Limerick Lace soars home in the Mares’ Chase

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Limerick Lace soars home in the Mares’ Chase

Limerick Lace fended off Dinoblue to give JP McManus a first and a second in the Mares’ Chase on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Limerick Lace held on to see off the challenge of Dinoblue, also owned by McManus, by three-quarters of a length.

Winning trainer Gavin Cromwell said: “That was fantastic. Keith was very good on her as she’s not straightforward. She’s a bit of a madam and she nearly kicked a cameraman on her way out.

“She’s broken a lot of white rail at home. She’s a bit of a lady, but you don’t mind when they are as good as that.

“I’m delighted for Keith and for everybody. He turned it into as much of a test as he could as she stays really well and was second in the Troytown. She’s a full sister to yesterday’s winner of the Kim Muir, Inothewayurthinkin. I’m sure it’s happened before but I don’t suppose it’s happened too often.

“On the day over the two and a half it probably played more to her strengths than to Dino Blue’s, as she’s very speedy, but they are two very good mares.

“She’s in the Grand National, and I suppose that’s a possibility.

“She showed a bit of heart. I’m delighted for Keith, he is a big part of the team and that was well deserved. He gave her a lovely ride, turned it into a good test, and she stayed on well. She was genuine, she was in front from a long way out and had to battle.”

Asked about the mare flashing her tail and having a kick in the pre-parade ring, Cromwell said: “She’s always like that, she’s improved on what she used to be like, that’s just her, she’s a bit of a madam, but she’s showed guts and determination. She’s a full sister to Inothewayurthinkin, who won last night.”

On the satisfaction of training winners for JP McManus and how far this mare could go in future, he said: “Brilliant, it’s fantastic. I can’t say enough. We are at the top, I’m just delighted. She is in the National as well, so we will see how she comes out of here. It’s all about today.”

Absurde takes the County Hurdle under an impressive ride from Paul Townend

Image: Absurde takes the County Hurdle under an impressive ride from Paul Townend

Absurde takes the County Hurdle

Paul Townend produced Absurde to perfection as last year’s Ebor hero got the better of L’Eau Du Sud in the BetMGM County Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Willie Mullins and Dan Skelton have dominated this event in the last decade, winning eight of the last nine runnings between them, so it was no surprise to see the week’s top two trainers involved at the business end once again.

Paul Nicholls’ Afadil had led the field into the straight where Skelton’s 7-2 favourite L’Eau Du Sud appeared to be travelling supremely in the hands of the trainer’s brother, Harry.

However, Townend was weaving a passage to the front and after the last it was Closutton’s dual-purpose star who pulled out extra to land the spoils at 12-1.

As well as winning the Ebor when given an equally-inspired ride by Frankie Dettori, Absurde finished seventh in the Melbourne Cup, and Townend said: “I got a lot of satisfaction out of that one. What a horse to travel the world and then come back and put in a performance like that on that ground.

“I thought I’d have the pace of them all on his Flat form, but the ground was a big worry.”

Sine Nomine won the St. James's Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase

Image: Sine Nomine won the St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

Sine Nomine surprises in the Open Hunters’ Chase

There was a winner for the north at the Cheltenham Festival as Fiona Needham’s Sine Nomine edged out 11-8 favourite Its On The Line in a thrilling finish to the St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase.

The market leader’s jockey Derek O’Connor was attempting to enter the record books by winning all three amateur rider events in the same week, but it was Catterick clerk of the course Needham who added herself to the race’s roll of honour for a second time.

Needham rode Last Option to victory in 2002 for her father Robin Tate and Sine Nomine, who cost just £2,400 as a three-year-old, sported the same Tate colours here.

Sine Nomine

Image: Sine Nomine battled to victory

The eye was drawn to Sine Nomine throughout the contest as the eight-year-old travelled with real zest in the hands of John Dawson but there was still plenty of work to do as David Christie’s long-time leader Ferns Lock gave way on the run to two out and eventual third Time Leader took things up.

Dawson elected to make his challenge up the inner where O’Connor was working away urging last year’s runner-up and having found himself short of room after the last, Dawson had to switch and regather his mount before launching one last assault up the Cheltenham hill.

It was a challenge timed to perfection as although Its On The Line soon had Time Leader covered, he had no answer to Sine Nomine’s late thrust as the gallant grey became the toast of Yorkshire at odds of 8-1

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