Paul Carberry salutes the crowd after winning on Very WoodPICTURE: Getty Images
Cheltenham Festival: Wood very good
in the Albert Bartlett
Report: Cheltenham Festival, Friday
Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Registered As The Spa Novices' Hurdle) (Grade 1) 3m, 4yo+ New course
VERY WOOD was delivered with typical patience by Paul Carberry to lead at the final hurdle and take a dramatic running of the Albert Bartlett Hurdle.
The race had been delayed by ten minutes after Daryl Jacob was injured in a bizarre incident when his mount Port Melon crashed through the running rail on the way to post.
The race itself also included two crunching falls for David Casey, who was replacing the injured Ruby Walsh and the injured Paul Townend, on Briar Hill and Hadden Frost from Rydon Pynes. Both jockeys were reported to be okay as was Rydon Pynes. Briar Hill sustained a fracture to his eye socket but is expected to be fine.
Second favourite Kings Palace was always likely to set a strong gallop and did so for jockey Tom Scudamore although as he reached the penultimate hurdle he was a sitting duck for Deputy Dan with Apache Jack also close by.
Leighton Aspell kicked for home on Deputy Dan and his mount responded generously to leave behind his rivals and if he kept up his gallop he was set for festival glory.
But the race began to take its toll on Deputy Dan approaching the last and Carberry arrived on the scene on Very Wood, who popped the final hurdle and ran on determinedly to take victory. Deputy Dan clung on for second from Apache Jack.
Carberry was riding the 33-1 winner for his long-time ally Noel Meade, whose yard has been suffering from a virus for much of the year.
He said: "It's brilliant. Brilliant for Noel and I'm delighted to get him a winner. I know Ruby and AP and Barry [Geraghty] are always expected to win but I'm always expected to come up with a surprise and this is a good one.
"He travelled and jumped super and he's going to be a lovely chaser. He stormed up the hill.
"I find it a lot easier now because I don't take any pressure, I just get up and ride them."