Racing: Rule Supreme unfurls flag for Ireland

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The Independent Online

If the little people deserted Moscow Flyer in his hour of need, they had the last laugh in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase, although it was not immediately apparent. Two fences from home Mossy Green, one of two Willie Mullins-trained runners, came down while still going great guns in the lead, and in the process brought down his well-fancied compatriot Pizarro.

If the little people deserted Moscow Flyer in his hour of need, they had the last laugh in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase, although it was not immediately apparent. Two fences from home Mossy Green, one of two Willie Mullins-trained runners, came down while still going great guns in the lead, and in the process brought down his well-fancied compatriot Pizarro.

The favourite for what looked a classy renewal of the Grade One contest for emerging staying chasers, Our Vic, was left in the lead, but no sooner had he lost his battle with Royal Emperor going to and over the last and up the hill, than Mullins's virtually ignored-second string, Rule Supreme, sailed into view on the outside and swooped to conquer by a length and a quarter at 25-1. He and David Casey returned to the winner's circle draped in a huge Irish tricolour.

Co Carlow-based Mullins was not wholly complimentary about the eight-year-old, who had been recently plying his trade in handicap, rather than novice, company. "He's got an engine but he's a scrappy jumper," he said. "Some horses can jump out of jail but not this one. I don't think he's ever fallen, but he's got rid of his jockey a few times. But David knows him well and as long as he keeps a leg on either side that's good enough."

Rule Supreme has a varied programme planned for him. "He's entered in the National, but he won't go there, he hasn't enough scope. We'll take him to Punchestown, then the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in June. I think he's good enough for a Gold Cup, but I wouldn't rule out coming back here for the Stayers' Hurdle next year."

Beginner's luck was the order of the day in the opener. Two months ago Fizz Griffin, Killy Pennell and their husbands went for a drink in the Hollow Bottom pub at Guiting Power, near Cheltenham and during the course of a convivial evening acquired Fundamentalist, trained by the hostelry's owner, Nigel Twiston-Davies. Yesterday, in the Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle, the six-year-old foiled the 7-4 favourite Inglis Drever by half a length after a stirring duel.

The name of the winner of the closing bumper, Total Enjoyment, was perhaps entirely appropriate. The five-year-old, with Best Mate's jockey Jim Culloty on board, is trained in Ireland by Tommy Cooper and went clear before the final turn to win by two and a half lengths. Just like that.

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