Soldatino and Geraghty foil Barizan's bid for glory

Restless Harry survives on day of defeat and pain for two brave novice hurdlers

Just as in life, timing on the racecourse is everything. For Tom O'Brien yesterday, the difference between glorious success and glorious failure was just three-tenths of a second, the temporal translation of a length and a quarter's distance at a gallop at the end of two miles. In the day's opener, the Triumph Hurdle, O'Brien decided on a do-or-die thunder round the track on the outsider Barizan, the most battle-hardened among 17 callow four-year-olds. And oh, how nearly boldness was his friend. Only one caught him, Soldatino, who was by contrast one of the greenest in the field.

Barizan's charge down the final hill, 20 lengths clear and still in full flight, provided a simply thrilling spectacle. And it was not only the watchers with binoculars who began to call him home; doubts began to surface in the chasing pack. "As we jumped the third last," said Barry Geraghty, Soldatino's rider, "Davy [Russell] called over to Andy [McNamara] that the thing in front had won five lengths. So I thought I'd better do something."

In pursuit, Geraghty had to gauge his fuel reserves with the finesse of a Formula One driver. "The leader went off that quick I thought he had to stop," he said, "but it was a long old gap to bridge and I didn't dare push too hard and use up everything getting to him. But going to the last I knew I had him." McNamara, on Alaivan, had to settle for third, seven lengths adrift, with Russell, on the favourite Carlo Brigante, fourth.

Soldatino, who races with earplugs to dampen any unsettling crowd noises, was having only his second outing in Britain since joining Nicky Henderson in January, and even the winning trainer's sympathies were with the gallant loser. "You have to feel sorry for him," he said, "he very nearly got away from them and he made it a fantastic race. But all credit to mine, he's such a baby still and it was a brave performance."

A beaten horse provided much of the emotion in the day's other top- level hurdle, too. For the trainer Robin Dickin, the closing stages of the Albert Bartlett Novices' contest provided a roller coaster to rival anything at Alton Towers.

He experienced the thrill of seeing Restless Harry, the pride of his small Warwickshire yard, shoot clear of his rivals after the penultimate flight; the excitement as he started to battle back after the ultimate winner and runner-up, Berties Dream and Naiaf, ranged alongside; the feeling of unfairness as he was chopped and unsighted by his rivals at the last obstacle, with a thoroughly undeserved fall the result; and then dread as the horse lay inert and the green screens, often precursors to a fatality, went up.

But the greatest endorphin surge of all – and one of the day's most heartfelt bursts of applause from the stands – came when Restless Harry, happily only winded, scrambled to his feet and was led away unscathed. "Any disappointment in losing the race," said Dickin, "was wiped out by the fact we didn't lose the horse."

In the finale Pigeon Island gave Nigel Twiston-Davies a treble on a magical afternoon, but Henderson ended the Festival as champion trainer, his three wins backed up by more places. Ruby Walsh, also with three successes, similarly pipped Geraghty for the jockeys' title; his sister Katie joined an elite group of riders, including Tony McCoy, on a pair after victory on Thousand Stars. And the week ended overwhelmingly in favour of the home side: GB 19, Ireland 7.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk