Outback Way too tough

By Sue Montgomery at Cheltenham

By Sue Montgomery at Cheltenham

14 November 1999

Who dares wins, and it was Norman Williamson here yesterday. In the decisive move of the Murphy's Gold Cup he of the stormin' sobriquet launched The Outback Way, his willing partner, at the last fence like a lightning bolt. The tactic won the day; the near-black nine-year-old flashed fast and low over the fence and landed running and, although his momentum slackened up the steep climb to the finish, he had poached enough of an advantage to repel the late flourish from Stormy Passage by a neck.

Williamson's style was in sharp contrast to that of Andrew Thornton on the runner-up, although, in fairness, on the approach to the obstacle his mount had seemed safely held. Thornton played safe and popped before asking Stormy Passage for an effort and when the ground-devouring response came it seemed to catch him almost unawares. His urgings may have come too late, for which he could arguably be blamed, but the view of the local stewards that they were not too little is surely wide of the mark.

Their decision to refer Thornton to the disciplinary committee in London over his use of the whip left an unsatisfactory shadow over a stirring contest. "I'm a horseman and I don't abuse horses," said the aggrieved jockey, "I gave him six smacks after the last and he responded each time. I've been riding for 11 years and I've never once been in front of the stewards for excessive force."

In taking the season's first high-profile steeplechase, The Outback Way put the spotlight firmly back on Venetia Williams, his trainer, who has had a quiet enough start to the season by her high standards. The gelding, who runs in the colours of a holiday company, had warmed up with a victory over the course and distance last month. "His great asset is that he is terribly athletic and quick through the air," she said, "and you can put him anywhere at a fence and he'll cope." It was second time around for the victorious team in the race that started life as the Mackeson Gold Cup. Nine years ago Williamson was on board Multum In Parvo and Williams was assistant to John Edwards, his trainer.

The Irishman is convinced that the long-term future for The Outback Way, who will return here next month for the Tripleprint Gold Cup, lies at Aintree. "I know it is a long way off but if we got fast ground he could be a National horse. He has a high cruising speed and his jumping is a huge asset."

Although The Outback Way appeared to be fading at the end of yesterday's extended two and a half miles, Williamson did not ascribe it to lack of stamina. "Going to the last there was no way he was going to stop up the hill. But he was caught out by the funnel effect of the noise and the crowds. If there had been another fence he would still have been galloping."

The outsider Sounds Like Fun plugged on into third place ahead of the early pace-setter Northern Starlight. But the big disappointments were the two market leaders Call Equiname, who was pulled up, and Majadou, eighth. Mick Fitzgerald was hard at work on Call Equiname as the field passed the stands first time and called it a day at the tenth. The grey's mystified trainer Paul Nicholls said later: "He finished distressed, though he's sound, which is the main thing. He had been working beautifully but in the race he just had no sparkle."

The day after David Nicholson announced his imminent retirement another career came to an end. The jockey Graham Bradley's greatest moments came here - on Bregawn in the 1983 Gold Cup and on Collier Bay in the 1996 Champion Hurdle - but after steering Ontheboil home at Haydock he announced the end of his 20-year career. Bradley, born a month before Fortria won the first Mackeson in 1960, was suspected, arrested and cleared over allegations of race-fixing earlier this year and had been looking for one final winner in the six months since. He said: "I was very keen on riding another winner. I didn't want anyone else to finish me, not the police, the Jockey Club or the Press. I'm going to miss it like mad, but I know I couldn't go on for ever."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map