Beef Or Salmon was off the menu at the last but ended up as the main course
In the first of a three-part series on great Irish Gold Cups Tony O'Hehir relives the drama of an improbable success that brought the house down
Beef Or Salmon's victory in the Irish Gold Cup in 2007 was the last and most memorable of his three triumphs in the race.
Michael Hourigan's star had captured the prize in 2003, ridden by Timmy Murphy, and again in 2006 with Paul Carberry on board. He excelled around Leopardstown, but with one fence to jump in the 2007 version his prospects of another victory were somewhere between slim and none.
He had 15 lengths to pull back from The Listener, who was attempting to make all. Beef Or Salmon looked to have run his race and appeared set to be a well-beaten second to the British raider, who had defeated him by eight lengths when they clashed in the Lexus Chase over the same course and trip a couple of months previously.
However, everything changed on the long run-in. Beef Or Salmon's guts and tenacity, allied to Andrew McNamara's urgings and The Listener tiring, produced a rousing finish and, to the roars of the packed stands, Beef Or Salmon got there to win by three-quarters of a length.
It was the tenth and final Grade 1 victory of his career and his sixth at Leopardstown, where he was a great favourite with racegoers.
Recalling the race, McNamara said: "I thought we had no chance of winning going to the final fence but Beef Or Salmon kept plugging away and didn't want to stop.
"The reception from the crowd was unbelievable and I got as big a kick out of winning that race as I ever got in my riding career."
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