Racing: Hill ushers in outsider

FORTUNES changed up heartbreak hill in the closing strides of the Whitbread Gold Cup here yesterday. The winner, the 25-1 shot Ushers Island, was only third over the last fence; the runner-up, Antonin, behind him in fourth.

The finish may have dashed the hopes of the supporters of Docklands Express and Fighting Words, who looked set for a vintage battle for glory as they rose to the last together. But it provide a thrilling final flourish to the top-level jump-race season.

With three miles behind them and only the last three fences to jump Young Hustler, Fighting Words, Antonin, Docklands Express and Flashing Steel drew clear of the rest, with Ushers Island tacked on behind.

Young Hustler, always prominent, led over the third last but was collared after the penultimate obstacle. The gallant 12-year-old Docklands Express, the winner three years ago, and Fighting Words took over. But on their heels, after making rapid progress, was the out-and-out stayer Ushers Island. Charlie Swan conjured a flyer from his partner at the last and, switching right, a tremendous change of gear which took him sweeping away to victory. And little Antonin, none too fluent over the last three fences, charged up the hill to snatch second place and make it a one- two for the northern raiders.

Ushers Island's owner, Bob Bowden, was present, but his trainer, Howard Johnson, was back home on the farm in Crook, Co Durham, dealing with the late lambing. The win was fine compensation for the eight-year-old's third-fence fall in the National, and for Swan, disqualified when first past the post on Cahervillahow when Docklands was awarded the race.

Swan said: 'He missed out a couple down the back, but the one thing I knew was that he would stay, because he's won that four-miler at Cheltenham. And turning for home over the last three I grew more and more confident. I must say, though, when I saw Dockland Express in front of me at the last it brought back a few memories.'

Earlier in the day, the Thresher Classic Trial produced a workmanlike performance in the testing conditions from Linney Head. But whether the unbeaten son of Lyphard represents Sheikh Mohammed, still looking for his first Derby winner, at Epsom is unclear.

The round-actioned colt stayed on resolutely up the hill to beat Khamaseen a length and three-quarters. But the winning trainer, John Gosden, said: 'I can remember after Dick Hern was asked if Nashwan would gallop down the (Epsom) hill he said he would gallop down the side of a house if necessary. I couldn't in honesty say the same about this horse; by his action he would prefer a flatter track, and may be more of a French Derby type.'

The runaway Kempton winner Thabit set a good gallop, and was still in front as the field swung into the straight and fanned out to tackle the hill. But he capitulated quickly as the others took him, the first being Khamaseen at the two- furlong marker. Frankie Dettori had held up Linney Head off the pace but, as Khamaseen made the best of his way home, Dettori began to wind his partner up and the 9-4 favourite produced the goods.

He went past Khamaseen a furlong and a half out and his relentless gallop kept him clear. Time Star made late progress to be third.

In the opener Paul Eddery was banned for three days (2-4 May) for careless riding, though under the new rules his mount Solo Prize kept the race.

(Photograph omitted)

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is currently recruitin...

SECONDARY SUPPLY TEACHERS NEEDED IN AND AROUND DARTFORD

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Description Randstad Education i...

SECONDARY SUPPLY TEACHERS NEEDED IN AND AROUND SWALE

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Description Randstad Education i...

Geography Teacher, full time supply role, Thanet Academy

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The School Randstad are proud to...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week