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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 19:53 GMT
Second best for Baracouda
By Sophie Brown
BBC Sport at Cheltenham

Iris's Gift jumps clear of Baracouda
Iris's Gift jumps clear of Baracouda
While Best Mate was a triumphant winner, Baracouda, the other odds-on favourite on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, had to settle for second place.

The French-trained horse, like Best Mate, was aiming for a championship hat-trick, having won the Stayers' Hurdle for the past two years.

The race was almost a carbon copy of the 2003 race with Baracouda and Iris's Gift fighting it out up the hill.

But where last season, Baracouda just held sway, 2004 proved to be Iris's Gift's year and the grey edged to a one-and-a-half length victory.

Baracouda's trainer Francois Doumen was philosophical in defeat.

"We were beaten by a better horse," said the Frenchman. "We were the best last year, Iris's Gift was the best this year."

Never Compromise and Earthmover jump the last together
Never Compromise and Earthmover jump the last together

It marked a change in fortunes for jockey Barry Geraghty, who had endured a miserable Wednesday after being unseated by Champion Chase favourite Moscow Flyer.

It was the first and only victory of the three days for the Irish jockey, whose five wins last year saw him claim the riders' title for the meeting.

After Iris's Gift success, another grey made the winner's enclosure when Sporazene claimed the County Hurdle, the last race of the meeting, for jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Paul Nicholls.

The pair had also been on the mark earlier in the day when St Pirran won the Grand Annual and the double win made them top jockey and trainer of the meeting.

The opening race of the day, the Triumph Hurdle, was the usual cavalry charge and was won by Made In Japan, trained by Philip Hobbs.

Our Armageddon took the Cathcart Challenge Cup to give a first ever Festival winner for trainer Richard Guest and jockey Larry McGrath.

But one of the performances of the day came from 13-year-old Earthmover, who belied his advanced years to win the Foxhunters Chase six years after his first win in the race and make it a day to remember for amateur rider Rilly Goschen.



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