Racing / The Cheltenham Festival: Millions back Mysilv's very British coup: The champion juvenile deals a body blow to the layers, as a maligned rider finally gains a Gold Cup victory

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The Independent Online
ON THE surface, it seemed like a replay of Wednesday. The opening race on the Festival's final day was won by a raging favourite and the winners' enclosure was soon packed with its triumphant connections, but there the similarities ended. The success of Danoli 24 hours earlier had set loose a tidal wave of Irish delight, but when Mysilv was led in after the Triumph Hurdle, it was a thoroughly British celebration.

Mysilv is owned by the Million In Mind Partnership, a 160-strong group of shareholders who had paid between pounds 1,250 and pounds 1,750 each for a small part of the new champion juvenile. Most seemed to be present in the winners' circle, but the raucous jubilation which had greeted Danoli was replaced by polite, quiet satisfaction.

It was a different story in the betting rings and bars, where Mysilv's success, the first by a Triumph favourite since 1974, was celebrated as another crushing blow for the books. The race's capricious reputation had not deterred backers, and after Mysilv opened at 11-4 on the course, more than pounds 150,000 was laid in recorded bets alone as the favourite was supported down to 2-1.

Adrian Maguire, an appropriate partner for this tough, determined filly, wisely stayed close to the pace from the start. As they came down the hill with two to jump, Glenstal Flagship and Charlie Swan appeared to be going easily alongside them, but fears that a hard campaign might have eroded Mysilv's resolve soon proved unfounded. Glenstal Flagship was the one to weaken, and as Mysilv swept up the run-in to beat Moorish by three and a half lengths, the bookmakers began to count the cost.

Many of her owners have ante-post vouchers at 33-1 to redeem this morning, while Hills alone estimated their loss at pounds 500,000. In the long run, of course, it will all be recovered - 'we shall cry, but not for long,' as Coral's Rob Harnett put it - but a small battle won in the long, unequal war is still something to celebrate.

Maguire reported: 'Turning in I could hear a couple of horses behind me, but once we straightened up she galloped up the hill as if it wasn't there.' Mysilv may now seek to retrieve some national pride after The Fellow's Gold Cup win yesterday. David Nicholson, her trainer, said: 'I might go to France for the Four-Year- Old Champion Hurdle.'

One certain destination for Mysilv is Ascot's Horses in Training sale in October - the rules of the ownership syndicate state that assets must be realised at that date.

The mood in the top circle was rather different 40 minutes later, as the trainer, Maurice Camacho, and owners of Avro Anson, first past the post in the Stayers' Hurdle, awaited certain disqualification. Avro Anson, ridden by Mark Dwyer, veered left and then right on the run-in, hampering both Minella Lad, who faded into third, and Balasani, whose strong late run failed by a short-head as a result.

That Avro Anson would be disqualified was in little doubt; the question was, how far? After some deliberation, the stewards decided that the interference had been accidental and simply reversed the placings, giving Martin Pipe his first, and only, winner of the Festival.

The season now moves on to Aintree, where Double Silk is expected to play a leading role in the Grand National. His easy win in the Foxhunters' Chase yesterday, the gelding's second in succession, was little more than an exercise gallop, though a bad mistake at the second last might not increase confidence for Liverpool.

'He was totally wrong there but because we were in front and clear I just sat tight,' Ron Treloggen, his amateur rider, said. 'We wouldn't have put him in the National if we didn't think he could win it.' His confidence was not shared by Ladbrokes, who pushed Double Silk out to 10-1 (from 8- 1) for Aintree behind The Fellow, at 7-1 with a run.

Treloggen clearly enjoyed his experience yesterday. 'It feels so sweet coming up that turn into the straight,' he said. 'There isn't a lawn in sight, all you can see is the crowd either side as you are going up through that narrow funnel. That is some feeling on a horse that is still running on under you.'

If he can follow up at Aintree, he will surely be moved to verse.

(Photograph omitted)

Results, page 39