR), CELTIC SON (FR), CLOONE RIVER (IRE), HORS LA LOI III (FR), ISIO (FR), LOCKSMITH, SAY AGAIN (IRE), TOWN CRIER (IRE)
MOSCOW FLYER HEADS 29 IN QUEEN MOTHER 10/01/06
Reigning champion Moscow Flyer heads the 29 entries, including a record 11 from Ireland, revealed today for the 2006 Queen Mother Champion Chase. The two-mile championship event carries £290,000 in prize money, up from £250,000 last year, and is run at Cheltenham on Wednesday, March 15. Jessica Harrington's charge, who landed the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2003 and last year, will bid to become only the second horse - following Badsworth Boy from 1983 to 1985 - to capture the famous race three times.
But the 12-year-old, who has been beaten on his three most recent starts, faces stiff opposition from a number of younger pretenders to his crown including the Paul Nicholls-trained Kauto Star, who was impressive when beating Ashley Brook and Oneway to take the William Hill Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last month.
Kario De Sormain, a leading performer in France, is an intriguing entry and could be a first Festival runner for Jean-Paul Gallorini, the 11-times French champion trainer.
Moscow Flyer is one of a record 11 Irish-trained entries and a noticeably strong team includes Hi Cloy, who beat Fota Island in last month's Grade 1 Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown, as well as Central House, who looked assured of victory until his rider mistook the winning post.
The Noel Meade-trained Watson Lake, a trio trained by Paul Nolan, Accordion Etoile, Cloone River and Say Again, Jim, Justified and Newmill are among Ireland's other entries.
Along with Kauto Star, Paul Nicholls has entered the 2002 Smurfit Champion Hurdle winner Hors La Loi III, also a totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup entry, Armaturk and Andreas, while Martin Pipe has three representatives - last season's Irish independent Arkle Chase winner Contraband, Locksmith and the novice Celtic Son.
Sue Smith has entered Mister McGoldrick, winner of the Castleford Chase at Wetherby on December 27, along with Town Crier, an easy hurdle winner at the West Yorkshire course last week, while another in-form entry is Dempsey, who landed a two-mile handicap chase at Sandown on Saturday.
Edward Gillespie, Managing Director at Cheltenham Racecourse, said today: "The Queen Mother Champion Chase has consistently produced exciting finishes year after year and another great renewal is in prospect for 2006 with a record 11 Irish-trained performers entered alongside one of France's top chasers and a strong domestic team."
1. The National Hunt Two-Mile Champion Chase was first run in 1959 and the Queen Mother's name was added to the race title in 1980, the year of her 80th birthday.
2. The race's roll of honour includes plenty of multiple winners. Badsworth Boy (1983-85) is the only three-time winner. The double winners are Fortria (1960 and 1961), Drinny's Double (1967 and 1968), Royal Relief (1972 and 1974), Skymas (1976 and 1977), Hilly Way (1978 and 1979), Pearlyman (1987 and 1988), Barnbrook Again (1989 and 1990), Viking Flagship (1994 and 1995) and Moscow Flyer (2003 and 2005).
3. Irish-trained runners have a good record in the Queen Mother Champion Chase winning 18 of the 46 runnings. Moscow Flyer, trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Barry Geraghty, was the most recent Irish-trained scorer last year.
4. Tom Dreaper has the best record of any trainer in the race winning six runnings with Fortria (1960 and 1961), Ben Stack (1964), Flyingbolt (1966), Muir (1969), and Straight Fort (1970). Of current trainers, Arthur Moore (Drumgora 1981 and Klairon Davis 1996), Paul Nicholls (1999 Call Equiname and Azertyuiop 2004) and Jessica Harrington (Moscow Flyer 2003 and 2005) have the best record.
5. Flyingbolt was the shortest-priced winner when succeeding at 1/5 in 1966 while Another Dolly, who was awarded the 1980 race at odds of 33/1, provided the biggest upset.
6. Pat Taaffe is the most successful rider with five wins while Moscow Flyer's partner Barry Geraghty is the only current jockey to have landed more than one Queen Mother Champion Chase.
7. The oldest horse to have triumphed was the 12-year-old Skymas in 1977 while the youngest victor was the six-year-old Inkslinger in 1973.
8. A small but select field usually lines up for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The largest field was in 1999 when 13 runners went to post while only five runners lined up in 1985, 1972, 1968, 1964, 1963 and 1961.
9. The most successful owners are George Ansley, who enjoyed three wins with Fortria (1960 and 1961) and Straight Fort (1970) and Doug Armitage who had three victories with Badsworth Boy (1983, 1984 and 1985).
10. Michael Dickinson trained the winner for three consecutive years with Rathgorman (1982) and Badsworth Boy (1983 & 1984). His mother Monica had taken charge of the training operation for Badsworth Boy's final success in 1985.
11. In 1986, the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Buck House subsequently met with that year's Cheltenham Gold Cup heroine Dawn Run in a special match race at Punchestown in April, 1986. It was Dawn Run who prevailed by two and a half lengths.
12. The Irish Independent Arkle Trophy is a good guide for future success in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Azertyuiop (2004), Moscow Flyer (2003 and 2005), Flagship Uberalles (2002), Klairon Davis (1996) and Remittance Man (1992) all won the novices' event before their Queen Mother Champion Chase victory.
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