Racing: Korelo victory extends Pipe's Imperial reign

Plan A, worth £29,000, has come to fruition. Plan B, with more than £100,000 at stake, will be enacted at Cheltenham on Wednesday. The Imperial Cup is the traditional curtain-raiser to the upcoming Festival, but in recent years has taken on an extra significance with the carrot of a £60,000 bonus if the winner can follow up at Prestbury Park. Only one trainer has achieved the double, Martin Pipe, with Olympian 10 years ago and Blowing Wind in 1998, and he is now in line for a third pot following Korelo's extraordinary victory here yesterday.

Anyone trying to lay the five-year-old half a mile from home could not have found a taker. On rain-soaked ground not unakin to a ploughed field, Korelo was going absolutely nowhere, with Tony McCoy's urgings testing his recently injured left shoulder to the limit.

But once in the straight the 9-4 favourite began to find his second wind, and by the final flight had virtually come back on the bridle, hopping over with his ears flicking. His winning margin, from Irish mare Newhall, was six lengths, with one of the early trailblazers, Lawz, third and another Pipe candidate, Canada, fourth.

The bonus apart, Pipe has a tremendous Imperial Cup record, Korelo being his fifth winner. The David Johnson colourbearer will now, assuming he suffers no ill-effects from yesterday's effort, head for the Coral Cup, which offers a first prize of £42,000 and for which the 7lb penalty picked up for this victory did not prevent him hardening as market leader.

"I was struggling," admitted McCoy, "but the two miles here takes some getting in this sort of ground and they'd gone plenty fast enough in front. I knew his stamina would come into play, and the trick was to keep him up to his work without being too hard on him. But he's the sort who saves a bit for himself, which helps in a situation like this."

McCoy, who followed up on Grand National entry Killusty (winning on his first appearance for 25 months) in the three-mile handicap chase, named Tiutchev, in the Queen Mother Champion Chase immediately before the Coral Cup, as one of his particular Festival fancies. "Don't forget he'd been ill before he ran so well last year," he said, "I like him a lot."

Third-season trainer Emma Lavelle, whose first-ever Cheltenham runner will be Self Defense in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, emphasised her team's sparkling form when Tana River defied top weight to take the two-and-a-half-mile novices' handicap hurdle and Immola hacked up in the two-mile equivalent, both under Barry Fenton.

Tana River's success was a pre-play of Korelo's, sweeping through from nowhere over the last flight to take the Grade Three prize by nine lengths. "I knew if I didn't get too detached from the others his stamina would get him home," said Fenton.

It was definitely not a day for faint hearts and Ibal, winner of the Imperial Cup two years ago and the mainstay of Dina Smith's tiny Pulborough yard, spoilt the royal romance in the opening novices' chase.

Favourite for the race, named to commemorate one of the Queen Mother's darlings, Special Cargo, was First Love, bred by her and raced since her death by the Queen. But the seven-year-old seems not to have his late owner's absolute commitment to the game and was repeatedly outjumped and out-toughed by his contemporary Ibal, who had seen him off by the Pond fence three from home and galloped cheerfully up the hill under Leighton Aspell to score by 10 lengths.

It was Ibal's fourth successive win over fences and highlighted his competitive spirit, for he had virtually crawled across the line at Plumpton in January when a tilt at three miles stretched his stamina to its limit. "It was not good to watch," said Smith, "but it did not affect him mentally, in fact he arrived back in the yard quite pleased with himself, and we gave him plenty of time to get over it physically."

Twenty-two challengers remained in the Gold Cup at yesterday's penultimate declaration stage, with no surprises among the withdrawals.

And as the jump season reaches its climax there was a reminder of the delights of the Flat season to come when Aquarelliste, one of the best mares in training, destroyed her rivals by five lengths in the first Pattern race of the European season, the Group Three Prix Exbury at Saint-Cloud, putting herself in line for the Dubai World Cup at the end of the month.

"She works better on the sand at home than she does on the grass," said her trainer, Elie Lellouche. After Dubai she will be covered by Sadler's Wells, but her owner, Alec Wildenstein, indicated the five-year-old, may continue racing after she is in foal.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

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

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Administrator - London - £26,000

£26000 per annum + 25 days holiday & further benefits: Ashdown Group: Telecomm...

Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are seeking a confident...

Senior Data Analyst - London - £38,000

£30000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Data Analyst - Lon...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
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
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London