Road to Riches enters Gold Cup picture

The multi-talented Bryan Cooper gave Road To Riches an extraordinary ride to land the Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown yesterday.

Cooper suffered an horrific leg injury when taking a crashing fall off Clarcam in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham festival in March and it is a measure of the man that he has come back arguably better than ever.

He was simply brilliant on the Noel Meade-trained winner, very much changing his tactics, after the contest had not panned out as might have been expected.

Road To Riches loves to make the running and has often seemed best when allowed an uncontested lead.

Cooped immediately sent him ahead, but both On His Own and Sam Winner appeared determined to race on the pace as well.

As a result they tore down to the first fence and it was no surprise when outsider, Home Farm, went at the obstacle.

Sam Twiston-Davies, on Sam Winner, quickly concluded they were probably going too fast and he soon eased back.

But Paul Townend was having none of it and he soon had On His Own racing in front of Road To Riches.

Cooper accepted the situation and his undoubted intelligence was to reap a rich reward.

The mad gallop soon eased to a far more acceptable level, but Cooper made no attempt to do battle with On His Own again.

The leader, however, was inclined to jump away to his right, at times forfeiting valuable ground.

Sam Winner landed in front at the fourth last, but was never able to get away and there were many with chances heading to the final fence.

By now Cooper had the winner in full flow, but they still had a bit to do. At the back of the last, though, Road To Riches found massive reserves of stamina to sweep on from On His Own and Sam Winner, in what represented a master class from the saddle.

Said Cooper: “Things didn’t go according to plan, but he is a very good horse. His jumping wasn’t great down the back, a second time.

“I knew we had gone a good gallop and I filled him up as much as I could.

“He got in a little underneath the last, but fair play to my lad, he stuck his head out.

“That was a great training performance by Noel, the horse showed his true colours today.’’

Meade, who was winning the race for a third time, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled and knew he was in great shape.

“He has just improved and improved since Punchestown and gets better and better every day.

“I presume it is all systems go for Cheltenham now (Gold Cup), you’d imagine he will get the trip the way he stayed on there.’’

Meade indicated that Road To Riches could run again before Cheltenham, in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown early in February.

Boston Bob stayed on to claim fourth, but a mistake three from home was no help to him.

Lord Windermere was ridden out the back by Davy Russell, as he was when winning the Gold Cup in March, but failed to pick up in the straight. The ground, however, would have been no help and it is well to remember that he runs better at Cheltenham than anywhere else.

Bobs Worth, successful in last year’s Gold Cup, ran no sort of race, trailing in last of eight, and, on this evidence, is now a light of other days.

Paul Townend was found guilty of using his whip with excessive force on On His Own and suspended for four days.

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