The opening four-mile National Hunt Chase was a disappointing race for the Irish, at least for most, the exception being veteran rider John Thomas McNamara.
He powered the always prominent Teaforthree to a game success, giving trainer, Rebecca Curtis, her first at the festival. It was a second in the contest for McNamara and his fourth festival win overall.
Mouse Morris’ Four Commanders headed Teaforthree off the home turn, but had no more to offer from the last and was run out of second by Harry The Viking.
Commented Curtis: “We always fancied him, but you have to have a lot of luck around here. AP (McCoy) has ridden him to his chase wins. We wanted the best for the horse today and AP helped to get JT to ride him.
“This is very, very special. It is great to have a runner here, let alone a winner.”
Morris was delighted with Four Commanders, who is a full-brother to former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Kicking King.
“You couldn’t mention him in the same breath as his brother, but he’s the sort who could be a Grand National horse in time,” said Morris.
The contest was a disappointment for Willie Mullins. His strongly fancied Allee Garde hit the deck well before half way and brought down stable companion, Soll.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved