Jeremy Scott’s Golden Ace continued to impress as she cruised to victory on her return to Cheltenham.

The six-year-old is a daughter of Golden Horn and has enjoyed a superb campaign, living up to the promise shown when she was second in the Grade Two mares’ bumper at Aintree the season prior.

The winner of two Taunton novice hurdles earlier in the year, the mare then went to the Cheltenham Festival to contest the Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle under usual rider Lorcan Williams.

While she did not face her Aintree conqueror Dysart Enos, she still crossed paths with some highly-regarded mares in Gordon Elliott’s Brighterdaysahead and Willie Mullins’ Jade De Grugy.

Neither could outperform Golden Ace, however, and she triumphed by a length and three-quarters on a day to remember for Scott and the team at Holworthy Farm.

She was then aimed at the Grade One Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting, but that plan was scuppered when she suffered a bruised foot and was therefore withdrawn.

The Listed Changing Young Lives At Jamie’s Farm Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham was the alternative outing and her prior successes saw her line up the 4-9 favourite, on what was a step up to two and half miles.

In a field of nine she was an effortless winner, striding up the hill to cross the line eight and a half lengths ahead of Ben Clarke’s Ooh Betty.

The form from her Festival win now looks rock solid, with Brighterdaysahead and Jade De Grugy both taking Grade One events since – the same level Golden Ace will be aimed at next year.

“She was very good, there were a couple of sketchy jumps but she always had everything covered,” said Scott.

“Once the Aintree plan fell through this is what we were thinking of for her.

“Lorcan said that if anything she’d probably be happier on slightly softer ground, so we’ve learnt that, but she came up the hill very well.

“We’ll aim at the two-and-a-half-mile race (Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle) here next year if we’re lucky enough to be in that position.”

Of the subsequent performance of the Elliott and Mullins mares, Scott added: “They’ve looked very, very impressive and it was just so frustrating not being able to go to Aintree, but that’s just horses I’m afraid!

“It’s been a very, very good season for her. She’s been great.”

There was some minor movement in the trainers’ championship table, as Dan Skelton collected small amounts of placed prize-money across the afternoon.

Notnowlinda finished fourth in the Catesby Estates Mares’ Challenger Series Final Handicap Hurdle and Sacre Coeur was runner-up in the NAF Mares’ Handicap Chase, reducing the gap between Skelton and table-leader Mullins by just over £9,000.

Haatem could join esteemed stablemate Rosallion in next month’s Qipco 2000 Guineas after throwing his hat into the ring with a dominant victory in the bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.

Rosallion, who won three of his four juvenile starts including the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc weekend at ParisLongchamp, is very much Richard Hannon’s first string for the season’s first Classic on May 4, with only the unbeaten and much-vaunted City Of Troy ahead of him in ante-post lists.

Haatem himself kept good company during a busy two-year-old campaign, most notably winning the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood as well as finishing second and fifth behind City Of Troy in the Superlative and Dewhurst Stakes respectively, but looked more exposed than most ahead of his three-year-old debut.

Making his reappearance and 10th career start in one of the key Guineas trials, Haatem was sent off at 17-2 in the hands of Sean Levey and quickened up smartly racing out of the dip to pull three and a half lengths clear of Dewhurst third Eben Shaddad.

“The way he did it has surprised me, but you can’t say that was a fluke. He’s obviously improved a lot physically – he’s a big, strong, impressive horse,” said Hannon.

“He’s a good horse and he’s just won a Craven by three and a half lengths. He won a Vintage Stakes with the subsequent Champagne Stakes winner behind him and he was fifth in a Dewhurst.

“Funnily enough, I said to Sean after the last race I thought he’d get the trip well and it seems the horses who have been making the running all week have been winning and have been hard to peg back. I know he didn’t make the running, but I don’t think you can say that is an average performance, he was pretty good there.”

Coral cut Haatem to 25-1 from 66-1 for the 2000 Guineas, with Aidan O’Brien’s City Of Troy their 4-6 favourite and Rosallion rated his biggest threat at 5-1. Betfair and Paddy Power make Haatem a 20-1 chance.

