Racing: Moscow Flyer earns stripes again in style

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The Independent Online

After the disgrace came the glory once again for Moscow Flyer yesterday. The outrageously talented Irish horse wiped away in an instant the memory of his surrender in the Queen Mother Champion Chase by collecting the Melling Chase here.

It was, once again, a race not without incident for Jessica Harrington's gelding. The fifth fence was the site of Moscow Flyer's dice with disaster on this occasion, but where at Cheltenham he found a mistake unrecoverable this time the fast horse quickly composed himself after scattering the brush from the top of the obstacle.

Cenkos made much of the early running, Isio the portion in the middle, but when the favourite nosed to the front at the last the contest ceased to be one. Moscow Flyer scampered away to make a nonsense of suggestions that the 2m 4f journey yesterday might be outside his compass.

Indeed, the victory now opens up many avenues. Moscow Flyer will conclude his season at Punchestown, but the next could include a further step up the distance ladder for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. "As long as he settles and gets into a rhythm he's got a chance of staying," Harrington said. "There was so much hype before the [Cheltenham] race and I felt much more relaxed this time. At least until just before the off. During the race my mouth was dry and my heart was pounding."

More phlegmatic was Barry Geraghty, who afforded Moscow Flyer time to get his jumping organised over the first few fences. "It could have been a helluva lot worse last time," the jockey said. "He was not in as big a rush today. Mick [Fitzgerald, on Isio] quickened it up down the back which was fine because I didn't want to be in front too soon. When we got to the front, he dossed.

"This is a serious, serious horse. Just sheer class. He makes mistakes because he's got the bottle, like Roy Keane, whose got the bottle to make a tackle and get stuck in. And, like Roy Keane, it doesn't always work out for the horse either."