Native River holds off Might Bite for Gold Cup glory

Pauline Gross
March 17, 2018

Killultagh Vic 5-1 (11-10) Towards rear, slight mistakes early, 8th at 7th, closed up travelling smoothly to be prominent before straight, led before last where fell, in a race won by Edwulf (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m chs G1 (1) sft in Feb, 10 ran.

My two against the field are former Welsh National victor Native River (also 4/1) and Our Duke (3.30) with marginal preference for last year's Irish Grand National victor.

Anibale Fly, a 33-1 shot, was third.

"I'm speechless. He's been a fantastic horse for me and I was lucky to pick up the ride on him", said champion jockey Johnson. Those in Britain are talking up Might Bite while many in Irish circles are saying last year's Irish Grand National victor Our Duke looks like a Gold Cup victor.

"He jumps for fun". I was getting squeezed, but at the second-last and the last he just wanted it so much.

Johnson had a willing partner, but the stewards hit him hard with £6,550 fine and seven-day ban for excessive use of the whip.

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A stunning performance from Native River who wins the Gold Cup @CheltenhamRaces and provides Richard Johnson with his second success in the race.

"It's the fourth day and the Irish have been winning everything - I was thinking our form is not as good as we imagined", added Tizzard. He wasn't quite right after Cheltenham a year ago so we've stuck to the plan and it has come in.

Native River made history, becoming the first horse to win the Gold Cup after losing a previous renewal. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is everything in everyone's life and there's no pretending it's not. "They are two very courageous horses".

"I don't think Might Bite ever headed us, but I could tell he was going nicely but Native River has got a massive heart". "I'm very proud of the horse".

Last year's victor Sizing John is an absentee this time round, having picked up an injury a week before the Festival. It was the third year in a row the champion has missed the race after Coneygree and Don Cossack did not defend their crowns.

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