Hannon is ready to let both of his pair line up at Newmarket next month, but did mention a couple of potential alternatives for Haatem.

He added: “This is the racecourse and this is where it matters and on what he has done today, the 25-1 on offer for the 2000 Guineas could be generous to me.

“Rosallion is a horse that contains an awful lot of speed, whereas this is a horse who gets the trip extremely well. Rosallion will get the mile and they will both probably run (in the Guineas).

“We’ve made no secret about how good we think Rosallion is. This horse has surprised me in the manner in which he did it, but I don’t think he should ever have been a 20-1 shot for the race like he was yesterday. It’s nice to have two very good milers on our hands and two with very good chances in the Guineas – one with an exceptional chance and one with a better chance than he had before.

“He’s in the German Guineas and Irish Guineas as well and I think he will be a force to be reckoned with wherever he goes. I’m delighted and the owners are delighted – they deserve it.”

Levey said: “No doubt he (Haatem) is exposed, but I thought he brought a lot of good form to the table. He was a big horse last year and I always thought he was doing well to do as well as he did because I knew he would get better in time.

“I wasn’t expecting that sort of run today, he’s obviously been hiding a bit from me at home. I thought he wanted a mile and a quarter, but I think he has done that really well and he’s going to show his hand in the Guineas now.

“Rosallion is a good horse and it gives you a bit of confidence to see this lad win the way he did. I hope I’m right (when I say) that he (Rosallion) is exceptional.”

Washington Heights dug deep from the front to provide trainer Kevin Ryan with a record fifth victory in the Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes at Newmarket.

Previously successful in the Group Three contest with Hamza (2014), Astaire (2015) and the popular dual winner Brando (2017 and 2018), Ryan this year fielded a widely unconsidered 33-1 shot who had been off the track since landing a Listed event at Bro Park in September.

Prior to his Swedish success the four-year-old had been placed in a number of competitive sprint handicaps and looks set to ply his trade at Pattern level from now on judged on a fine comeback win on the Rowley Mile under a well judged ride from Tom Eaves.

Mill Stream also made a promising start to his campaign in second, beaten three-quarters of a length, as did Spycatcher who was only a short head further behind in third.

Adam Ryan, assistant to his father Kevin, said of the winner: “He was a bit of an unlucky horse last year and he bumped into Shaquille first time out giving him weight.

“The good thing about him is he is very consistent and he deserved to get his head in front in Sweden. This year was always going to be about if he could take the next step up and he has certainly done that.

“He’s such a genuine horse and if you had 100 like him it would be an easy game. He’s always going to give you 110 per cent and once his head is in front he is always going to be hard to pass.

“It’s a good starting point to the year and generally at this time of year the weather can be a bit in and out, but it’s usually all right here and it’s a nice place for these sprinters to start.

“The Duke Of York or the Greenlands Stakes in in Ireland could be the next port of call and he’s an exciting horse to look forward to.”

Cosmo Charlton, representing the winning owners, Hambleton Racing Ltd, said: “We’ve got quite a few of the syndicate here today and everyone was really excited.

“He’s done well over the winter and was impressive over in Sweden last year so we were hoping he was going to run above his odds today.

“He’s a horse who tried very hard in his races and he’s run loads of really good races for us. It was a strong Group Three today and almost a Group Two on paper and he just has a tremendous attitude and Tom just said he tries very hard for you and digs deep. I sort of knew he had won a furlong out to be honest.

“Tom has given him a great ride from the front and has got the job done and he looks like a sprinter to follow for the season.

“Kevin wins this race a lot and is a fantastic trainer of fast horses and it looks like he’s bought another really nice one for us. The owners have really bonded with him and to come here and win in Group company, hopefully there are exciting things ahead.

“He has options and he’s in the Duke Of York and the Greenlands. They have great prize-money and will be fun days out and the dream is very much alive with this horse about where he could take us in the future.”

The front-running First Conquest narrowly denied the promising Lead Artist in a thrilling renewal of the bet365 Wood Ditton Maiden Stakes at Newmarket.

