Sizing John and Robbie Power won a thrilling Gold Cup race at the Cheltenham Festival on Friday (17 March). The 7-1 shot, trained by Jessica Harrington and owned by Ann and Alan Potts, took the lead after an intriguing battle between Native River, Champagne West and Djakadam before powering to an impressive victory.
Minella Rocco and Noel Fehily finished second at 18-1, while 7-2 Native River crossed the line in third and two-time runner-up Djakadam, ridden by Ruby Walsh, came fourth. There was more misery for Cue Card, who fell at the third to last fence for the second year in succession but is said to be in good health. Female jockey Lizzie Kelly was unseated by Tea for Two at just the second fence and Irish Cavalier also pulled up before the climax. Empire of Dirt did not run .
"It's just amazing," Harrington told BBC Radio Five Live. "Sizing John has gone from two miles at Christmas to three miles here. It's his jumping that got him here.
"I never seemed to have any stayers in the past. The team at home have been fantastic. I can't believe it – I have to get a Classic now."
Power, who rode 33-1 shot Silver Birch to victory at the 2007 Grand National at Aintree, said: "Harrington is a genius. It was 10 years ago when I won the Grand National. I'm 35 now – I appreciate this a bit more."
After his victory over Empire of Dirt and Don Poli at Leopardstown last month, seven-year-old bay gelding Sizing John, frequently in the shadow of formerly dominant Queen Mother Champion Chase disappointment Douvan, becomes the first horse to win the Irish and Cheltenham Gold Cups in the same season since Imperial Call in 1996.