Harrington gets her just deserts with Supasundae
The form was in the book, clear as day. But then again, it always is afterwards. Supasundae might have been a rather overlooked 16-1 shot but anyone following the form of last year’s Supreme Novices' Hurdle was again celebrating as the handsome son of Galileo relished the drying ground and took off with the Coral Cup in style.
With last year’s Supreme winner Altior scoring in Tuesday’s Arkle and the third and eighth from that race, Buveur D'Air and Petit Mouchoir, finishing first and third in the Champion Hurdle, the value of last season’s curtain-raiser was clear to all, yet Supasundae, back in seventh 12 months ago, appeared to have gone largely unbacked based on one of the more modest responses from a typically boisterous festival crowd.
Racing sweetly towards the lead under Robbie Power, Supasundae was always well clear of the inevitable bustling of a 25-runner festival handicap and, when sent for home after two out, put the race to bed with a turn of foot his Derby-winning sire would have been proud of.
“I only got him in September and it took time to get to know him,” said winning trainer Jessica Harrington. “His last two runs he’s just been getting stuck in the mud but Robert [winning rider] worked him last week on a really good surface and said he was like a different horse. He’s Flat bred and I just think he needs real good ground.”
The victory, 18 years after her first with Space Trucker in the Grand Annual, was a landmark ninth at the festival for Harrington, moving her one clear of Jenny Pitman as the winningmost female trainer at the meeting.
“It’s lovely to have winners here because it’s so hard,” said Harrington. “Every winner here is so special and I remember every one of them. Space Trucker was the last festival race of the 20th century when he won in '99. Then there’s the great Moscow Flyer [three times], Spirit Leader in the County, Cork All Star in the bumper, Bostons Angel won the RSA and of course Jezki in the Champion Hurdle.”
Ground turning in favour of stable big guns
As the sun beat down over the hallowed winner’s enclosure, Harrington had further reason to smile as the ground continues to turn in favour of her two big guns for the week, Jezki in Thursday’s Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle and Sizing John in Friday’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
She added: “Jezki got completely stuck in the mud last time. He hates heavy ground and will love the ground tomorrow. Sizing John is a gentle giant. He’s finished second five times to Douvan and twice third. Whether he'll stay the last two furlongs I don’t know but he’s very relaxed.”
Another with previous at the festival, 2014 JLT winner Taquin Du Seuil, again showed his love for Cheltenham as he stayed on for second under Aidan Coleman.
Trainer Jonjo O'Neill said of the better-known chaser: “He was better in over hurdles than he is over fences. We didn't think we could win the Ryanair or the other races so we thought he had a chance here. He ran a blinder.”
The well-touted Gordon Elliott-trained 7-2 favourite Tombstone was never a threat and finished well down the field.
Supasundae’s win would have no doubt made for uncomfortable viewing for his former trainer Henry de Bromhead, who lost the horse when owner Alan Potts removed his horses from the yard last year.
Yet less than an hour later De Bromhead was basking in the big-race success of Special Tiara. It's a funny old game.