The one-mile contest for unraced three-year-olds has been won by a whole host of high-class performers over the years, including 12 months ago when subsequent Dante third and Derby runner Passenger made a winning debut for Sir Michael Stoute.

Representing the formidable combination of Charlie Appleby and William Buick, First Conquest was unsurprisingly prominent in the market for this year’s renewal at 4-1 and having dictated affairs from the off, had most of his rivals in trouble racing out of the dip.

Lead Artist and Earl Of Rochester, two sons of Dubawi trained by John and Thady Gosden, came from the chasing pack to throw down a challenge with the former emerging as the biggest threat in the Juddmonte silks, but First Conquest dug in to prevail by a nose.

As a gelding this year’s Wood Ditton winner does not have Classic aspirations, with Appleby eyeing a more low-key campaign.

He said: “He’s been schooled up there at home and is from a family we have known. He worked with a nicer horse that ran well earlier in the week as well so we were confident, barring greenness. He hit the lids and was very professional throughout.

“At the moment I hope he will be a nice, progressive handicapper and stepping up in trip in time he can be a proper mile-and-a-quarter type of horse.

“The thing about the Wood Ditton is years ago when you’d win it you would have to throw them in at the deep end, but now with the change of the programme we can give these horses a chance and let them develop in their own manner.”

West Indies Women's captain Hayley Matthews delivered a stellar all-round performance to lead her team to a commanding 113-run victory over Pakistan Women in the first One Day International (ODI) at the National Stadium in Karachi on Thursday.

Matthews played a pivotal role in setting up the win, first with the bat and then with the ball. She showcased her batting prowess by scoring an impressive unbeaten 140 runs, anchoring the West Indies' innings to a challenging total of 269-8 in their allotted 50 overs. Matthews' innings was decorated with 15 boundaries (fours) and a well-struck six.

After losing an early wicket, Matthews combined forces with Shemaine Campbell to forge a crucial partnership of 102 runs for the second wicket. Campbell contributed a valuable 45 runs to the cause before departing.

Chinelle Henry (23) and contributions from Chedean Nation and Aaliyah Henry, who scored 17 each, further solidified the West Indies' innings as Matthews led from the front, steering her team to a formidable total.

In response, Pakistan Women struggled to build partnerships against the disciplined West Indies bowling attack. Tuba Hassan top-scored with 25 runs, while Muneeba Ali and Nahida Alvi made contributions of 22 and 20 runs, respectively.

However, it was Matthews who turned the game decisively in her team's favor with the ball, claiming three crucial wickets for just 17 runs. Afy Fletcher and Zaida James also made significant contributions with the ball, picking up two wickets each to bundle out Pakistan Women for 156 runs in 35.5 overs.

Sadia Iqbal (2-38) and Tuba Hassan (2-48) were the standout bowlers for Pakistan, but they couldn't contain Matthews' brilliance.

With this commanding victory, West Indies Women have taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series against Pakistan Women, setting the stage for an exciting contest in the upcoming matches.

 

Jamaican sprinter Oblique Seville is gearing up for an electrifying showdown against world champion Noah Lyles at the upcoming Racers Grand Prix on June 1, setting the stage for a thrilling test of readiness ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Seville, who finished fourth at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest where Lyles clinched his first 100m world title, is optimistic about his chances this season, having managed to steer clear of injury thus far. Seville's coach, Glen Mills, revealed earlier this year that an injury at a crucial stage last season hindered Seville's performance in Budapest, where he clocked 9.88 seconds, narrowly missing out on a medal.

Reflecting on his preparation for the upcoming races, Seville expressed confidence in his improved health and training regimen this season. "This year I have taken some drastic steps with regards to my injuries and injury management. I am cautious with what I'm doing so I am healthy at this point, and everything is going well," Seville explained at Tuesday's launch of the Racers Grand Prix at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston.

