Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Irish 1-2-3 Led Home by War of Attrition

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Irish 1-2-3 Led Home by War of Attrition

Article excerpt

Byline: By William hayler

St Patrick's Day celebrations started in style at Cheltenham when Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary saw his horse, War of Attrition, land steeplechasing's championship event, the pounds 400,000 Totesport Gold Cup.

The gambled-on 15-2 chance ran out an impressive winner of the 22-runner contest, spearheading an Irish-trained 1-2-3 in the race under Conor O'Dwyer.

The jockey, who specialises in big-race success, had been considering retirement from the saddle but may now have to delay his plans to take out a trainer's licence with this seven-year-old seemingly improving with every start.

O'Dwyer's previous success in the race came 10 years earlier aboard Imperial Call, but for O'Leary and trainer Mouse Morris it was their first Gold Cup victory. Leading at the second-last fence, the winner was hard pressed by Ruby Walsh aboard last year's John Smith's Grand National hero Hedgehunter.

But despite the attentions of a horse with proven stamina reserves, the winner turned in another fine leap over the final fence and never looked like stopping up the run-in, going on to land the spoils by two and a half lengths.

Forget The Past (9-1) could not quite live with the first two in the closing stages and was seven lengths away in third, just ahead of L'Ami.

But punters who kept faith in previous Cheltenham flop Beef Or Salmon were left disappointed again when the 4-1 favourite turned in another lifeless effort and eventually trailed home 11th.

O'Dwyer, who finished third aboard Hardy Eustace in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the meeting, said of his retirement plans: "I'd hate to be at home sat watching it on the television next year with someone else riding this horse.

"He was something else. He jumped each fence absolutely impeccably. I knew he had plenty in the tank from the way he pinged the last two.

"He jumped super and we had a great run. I had to come wide when a loose horse went by us but he is only a second-season novice so I didn't want to be too tight on him either. …

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