Ulster’s hand in Cheltenham's golden moment
Ulster bloodstock dealer Kevin Ross regarded last week’s Cheltenham Gold Cup day as “the greatest day of my life” after Imperial Commander won the great chase for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.
Ross said: “I’ve been a bloodstock dealer for a few years, having turned to this after a major fall in a point-to-point at Loughanmore, and I’ve never had a deal like this go so sweet.
“I bought the horse from local trainer Colin McKeever for an English syndicate ‘Our Friends in the North’ and needless to say, they were delighted with what I produced for them.
“Nigel Twiston-Davies took over the reins from my mother Eyssen, daughter of the late Willie Rooney, and who handled Imperial Commander to win a point-to-point at Summerhill in Co Meath (2005).
“Interestingly enough, the man who rode the horse that day was Jimmy Henry from Ballyclare, one of the leading point-to-point jockeys in the north,” said Kevin.
“Jimmy was thrilled when Imperial Commander came to the front at Cheltenham and it was a day we will not forget in a hurry.
“Is there another around the corner? Well, let’s say this — you don’t buy a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner every day of the week. But’s it’s good while it lasts.”
Thirty-year-old Henry also rode Burton Point, the RSA Chase runner-up, to a Loughanmore win in 2008.
Henry began his point-to-point career riding out for Cullybackey’s Derek Moore. He had no racing background and arrived in Cullybackey without having sat on a horse with a saddle before.
His experience was confined to riding ponies and horses bareback in a field next to his grandmother’s home.
Meanwhile, 2006 Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition is set to sign off his career at next month's Punchestown Festival after showing up well for a long way in last week's World Hurdle at Cheltenham before finishing 12th.
Trainer Mouse Morris said: “Whatever happens, it will be his last race.
“The main thing is he gets through it in one piece.”