Seville's recent performances, including a 47.44-second 400m and a 20.17-second 200m, demonstrate his dedication and hard work leading into this pivotal season. "The 47.44 and the 20.17 that I ran show my dedication and hard work, so it is a possibility that I can make it onto the medal podium if things work out as planned," Seville remarked.

 “Last year, I didn’t get to train the way I really wanted to but this year I got to train the way I wanted so everything is working out. I am stronger because I have got more chances training wise to do things I didn’t get the chance to do last year because of some niggles that I had.

“I had some issues with my back and stuff which caused me not to be able to lift weights as much as I could but I got it sorted out now and I am good.”

Looking ahead to the Racers Grand Prix, where he will face off against Lyles and training partner Zharnel Hughes, Seville expressed excitement about the opportunity to race against the world's best. "The last time I competed against Lyles was at the World Championship finals, so it's good to run with him before the Olympics to get a feel of what is to come," Seville emphasized.

The clash between Seville, Lyles, and Hughes at the Racers Grand Prix at the National Stadium in Kingston, promises to be a thrilling preview of what's in store for the Olympic Games in Paris, as Seville aims to secure his first global medal.

Charlie Hills’ highly-regarded Cicero’s Gift is back in training with his handler confident he can make his mark at the highest level.

A winner of his first three starts, the son of Muhaarar impressed when bringing up his hat-trick in a Goodwood conditions event – a performance which earned the colt a shot at the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

A finishing position of seventh belies the true tale of that outing, with Cicero’s Gift catching the eye when having his passage repeatedly blocked in the closing stages of the Group One contest.

That was the final time he was seen last season with a setback curtailing his progress, but his trainer now has high hopes as he prepares to recommence his career at four.

Hills said: “He will have his first canter back this week and he’s a horse who had a problem last year so we threw him into a paddock for five months and gave him some time off. Hopefully, fingers crossed, we can get him back on track.

“We’ll go nice and gentle and keep him off fast ground.

“He ran a really nice race in the St James’s Palace last year, he was a bit unlucky in running and I think he can be a Group One horse. It will probably be over a mile, but the stallion is getting them to stay.”

Willie Mullins will saddle six runners in the the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday as he looks to extend his lead in the race to be crowned champion trainer in Britain.

The Grand National success of I Am Maximus at Aintree saw Mullins sweep past perennial champion Paul Nicholls and his former pupil Dan Skelton and he is now a hot favourite to become the first Irish-based trainer to claim the British title since Vincent O’Brien did so in successive seasons in the 1950s.

The Closutton handler is represented in each of the eight races on Saturday’s Ayr card and is responsible for six of the 26 declared for the £200,000 feature.

The trainer’s two leading contenders appear to be recent Fairyhouse scorer Macdermott and Mr Incredible, who turns out just seven days after unseating his rider at The Chair. Ontheropes, Spanish Harlem, Klarc Kent and We’llhavewan complete the sextet.

Mullins is unlikely to have things all his own way, however, with Nicholls represented by the high-class top-weight Stay Away Fay and Broken Halo, while Skelton will be hoping Ballygrifincottage can put him back on top of the table.

Brian Ellison’s Eider Chase winner Anglers Crag and the Jamie Snowden-trained Git Maker also feature.

The title-chasing trio all fire major bullets at the £100,000 Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle, with Mullins running Westport Cove, Bialystok and Alvaniy, Nicholls saddling last year’s winner Rubaud and his stablemate and Afadil with Skelton relying upon County Hurdle runner-up L’Eau du Sud.

Also among a total of 18 runners on the afternoon for Mullins are Uncle Phil in the opening Scotty Brand Handicap Chase, popular veteran Sharjah in the CPMS Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase and impressive Punchestown winner Billericay Dickie in the Tennent’s Novices’ Hurdle.

Lucinda Russell will consider a tilt at the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup with Corach Rambler following his first fence exit in the Grand National last weekend.

Following a highly creditable third place finish in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the 10-year-old was well fancied by many to claim back-to-back victories in the Aintree spectacular, but parted company with Derek Fox at the first obstacle and then fell riderless at the second.

