Coole Cody edged out perennial bridesmaid Spiritofthegames and the favourite Al Dancer in third
Coole Cody, a 10-1 shot trained in Wales by Evan Williams, landed the first major handicap chase of the jump season when he made most of the running to win the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
The plan had been to get out a lead off Siruh Du Lac but he over-jumped the first and unshipped his jockey leaving Coole Cody in a share of the lead with Simply The Betts. But the winner jumped to the front at the third and was never headed thereafter returning with a spotlessly white sheepskin noseband.
He even recovered from a potentially race-ending slip on landing over the fourth which had jockey Tom O’Brien perched momentarily on his ears. He was not entirely convincing at the third last either but, again, it did not stop him.
However turning for home a number of rivals appeared to be ganging up on him but Saint Sonnet and last year’s winner Happy Diva both fell at the second last.
Others were still closing on him going to the last but he galloped on resolutely up the hill to won by three and a quarter lengths going away from perennial bridesmaid Spiritofthegames, the favourite Al Dancer in third.
Williams was delighted. “He got a bit lucky with loose horses helping him at the right times,” he said. “It was rough out there. He can be funny (character) but he’s good when he gets the bit between his teeth.
“If there’s a choice between the hard way and the easy way he’s one of those horses which would always do it the hard way. If he was human he’d go to the pub for a fight rather than staying at home in front of the fire with his slippers on! I don’t care what he does next – he’s won a Paddy Power.”
It was a welcome high profile winner for O’Brien, 33, second jockey to Philip Hobbs behind Richard Johnson for what seems like a lifetime. “It was a bit greasy where they hadn’t raced and I thought he was going down at the fourth,” he said.
“He’s relatively unexposed over fences and it was the light weight which allowed him to do it. He got into a rhythm and I was always able to fill him up at the right times.
“To be honest I thought he was an each-way shot at best with Simply the Betts, Siruh du Luc, Mister Fisher and a few of those others in there. It looked a hot race but I knew we didn’t have much weight. It’s come at the right time for me – it’s been a bit quiet at the moment.”
Colin Tizzard has endured not only horses out of form but bad luck this season. However, finally, his fortune appeared to change in the From The Horse’s Mouth Novice Chase won by his Eldorado Allen.
The six-year-old appeared to still have a bit to do behind the other grey in the race, Gumball, who had jumped from fence to fence out in front.
He was still three lengths clear when he put down on Richard Johnson when he capsized at the second last gifting a 19 length win to Robbie Power on Tizzard’s 13-2 shot.
“He was a very good hurdler,” said Tizzard. “He didn’t lose anything over the fences even when he got in close. He’s probably the best two miler we’ve had go chasing. He’ll need a run in a month’s time so we’ll look at the Henry VIII at Sandown.”
Commenting on his change in fortune he added: “That’s (luck) is what this game is all about.”
That is a sentiment with which Williams will also concur. On another day he could just as easily have been catching a loose Coole Cody at the end of the first circuit.