Racing: Best Mate's brilliant victory caps a festive feast for Knight

Best Mate wrapped up an exceedingly merry Christmas for Henrietta Knight here in Dublin yesterday with a brilliant display to win the Ericsson Chase.

Best Mate wrapped up an exceedingly merry Christmas for Henrietta Knight here in Dublin yesterday with a brilliant display to win the Ericsson Chase.

The dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner was faultless at his fences and showed astonishing acceleration in the final stages to land the second big prize in three days for Knight, whose Edredon Bleu won the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. The Oxfordshire trainer's decision to bypass Kempton with Best Mate brought her considerable criticism, but everything that happened yesterday proved itself to be a vindication - not to mention a great relief.

"The last month has been hell," she said. "I wondered why he was beaten at Huntingdon. Was it the ground? Is he as good as he was? I have never been as fearful as I was coming here today."

In the event there was no need for any trepidation whatsoever. Billed as a showdown between the 8-11 favourite and the leading Irish hope, Beef Or Salmon, the grandstand finish between the pair failed to materialise. Timmy Murphy was soon in trouble on Beef Or Salmon, who stuck on bravely enough to finish third without ever getting in a blow on the winner.

In contrast, Jim Culloty enjoyed a dream ride on Best Mate, who always travelled sweetly just behind the fast pace set by Batman Senora and Colonel Braxton. The eight-year-old quickened clear around the home turn and the only thing that stood between him and success was the final fence. But with a flying leap he put it beyond doubt and he strode away up the run-in to beat the staying-on Le Coudray by nine lengths, with Beef Or Salmon a further four lengths back.

"He jumped well, or so everybody tells me," said Knight, who chose once again not to watch the race but to listen to the commentary from the safety of the car park. "He is brilliant, just a dream. He is the best there is today. I have never compared him to Arkle, but there isn't a better horse alive."

Knight then went on to reveal her plans for the rest of Best Mate's season and declared that she will not be influenced by the public clamour to see this great champion.

"He won't run again until the Gold Cup. There is nothing suitable for him and I am not going to change the plan now. I am absolutely thrilled by the reception he has got here today. He is an Irish horse, born in Ireland, and to hear so many people cheering for him here has made me quite tearful."

Best Mate is now as short as 4-5 for the Gold Cup in March.

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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?