Pride takes his place in Irish history

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL : Michael Hourigan's six-year-old stokes up the revelry with an effortless victory in the Stayers' Hurdle
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Battling against long odds is an essential part of the Festival, but no punter here this week can have faced as impossible a task as the man guarding the gate to the winner's enclosure after the Stayers' Hurdle yesterday. They try to keep a tidy enclosure at Cheltenham, all tweeds and polite "well dones", with public displays of emotion frowned upon. When the gateman saw the jubilant Irish scrum accompanying Dorans Pride to the top spot, he wisely decided to let it pass.

Dorans Pride had just taken more than £175,000 out of the ring in major bets alone - with ridiculous ease, too - and his supporters would probably have carried him back on their shoulders had they not been so busily hugging and kissing each other. Tom Doran, his owner, sprayed them with champagne from the podium - how the stewards winced - and admitted that "I had enough on to pay for the party" with a grin which implied the celebration will last for weeks.

If every Irish banker won so easily the country would have more millionaires than Monaco. Shane Broderick, his 20-year-old jockey, moved up to challenge Cyborgo coming down the hill, and was going so well that the drinks orders were in before he turned for home. "He was never off the bridle really," Michael Hourigan, his trainer, said. "He was fantastic." If anything, his verdict was modest, and Dorans Pride will surely be the stayer to beat for several seasons to come.

Broderick's delight was matched only by that of Norman Williamson after the Gold Cup, but another Irish jockey may have been slumped in a corner of the weighing room wondering why the fates had picked on him. Trevor Horgan, riding the 33-1 chance Dr Leunt in the Triumph Hurdle, was going well on the inside as they sped down the hill with three furlongs to run. A second later he crashed through the rails, shoved sideways as they jostled for a good position, and though Horgan did well to stay in the saddle and rejoin the field, it was inevitable that he would be disqualified for taking the wrong course.

Dr Leunt lost at least five lengths in doing so, and went on to finish runner-up, only two and a half lengths behind Kissair, but the £14,582 second prize was awarded to Silver Wedge, with Dr Leunt placed last. The next time Horgan rides in the Triumph, expect him to keep at least six horses between his own and the rails at all times.

Kissair was Martin Pipe's first, and only, winner of the Festival, 14 years after Baron Blakeney, at 66-1, announced his arrival in the training ranks in the same contest. He still emerged from the three days with more glory than Richard Dunwoody. Pipe's stable jockey, the current champion, drew a blank, with Kissair being partnered by his deputy, Jonothan Lower, even though he was Pipe's only runner in the race.

"Jonothan won on him and the owner decided to keep him on," Pipe said. "I've been trying to win the Triumph again ever since 1981, but I've been struggling. I only had a few horses then and I didn't have the facilities I've got now. If I had Baron Blakeney now I think I'd win the Derby with him."

Like Dunwoody, Jamie Osborne had a disappointing Festival, which reached its lowest point when he was punished with a two-day suspension for improper use of the whip on Auburn Castle, second to Sound Reveille - who himself was pulled up in Tuesday's Arkle Trophy -in the Grand Annual Handicap Chase.

But Osborne's performance half-an-hour later on Coulton in the Cathcart Chase was probably the finest of the week. After jumping the last alongside Sullane River, Coulton sullenly refused to go past Mark Dwyer's mount, hanging badly to his right.

His attitude seemed sure to cost him the race, but Osborne switched his whip, got to work and drove Coulton ahead with inches to spare. He deserved a prize for that ride alone, but the trophy which matters, the Ritz Club award for the meeting's leading rider, had already been secured by Norman Williamson, with four winners. The Irish finished with the same total and, thanks to Dorans Pride, just as much to celebrate.

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