Thankfully Corach Rambler returned to Scotland unscathed and having pleased in a midweek schooling session, Russell is not ruling out an end of season trip across the Irish Sea.

“When Corach Rambler unseated Derek at the first in Saturday’s Grand National, it certainly wasn’t the fairytale result the team and I had dreamt about for our pride and joy! It was naturally very disappointing, but I’m delighted to report that he came home safe and sound,” she told William Hill.

“We schooled him on Wednesday morning to make sure he hadn’t lost any confidence after Aintree, and he seems really happy. He’s very pleased to be back in work and there are no ill-effects from Liverpool, which is fantastic.

“Regarding future plans this season, he’s still got an entry in the Punchestown Gold Cup. Immediately after the Grand National, I wasn’t that keen to run him again this term, but if he’s very fresh and feels good, we’ll think about taking him to Ireland.

“We’ll see what each day brings and decide nearer the time, but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.”

 A fifth first class century by captain Joshua Da Silva rescued Trinidad and Tobago Red Force from an ominous position, and into the ascendancy in their final round West Indies Championship encounter against Jamaica Scorpions at Sabina Park.

Da Silva’s 106 off 140 ball, took Red Force from 96-4 to 308-7 at close of Wednesday’s first day. The wicketkeeper/batsman struck 15 fours and one six in his knock, as he shared in an 80-run fifth-wicket stand with Amir Jangoo, who continued his rich vein of form with a 90-ball 51 off.

Terrance Hinds, unbeaten on 21, and Khary Pierre, on one, will resume batting for Red Force on Thursday.

Spinners Peat Salmon (2-68) and Jeavor Royal (2-76) have taken most wickets so far for the Scorpions.

Scores: Trinidad & Tobago Red Force 308-7 (Joshua Da Silva 106, Amir Jangoo 51, Kjorn Ottley 45, Navin Bidaisee 31; Pete Salmon 2-68)

After being asked to take first strike, Red Force lost Cephas Cooper (12) early, but a 52-run second-wicket partnership between Kjorn Ottley (45) and Jyd Goolie (19), steadied the innings at 81-1, before Salmon and Royal grabbed three quick wickets for 15 runs.

That brought Da Silva and Jangoo together and the two steadied the Red Force innings from 96-4. Jangoo stroked seven boundaries and a six, before he was removed by Ojay Shields.

Still, Da Silva pushed on, adding another 92 runs in a sixth-wicket stand with Navin Bidaisee (31), but eventually went to Royal, after adding 36 for the seventh wicket with Hinds.

Elsewhere, at Frank Memorial Ground in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana Harpy Eagles trail Combined Campuses and Colleges by 86 runs with nine first innings wickets intact.

Scores: Combined Campuses & Colleges Marooners 200 (Demario Richards 43, Romario Greaves 36, Avinash Mahabirsingh 23; Nial Smith 3-45, Veerasammy Permaul 3-51)

Guyana Harpy Eagles 114-1 (Raymond Perez 61 not out, Kevlon Anderson 27 not out)

In Antigua, at Coolidge Cricket Ground, West Indies Academy trail Barbados Pride by 44 runs with six first innings wickets intact.

Scores: Barbados Pride 155 (Jonathan Drakes 35, Kevin Wickham 27, Shian Brathwaite 26; Johann Layne 3-23, McKenny Clarke 3-26)

West Indies Academy 111 for four (Ackeem Auguste 67 not out; Akeem Jordan 2-37)

Meanwhile, at Queen’s Park Oval, Windward Islands Volcanoes trail Leeward Islands Hurricanes by 294 runs with nine first innings wickets intact.

Scores: Leeward Islands Hurricanes 300 (Mikyle Louis 100, Jewel Andrew 68, Jeremiah Louis 43; Ryan John 3-67, Gilon Tyson 2-33, Daren Cyrus 2-70)

Windward Islands Volcanoes 6-1

Michael Owen is dreaming of bigger days having seen his homebred It Ain’t Two get on the scoresheet in the bet365 EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes at Newmarket.

