Racing: Irish thrilled by a St Patrick's Day greenwash in Gold Cup

The prize-money won by War Of Attrition in the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup goes to Michael O'Leary, but the Ryanair boss knew his success was shared by an entire nation. The favourite, Beef Or Salmon, could not keep to the script on St Patrick's Day but the three other Irish runners finished first, second and third.

The Gold Cup "greenwash" crowned a record-breaking week for the thousands of Irish here. In War Of Attrition, moreover, they have a legitimate new champion. The widespread assumption had been that the biggest field ever to assemble for the Gold Cup betrayed a lack of quality, and most came to bury Caesar, not praise him. But when War Of Attrition sprang over the last fence with such rampant purpose, he demanded recognition as the master of a new empire.

He had been well beaten by Beef Or Salmon in deep ground at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting, but earlier in the season at Punchestown he beat none other than Kicking King, winner of this race last year.

O'Leary, a relative newcomer to the Turf, yielded to Mouse Morris and Conor O'Dwyer - two wily Cheltenham veterans respectively charged with training and riding War Of Attrition - in declining the natural temptation of the Ryanair Chase in favour of the Gold Cup.

And in the final days before the Festival, there was a groundswell of confidence in his chance in the drying conditions.

Even so, Beef Or Salmon held firm at the head of the betting on another raw, grey day the Cotswolds. Not that his demeanour before the race was encouraging. He was bucking his hindlegs so neurotically in the preliminaries that Paul Carberry abandoned the parade before it had even started.

Three previous attempts had suggested that Beef Or Salmon would be forever inhibited by this undulating track. Carberry tried hunting him round, and was stone last with a circuit to run, but he made mistakes at the 10th and 13th fences.

O'Dwyer had meanwhile kept wide of the packed field and War Of Attrition jumped and galloped with energy throughout. Barry Geraghty had taken it up on Forget The Past down the far side but O'Dwyer took over approaching the second last, with only Hedgehunter in meaningful pursuit. The proven stamina of the Grand National winner looked certain to tell approaching the last, but he could not discover the faintest hint of weariness in War Of Attrition, who maintained an advantage of two and a half lengths up the hill. It was seven lengths back to Forget The Past, with the French runner, L'Ami, confining the British to no better than fifth place with Take The Stand.

Next was Monkerhostin, who made a bad early error, while Beef Or Salmon made only laboured progress into 11th of the 18 finishers.

Celestial Gold completed a desperate meeting for Martin Pipe by unseating Timmy Murphy at the tenth. Murphy was given treatment behind screens and the fence was omitted on the next circuit, but not by the riderless horse who very nearly polished off his prostrate partner. Fortunately Murphy escaped with a bruising.

O'Dwyer led his mount back to the familiar delirium. Remarkably, the Irish have now claimed the three most prestigious prizes at the Festival in successive years - with different horses in every case. Just three weeks short of his 40th birthday, O'Dwyer will be postponing any thought of retirement. While his Festival CV embraces only four wins, remarkably they comprise two Champion Hurdles and two Gold Cups.

"Hopefully the horse will be back here next year and I'd hate to be watching on telly," he said. "He jumped impeccably and even the last two fences he stood off. I saw Ruby coming but the way my horse jumped the second-last nothing was going to go by him."

Morris himself trained one of the Festival stalwarts of the Eighties, Buck House, and he remains as laconic and cool as ever, studiously dishevelled as he lit a victory cigarette. "Conor gave him a super ride for an older fellow!" he said. "It was a great race for the Irish. I have always had a lot of faith in this horse, have always said he is one of the best I have ever had and I think he proved that. If you go back two years he ran Brave Inca to a neck over hurdles here. That tells you how much 'boot' he has, and if he stayed as well, you have yourself a serious horse."

Hedgehunter's run salvaged a "disastrous" meeting for his trainer. "I never thought I would be so delighted to finish second in my life but I am after the way mine have been running," Willie Mullins said. "I was so disappointed with the way Mister Hight ran in the first that I came very close to taking him out. He will look well in at Aintree now even with top weight, because the handicapper would give him another 8lb to 10lb for that run."

He is now as short as 4-1 favourite with Ladbrokes for a second Grand National. It is not as if the British will have any illusions about winning it. "Nowadays we're keeping all the good ones," O'Leary grinned. "We save the rubbish to sell to you!"

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Maths Intervention / Learning Mentor

£60 - £80 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: We are loo...

KS2 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day + Flexible with benefits: Randstad Education Group: Key St...

Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album