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'Luck was on our side' - Blackmore performs incredible sit to win match race

Rachael Blackmore (pink) somehow manages to maintain the partnership on Gin On Lime
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Friday: Cheltenham

The much-anticipated chase debut of My Drogo went from dominance to destruction in a matter of seconds, as Dan Skelton's stable star suffered a slip and fall which allowed sole rival Gin On Lime to breeze home after an incredible recovery from Rachael Blackmore.

My Drogo was cruising throughout the 2m4f novice chase against his Irish-trained rival and, as they swung for home, was asked to quicken away and seal it. Richard and Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes's strapping son of Milan responded with a big leap over the second-last, but things weren't so smooth on landing.

His feet slipped as he suddenly crashed out, sending Harry Skelton into the path of Gin On Lime, who had also endured a slip, but Rachael Blackmore had miraculously clung on and was able to complete and collect the £13,000 on offer.

The stewards reviewed the incident and advised Blackmore to "take more time to assess the welfare of her mount" in similar circumstances.

"I was never happy anywhere," reflected Blackmore. "Luck was on our side. When Harry joined me turning in I thought he was going to go by me, but he didn't so she was going to battle a bit.

"She crumpled a little bit [on landing] but popped straight back up and didn't feel tired under me. She broke straight back into a canter and cantered down over the last and over the line. She was happy to go forward when I asked her to."

Cheltenham drama: My Drogo parts company with Harry Skelton as Rachael Blackmore desperately tries to cling on aboard Gin On Lime

Paddy Power pushed My Drogo to 9-1 (from 8-1) for the Marsh Novices' Chase at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, although his trainer believes he lost nothing in defeat.

Trainer Skelton reflected: "He jumped the fence fine and then crumbled on landing and slid. I was delighted with him the whole way around, he jumped beautifully. He jumped the ditch at the top of the hill better than the mare and came back on to the bridle. He'd have won, we all know that.

"It's frustrating that he's not completed a race and that goes on his record, but that doesn't mean he's any less a horse. He would've cantered up the straight.

My Drogo, the match-race favourite, gallops away after he unseated jockey Harry Skelton

"They've gone a nice gallop which they don't usually do in a two-horse race and fair play to Rachael for staying on as she made a similar mistake. That's racing, we move on. Forget the slide, the rest of it was really good. I'm not worried, disappointed, but not worried.

How the incident unfolded

My Drogo and Harry Skelton lead Gin On Lime and Rachael Blackmore in the match race

But My Drogo makes a mistake at the second-last, while Gin On Lime also meets it wrong

Harry Skelton is unseated from My Drogo while Rachael Blackmore sits tight on her mount

Rachael Blackmore (pink) somehow manages to maintain the partnership on Gin On Lime

Rachael Blackmore and Gin On Lime recover and start to head up the Cheltenham hill

The pair head for the final fence before completing a miraculous match-race victory

2.20 Cheltenham Friday: full result and race replay

Ruby Walsh on ITV Racing: 'He shouldn't have fallen'

Ruby Walsh insisted that My Drogo will not make a similar mistake again and will have learnt plenty from his unfortunate mishap for the season ahead.

Walsh, speaking in his role as a pundit on ITV Racing, believed he should not have fallen in what was a near-flawless round until the second-last fence.

ITV Racing pundit Ruby Walsh: "My Drogo had done everything perfectly until he fell"

"He shouldn't have fallen. I thought Gin On Lime slipped initially, but she just clouted it," he said. "When she was long she was good, but My Drogo had done everything perfectly until he fell.

"He jumped the third-last really, really well and the only difference between the second-last was they quickened up a bit. He jumped it well enough, brushes the top and doesn't save himself quick enough. He should get his feet out and that's why they're novices. I bet that won't happen to My Drogo again."

Read these next:

'I shouldn't have done it' – Frankie Dettori's regret over Ascot outburst

'We'll put that right' – Dan Skelton on the 23-5 drubbing and Ireland's strength

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I thought it was unfair on the favourite after the way he jumped – his jumping was spectacular
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