Trained by Hugo Palmer, her half-brother Balon D’Or hit the target at the first attempt last season, but odds of 18-1 perhaps told the true tale of expectation as the daughter of Calyx showed plenty of ability in the five-furlong event.

Balon D’Or would go on to run at the former England international’s beloved Chester May Festival and It Ain’t Two could now follow suit.

Owen said: “Her brother won first time out at this time last year and we’ve obviously come to a trickier place in terms of quality, but you would have to be delighted with that, it’s a nice surprise.

“Lots of horses were fancied before the race, so we weren’t that confident, just because of what people were saying about theirs, but she’s a homebred filly and you have to start thinking of black type now. It will be interesting and a nice surprise and it will have us thinking in a different way.

“Normally with one of mine, I’m thinking maiden, Lily Agnes and Ascot. That’s the dream passage but we’ll see and, as she is a homebred and I have the mare at home, we may have to think of something else. It’s nice problems to have.”

The “something else” the former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker references could be the Marygate Stakes at York, with It Ain’t Two’s trainer eyeing an immediate step up into Listed company.

“We took her for a racecourse gallop at Wolverhampton about a month ago and she got lapped, so I thought I best run her as soon as possible,” said Palmer.

“We came here for some nice ground, as it was going to get called off at Redcar!

“Now she’s a winner, I guess we will go to York and try and finish in the top three in the Marygate.”

The Each Way Extra At bet365 EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes has been won by some useful operators over the years and Kevin Ryan’s Bolsena could have more to come after opening her account at the fourth attempt in the hands of Ryan Moore.

Moore was also in the saddle aboard Juddmonte’s Kalpana, who showed a clean pair of heels to surge clear of her rivals in the Price Promise At bet365 Handicap.

The Andrew Balding-trained 11-2 winner could now have a return to the Rowley Mile on her agenda, before connections consider even bigger assignments in the future.

“She has had two very good runs and the horse who beat her the last day of Kevin Ryan’s (Inisherin) could be potentially a very, very good horse,” explained Barry Mahon, European racing manager for the owners.

“We were a bit disappointed that day, but today’s performance shows we probably bumped into a very good horse.

“Andrew has liked her all the time and we thought a step up to 10 furlongs (next time) might bring about improvement and Ryan just said there, she might be a filly who could get 12 furlongs later in the season. We were hopeful of a good run and she definitely did well.

“We will maybe look at the Pretty Polly. She handled the track well and Ryan thought she would be versatile enough ground-wise, so we will look at that if she comes out of this one well.

“We’ll take small steps and if she showed up well in the Pretty Polly, we could consider the Oaks, but we’ll go small steps and see how we go.”

The opening race of the day went the way of Richard Hannon’s Dark Thirty, with the versatile operator proving as consistent as ever when notching up his fourth career success.

“He’s a genuine Saturday horse and one that is very useful. He will win us races every year and it gives us a lot of pleasure.” said Hannon.

Dan Skelton edged further ahead of Paul Nicholls in pursuit of Willie Mullins, as the battle for the jump trainers’ championship continues to look like it will go down to the final day of the season.

Skelton picked up a 113th victory of the season, with Doyen Quest winning the Kingston Stud Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham, and then saw Nicholls’ Rare Middleton just headed close home in the concluding Cheltenham Pony Racing Authority Graduates Handicap Hurdle.

Skelton picked up a winning prize of £13,007.50 with that win and Nicholls now trails his former assistant by just under £80,000.

Mullins leads the title by around £50,000, with this weekend’s Scottish Grand National meeting at Ayr and the season-ending Sandown fixture pivotal for the destination of the crown.

Doyen Quest was two lengths down heading to the final hurdle along the stand side rail, but shifted inside after clearing the obstacle.

Harry Skelton then kicked for home on the six-year-old and got up to land the race by half a length from Whatsupwithyou at 4-1, backing up his victory at Newbury from last month.

Nicholls’ Lallygag was prominent throughout but weakened after clearing the final hurdle, coming home 12th of the 15th finishers.

In Excelsis Deo justified favouritism at 3-1 to land the feature Matt Hampson Foundation Silver Trophy Handicap Chase for Harry Fry and Jonathan Burke.

