Tiger Roll and Davy Russell powering clear in the Triumph HurdlePICTURE: Getty Images
Cheltenham Festival: Tiger on a roll in Triumph Hurdle
Report: Cheltenham Festival, Friday
JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m1f, 4yo
THE unexposed Tiger Roll secured Grade 1 glory for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell, as powerful owners Gigginstown House Stud bagged a first winner of the week at the meeting.
It has been a trying week for Gigginstown, with number one jockey Bryan Cooper breaking his leg in a fall from Clarcam in the Fred Winter on Wednesday. Russell, who previously occupied Cooper's role,was also riding his first winner of the week.
The race was not short of drama, as Ruby Walsh was taken to hospital having suffered a compound fracture of his right humerus sustained in a crashing fall from Abbyssial at the second hurdle, also bringing down stablemate Adriana Des Mottes.
Daryl Jacob also had a tough time, losing in his irons aboard favourite Calipto and doing well to finish fourth.
Formerly with Nigel Hawke, Tiger Roll had made the step up from winning a three-year-old hurdle at Market Rasen to finishing second to Guitar Pete in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown,
On just his third start he reversed that form, with Guitar Pete taking third, while Kentucky Hyden ran a massive race for Nicky Henderson to fill second.
Reflecting on the victory, Russell said: "I had a good book of rides coming in and picked up this one because of the injury to Bryan but it's great. Gordon has done a marvellous job with this horse. It is only the third run of his life and Gordon had him on the button."
Ryanair and Gigginstown boss Michael O'Leary said: "It's wonderful and I am delighted for Gordon and I am delighted to get one of the board."
Once Abyssial and Adriana Des Mottes had departed, Guitar Pete and Kentucky Hyden were joined up front by the well-fancied Royal Irish Hussar, and the field would stack up before two out.
At that point Jacob would have problems with his tack, and it quickly became evident he had lost his irons in the home straight, effectively ending his chances.
Tiger Roll had sat just behind the leaders, and while Guitar Pete and Kentucky Hyden were battling away manfully, a nimble leap at the last sealed victory, with Russell going away by three and a quarter lengths at 10-1.
Kentucky Hyden returned at 20-1, with Guitar Pete 7-1.
Winning trainer Gordon Elliott said: "It is a dream come true. I am fierce sad for Bryan Cooper but delighted for Davy and he has ridden a lot of good winners for me.
"I only got this horse by accident. I wanted another one from the sales and there was a bit of an argument but it's all worked out. I was worried early as he was keen and a few of mine have been beaten this week but this is special. He might go to Punchestown but I'll talk to the owners."