Presenting Percy different class as he leads RSA procession under Russell
Pat Kelly has no appetite for the attention US president Donald Trump craves but the trainer whose team numbers only 15 horses proved he is the very model of a 'stable genius' when saddling a winner at the festival for the third year running.
In 2015 and last year after producing Mall Dini and Presenting Percy to win the Pertemps Final, Kelly turned down interview requests, and with a sweep of the hand he declined all invitations to share his reaction to his latest feat.
Instead it was the performance of Presenting Percy, ridden with tremendous patience by Davy Russell, that spoke volumes as he was brought to the fore at the second-last and then raced away from Monalee to seal the staying novice chasers' championship by seven lengths.
And it was left to an elated Philip Reynolds, owner of both Presenting Percy and Mall Dini, to champion Kelly.
"Pat is incredible and he should be up here talking to you because he deserves all the credit," said Reynolds.
"Pat is quiet. He's an incredible genius. I know that word is used very loosely but where Pat Kelly is concerned it is fitting.
"He has a very small number of horses in training, thankfully a good few of them for me. One field is where he trains them. I must be doing a very bad job advertising his wares because I can't understand why he doesn't have 150 in training."
Russell rode a waiting race as Bryony Frost and Black Corton attempted to win it from the front, but by the time an error at the third-last put an end to their challenge Presenting Percy was in pole position to pounce.
His victory justified the unconventional route Kelly took to Cheltenham with Presenting Percy in campaigning him over fences and hurdles in open and novice company, at distances of two and a half miles to three miles five furlongs.
"It's incredible," said Reynolds. "That's three Cheltenham winners, three years in a row. We ran at three miles five at Fairyhouse to know he would stay three-plus miles, which you need to do to win an RSA, and we ran him in open company twice to toughen him up.
"I had no qualms with Pat. He had good reasons for doing what he did, and you've seen the result."
for a third time in next year's Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, but Reynolds was not looking ahead.
Monalee ended up in the same spot he finished a year ago when second in the Albert Bartlett.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead said: "He ran a cracker and I'm delighted with him, though it's obviously disappointing not to win. We think he's a very good horse, but the winner is as well.
"Possibly if he had switched off a little bit more . . . but I don't think it would have made any difference to the result."
Black Corton had come into the race with only one defeat in eight runs under Frost but crossed the line last of the finishers in fifth after Al Boum Photo, under the unfortunate Ruby Walsh, crashed out at the second-last.
"He tried his heart out and gave me everything he’s got," said Frost. "I can’t ask for any more. He’s made my career single-handedly."
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