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John Quinn’s fancied duo fail to shine at Cheltenham
NORTH YORKSHIRE trainer John Quinn said there were no excuses after Kashmir Peak and Hidden Justice failed to shine in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Norton-based Quinn, who won the Grade 1 race with Countrywide Flame 12 months ago, had to watch in awe as Irish flag bearer Our Conor (4-1) put in a scintillating display to beat Far West by 15 lengths.
Hidden Justice looked to struggle on the surface and was tenth, the rain coming too late for the soft ground-dependent juvenile, while Quinn’s other hope, Kashmir Peak, blundered having been held up early on and faded away from the third last to finish 12th.
Cape Explorer, saddled by Quinn’s town colleague Brian Ellison, was tailed off when pulled up before the last.
Quinn said: “It just didn’t happen. We probably weren’t good enough.
“Kashmir Peak made a mistake but Our Conor was phenomenal.
“Both horses are fine but it wasn’t to be. There will be another day. I wouldn’t make excuses. We were beaten far enough.”
Our Conor, ridden by Bryan Cooper and trained by Dessie Hughes, was travelling easily coming down the hill and, when he went to the front, his rivals were totally left for dead as he destroyed the field and cruised home.
The rider said: “He put them to bed very easily. He travelled so well – I was there a mile too soon, but he has got so many gears and class – and he was very good.”
Cooper’s day quickly got even better when Ted Veale (10-1) ran on strongly to take the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle.
Nawton trainer David O’Meara’s Ifandbutwhynot was backed into joint favouritism at 8-1 but, having been held up at the back of the field from the start, was unable to make an impression at the business end of the race and finished ninth as Ted Veale made easy work of Tennis Cap up the hill.
O’Meara said: “He travelled into the race nicely and just got quite tired on the ground. It was very tacky but he ran a good race. They could have gone a bit quicker, they bunched up coming down the hill, but we are happy enough with him.”
Middleham trainer Phil Kirby’s Stopped Out was in the frame for much of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle before eventually finishing fifth in a contest won easily by Salubrious (16-1).
And Ellison’s Viva Colonia was down the field in a Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase won by Alderwood (3-1 fav).
Elsewhere as the Festival came to a close, At Fishers Cross (11-8) benefited from the rain to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and Salsify (2-1 fav) was gifted the CGA Foxhunters Chase after Oscar Delta veered violently left after the final fence of the three-and-a-quarter-mile contest and struck a rail, leaving the fallen Jane Mangan distraught.