Trouble rested as McCoy picks up the pieces

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The Independent Online

Racing returned to the routine of Folkestone and Fakenham yesterday, but for the main protagonists in Thursday's Cheltenham Gold Cup, the memories will not be quickly banished.

While Noel Chance reported that Looks Like Trouble, his second Gold Cup winner in four years, was a healthy horse yesterday morning, Tony McCoy, the champion jockey, could think only of Gloria Victis, the partner he lost to a fatal fall at the second-last fence.

"To be honest I don't really like talking about it," McCoy told the Racing Channel yesterday. "It is probably the saddest thing that has happened to me in racing. It is easy afterwards, but for me he was as good a horse as I have ridden.

"Every time I talked about him in the paper I could not say enough about him that would be high enough, but now that he is no longer with us I can say it. He was an exceptional horse and it hurts you more with horses like that."

Looks Like Trouble, meanwhile, is unlikely to run again this season. In the aftermath of Thursday's race, there was talk of the Martell Cup at Aintree, but Noel Chance said yesterday that a run at Liverpool is unlikely.

"Realistically, I think we'll put him away and give him a good summer off," Chance said. "The horse is good this morning. He didn't have that hard a race, but you can go to the well too often."

Florida Pearl, who looked to be going as well as the winner turning for home only to tire and finish second, is expected to reappear at the Punchestown Festival in May. "Our head girl said he is in great form this morning," Willie Mullins, his trainer, said. "I have just watched the re-run of the race and I was delighted with him. He did what he went to do and that was to beat those who beat him last year, but a new kid on the block, I'm afraid, came and beat us.

"I think he got the trip all right. Paul Carberry told me that the others were never going to pass him, so if he did not stay there is not much hope for the rest of them."

Florida Pearl will be entered for the Martell Cup, but the Heineken Gold Cup at Punchestown, in which he finished second to Imperial Call last year, is the preferred option for both trainer and owners. Thus it may be left to Strong Promise, the third horse home at Cheltenham, to uphold the Gold Cup form at the second of the big spring festivals.

"It was a great run and he has come out of the race very well," Chris Kinane, his trainer, said yesterday. "He looked magnificent in the parade ring beforehand and I had told people to get on at 40-1 after he worked over nine furlongs at Newmarket last Wednesday. It was similar to the way he had worked there before he finished second in the Gold Cup two years ago."

See More Business, whose attempt to win consecutive Gold Cups petered out into fourth place, was yesterday said to be feeling the effects of the ground. Tim Cox, a spokesman for Paul Nicholls, said: "I spoke to Paul this morning and he told me that See More Business has got very sore shins, but that he's fine otherwise."

At Cheltenham itself, the course's administrators reflected on a week of sell-out crowds, and new track-record times in 11 of the 20 races.

"We have looked at the way the races were run," Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham's managing director, said. "The jockeys did not think they were going very fast and we think it was just down to the way the ground has dried. We have not lost a bit of the racecourse, we did not start from the wrong places and the horses are not suddenly better than they used to be."

With the obvious exception of Gloria Victis, it was also a successful meeting in terms of the well-being of the competitors. "We can trace only one horse which has had a suspensory tendon injury," Gillespie said, "and I have just seen the gentleman handling the Irish horses going home and he said that he has seldom seen so many sound horses going back. We could not be more pleased and let us hope we can do the same next year."

* A Tote Jackpot carry-over from Cheltenham of £801,377.30 was settled yesterday. With the exception of the first race victor, 14-1 shot Loganlea, who reduced the surviving units to 23,000, the other five winners were well supported. The holders of 26.54 units collected a dividend of £21,438.50 to a £1 stake, compared to a £1 starting-price accumulator of £5,827.

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