SportRacing

Coneygree storms to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory

Coneygree toasts Cheltenham Gold Cup glory
Coneygree toasts Cheltenham Gold Cup glory

Coneygree became the first novice to strike for 41 years when making most of the running in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The eight-year-old, trained by Mark Bradstock and ridden by Nico de Boinville, took the blue riband prize of steeplechasing on only his fourth race over fences.

The success fully vindicated the decision to bypass the RSA Chase earlier in the week and run in the Gold Cup instead.

Coneygree (7-1) held on up the hill by a length and a half from Djakadam (10-1), with Road To Riches (8-1) two lengths away in third.

De Boinville said: "It's the best feeling ever, I'm lost for words. I never thought they shouldn't have run in this, it was a great plan.

"The weather gods were looking down on us and the ground was ideal.

"He's so deceptive, even when he gets in tight he's brilliant, it's all thanks to the Bradstock family, it's a great family effort.

"I must thank the owners and the Bradstocks for keeping the faith in me. These horses only come once in a lifetime."

Meanwhile, Willie Mullins made history by training a record eight winners at a Cheltenham Festival when Killultagh Vic landed a thrilling victory in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.

The six-year-old, ridden by Luke Dempsey, was all out to see off Noble Endeavour and grab the verdict in a terrific tussle up the hill.

Killultagh Vic (7-1) stuck on resolutely to score by a head, with another Mullins runner Roi Des Francs, the 3-1 favourite, four and a half lengths away in third. Kauto Grand Mogul was fourth at 33-1.

Mullins said: "I thought Luke gave him a great ride, he was beaten and then he pulled it out of the fire.

"It's his first ride for me, as far as I can remember. He was available last week so I booked him. We thought he was working well at home, but he's not a great jumper.

"Luke got him settled and then looked for some nicer ground, when he got some light at his hurdles he was good.

"Luke has been riding out of his skin recently and we were lucky to get him, a good jockey is a big plus in this race.

"I used to ride with his father, Philip, so I'm delighted to put him up on a winner."

Of his record achievement, he said: "It's been fantastic.

"It's so hard and competitive, but we've had such a fantastic spring. We've had no sickness with any of the horses and we've had a great preparation."