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Last Updated: Friday, 18 March, 2005, 15:28 GMT
Kicking King triumphs in Gold Cup
Kicking King and jockey Barry Geraghty
Kicking King stormed to an impressive victory in the blue riband Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

The 4-1 favourite, trained by Tom Taaffe and ridden by Barry Geraghty, beat Take The Stand into second with 2004 runner-up Sir Rembrandt third.

Taaffe's father Pat rode the legendary Arkle to a hat-trick of Gold Cup victories in the 1960s.

Kicking King, the King George VI winner, was withdrawn two weeks ago before being reinstated by Taaffe.

The Irishman was concerned the horse was ill and said: "When we thought he was out of the race, we were shattered.

"The owner told me that when I rang him, he was in Spain, and he pulled the car over, stopped it and didn't move for two hours.

Unbelievable - and he is only seven years old
Kicking King's jockey Barry Geraghty

"I'd like to emphasise it's the horse who told me to come here."

Kicking King was the first Irish-trained winner of the Gold Cup since Imperial Call in 1996 and gave Taaffe his first victory in the event.

Geraghty, who won the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Moscow Flyer on Wednesday, said: "I am fortunate enough to have possibly the two best chasers on the go at the minute - he is some tool.

"I was running away all the time, jumping brilliantly over the last three.

"Unbelievable - and he is only seven years old."

Kicking King's owner Conor Clarkson said: "Two weeks ago I thought we were out, and I felt so lucky just to be here.

"To win it is an unbelievable feeling. To have a horse good enough to run is a privilege, but to win it is better again."

Three-time champion Best Mate was withdrawn last week after bursting a blood vessel while leading fancy Kingscliff was redirected to the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and Farmer Jack died on the gallops in Somerset on Wednesday.

Grey Abbey, ridden by Graham Lee, made all the running on the first circuit with Ballycassidy and 12-1 chance Sir Rembrandt tracking him.

On the second lap, Howard Johnson's grey and Sir Rembrandt, ridden by Andrew Thornton, stretched out the field as the leading contenders sorted themselves out behind.

Kicking King moved into second at the fourth last fence and hit the front three out as Grey Abbey dropped back.

Dobbin and Take the Stand briefly matched Kicking King but the pace of the seven-year-old was too strong as he went on to win by five lengths with Sir Rembrandt a further eight lengths adrift.

Leading fancy Beef or Salmon was pulled up, while trainer Martin Pipe's hotly-tipped Celestial Gold also faded.

Earlier Robert Thornton claimed a double when Penzance won the JCB Triumph Hurdle and Moulin Riche took the Brit Insurance Novices' Hurdle.

Robert Thornton on Penzance
Penzance clears a hurdle on his way to victory

Penzance (9-1) had to overcome a tough challenge from Faasel up the Cheltenham hill to win by a head.

Moulin Riche, trained by Frenchman Thierry Doumen, was an impressive 9-1 winner with the win making up for the disappointment of stable star Baracouda's defeat in the World Hurdle.

Trainer Nicky Henderson could not quite land an emotional victory as Fota Island powered home in the inaugural running of the race named after his late father.

The course executive added the name Johnny Henderson to the Grand Annual Chase after his death last year, and son Nicky tried his level best to put the family name on the winner's board by sending out three runners.

However, the well-backed Irish challenger Fota Island beat Bambi De L'Orme by five lengths.

Henderson did manage to make it into the winner's enclosure though, as his Caracciola finished a length back in third, with the stable's Tysou fourth.

Tony McCoy always said this was the race we should go for, and he was right
Fota Island's trainer Mouse Morris

Sleeping Night gave Paul Nicholas some consolation following Strong Flow's disappointing effort in the Gold Cup with a smooth victory in the Christie's Foxhunter Chase.

The 7-2 favourite battled hard up the hill to see off Foly Pleasant by three-quarters of a length.

Martin Pipe and Timmy Murphy closed the meeting with a winner after Fontanesi left several disappointing efforts behind him to get up in the dying strides of the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Kicking King's owner Conor Clarkson


Interview: Kicking King's jockey Barry Geraghty



SEE ALSO
Gold Cup hope Farmer Jack dies
16 Mar 05 |  Horse Racing
Kingscliff ruled out of Gold Cup
15 Mar 05 |  Horse Racing
Best Mate ruled out of Gold Cup
10 Mar 05 |  Horse Racing



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