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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 20:41 GMT
Cheltenham's Sweetest Thing
By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport at Cheltenham

A former 600-1 shot that nearly died 10 weeks ago, owned by a man who gave U2 singer Bono his name.

And I still haven't found what I'm looking for to accurately describe the story behind Sublimity's fairytale success in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Sublimity and Phillip Carberry achieve a surprise win at Cheltenham
Sublimity and Carberry celebrate their surprise Cheltenham win

While all the talk before the big race was around market leaders Detroit City, Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca, the talk afterwards was long and varied about Sublimity.

Raucous scenes ensued in the winning enclosure as regulars of the A1 pub in Artane, Dublin, celebrated victory for inn and racehorse owner Bill Hennessy.

Trainer John Carr told how the seven-year-old Sublimity had recovered after being taken to a veterinary hospital at Christmas with a temperature of 105.5F.

Hennessy, a 69-year-old businessman, backed him at odds of 600-1. He founded a hearing aid company 35 years ago, which he named Bonavox - Latin for perfect voice.


Batteries for the hearing aids were delivered to his shop by Guggi Rowan, a school friend of the then little-known singer Paul Hewson.

Guggi suggested Bonavox would be a perfect alter ego for Hewson. He took the name, adapted it and U2's rock 'n roll legend was born. The hearing aid business thrived and Hennessy invested some of his money in racehorses.

He bought Sublimity for just over 30,000 and put him in training with John Carr in Maynooth, Kildare, a town which up until now had been more famous for training monks rather than Cheltenham winners.

Carr knew he had something special, but feared the worst when his stable star developed a virus towards the end of 2006.

He's such an honest horse, he gives you a great feeling when you are riding him

Sublimity's stable lass Majella Brennan

"He had a temperature of 105.5F. He was very sick, it was almost life-threatening," he said.

Sublimity bounced back and a win at Navan sparked confidence and a gamble that saw his price drop with High Street bookmakers from 66-1 to a winning 16-1.

Stable lass Majella Brennan, 38, of Dunboyne, Meath, rides the horse nearly every day, but did not have a penny on him. Victory was enough.

"It's the best feeling ever. He's such an honest horse, he gives you a great feeling when you are riding him. He's a gentleman - sheer class," she said.

Sublimity runs in Hennessy's claret and blue colours. He had founded a schoolboy soccer club who play in a similar kit, as he admired the same colours adorned by West Ham United in the 1970s, when the club boasted players such as Trevor Brooking and Frank Lampard senior.

U2 lead singer Bono
U2 front man Bono is part of Sublimity's fantastic story

Jockey Philip Carberry is the unsung brother of Paul, who won the Grand National in 1999 on Bobbyjo for his father Tommy.

While Paul sits out Cheltenham with a foot injury, the Carberry siblings are taking the limelight - sister Nina also won on Tuesday aboard Headsontheground.

Philip, 26, had confidently told anyone who would listen at a Cheltenham hotel on Monday night exactly how he would win.

He did just that, even taking a pull on the reins to stop his mount going in front too soon with more than two furlongs to go.

"I've won some big races but the Champion Hurdle means an awful lot. Cheltenham is like the All-Ireland final," said Carberry.

The All-Ireland Gaelic football and hurling finals are held at Croke Park, walking distance from the A1 pub.

Bill's son Robert said: "The pub has gone absolutely mental. My brother John took 100 out of the pub kitty and put it on Sublimity at 28-1.

"He said if it wins, everyone can drink the profits. I presume they are doing just that, but the money won't last long."

Pub regular Gary Pierce held aloft an Irish tricolour which read: "Sublimity - Cheltenham 2007."

Another one he made before his trip to England said: "Sublimity - Champion Hurdle winner 2007." It stayed in the pub because of superstition.

While the defeat of the three big guns in the race was a bonus for the bookmakers, one Dublin punter cleaned out his local William Hill shop.

Hills spokesman Tony Kenny said: "This guy knew the score. He had 400 euros each-way at 100-1, to win 50,000 euros."

Sublimity claims Champion Hurdle
13 Mar 07 |  Horse Racing
Cheltenham photos
13 Mar 07 |  Horse Racing


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