Posted: 17th Mar 2016
A thumbs up from Davy Russell after winning on Mall Dini in the PertempsPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos
Report: Cheltenham Festival, Thursday
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup (for amateur riders) 3m2f, 5yo+, New course
AT the halfway stage bookmakers must have been thinking they were finally going to get some respite with favourite Doctor Harper jumping poorly and Cause Of Causes struggling at the rear.
But this was not to be a kind day for layers and from nowhere Cause Of Causes loomed up full of running with two fences to go and kicked clear to give the Irish a sixth winner on the day.
Black Hercules, Vautour, Thistlecrack and Limini had left bookmakers badly listing and jockey Jamie Codd only added to the woe when steering the Gordon Elliott-trained eight-year-old to victory.
Codd, who rode Cause Of Causes (9-2) to success in the National Hunt Chase last season, said: "He's been a great little horse for me. Gordon's had him in unbelievable form and he loves the spring.
"His biggest asset is that he's Flat bred so he has speed, but he stays too. He's not a very big horse and he's very economic over his fences and he always comes home for you."
A Good Skin ran on for second at 14-1 with Silvergrove third at 16-1 and Knock House fourth at 16-1.
Empire Of Dirt (centre) jumps stylishly through to lead under Bryan CooperPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Cheltenham Festival, Thursday
Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Grade 3) 2m5f, 5yo+, New course
BRYAN COOPER is able to approach his ride on favourite Don Cossack in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday with a winner under his belt after Empire Of Dirt finally landed the rider in the winner's enclosure.
Cooper had claimed four fourth-placed finishes on the opening two days before adding a second and a third to that tally on Thursday, but he finally broke his duck for this year's meeting with a determined victory on Empire Of Dirt.
Empire Of Dirt loomed up alongside Kings Palace, who ran much better than the last two festivals to be an honourable third, at the penultimate fence and stayed on strongly after the last to win at 16-1, with 33-1 chance Tango De Juilley second.
'Kept my head up'
"It's a relief," Cooper said. "Eddie [O'Leary, racing manager] and everyone has been keeping my head up and telling me things can only get better.
"I wasn't meant to be that far back but he's won with a bit up his sleeve in the end. It's not been frustraing because the horses are running as good as they are. They are coming up against better horses but it's great to get that win."
Winning trainer Colm Murphy, who has enjoyed great Cheltenham Festival successes with the likes of Brave Inca in the Champion Hurdle and Big Zeb in the Champion Chase, said: "It's fantastic. He's hit the ground a few times along the way but he was very good today and Bryan was very good on him too. He's really got the hang of it and it's great to get a winner for the owners."
Also at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday
Pertemps Network Final (Listed) 3m, 5yo+ New course
WHEN angry it is best to channel that energy positively and jockey Davy Russell did just that by steering Mall Dini to victory just 40 minutes after being unseated at the start from his JLT Novices' Chase mount Zabana.
Russell had been dismayed that Zabana was denied a chance to race in the JLT, but brought Mall Dini with a sustained and decisive run from the rear to score at 14-1 for trainer Patrick Kelly and owner Philip Reynolds.
Russell was quick to heap praise on Kelly, who has had just one winner from 13 runners over jumps in Ireland this season and last saddled a winner in Britain during the 1991-92 season.
"All credit goes to Pat Kelly, what a man," Russell said. "People might not know who he is but he's a very shrewd man from Galway and they'll be going for it tonight, so they will. The tongue tie really helped as he was over-racing but it's all down to Pat Kelly, he's a genius."
Reynolds added: "It's absolutely incredible, I can't believe it. I've dreamt about this for so, so long and it's incredible.
"Pat Kelly trains five horses in a little village in Galway. He trains two for me and he's after having a Cheltenham winner, isn't that what National Hunt racing is about? Pat thinks this is a Grand National horse but we'll settle for a Pertemps."
A stewards' inquiry was called into the finish with third home If In Doubt suffering interference in a rough finish. However the placing remained unaltered with Arpege D'Alene second at 14-1, If In Doubt third at 10-1 and Taglietelle fourth at 14-1.
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