The Cheltenham Gold Cup produced more drama to end a week in which only 3 clear favourites won, producing a succession of unexpected results. Crowds reached an all time high but Britain’s bookies were last night celebrating their 45-million-pound windfall after the odds-on favourite, Kauto Star and his stable companion rival, Denman, failed to win this coveted prize.
Kauto Star was bidding for a third Gold Cup victory and a second in a row but the Paul Nicholls trained 10-year-old had a crashing fall four fences from home after making a blunder early on. Denman, who won in 2008, took up the running and a battle ensued but even with champion jockey Tony McCoy on board, they couldn’t hold off an impressive challenge by younger rival, Imperial Commander (7/1). Locally trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, this handsome son of Flemensfirth (USA) surged clear to win by seven lengths, giving trainer and jockey Paddy Brennan their first Gold Cup victories. Mon Mome who won the 2009 Grand National finished third.
A cheer of relief erupted from the crowd as Kauto Star returned unscathed. He will now have a well earned rest until next season. Mon Mome will now head to Aintree to attempt to become the first dual Grand national winner since Red Rum and Denman will likely have the Grand National as his principal target next season.
Despite his disappointment on Kauto Star, Ruby Walsh was leading jockey at the festival for the fifth time. Nicky Henderson won the top trainer award.
LYNN LAWSON March 19th, 2010