Siruh Du Lac and Lizzie Kelly virtually led from pillar to post and held on well to win the Grade Three Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
22 horses took part in this race over two miles, 4 ½ furlongs.
From flag fall it was Testify who led with Templehills and Siruh Du Lac.
Settling down, Siruh Du Lac went on from Didero Vallis, with Testify and Splash Of Ginge also prominent.
Siruh Du Lac took the field down the home straight with Testify, Gardefort, Templehills, Splash Of Ginge and Didero Vallis all close. King’s Odyssey fell at the fence in front of the stands, as Siruh Du Lac set off into the country with Didero Vallis, Splash Of Ginge and Gardefort almost forming a wall of four.
At the back of the field, River Wylde pulled up before the water.
Meanwhile, Siruh Du Lac continued to travel well for Lizzie Kelly and led at the top of the top of the hill, with Didero Vallis and Splash Of Ginge.
Racing downhill, Riruh Du Lac and Didero Vallis led, with Eamon An Cnoic close-up.
But Siruh Du Lac turned for home in front of Eamon An Cnoic, with Janika and Didero Vallis challenging.
Siruh Du Lac landed in front at the second last, pressed by Eamon An Cnoic and Janika.
The leader took the last well and the final challenge came from Janika, but Siruh Du Lac was simply not for passing and reached the winning post with Kelly raising her arm aloft.
Siruh Du Lac had beaten Jankia on Cheltenham Trials Day in January – and repeated the feat here, while Spiritofthegames just passed Eamon An Cnoic for third place.
The Nick Williams trained six year-old was making it four consecutive victories.
Kelly said: “I watched Bryony and thought ‘that was my game plan!’ My question mark was whether Siruh Du Lac would stay, because I was not really in a position to be taking a pull down the back to get a breather into him. He travelled really well and by God, he jumped. He is an absolute monster and will come on from that as well.
“It was fantastic watching Bryony. She and Rachael [Blackmore, who won the Close Brothers Handicap Chase on A Plus Tard on Tuesday] are excellent jockeys and are making us perform better. I am delighted we have a really good girls’ weighing room at the moment. With three winners this week, it is very good.”
Kelly continued: “He jumps, and I just knew that was my biggest weapon. I wanted to control the race – I thought he’d get home because he battled back really well last time – but last time I was having to really hold on to him and not use his jumping to his best ability, and I just knew I could really get people into trouble early doors.
“He’s a fantastic horse. We’ve always thought a lot of him and his owners, John White and Ann Underhill, have been so good to me in terms of letting me ride the horse every time. It’s quite funny as we weren’t going to run him. We were going to go for something a bit easier, and then I think John might have got all riled up in the prep for Cheltenham and we ended up here, but even last week we didn’t know whether we were going or not.
“Me and him [Siruh Du Lac] work well together because I love that sort of heart on your sleeve type of ride; it works for me and it works for him. They don’t really give me any instructions, just go out and do what you do. It’s always lovely when you are riding for people who allow you to make the decisions. I wasn’t going to make it – I was going to sit second behind Tom Bellamy [on Templehills], and then his folded quite easily after the first couple of fences, so I thought, ‘I’ll just go then’.
“I’ve always said with jockeys, there are so many inconsistencies in racing in terms of track, ground and so on, the one constant you can control is the jockey. I’ve always thought horses should have the same jockey. The fact that I know him so well, I can tell what he was thinking and was going to do. I was surprised that he quickened so well in the straight though. That was fairly impressive – to find another gear after two miles.”
Nick Williams, recording his third victory at the Cheltenham Festival, said: “Siruh Du Lac didn’t miss a fence, but he needed to be spot-on at the last.
“It was a brilliant ride from Lizzie, who was really positive, and it was perfect.
“He was able to dictate from the front rather than have the choke out from the front, which was important.
“Siruh Du Lac’s form with Janika was very, very close and it was close today. I thought they would probably finish first and second, but didn’t know which order.
“The six-week gap from the last race was perfect. We thought about going to Newbury a couple of weeks ago, but he wasn’t really on the top of his game and needed the extra couple of weeks.
“We don’t have too bad a record here, but it has not gone according to plan all this week. Thankfully, it has today and he was obviously our best chance.
“This was our last chance of the week – the last chance saloon!”