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Last Updated: Friday, 19 March, 2004, 10:11 GMT
Front pages belong to Best Mate
By Sophie Brown
BBC Sport at Cheltenham

After the depressing headlines of recent weeks, racing made the front pages for the right reasons on Friday.

The image of Jim Culloty celebrating Best Mate's third Cheltenham Gold Cup adorns the cover of many of the national newspapers.

Best Mate

And there are plenty of column inches inside that tell the story of racing's newest legend.

The Sun even mentions Best Mate's historic achievement in its leader column.

"Racing can hold its head high today," it says.

Rival tabloid the Daily Mirror, however, leads on a less lofty but rather more self-serving angle.

The paper had given Best Mate's owner Jim Lewis some worry beads on the first day of the Festival, which had apparently played their part in the horse's victory.

WHAT THE PAPERS SAID

The Times: "(Best Mate passing the winning post) electrified the 60,000 crowd just as a last-minute Wilkinson kick or Beckham goal have thrilled other audiences."

The Daily Mirror: "Best Mate administered the tonic racing badly needed"

Racing Post (Alastair Down): "Never before have I felt part of such a massive act of collective will - the feeling that 99% of the extraordinary cross-section of humanity that is the Festival crowd wanted to see one particular set of colours pass that post first."

The Guardian: "They may wrap Best Mate in cotton wool but never call him soft. For once jumping and cruising took him only so far. It was the granite in his soul that got him home."

The Sun: "It was a much-needed golden moment for a sport that has been dragged into the gutter recently by claims of race-fixing and sleazy tales of betting scams."

The Daily Telegraph: "Horse, jockey and trainer all had to empty their souls to win."

The Independent: "He is the best by both name and performance."

Daily Mail: "It wasn't pretty and it wasn't Arkle but Best Mate rewarded his legion of fans with the bravest of wins"

Daily Express: "Culloty rode the race of his life on the gelding"





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