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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Tiutchev claims Martell Cup
Tiutchev clears the last fence in the Martell Cognac Cup Chase
Tiutchev boosted champion trainer Martin Pipe's hopes of retaining his title with victory in the Martell Cognac Cup Chase at Aintree.

The 6-1 shot upset favourite First Gold to win 3m 1f race, the big race on the first day of the Grand National meeting, by by 3 lengths.

The 87,000 first prize takes Pipe back to the top of the trainers' standings ahead of his West Country neighbour Paul Nicholls.

Favourite First Gold, wearing blinkers, was looking for his third success in the race and led for most the race.

But champion jockey Tony McCoy rode the perfect stalking race on Tiutchev and took over at the front as the French leader tired in the home straight.

McCoy paid tribute to Tiutchev, who had come second in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day but whose stamina had been in doubt.

"He is just a smashing horse and the credit must go to him," said the champion jockey.

"If you can ride a horse like him, who jumps and travels and always tries his hardest, then you'd be happy."

Pipe's son and assistant David added: "This was the furthest he had tried, but if he's going to get three miles one anywhere, he's going to get it here, and the ground was perfect for him.

"This horse has been a superstar over the years," he added.

First Gold's trainer Francois Doumen was satisfied with his horse's performance.

"He's not been disgraced at all. We can't make any excuses," said the Frenchman.

"The only thing we could talk about is that there's only been a two-week gap since the Cheltenham Gold Cup, rather than three.

"He has come back safe and we'll think about Punchestown (Festival in April). It hasn't been ruled out. I'll look at the ground, as if it's fast I don't want to risk him."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Tiutchev's jockey Tony McCoy
"I'm more happy for the horse than the trainer or myself"


Day one highlights from Aintree




SEE ALSO
BBC website shows National
31 Mar 04  |  Horse Racing



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