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?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing