Irish Cavalier: caused a 16-1 upset in the Charlie Hall
PICTURE: Getty Images
Report: Wetherby, Saturday
bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (Grade 2) 3m, 5yo+
IRISH CAVALIER is the horse of young jockey Jonathan Moore’s career.
Victory on the seven-year-old at the Punchestown festival resulted in a job offer from Rebecca Curtis. Taking that job meant the 22-year-old had his first rides at Grade 2 level at Wetherby, and in guiding the 16-1 shot to an unlikely victory at the expense of seasoned warriors Menorah and Cue Card he not only cemented himself in his new position but served notice of his own talent.
Not many conditionals get the leg up in Graded races due to their inability to claim, but Curtis’s faith in Moore was handsomely repaid as he teased, kidded, nurdled, cajoled, nudged, and then lifted his mount home.
For much of the race it looked Cue Card’s for the taking. Last season’s three-time Grade 1 winner jumped superbly, was sent on in the back straight and turning for home Paddy Brennan looked to have his rivals where he wanted them – in his wake and under pressure.
But as Brennan wound things up on the 8-11 favourite, Irish Cavalier would not go away. Brennan had Cue Card going flat out and yet his pursuer remained.
Then, between the fourth and third last, the unthinkable happened and Cue Card was headed. Moore sent his mount on but he was never quite able to put the race to bed. The last two winners of the Charlie Hall simply would not give up and, as Irish Cavalier began to paddle they closed in as the finish became as much a test of heart as legs and lungs.
If Irish Cavalier had more heart and better lungs and legs than his rivals, Moore brought the brains and he punched the air as he crossed the line for just the 50th, and by far the biggest, win of a career that looks full of promise.
“It’s days like this that you dream about and it was the chance to be able to ride horses like him that I came over to ride,” said Moore. “I really asked him up at the fourth-last and he’s so genuine he came up for me, and he did that again at the third-last.”
Curtis could not be happier with her new employee and, explaining the connection, said: “Jonathan rode At Fishers Cross at Aintree and rode him well and then he partnered this horse to win at Punchestown and I was impressed with his riding so I offered him the job.”
On Irish Cavalier, she added: “We fancied him to run well today though we didn’t necessarily think he would beat Cue Card and we weren’t certain that he would stay three miles, but he clearly did.
“Apart from a couple of blips when my horses weren’t right last season he was really progressive and ended up winning a Punchestown handicap with topweight.”
Curtis could take a similar route to Cue Card last year with the Betfair Chase next on the agenda. “I would think we will go for the top staying chases now, possibly starting with the Betfair.
“He’s a horse who takes his racing well, in fact he thrives on it. He ran twice in four days at Punchestown last year and ran better on the second occasion, and last year he ran at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown and ended up winning at Punchestown.”
Colin Tizzard deemed himself happy enough with Cue Card and is hopeful his superstar can improve for the run.
“I thought he ran a fantastic race. It was a horserace and we’re not going to win them all,” he said. “I thought he was going to win it but he just got tired in the end. You never quite know first time out. We did give him the racecourse gallop, as I didn’t want to come here and wish I’d done it, but he has had a good blow.”
Philip Hobbs’s stalwart Menorah, who won this in 2014 and is still going strong two months shy of turning 12, was gallant in defeat. He never quite looked like winning for much of the straight but was always close enough he could not be ruled out and by the line he had the gap down to just three-quarters of a length.
Grahame Whateley, whose wife Diana owns Menorah, said: “I’m very proud of him and I’m still a bit emotional about his run. It’s a pity they just watered the ground a bit too much down the far side as it was a touch too soft for him. I expect we’ll find a race in December for him and then put him away until the spring.”
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