Racing: Imperial Call is fall guy

Imperial Call , the Gold Cup winner, remains favourite for a repeat at Cheltenham next March despite the last-fence fall that cost him victory in the MMI Stockbrokers Chase at Punchestown yesterday. The seven-year- old's eagerly awaited seasonal debut ended in anticlimax as he and his rider Conor O'Dwyer got their wires crossed as they approached the obstacle, jumped awkwardly and ended up on the floor.

After two-mile champion Klairon Davis crashed out at the final ditch four from home O'Dwyer sent Imperial Call past pace-setting Merry Gale, and cruised into the lead, tracking over the the best ground by the stands rails, with one to jump in the home straight. He said: "He had gone well for me all the way, but was getting a little tired going down to the last. I hadn't a great stride; I was going to ask him for a long one and changed my mind." He added, ruefully: "You just can't do that,"

The fall of the 4-6 favourite left Merry Gale clear, but he was out on his feet, and Royal Mountbrowne - who may reappear at Cheltenham on Saturday - and Charlie Swan came surging through to take the prize. Time For A Run was a distant third, with Imperial Call, none the worse, remounted to take the fourth-place money.

Fergie Sutherland's charge had actually fallen at the first in the same race last year before starting the unbeaten run that took him to Cheltenham glory. "As long as horse and man are OK, I'm happy enough," said the trainer. "Imperial Call jumped beautifully up until the last."

At Sandown, Richard Dunwoody showed his mettle as Sound Man won a stirring duel with Viking Flagship to take his second successive Tingle Creek Chase. After the Irish-trained gelding had been chopped for room on the bend at the top of the course, the steely Ulsterman took the initiative and drove Sound Man hard down the hill towards the third fence between Storm Alert and Viking Flagship.

The three rose together; only two emerged unscathed as Storm Alert sprawled on landing. From there, no prisoners were taken as Sound Man and Viking Flagship, old rivals and two of the best in the two-mile chasing division, duelled head to head over the tricky Sandown fences.

Neither was foot-perfect, and Sound Man, who runs in the colours of the former tennis star David Lloyd, handed the advantage to his rival with a monumental blunder three out, putting his forefeet down into the fence as he was asked to stand off. Dunwoody did well to stick with him as, somehow, the black birch parted to let him through and, by the final fence, had drawn level again with Viking Flagship, and up the punishing hill his superior fitness took him to a five-length victory, and both horses to a deserved ovation.

The winning trainer Eddie O'Grady said: "If that had been a boxing match I was out for the count at the third last. Richard blamed himself; he said he had been in control and should not have gone for that long one. But it was a hell of a performance from both horses. They were like gladiators out there."

Belmont King's victory in the Rehearsal Limited Handicap Chase at Chepstow was notable for feats of tremendous skill, patience and gallantry. The skill came from trainer Paul Nicholls, who produced the eight-year-old to win the race after a 590-day lay-off; the patience from owner Billie Bond, who was seeing her horse run for the first time since buying him two years ago; and the gallantry from Belmont King himself, who answered Tony McCoy's urgings to repel the challenges of Mr Mulligan out in the country and Trying Again down the long home straight.

The Welsh National Handicap Chase - also at Chepstow - after Christmas will be Belmont King's next outing.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)