Racing: Revenge is spectacular for Flyer

There is a tendency in this sport, in the immediate aftermath of the event, to put what might happen in the future ahead of the beauty and thrill of the spectacle.

There is a tendency in this sport, in the immediate aftermath of the event, to put what might happen in the future ahead of the beauty and thrill of the spectacle.

But here yesterday, it was easy to revel in the moment as those great rivals Moscow Flyer and Barry Geraghty, Azertyuiop and Ruby Walsh produced almost the definitive two-mile chase. It had everything: spine-tingling brilliance, tactics, drama, recriminations and even, almost, an interloper. Gladiators III: the Rematch proved the best of the trilogy.

Two-milers are the sprinters of the chasing world and over the minimum trip jumping, particularly over these stiff, tricky obstacles, is everything. And for all his talent, crossing a fence has been Moscow Flyer's Achilles heel. Coming here he had won all 15 completed starts, but there was the rub: his five failures included the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March, when his exit four from home handed his crown to Azertyuiop.

Yesterday, however, his technique was breathtaking. "Electric," said Geraghty. "This horse is the man. He winged the last two and nothing was going to get by him. He was looking round and having a laugh." For most of the race Geraghty was content to sit second as Azertyuiop's stablemate Cenkos, winner of the Grade One contest two years ago when the Flyer blundered out, cut out a fierce gallop. Walsh was his shadow in third, covering the moves. The three close-set fences alongside the railway here can be crucial, with no more than 13 strides between each, and at the middle of them Moscow Flyer made his only error, misjudging his take-off by half a length.

But he was back on an even keel instantly, took Cenkos in the air four out to a mighty roar from the record 16,000 who had turned up for the famous duel, and headed for the third-last, the Pond fence, with daylight between him and Azertyuiop. At this juncture, Geraghty looked round, pointedly, at his pursuer. "It was part of the plan," he said. "If you look round, it's usually a signal that you're about to make a move. I wasn't right then, but I wanted them a bit closer to me. Mine sometimes loses concentration if he's on his own."

Azertyuiop duly took closer order, crossing the Pond just a length adrift. And then, with heads turned for home and two fences and the gruelling uphill climb ahead, here was Well Chief suddenly in the mix. Azertyuiop scattered the top of the birch two out, his first mistake, and last year's novice champion landed over the final obstacle in second place.

But up front Moscow Flyer was sailing gaily along, his four white socks and symmetrical elongated star sparkling in the gloom. Azertyuiop's racing heart enabled him to claw back Well Chief to take second by a short head, but he was still a length and a half down. The one-two was a repeat of last year, when the runner-up was a callow youth, but this time the prizefighters had squared up as equals.

The crowd gave due accord to both Azertyuiop and Well Chief for the parts they played but reserved an ovation worthy of the Irish for Moscow Flyer, trained by Jessica Harrington at Moone, Co Kildare. The 10-year-old gelding seemed a little taken aback, planting himself outside the winner's enclosure until the racket subsided. Or maybe he was just waiting for his public to gather fully.

"He is just a star," said Harrington. "He took the race by the scruff today and said 'come and catch me', and they couldn't. I know he does nothing in front, and Barry is always convinced there is more to give. He gave him just a couple of smacks before the last and he flew it, and up the hill they were going to have to sprout wings to get past him."

Moscow Flyer, who looked a ball of bouncing, balanced muscle in the preliminaries, was the first horse to be owned by Brian Kearney, and has won nearly £900,000 for him in 23 wins over fences and hurdles. "I remember the day I bought him at auction as a three-year-old," he said. "I fell in love with him, and he came up late in the day and I'd kept my money till then. I had a budget of I£20,000 and I got him for I£19,000. How can you repay a horse like him what you owe him in sheer pleasure?"

Losing with dignity is as important as winning graciously, but Azertyuiop's owner, toymaker John Hales, rather threw his Tellytubbies out of the pram as he grumbled about Walsh's tactics. "He never put Moscow Flyer under pressure," he said. "We never got upsides him like in the Champion Chase, when we put him on the floor."

Gladiators IV is on the cards, perhaps over three miles in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, more likely back at Cheltenham in March. "Let's not worry about all that now, though," added Harrington. "We'll do what's best for the horse. But I'm just enjoying today."

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game