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Shock in Champion Chase as Blackmore wins on Captain Guinness

Captain Guinness secured a surprise win in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham after hot favourite El Fabiolo was pulled up early on.

Trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore, nine-year-old Captain Guinness was sent off a 17-2 chance, with Willie Mullins’ El Fabiolo starting as the heavily-supported 2-9 market leader in the absence of supposed main rival Jonbon.

However, a jumping error led to Paul Townend’s mount being pulled up, and when the front-running Edwardstone fell two out – albeit when looking beaten – it was Captain Guinness who went on to prevail, holding off El Fabiolo’s stablemate Gentleman De Mee in a real battle up the hill.

Winning the race for the fourth time, De Bromhead said: “Obviously after El Fabiolo went you knew then that the race had opened right up and we felt we had a right chance then.

“Can mistakes happen more at the speed they go in this race? I don’t know.

“He had his thing at Christmas (fibrillating heart) and I just kept thinking the horse deserved to get his Grade One so much, to get this one is amazing.

“Everyone at home has done a fantastic job and the vets. The tests he went through after Christmas, his heart specialist was happy and the IHRB (Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board) was happy and everyone was. In fairness to Sam who looks after him, he hadn’t known him in such form.

“We took a view from Leopardstown in February we just wouldn’t train him hard and keep him fresh and happy and that’s what we did. We just wanted him really bullish and he’s been trying to buck Sam off for the last two weeks, so I’m not sure he was as happy with the plan as I was, but it’s worked out for us all now.”

He added: “We’ve been so lucky in this race, it’s such an exciting race. You can’t make any mistake really, it’s about speed and accuracy.

“Another year when we won it Douvan was odds-on for the whole year. You can’t be afraid of one horse, but you pick your spots. You don’t do it every day of the week, but this place is different.”

Captain Guinness caused an upset in the Champion Chase
Image: Captain Guinness caused an upset in the Champion Chase

Mullins said: “I was very concerned that he reached for an early one and then stood back too far at the fence going away from the stands and didn’t get high enough.

“He got very low over a couple of them and I know he was a bit chancy before, but I was very concerned. He jumped the last one good and then of course he just stood back too far and didn’t get high enough. It’s very disappointing.”

He added: “I’m delighted for Henry and delighted for Rachael and our Gentleman De Mee ran a cracker, so we’re delighted.”

Back-to-back Coral Cup wins for Langer Dan

Langer Dan retained his title for Dan and Harry Skelton in the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The eight-year-old struck last year off the same mark and started as a 13-2 chance to return the trophy to owner Colm Donlon’s mantelpiece.

After moving sweetly in the mid-division Langer Dan inched his way into the race as it developed before powering into the lead up the hill, pulling away to win comfortably on the line, by three-and-a-half lengths from Ballyadam.

Back-to-back wins at the Festival for Langer Dan and the Skelton brothers
Image: Back-to-back wins at the Festival for Langer Dan and the Skelton brothers

The winning trainer said: “He’s a remarkable little horse. He had surgery after winning this last year, which made him miss Aintree.

“I’m very proud of the whole team, he’s bled on occasions this year and he had ulcers which we’ve treated – he’s just remarkable.

“Just in the last few weeks he’s started to come alive. The plan on Saturday was to work him with the slowest horse we had and to make sure he won and he won by a head.

“I just thought a head was better than nothing as he hadn’t been winning a raffle recently – he’s remarkable.”

He added: “Winners here mean so much. While we do the job 365 days a year, these four mean more than any other so you have to bring the right horse.”

Sky News
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