Dromore-bred Native River beats favourite to win Cheltenham Gold Cup
Dromore-bred Native River has won the 2018 Gold Cup.
The horse that finished third in last year's race went head-to-head with the Nicky Henderson-trained Might Bite and won by four and a half lengths in a thrilling finale. Anibale Fly came in third at 33/1.
Native River was bred by farmer Fred Mackey and is handled in England by trainer Colin Tizzard.
The horse had been prepared specially for the Gold Cup, run only once previously this term, winning the Denman Chase.
The success was at the hands of champion jockey Richard Johnson, who was landing the blue riband for the second time after Looks Like Trouble in 2000.
"I'm speechless," reflected Johnson. "He's been a fantastic horse for me and I was lucky to pick up the ride on him.
"He's just amazing. He jumps for fun. I was getting squeezed, but at the second-last and the last he just wanted it so much."
Dromore farmer Mackey had bred the horse from his own mare Native Mo, covered by Indian River, a son of the great Cadoudal.
“I remember I saw two white feet coming and I turned and said to Maureen, my wife, ‘What in the name of God do we have here?’," Mackey told Racing Post of the horse last year.
Might Bite was so close to delivering what would have been an historic success for Henderson. He was bidding to become the first trainer to take today's Cheltenham showpiece along with the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase in the same season.
Henderson won the Gold Cup twice before with Long Run (2011) and Bobs Worth (2013) but was denied the hat-trick as the 4/1 favourite was edged out by the 5/1 shot.
Belfast Telegraph Digital