As if the new world order needed emphasising, this week has been not only underlining it, but doing so with an indelible black marker. At the half-way stage of the Festival the reigning champion trainer Martin Pipe had collected one third place and £14,462 in prize-money from 15 runners; the title-holder elect Paul Nicholls two winners, a runner-up, a third and £167,115 from 13 combatants.
And the way forward is being plotted by the minute at Nicholls's Manor Farm base in Somerset. Denman, runner-up to Nicanor in the opening Royal & Sun- Alliance Novices' Hurdle, is a high-class young staying chaser of the future and Star De Mohaison, who gave his rivals a jumping lesson in the equivalent contest over fences, is one already.
Regrets over Denman's defeat were felt more by those who made the six-year-old 11-10 favourite than by his immediate connections. "When we bought him we never really thought he'd be any good over hurdles, let alone end up here," said Nicholls, "so he's done really well. That was his last run over hurdles. He'll be three-mile chasing next year."
So will Nicanor, who gave his trainer, Noel Meade, some redress for the eclipse of well fancied Sweet Wake in the meeting's opener on Tuesday. The five-year-old scampered strongly up the hill to score by two and a half lengths and rider Paul Carberry said: "That was real class, he cruised the whole way. Noel has said he could be a Gold Cup horse and he might not be too far wrong."
It is said that timing is much in life but that of Sir Robert Ogden, one of Nicholls's wealthy patrons, has been sadly awry this week. Instead of watching his horses here, the millionaire businessman chose to go cruising on his luxury yacht in the Pacific, his first non-attendance at the meeting in 20 years. And the law of sod decreed that he not only missed seeing Star De Mohaison add to Voy Por Ustedes' success the previous day, but that his yacht has been beset by storms.
Star De Mohaison was left clear when Back In Front, going as well, ejected Paddy Flood at the second-last, and powered six lengths away from Idle Talk up the hill. Darkness, who jumped clumsily throughout, stayed on for third. In an incident-packed race, with only seven finishers from the 15 who set out, the Pipe-trained 9-2 favourite Commercial Flyer was pulled up after losing a shoe, Our Ben departed at the third and The Listener and Bold Bishop along with Back In Front two out.
There was swift compensation for the last-named's trainer, Edward O'Grady, and a swift double for Star De Mohaison's rider, Barry Geraghty, when Sky's The Limit, joint top-weight in the Coral Cup, turned a competitive handicap into a rout. But the Coral was marred by the death of the favourite No Where To Hyde, who became the first fatality of the meeting after a crunching fall at the last.
It was left to an outsider, the 33-1 shot Hairy Molly from Joe Crowley's Co Kilkenny establishment, to maintain the dominance of Irish stables in the bumper.
The six-year-old gelding, who bears the name of a bristly caterpillar, was another winner for Carberry as he notched a seventh victory of the meeting for Ireland, just two short of last year's record.
Yesterday's attendance was 55,083, up on last year.Reuse content