Drop Out Joe: won the Summer Cup at Uttoxeter
PICTURE: Getty Images
Report: Uttoxeter, Sunday
John Smith’s Summer Cup (Listed race) 3m2f, 5yo+
A MAGNIFICENT leap at the final fence helped Drop Out Joe get the better of a thrilling battle with Ballynagour to win the Summer Cup, in the process providing rider Graham Watters with one of the biggest wins of his career.
In what was a thrilling spectacle, with many horses still holding a chance at the second-last, Ballynagour appeared to hold the upper hand on the approach to the final fence but 20-1 shot Drop Out Joe responded gallantly to his rider’s urgings to forge ahead on the run to the line to win by two lengths.
Pacha Du Polder – who famously finished fifth under Victoria Pendleton at the Cheltenham Festival – was a further five lengths back in third, while Gas Line Boy grabbed fourth place.
The veteran Menorah looked dangerous approaching the third-last fence but could not sustain his challenge and finished a creditable fifth.
Graham Watters – who still claims 3lb – landed the first big-race success of his career when he partnered Milborough to win the 2014 Eider Chase and this £80,000 Listed handicap success represents his most high-profile win since.
A delighted Watters paid tribute to trainer Charlie Longson and the owners for letting him take the mount on his return from injury.
He said: “It was brilliant of Charlie and the owners for throwing me up on the horse. It was my first ride back since breaking my hand four or five weeks ago.”
Drop Out Joe had struggled since winning last year’s prestigious Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton and failed to make an impression in the bet365 Gold Cup when last seen.
He was just 1lb higher than when winning the Badger Ales but Longsdon still admitted a degree of surprise that the horse was capable of winning from such a mark, in what was a competitive contest.
Longsdon said: “He wasn’t at his best at Sandown but he has come back. I never thought he would win off 144 but he did it well.
“There were some seriously good horses here.”
How the race was won
The race lost a leading player at an early stage when heavily-backed 11-2 favourite Al Co parted company with his rider at the second fence.
Al Co’s stable companion Tony Star brought the field along at a searching gallop, with Drop Out Joe positioned prominently in the chasing pack. In contrast, Menorah and Ballynagour were held up towards the rear.
Drop Out Joe picked up the running still going well four out, while Ballynagour could be spotted making eye-catching headway from the rear.
Ballynagour threw down a challenge in between the final two fences but Drop Out Joe produced a superb jump at the last which gave him the advantage and he found more to assert close home.
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