What A Friend strikes Lexus gold

What A Friend strikes Lexus gold

What A Friend led home Money Trix to give the British raiders a 1-2 in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.

Paul Nicholls’ youngster, second behind stablemate Denman in the Hennessy Gold Cup on his last start, was given a very patient ride by Sam Thomas, who would not have been on board if the race had taken place yesterday before the fog rolled in.

Notre Pere and Joncol cut out most of the running, and the latter appeared the likeliest winner going into the last.

But as Joncol’s stamina ebbed away, What A Friend (11-2) took advantage and held off the late lunge of Money Trix by half a length.

Quick thinking from Leopardstown officials meant the race was rescheduled 24 hours later than scheduled.

Thomas got the late call-up on the six-year-old, part-owned by Alex Ferguson, as Barry Geraghty rerouted to Newbury.

Ruby Walsh was also in action at the Berkshire track, meaning Paul Townend took over on Cooldine.

What A Friend travelled well throughout, but was caught a bit flat-footed turning into the straight when Joncol went clear.

He stuck to his task well as Joncol wilted, but Davy Russell got a great tune out of Money Trix, who ran a massive race for Nicky Richards.

The winner was cut to 20-1 from 33s for the Gold Cup by Paddy Power and Victor Chandler, while Money Trix was inserted at 33-1 by Paddy Power, who also cut Joncol to 20s from 25-1.

Thomas said: "He travels very well and jumps very well, which makes my life a lot easier.

“I was disappointed not to be riding the horse in the first place but I got the opportunity today.

“I need to thank Tom George’s owner Philip Nelson for letting me get off his horse to come over here.

“Barry Geraghty was due to ride him and has a lot of experience around here.

“Everything happens for a reason and the gods must have been looking down on me. Thank goodness for the fog!

“He had to dig deep and it is a long run-in – it felt a long way home from the last.

“I was keen to keep a lead as long as possible and we had something to aim at coming to the last.

“If you take Denman out he would have been a good winner of the Hennessy and all credit to him for coming here three weeks after that run.

“People thought he was ungenuine in the Hennessy when he wandered about going to the final fence but he was just trying so hard.

“Some great horses like Denman and Beef Or Salmon have won this race so hopefully our horse can go onto bigger and better things and I think he might come back here for the Irish Hennessy.”

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