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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 15:27 GMT
Gold Cup double for Best Mate
Jockey Jim Culloty celebrates after riding Best Mate to his second Cheltenham Gold Cup
Jim Culloty celebrates victory

Best Mate completed an historic double as he cruised to his second Cheltenham Gold Cup in a row.

The horse became the first to complete the double since L'Escargot triumphed in 1970 and 1971.

The 13-8 favourite destroyed the very best field in steeplechasing, winning by 10 lengths from Truckers Tavern (33-1) with Harbour Pilot (40-1) third.

Best Mate was given a patient ride by jockey Jim Culloty and moved into a challenging position at the top of the famous Cheltenham hill.

Roared on by the huge Prestbury Park crowd, he took control after jumping the third-last fence and was never in danger as he strode clear to land the 203,000 first prize in great style.

He cantered in - he's the country's horse
Winning trainer
Henrietta Knight

Well-fancied young Irish chaser Beef or Salmon, who was being held up at the back of the field, was a faller at the third.

Despite his apparently easy victory Culloty said that he had not had things all his own way.

"He is a better horse than last year but he didn't settle as well as he can," said the jockey.

"It was a more difficult race than last year.

"Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine as a young lad that I would sit atop such a great horse."

Winning trainer Henrietta Knight was amazed by the crowd's greeting for Best Mate.

"The reception was pretty good, wasn't it?" she said.

"I was here when Dawn Run won and never thought I would witness this.

"He cantered in - he's the country's horse.

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"Jim's ride was perfect. I thought Chives (her other runner) ran well too.

"I was proud of them both."

Knight, Culloty and owner Jim Lewis were presented with the trophy and the 203,000 first prize by The Queen, on her first visit to the meeting in 50 years.

Lewis was nearly overcome by the emotion after the race.

"I've got a heartbeat going so fast I could beat eggs!" he said.

"History has been made and I cannot believe it.

"Henrietta (Knight) is a weaver of dreams, she's wearing lucky pearls.

"I bid 10,000 for them but she says it's not enough."


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Cornelius Lysaght
"Historic stuff, stirring stuff"



CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2003

MEETING REVIEW
CORNELIUS LYSAGHT

BIG-RACE ACTION
DAILY REPORTS

PHOTO GALLERIES

JOCKEYS PROFILED
CHELTENHAM JOCKEYS PROFILED
 
TRAINERS PROFILED
 



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