McCoy keeps Wichita on line to force thrilling Cheltenham win

If a recording of one race could be placed in a time capsule to remind future generations of just why Tony McCoy is 13-times champion, then yesterday's William Hill Trophy might just be it. After a circuit it was just not possible that his mount, Wichita Lineman, the 5-1 favourite, could win. The gelding had walked through several fences and was galloping indolently in mid-division, with his rider pushing and shoving.

But the very fact that McCoy was still working kept hope alive in the hearts of Jonjo O'Neill and JP McManus. "We may have given up," said the trainer to the owner, as the pair watched from the stands, "but AP won't have."

O'Neill, knowing man and beast, had it spot-on. Three fences from home, Wichita Lineman made yet another error and after that McCoy began to insist. In the face of that irresistible, yet judiciously applied, force, his mount decided that co-operation was, after all, the best policy, passed seven horses in the air two out, thundered up the hill at a flat gallop and caught and beat Maljimar by a neck.

"This horse won't give an inch more than he's asked," said O'Neill, "but so long as he's asked, he'll keep giving. AP won't keep asking a horse that can't give, that's not in his nature. But if he feels there is something still there, he won't give up. When he gave Wichita Lineman a couple of belts at the top of the hill I knew there was still something in the tank, but going to the last I did wonder if there was too much ground to make up, even for him. But we're talking about a magic man."

Yesterday was McManus's 58th birthday, an occasion made the happier by his having backed his winner ante-post at 20-1. And as the faithful, banked round the winner's circle, broke into a suitable serenade, even McCoy, normally fairly stonefaced when he is at work, was moved to twitch the corner of his mouth. The Ulsterman's sister Roisin approved. "He promised me he'd give up not smiling for Lent," she said.

If McManus had a cake, it was iced when three of his four Enda Bolger-trained runners in the cross-country chase filled the principal places. Garde Champetre, ridden by Nina Carberry, repeated their win of last year, ahead of L'Ami and Drombeag, with stablemate Heads On the Ground sixth in an Irish clean sweep to eighth.

At the start of the week, O'Neill had nominated Wichita Lineman, who was running in his first handicap chase off a mark a stone lower than he earned as a smart staying hurdler, as his best chance of the meeting. Willie Mullins did the same with Quevega, who justified 2-1 favouritism in the closing mares' race to bring the raiders' first-day total to four from six.

Quevega, always travelling sweetly for Ruby Walsh – who was fortunate to escape unscathed from Tatenen's Arkle Chase tumble – powered up the hill 14 lengths clear of United. "Last year she was just behind Hurricane Fly in France," reasoned Mullins, "and he'd have been 1-4 to win in this class."

Not only Quevega's win left the Co Carlow handler rueing the injury-enforced enforced absence of Hurricane Fly from yesterday's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, for he had left the winner of the Festival opener 10 lengths behind at Leopardstown two months ago and is now the most prominent of this year's beginners in the betting for next year's Champion Hurdle.

Go Native, who held on by a neck from Medermit, provided a considerable tonic for his trainer, Noel Meade, at home in Co Meath recovering from back surgery. Despite his status as multiple champion in Ireland, Meade is not prolific in this arena; Go Native was only his third Festival winner. "He's always been superstitious about the place," said his partner, Gillian O'Brien, "and after this I'm not sure he'll dare come back."

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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high