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  Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 22:50 GMT
Best Mate's movie magic
Best Mate leads Commanche Court over the last fence at the Cheltenham Gold Cup
Best Mate jumps the last ahead of Commanche Court
BBC Sport's racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght bids a sad farewell to some great names as Best Mate triumphs in a dramatic Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Best Mate was absolutely brilliant in what I thought was the most thrilling Gold Cup for a long time.

It was a big field and the drama was of the right sort.

For those involved with him and for punters, it must have been like going to the movies, knowing a bit about the script and then watching everyone remember their lines.

There was never an anxious moment bar quite late on when he seemed like he might be about to get blocked in but as it turned out, he was going sweetly and everything went well.


No horse has won back-to-back Gold Cups since L'Escargot in the early 1970s
Cornelius Lysaght

He is 8-1 favourite to come back and do it again next year - but don't get too excited about that.

Not only can we trot out the old cliches about how a lot can happen in the next 12 months but we must also remember how hard this racecourse keeps hold of its records.

It wouldn't allow Istabraq a place in racing immortality.

And no horse has won back-to-back Gold Cups since L'Escargot did it in the early 1970s.

Even with a year off, Looks Like Trouble couldn't do it.

Best Mate is only seven and got the better of some of the older guard who may now be moving off the stage.

I could have cried for See More Business. The former champion ran such a cracking race in third.
Early leaders See More Business and Looks like Trouble jump together
See More Business led early on with Looks like Trouble

He must be one of the greatest horses of his generation but that's probably his last throw of the Gold Cup dice.

I was sad as well for Florida Pearl.

We've been here when he won the Bumper and the Royal and Sunalliance - and then when he came third and then second.

We were at Kempton when he won the King George and we just thought that maybe this was going to be his day.

But he ended up finishing 11th.

Sentimental

Looks Like Trouble has fought back from injury and he ran a great race.

But now he's got a leg injury and perhaps he'll never race again.

So although Best Mate was fantastic and it's great to say in with the new and out with the old, we're a sentimental old lot in racing so there's an element of sadness as well.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght
"Best Mate is now king of steeplechasing's castle"
Winning jockey Jim Culloty
"He's an absolute machine"
Winning owner Jim Lewis
"Everybody wants to win a Gold Cup"
Commanche Court's trainer Ted Walsh
"We were an honourable second"
Cheltenham stages its big jump race meeting from 12-14 March

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Links to more Cheltenham Festival stories are at the foot of the page.


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