The Nicholls-trained Il Ridoto was pulled up by Harry Cobden, while Skelton’s Sail Away and Our Jet both finished well down the field.

In Excelsis Deo gained two lengths on Hang In There and Scarface going over the final fence and galloped clear up the hill to win by four and three-quarter lengths.

Skelton’s Grade Two-winning Proschema returned after nearly a year off the track in the Safran Landing Systems Handicap Hurdle but finished out of the money down in eighth, as Zain Nights (9-2) took top honours for Lucy Wadham and Bryony Frost.

Nicholls clawed back some prize-money in the final race on the card, with Rare Middleton prominent throughout and having the beating of 13-8 favourite Our Champ up the run-in, only for the fast finishing 11-1 shot Tintintin to come up the rail to collar him on the line.

Skelton’s pair A Law Of Her Own and In This World finished out of the money, alongside Nicholls’ other runner Wild Max.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the pinnacle of National Hunt racing, but it is perhaps unfair to let two Fridays in March, six years apart, define the career of Paddy Brennan.

Brennan hit the ultimate height in 2010 when Imperial Commander took advantage of the fall of Kauto Star to storm up the Cheltenham hill and beat off the other Ditcheat legend of the era, Denman.

However, the fences got their own back in 2016 when Brennan and the smooth-travelling Cue Card came to grief as a mouthwatering battle with Don Cossack was about to come to a head.

It was also at that obstacle where Cue Card was to fall in his final appearance in the Gold Cup in 2017, but 2016 was the year the nose-banded Colin Tizzard superstar was primed to a peak.

Brennan has ridden over 1,500 winners over jumps and has been in the weighing room for nearly a quarter of a century.

One of the characters among the riding fraternity, he cut his teeth at the cut-throat finishing school of Jim Bolger. And it was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire when moving to the UK at the turn of the century, joining Paul Nicholls as a conditional.

His time at Ditcheat was followed by a move to Philip Hobbs, where he rode as second jockey to Richard Johnson and was champion conditional in 2004/05.

It was during that season that Brennan recorded his first Grade One success when partnering Kevin Bishop’s Ashley Brook to a 16-length romp over War Of Attrition in Aintree’s Maghull Novices’ Chase.

Before triumphing at Aintree, the duo had finished second in the Arkle at Cheltenham and it was a further 12 months before the Irishman broke his duck at racing’s Olympics when landing the Fred Winter with 40-1 shot Shamayoun.

A move up north to become Howard Johnson’s stable jockey brought further Festival glory in 2007 when Inglis Drever won the second of three World Hurdles in the gold and black silks of Graham and Andrea Wylie.

Brennan’s time trawling the northern circuit was brief, as he was cut adrift by Johnson after one season with the County Durham handler.

But a safety net was provided by Nigel Twiston-Davies and so began a four-year partnership that would take both men to the very top of the sport.

He passed 100 winners in a season during his first campaign as the Twiston-Davies number one – but the Brennan era at Naunton Downs will forever be associated with Imperial Commander.

They first hit the headlines when landing a gamble in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham and in the spring an inspired Brennan produced a majestic ride as Imperial Commander claimed the scalp of Voy Por Ustedes in the Ryanair.

That signalled a Gold Cup mission for the 2009-10 season and the first stopping point on the journey back to Cheltenham was Haydock, where Ruby Walsh picked Brennan’s pocket in the dying strides on Kauto Star to prevail by a nose.

Back at his favourite course at Cheltenham in March and with Kauto Star struggling when falling, Brennan and Imperial Commander stormed up the Cheltenham hill for a second successive Festival win – and this time in the blue riband itself.

Imperial Commander’s Gold Cup was leg one of a memorable treble for the Twiston-Davies team on the final day of the 2010 Festival and Brennan brought up his own Gold Cup day double when his beloved Pigeon Island landed the Grand Annual that drew the action to a close.

