Cheltenham Festival

'The obsession with holding him up didn't pay off' - Gold Tweet trainer blames jockey for Stayers' Hurdle flop

Gold Tweet (Johnny Charron) wins the Cleeve Hurdle Cheltenham 28.1.23 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Gold Tweet and Johnny Charron win the Cleeve Hurdle Credit: Edward Whitaker

Trainer Gabriel Leenders believes Johnny Charron never gave the well-backed Gold Tweet a chance of repeating his Cheltenham heroics in Thursday's Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle, blaming exaggerated waiting tactics for his failure. 

Gold Tweet arrived with hopes high of a first French-trained festival Grade 1 success since 2002 after his victory on Trials day in January. 

Although the horse he beat in the Cleeve Hurdle, Dashel Drasher, again gave everything in defeat by Sire Du Berlais, Gold Tweet was held up at the back of the 11 runners, 15 lengths off the lead set by Flooring Porter. 

The pair briefly threatened to join in running down the hill before Gold Tweet's effort flattened out tamely, trailing home 16 lengths adrift of the winner. 

Gold Tweet (noseband, centre of picture) trails home well adrift of the principals in the Stayers' Hurdle
Gold Tweet (noseband, centre of picture) trails home well behind the principals in the Stayers' HurdleCredit: Edward Whitaker

Leenders reported the six-year-old to be "absolutely fine" on returning to his yard at Jarze in the Loire Valley. "He’s been out in the paddock with his friend this morning," said Leenders.

"He was ridden too far back and then when they turned for home, Johnny found himself following the wrong horses. He needed a horse to take him into the race, but ended up following those that weren’t going anywhere. If he’d got closer to them he might still have been all right, but that wasn’t the case."

Charron received plenty of praise for riding such a cool race in the Cleeve Hurdle on his first visit to Cheltenham, and even criticised some of his British rivals for going for home too soon on that occasion. 

Unfortunately for the French team's chances on Thursday, the leaders did not stop in front, with only Teahupoo making up ground from the rear.

Gabriel Leenders (right) and Johnny Charron celebrate after Gold Tweet's success in the Dahlbury Stallions At Chapel Stud Cleeve Hurdle
Happier times: Johnny Charron and Gabriel Leenders after Gold Tweet's win at Cheltenham in JanuaryCredit: GROSSICK RACING

"I don’t know if you’d call it a bad ride, but the obsession with holding him up didn’t pay off," said Leenders, who added he would wait to see how Gold Tweet came out of his two trips to Britain before deciding whether to go back to chasing and aim for the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris.   

Leenders had also been considering Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree for Baladin De Mesc, who is Gold Tweet's work companion and who ran an excellent race when third giving weight all round at Auteuil last weekend.

While he remains a possible entry, it is clear Thursday was a sobering experience for Leenders.

"He’s come out of his race very well but with the blow we suffered on Thursday, we’ll take some time to think about whether we bring him over or not."  

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Scott BurtonFrance correspondent
Published on 18 March 2023Last updated 19:56, 18 March 2023