Reports17 March 2023

'I can't describe the feeling' - Iroko stays on in style to make history for Greenall and Guerriero in the Martin Pipe

Iroko and Aidan Kelly won the Martin Pipe
Iroko and Aidan Kelly won the Martin PipeCredit: Grossick Racing

The final race of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival brought with it a unique slither of history as Iroko's late surge gave two trainers their first victory at the meeting.

Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero were celebrating as their horse came between No Ordinary Joe and Buddy One on the run-in to give owner JP McManus a one-two in the race.

The trainers share the licence at their base in Cheshire and have enjoyed an excellent season. It was also a first success at the meeting for jockey Aidan Kelly.

“I can’t describe the feeling, really – amazing," Greenall said. "We always knew the horse was nice, but we just felt maybe he’d be tapped for toe a little here, but he managed to hold his position. He’s such an easy horse, so straightforward, just tough, honest. 

"He shows nothing at home, he’s not a good workhorse, but he’s so straightforward, he doesn’t take much work. He toughed it out and winged the last. It’s just great."

Iroko was positioned prominently on the inside throughout and came under pressure as the field quickened down the hill. However, he responded generously to Kelly's urgings and powered a length and a half clear at the line, making light work of a 10lb rise for winning at Wetherby last time.

Greenall had previous at the festival having won at the meeting as a rider in 2008, but acknowledged his latest success gave him a different kind of buzz. 

“I rode the winner of the Foxhunter here in 2008 on Amicelli, and to train one here is amazing," he said. "Josh mainly works on the horse side and is there every day and I do more with the owners. We’ve got 70 in training with 50 running at any one time, mainly over jumps but some on the Flat too.”

The result took Britain's festival tally for the meeting into double figures at ten, with Ireland a further eight winners clear – the same final score as last year. 

The Martin Pipe is often won by top-class staying prospects, a statement underlined two hours earlier when the 2021 hero Galopin Des Champs stormed to success in the Gold Cup.

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Maddy PlayleDigital journalist
Published on 17 March 2023Last updated 19:25, 17 March 2023