Carlito shows the way for Russell

ON an afternoon when Ireland won an unprecedented six of the seven races, Davy Russell guided Gordon Elliott’s Carlito Brigante to a smooth success in the Coral Cup.

Irish horses are often regarded as badly handicapped in England, but the five-year-old, a second of the day for both Russell and Elliott, scored with ridiculous ease.

The immaculate Russell was able to take a pull early in the straight and Carlito Brigante already had the measure of For Non Stop when that one toppled at the final flight.

There was a sting in the tail for Russell, however, who was handed a three-day ban for weighing in 2lbs over his allotted weight.

Explained Russell: “They threw water over the horse in the winner’s enclosure and that went down onto the saddle. That has to be the reason.

“Everything went according to plan, he didn’t miss a hurdle, didn’t miss a beat the whole way. He was trained by a very good man with one day in mind and today is the day.”

Elliott said: “He’s a great little horse and that’s the first time he has had his ground. He had a wind operation after Christmas and, I think, that has made a big difference.”

It had to happen, sooner rather than later. Elliott, the rising force in Irish racing, had never trained a festival winner at Cheltenham prior to yesterday, but he put that right in the first, the stamina-sapping four mile National Hunt Chase, with Chicago Grey.

What a cracking drive the eight-year-old was given by Derek O’Connor. Held at the back for much of the journey, he got a dream run through on the inside turning in and stayed on strongly to beat Beshabar.

Said Elliott: “We came here with a number of horses who had chances and it is great to get a winner.”

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