Around this time, Brennan was also forging a partnership with Tom George’s bold front-running grey Nacarat. The pair combined twice for big-race success, with their finest hour coming when making all to win the Bowl at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in 2011.

The emergence of Twiston-Davies’ son Sam as one of the weighing room’s hottest prospects saw Brennan jump before he was potentially pushed in April 2011, although the handler was said to be shocked by the decision.

Although he was never far away from Naunton Downs, as he helped Fergal O’Brien set up his fledgling base on the same gallops used by his former employer, Brennan spent four years in the big-race wilderness before being handed the call-up to ride Cue Card by Colin Tizzard.

Despite the earlier mentioned lows in the big one, there were plenty of highs, with the dynamic duo linking up for victory six times from the 15 occasions they were united on course.

Taking over from Daryl Jacob at the start of the 2015-16 season, Brennan and Cue Card got off to the perfect start when winning Weatherby’s Charlie Hall Chase.

Cue Card then went on to claim the second of three Betfair Chase wins at Haydock before the duo made it a hat-trick of victories when an inspired Brennan hauled Cue Card home to down Vautour in the King George – a triumph that was to be the combination’s finest hour and one of the rider’s most notable achievements in the saddle.

A decisive victory in the Aintree Bowl in 2016 offered some consolation to their Gold Cup despair, as the pair continued to pick up Grade One staying chases – including another Betfair Chase in November of that year and an Ascot Chase in February 2017.

The upward curve of the O’Brien stable has seen Brennan make regular appearances in the winner’s enclosure during the latter stages of his career and a further Grade One was added to the CV when he drove home Poetic Rhythm for his great ally in the 2017 Challow Hurdle.

However, that was the last top-table success for five years until the battle-hardened juvenile Knight Salute took the Irishman back into the limelight at Aintree in April 2022.

Initially, Knight Salute had dead-heated with Gordon Elliott’s Pied Piper following a thrilling finish, but was then awarded first place outright in the stewards’ room, despite Brennan’s protestations that there was no case for Davy Russell aboard Pied Piper to answer.

That sportsmanship has been the hallmark of Brennan’s latter years in the saddle, along with a steadfast loyalty to both his colleagues in the weighing room and trainer O’Brien.

Scriptwriter followed in Knight Salute’s footsteps with a Triumph trial success and Dysart Enos ensured Brennan remained a big-race player right until the very end of his decorated career when landing the Grade Two bumper at Aintree in 2023, before making a successful switch to novice hurdling.

O’Brien’s Kamsinas was another late Grade Two victor for Brennan at Haydock last November and the jockey reached 1,500 winners on Teorie at Catterick the following month, having passed the 1,000 milestone just over seven years earlier.

There was to be no fairytale final success at the Cheltenham Festival last month, but Brennan fittingly bowed out at the home of National Hunt racing a month later aboard the O’Brien-trained and aptly-named Manothepeople.

Paddy Brennan announced his immediate retirement from the saddle after steering Manothepeople to victory in the penultimate race at Cheltenham on Wednesday.

The 43-year-old has enjoyed a hugely successful career, with his victory aboard Imperial Commander in an epic renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup being the obvious highlight.

Success in the 2007 World Hurdle on the hugely popular Inglis Drever and the 2015 King George VI Chase triumph of Cue Card also feature on a long list of big-race triumphs, while a double at Catterick in December saw him pass the 1,500-winner mark.

After that landmark, Brennan said: “It’s been a dream – it’s been like a holiday destination that’s lasted for so long. Hopefully I haven’t booked a flight home yet, but maybe it’s not too far away.”

Brennan was denied a fairytale final victory at the Cheltenham Festival, but fittingly got his chance to sign off with a win at the home of National Hunt racing a month later, as the Fergal O’Brien-trained Manothepeople (9-1) galloped to a clear-cut win in the Weatherite Air Conditioning Handicap Chase.

The veteran jockey, who was crowned champion conditional at the end of 2004/05 season, stood up in the stirrups and saluted the crowd as he passed the post in front, before being congratulated by fellow riders in the pull-up area and returning to emotional scenes in the winner’s enclosure.

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