Ahoy Senor suffers Gold Cup fall and hampers A Plus Tard at Cheltenham

Cheltenham Festival horse Ahoy Senor suffered a heavy fall during the Gold Cup on Friday in an incident which also wrecked A Plus Tard’s chances of success. The showpiece event was won by Willie Mullins’ prize horse Galopin Des Champs but it could have been an entirely different result after Ahoy Senor’s serious fall over the fence midway through the three-mile, two-and-a-half-furlong race.

The eight-year-old Gelding had been leading near the front when disaster struck midway through the race. As he leapt over the fence with six to go, his legs buckled from underneath after an awkward landing and sent his jockey Lucinda Russell flying off the saddle onto the ground.

Ahoy Senor, a 14-1 outshot who had led for much of race, set the early pace with Hewick as Galopin Des Champs bided his time near the back of the chasing pack. But he made his move when the fall occurred and eventually closed in at the front.

The incident left A Plus Tard, the second-favourite with bookmakers backed to take on Galopin Des Champs, was hampered by the fall with Rachael Blackmore on board and was later pulled up after struggling to regain momentum.

Sounds Russian and Hewick were the other horses not to finish the race. Cheltenham officials later confirmed that all horses and the jockeys that pulled up were fine, according to ITV Sport.

It was a day to remember for Mullins and champion jockey Paul Townend, who rode home his third Gold Cup winner on board Galopin Des Champs after a phenomenal finish with Bravemansgame.

The two horses were neck-and neck as they cleared the last, but then the seven-year-old came into its own on the final straight as the now customary Cheltenham crowd roar emerged from the stands, with the bookmakers’ favourite landing the mammoth £625,000 prize.

AP McCoy lauded the ride as the “most brilliant I have ever seen in any horse race”, and his words were echoed almost word for word by Townend after the race.

“Brilliant. As brilliant a ride as I’ve ever seen in any horse race,” Townend told ITV. “Talk about a horse with bottle. Pressure – the privilege of pressure – and he coped with it better than anyone.”

Conflated took third and Noble Yeats fourth, but the relief of Hewick and Ahoy Senor recovering to walk back to the enclosure were perhaps the most assuring signs on a memorable day of racing at Cheltenham.


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