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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 16:19 GMT
Solzen triumphs in World Hurdle
Golden Cross (left) and My Way de Solzen reach the last fence level
My Way de Solzen (right) pipped Golden Cross for the World Hurdle
My Way de Solzen held off Golden Cross to win a thrilling showpiece World Hurdle at Cheltenham on Thursday.

Robert Thornton's mount (8-1) pipped Golden Cross by a head with two-time winner Baracouda back in fifth.

The winner, trained by Alan King, took up the running from two out and was joined by flat jockey Johnny Murtagh on Golden Cross (5-1) at the last.

Mighty Man, the 4-1 favourite, held on for third with 33-1 shot Fire Dragon coming home in fourth.

"He's not normally at his best in those conditions but I knew I was in with a chance when I could here them all slapping and kicking in behind me," said Thornton.

I'm sick and I haven't been as sick for a long time
Johnny Murtagh

Trainer King said: "We were still undecided about the ground but we let him take his chance. It was a beautiful ride and I'm just delighted for the whole team.

"The ground isn't soft out there today and I'm just hoping he is OK in the morning. We were always reluctant to run him on quick ground because he is a seriously good horse."

A disappointed Murtagh, making a rare appearance over obstacles, said: "I'm sick and I haven't been as sick for a long time. I thought I had it.

"I jumped the last and I really thought this horse was going to win.

"He is a great horse and has done everything well - he didn't hit one hurdle and he jumped very big."

The 11-year-old Baracouda, winner in 2002 and 2003, had never finished out of the first two in his four previous attempts in the race but French trainer Francois Doumen insisted he was not upset with his performance.

He's one of those horses that you would literally pull yourself off your death bed to ride
Fondmort's jockey Mick Fitzgerald

"I don't want to excuse him," said Doumen. "But if it had been soft ground it would have been a different story.

"If he needs soft ground now to win maybe he's not the horse he was a few years ago.

"He has run a great race but has always been first or second and this is the first time I have had to come and collect him from the back and I feel sorry."

Fondmort continued his Cheltenham love affair with a thrilling victory in the Ryanair Chase, to the delight of jockey Mick Fitzgerald.

The 100-30 joint-favourite was registering his fourth valuable success at the Prestbury Park circuit thanks to his victory over Lacdoudal and Impek.

Fitzgerald reeled in Tony McCoy and Impek and held on bravely up the hill to make amends for a narrow defeat in last year's renewal.

"He's just class. He's one of those horses that you would literally pull yourself off your death bed to ride he's that good," said Fitzgerald.

"I knew I could rely on him over the last two obstacles - he is ultra-reliable."



SEE ALSO
Thursday at Cheltenham
16 Mar 06 |  Horse Racing


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