Sir Gerhard fends off late push on home straight by favourite Kilcruit to win Weatherbys Champion Bumper and give jockey Rachael Blackmore yet more success at Cheltenham
- Sir Gerhard was chased all the way down the home straight by favourite Kilcruit
- Rachael Blackmore rode an intelligent race and managed to clinch another win
- It was Blackmore and trainer Willie Mullins’ third victory of this year’s Festival
Willie Mullins won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper for the 11th time as Sir Gerard held off stablemate Kilcruit to give Rachael Blackmore another winner.
Blackmore was landing her third Grade One of the week, having already won the Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle and the Ballymore on Bob Olinger.
Mullins was keeping up his recent trend of winning the race from outside of his apparent first string – although Sir Gerhard was sent off at only 85-40, having scored twice already for Gordon Elliott before switching stables.
Rachael Blackmore guides Sir Gerhard to victory despite a late challenge from Kilcruit
Kilcruit was backed into 10-11 favouritism on the back of a scintillating display at the Dublin Racing Festival – but when Blackmore kicked off the home bend, she stole an advantage she would not relinquish.
Having only set what appeared a steady tempo, Sir Gerhard was soon in the clear as Paul Townend tried to close on Kilcruit.
As the line approached, Kilcruit was gaining – but they flashed past the post with Sir Gerhard still half-a-length to the good.
Blackmore celebrates after clinching her third victory at this year’s Cheltenham Festival
Mullins said: ‘I have to say well done to the Cullentra (Elliott) team. He came in great condition.
‘The first night he came, we didn’t have any of the feed he’d been eating at Cullentra, so we just gave him our usual feed – and he didn’t miss an oat.
‘He’ll probably go for the Champion Bumper at Punchestown. We’ll have a word with (owners) Cheveley Park, but that would look the obvious target.
‘They are two good horses, and I’m delighted to have them. Looking at it, Kilcruit looks like a Ballymore horse and Sir Gerhard a Supreme type (next season).’
Sir Gerhard showed a fine attitude, to go with his evident speed.
Mullins added: ‘He looks to be a natural – he has a huge stride. Rachael let him bowl along, and he was lugging out with her – he’s still a bit green.
‘He obviously has a lot of natural ability. He’s a fine, big horse who will be made for jumping fences at some stage.
‘We were fortunate enough to get him. When he came to us he was very fit, and I just wanted to get him settled in, and I was surprised how well he settled in.
‘We didn’t want to overdo things, because it’s a lot of stress to change yards and change gallops. It was all about having the horse relaxed, and it was all about hoping he was fit enough – which he was, and he has the ability.’
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