Cheltenham 2019: Espoir D’Allen finds Champion Key – Trainer Gavin Cromwell wins | Racing | Sport


He had hoped Buveur D’Air would become the sixth horse to take the race on three occasions. 

“My first thoughts after Buveur D’Air fell were that I hoped he was alright,” added McManus.

“It was good to see him get up and Barry (Geraghty) get up. Then I could watch the rest of race without worrying too much. 

“It was a great feeling winning the race again, like any race you win at Cheltenham. When you’re a couple of miles from the track you can smell the atmosphere.” 

Unlike McManus, it was a first in the race for both the winning trainer Gavin Cromwell and rider Mark Walsh.

But Walsh felt he was fortunate to win. 

“When Buveur D’Air fell, we nearly got brought down,” he explained. “I was behind Barry when he fell and, luckily, I wasn’t in his way. I was delighted when the rain came this morning because he goes so well in it. 

“I was riding for a place to be honest, but Ruby Walsh and Laurina made a mistake at the third-last. My horse just took me to the second-last and I was in front plenty soon enough. 

“I heard a horse coming and only realised after the last it was the loose Buveur D’Air.” 

Cromwell, a talented trainer who is also a farrier, said: “I shod Apple’s Jade (sent off the 7-4 favourite) the other day and thought she would win it.” 

Apple’s Jade, after racing up with the pace, lost touch and finished a disappointing sixth of seven to complete. 

Melon for the second-year running was the runner-up, with Silver Streak arriving late to snatch third place at 80-1. 

“I’m just lost for words,” added Cromwell. “It’s brilliant, unbelievable – I’m in shock. 

“I lost my mother in November and she loved her racing. 

“I thought we could learn from today and maybe win the race a couple of years down the line.” 

Jockey Rachael Blackmore, 29, joined Cromwell as a first-time Festival winner in the Close Brothers Chase, although her victory was much more popular with punters as A Plus Tard (5-1) proved the only winning favourite on the card. Not only that, it was the fourth winner of the day for the Irish. 

Blackmore, on 84 winners at home where she is chasing title leader Paul Townend, became just the third woman to succeed as a professional rider at the Festival following Lizzie Kelly and Bridget Andrews last year. 

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