France: Rock second again as Milord Thomas triumphs

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Jacques Ricou could not hide his delight following the victory

  PICTURE: Scoop Dyga  

Report: Sunday, Auteuil

Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris (Grade 1) 3m6f 5yo+

IN-FORM Milord Thomas put in an impressive performance to land the €850,000 Grade 1, with Shannon Rock finishing a frustrating second for the fourth consecutive year.

France’s equivalent of the Gold Cup proved too much for the British and Irish raiders Sire Collonges and On His Own, who finished well down the field.

The winner survived a bad mistake at the water on the first circuit before winning by a cosy three and a half lengths.

Sent off the 11-4 well backed favourite, the Dominique Bressou-trained six-year-old was up with the leaders early on and briefly dropped back in the field after the mistake, in which he almost fell in the water.

He was ridden patiently back into contention, picking off the runners one by one, and by the fourth from home was sharing the lead with Shannon Rock.

Rounding the turn in to the straight Shannon Rock looked to be going very well in a race that has not been kind to him in the past three years, but Milord Thomas kept finding more and more for Jacques Ricou and was able to beat off the brave effort of the Jean-Paul Gallorini-trained nine-year-old.

After leading for much of the first circuit the Paul Nicholls-trained Sire Collonges was unable to keep up with the furious pace and dropped back tamely on the final circuit. The 2014 Gold Cup runner-up, On His Own, never looked comfortable and was not able to get in the mix for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

Following the victory Bressou said: “A mad day? Not really because I thought the horse was well and, although I didn’t want to say so beforehand, I was pretty confident he would run well barring an accident.

“He really needed his race in the Prix Ingre and he won that easily and he has been absolutely flying in the mornings. I am very happy because this has been the plan for the past 18 months.”

 

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