Cheltenham: Caid Du Berlais leaves it late in Paddy Power Gold Cup
Caid Du Berlais left it very late to snatch the feature Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham under a barnstorming ride from Sam Twiston-Davies. Sent off a 10/1 shot for the Grade 3 contest, Paul Nicholls’ charge, third at the festival in March, was held up well off the pace throughout but came with a blistering finish to just nab last year’s winner John’s Spirit on the line.
John’s Spirit had been produced to win the race at the final fence by Richie McLernon and looked to have the race in the bag going towards the line. Present View, who had been sent off the 5/1 favourite, ran a fine race but his challenge faded at the last, before staying on for third.
Sam Twiston-Davies began to galvanise Caid Du Berlais on the near side approaching the last and eventually just grabbed John’s Spirit on the line.
The winning jockey, who had described his worries about the ground earlier in the day, said: “I’ve got a lot of apologising to do!” he said. “I told Paul not to run him. I was adamant to Paul he shouldn’t run, but he’s like my Dad – he knows best!”
Nicholls added: “I knew the horse was very well. Sam’s been riding him at home. Megan [his daughter] led him up. She’s been telling me for a while that he’s very well.
“I told Sam to go as wide as you can and follow Richie McLernon [on Johns Spirit] and he’s done just that.
“You’ve got to run these horses when they’re right and not worry too much about the ground. I told Sam if he wasn’t going after a mile to look after him and pull him up.
“This is when you want your horses right. Not in October. We’ve just gone a bit slower and I think it’s paid dividends.”
Earlier on the card, Nicholls and Twiston-Davies had teamed up to take the Grade 3 Murphy Group Handicap Chase with the dogged and aptly named Sam Winner. The 7yo was on and off the bridle from the off in the stamina testing 3m 3f contest but was on the bridle when it counted, staying on dourly to see off 4/1 favourite The Druids Nephew by 1 1/2 lengths. Saint Are stayed on late for 3rd.
The winner may now be pointed towards a crack at the Grand National next year, with Nicholls saying:
“He never jumped on the first circuit and nearly dropped himself out, which he did over hurdles, but I told Sam not to give up on him. He can be idle, but I thought that was as good a ride as you’ll see.
“I had a big decision to make as I thought he’d run a big race in the Hennessy, but the owners wanted to run here.
“It would be hard to go for the Hennessy now, and I have Rocky Creek and a couple of others for that.
“He’s a National horse, without a shadow of a doubt. How we get there I don’t know. You could stick him in the Lexus (at Leopardstown), he just might be suited by going in a small-field conditions chase somewhere.”
By Kevin Walsh / Photo: Andrew Matthews /EMPICS Sport
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