Racing: Pitmans prove to be Ever Blessed

IN TERMS of hard acts to follow, Mark Pitman's is a doozie. But here yesterday he took a decisive step away from being son of Jenny when his charge Ever Blessed won the Hennessy Gold Cup. The seven-year-old gelding is blessed with an excess of talent, but is difficult to keep sound and Pitman deserves every credit for producing him in perfect nick on the big day.

Given a competently judged ride by Timmy Murphy, who let him lob along at the back on the first lap behind Earthmover and Suny Bay before moving through the field, Ever Blessed prevailed by three and a half lengths after a dour tussle with Spendid over the four fences in the home straight. Five lengths behind, the mare Fiddling The Facts recovered from a blunder four out to stay on into third place for the second successive year and The Last Fling came from off the pace to snatch fourth from Earthmover.

In deference to Ever Blessed's physical vicissitudes - he suffers from muscular problems in a shoulder - the decision to run was made only after rain softened the ground. "I was the happiest man in Berkshire when I arrived at the course for the Hennessy dinner on Friday night and it was tipping down," said Pitman. "Soft ground is essential to him. He is not easy to keep right, and we never gallop him at home with another horse, otherwise he'd get competitive and put too much pressure on himself. Keeping him right is like holding together a fragile piece of china."

Ever Blessed, one of last season's best novices, looked most favourably handicapped despite carrying 10lb more than his true handicap weight, and was backed from 6-1 to 9-2 favourite on the day to supplant Earthmover at the head of the market. Much of the support came from one of his owners, Stewart Andrew, who personified what racehorse ownership can be about as he stood, shellshocked with disbelief and joy, to receive the handsome gold trophy from the Queen Mother. The Bradford-based self-made businessman Andrew waded into the ring with "plenty". He added: "It was my biggest- ever bet, but not before the day. I don't part with my brass until I'm certain of a run for it."

For Murphy, 25, it was a career-best win, shaped when Ever Blessed made up several places with a prodigious leap at the water in front of the stands. He was one of the few able to lie up in the testing ground when Earthmover quickened the pace and split the field going down the far side, only to forfeit his place in front with an untidy leap at the cross fence. "It was fairly gruelling out there," said Murphy, "I was happy with the way he jumped but I couldn't fire him over the last few; he was tired and to ask too much might have put him on the floor. But he's as tough as old boots. If he was physically absolutely normal he'd be exceptional."

Pitman, 33, is the third member of his family to win a Hennessy, his mother having trained the 1984 winner Burrough Hill Lad and his father Richard ridden Charlie Poteen to victory in 1972. He took over the training of Ever Blessed from Jenny with the rest of the Weathercock House inmates in June. And if he is to prove a gilt-edged chip, it is to be hoped that the old block soon steps aside in his moments of triumph. Her delight in her son and the horse under his care is understandable, but yesterday she was doing a passable impersonation of Margaret Thatcher as she interrupted interviews and hogged photocalls.

Martin Pipe reaching his 100th winner of the season is hardly worthy of mention these days. The perennial champion trainer has, after all, scored a century every year since 1986 and usually topped it up with another. But when Gloria Victis won the opener yesterday it marked the earliest date in a season, by a day, that the self-effacing Westcountryman has reached the three-figure mark.

On the day, racing is very much an individual effort, but behind the scenes teamwork is paramount and, as did Pitman, Pipe was quick to acknowledge that aspect. "All the backroom boys and girls play their part," he said, "the farrier, the back man, the feed man, everyone. Jonathan Lower doesn't ride in races any more but he's invaluable schooling, and of course Tony McCoy is just brilliant. It's teamwork that gets us there and keeps us there."

An hour later Pipe made the first inroad into his second century as the tough front-runner Deano's Beeno bounced right back to his best with a comprehensive 18-length annihilation of some smart opponents in the Long Distance Hurdle. The seven-year-old had disappointed at last term's championship festivals and Pipe was visibly tickled by the bold showing of one of the stable favourites, who jumped the last of the 12 flights as cleanly as he took the first. Deano's Beano has already schooled well over fences at home and may soon go chasing.

Lower's expertise was evident when Northumberland Plate winner Far Cry made a slick winning debut over hurdles in the finale to earn a quote of around 25-1 for the Champion Hurdle. Fat-looking Bacchanal, last-stride winner of the Gerry Fielden Hurdle, was put in the lists at a similar price and pleased his trainer Nick Henderson enormously with his performance. "He's inexperienced, but he can now go to play with the big boys." The use of the plural, though, might be superfluous; to sustain interest, betting lists for the championship are now being produced "without Istabraq".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker