40-1 shock Domesday Book finally puts hosts on scoresheet
It was a torturous Thursday for the hosts, forced to watch an Irish invasion for six races on the trot, but Domesday Book made it slightly more bearable by grinding out a narrow victory in the stamina-sapping finale, in the process providing 25-year-old jockey Gina Andrews and Stuart Edmunds with a first festival winner.
Andrews, reigning female champion point-to-point rider, went close in the 2011 Foxhunter on 100-1 rag Mid Div And Creep, finding only Zemsky too good, and it looked like she would have to settle for the runner-up spot again as Pendra kicked clear coming down to the last.
But Domesday Book, on only his second start since leaving Henry de Bromhead, collared Pendra in the final couple of strides. The smile on Andrews' face said it all, although the rider was later to learn she had received a 13-day whip ban and £400 fine.
“It's been my lifetime ambition just to ride at the festival, never mind ride a winner, and I'm absolutely delighted," she said.
"I had my first point-to-point ride when I was 16 and all I've wanted to do since was ride here."
Andrews, who has ridden more than 200 winners in points and races under rules, added: “It was a bit unexpected. The first thing Stuart said to me was he'd never be on the bridle, but he was never off it until I turned in so it was a pleasant surprise.
"He gave me a great ride. He jumped and travelled brilliant and rallied really well up the run-in. I thought I'd be second jumping the last, I didn't think I'd win.”
Edmunds said: “I'd been without a winner for two months and now I've had two in two days as we had a winner at Huntington on Wednesday. To have a winner here is unbelievable."
Edmunds, a longtime assistant to the late Renee Robeson, continued: “That was a very brave performance. He was always a horse that travelled behind the bridle but today he jumped out and enjoyed himself.
"He does everything very slowly. He jumps slowly. Everything he does is in his own time. He's never in a hurry so I said why not have a go over a trip like this. We had to do something different. Gina is class and really suited the horse."
Sadly, Hadrian’s Approach was fatally injured when breaking a leg in a fall at the tenth. He won the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in 2014, one of four victories for a ten-year-old owned by Richard and Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes of Trull House Stud, who had sponsored the previous race.
Trainer Nicky Henderson said: “It’s very sad. He was a lovely horse, you couldn’t find a kinder horse at home. He’s been a proper fun horse for everyone involved.
“That’s two we’ve lost this week, with Consul De Thaix fatally injured as well. It’s horrible.”