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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 19:16 GMT
Moscow defeat dampens celebrations
By Sophie Brown
BBC Sport at Cheltenham

David Casey celebrates Rule Supreme's win
David Casey gave the Irish fans something to cheer about early on
St Patrick's Day brought muted success for the thousands of Irish racegoers at the Cheltenham Festival.

The defeat of their meeting banker Moscow Flyer in the Queen Mother Champion Chase meant the shamrocks were wilting towards the end of the second day of the annual three-day meeting.

However, their spirits were roused in the bumper, the final race of the day, when Total Enjoyment romped home to land a big gamble.

There was another Irish winner in the shape of Willie Mullins' Rule Supreme in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase.

But at 25-1, it had been missed by many who had plumped instead for his more fancied stable-mate Mossy Green, who was a faller.

Two more victories mean the Irish are on course to repeat last year's large haul of six wins but there was no disguising the disappointment brought about by Moscow Flyer's defeat.

Irish jockey Ruby Walsh celebrated victory in the Champion Chase, the big race of the day, but it was on the English-trained Azertyuiop, the young pretender who has now assumed Moscow Flyer's crown.

I feel so lucky to have found another horse to win the Champion Chase
Azertyuiop's owner John Hales

Walsh carried the familiar yellow and red colours of John Hales, who owned One Man, one of the most popular chasers of the last 20 years.

"I don't like comparing them because One Man was unique," said Hales, who added: "I feel so lucky to have found another horse to win the Champion Chase."

One Man's Cheltenham glory had a tragic footnote when the grey was killed at Aintree in his next race.

And Hales said he would bear that in mind before deciding on the plan for Azertyuiop.

"I'll always remember the late Gordon Richards [One Man's trainer] saying to me with One Man that we only needed to turn up at Aintree to win another 80,000 and we got greedy and lost the horse," said Hales.

For Mullins, the most successful Irish trainer in the past 10 years at Cheltenham, Rule Supreme's victory was a welcome surprise, especially after the trainer drew a blank last year.

There was also a welcome return to the Festival winners' enclosure for jockey Carl Llewellyn, who won the opening race of the day, the Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle.

Timmy Murphy and Tikram celebrate victory
Timmy Murphy is now on two winners at Cheltenham

The Welsh rider, who turns 40 next year, had not had a winner at the meeting since 2000 before his mount Fundamentalist won after a thrilling battle with Inglis Drever.

His owners Fizz Griffin and Killy Pennell bought the horse - their first - just eight weeks ago, while runner-up Inglis Drever belongs to Graham Wylie, who is also new to the sport.

Multi-millionaire Wylie, who was a co-founder of the Sage software company, paid more than 100,000 for Inglis Drever, just one of many huge price-tags he has paid for jumping horses in the past season.

"I'm not disappointed - he ran very well," said a philosophical Wylie, who was enjoying his first visit to the Festival.

Meanwhile, Timmy Murphy moved to the head of the top jockey standings after winning on Tikram in the Mildmay of Flete, his second victory of the meeting.



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