Cheltenham Festival News

Stayers' Hurdle hero Sire Du Berlais writes new Festival chapter

Thu 16 Mar 2023

Full replay: 2023 Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle

Sire Du Berlais ground down Dashel Drasher late on in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle as the big-race outsiders fought out a thrilling finish to the Cheltenham Festival’s day three feature.

At one stage it looked as if Flooring Porter was about to join the Festival immortals and secure his third straight victory in the race, but his tank emptied quicker than in the previous two years and he was passed heading to the last by Dashel Drasher who set sail for home in the hands of Rex Dingle.

A length to the good jumping the final flight, Jeremy Scott’s admirable 10-year-old stuck his head down as the Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Sire Du Berlais and Teahupoo were breathing down his neck.

Dashel Drasher was a brave second at 40-1 and Teahupoo a further neck back in third – but there was a change to the placings in the stewards’ room as it was deemed Dashel Drasher had caused interference at the last that was sufficient to deny Teahupoo second spot.

A runner-up behind Flooring Porter in this in 2021 and also a dual winner the winner of the Pertemps in both 2019 and 2020, the 11-year-old Sire Du Berlais was somewhat the forgotten horse of the race and handed Cullentra House handler Elliott his first victory in this premier staying hurdling contest.

Gordon Elliott reacts to his bog-race 1-2 and first-ever Stayers' Hurdle success

Elliott said: “After a hurdle or two I knew he was in a good rhythm. Of course it’s a surprise, but Sire Du Berlais can do that – he’s either first or last.

“He stayed on well up the hill in fairness to him and Mark (Walsh) gave him a brilliant ride.

“It’s great to win the race. We were beaten a short head in a Grade One yesterday (with Gerri Colombe), but it’s a great game and it’s great to be here.

“We couldn’t get him qualified for the Pertemps Final. It just didn’t work out for us with ground one day and he probably didn’t look that well handicapped.

“He doesn’t do anything too exciting as he minds himself, but that’s why he’s still going at his age.

“I thought Teahupoo would win. He travelled into it and ran well.”

Walsh has had a bad run of luck with injuries but made it back in time for Cheltenham.

"He's a tough old boy, isn't he?" - Jeremy Scott on Dashel Drasher

“It was a bit of a rush to get back, but thankfully I got back with the help of all the surgeons and doctors,” he said. “I fractured vertebrae in my neck at the Dublin Racing Festival, but it healed quick so I’m back.

“He is brilliant and he loves this place. He never knows when he is beaten. A good gallop suited and he travelled great for him, as usually he can be on and off the bridle but he travelled great and jumped great.

“Gordon had him spot on today so all credit to him. He loves it around here and he is a joy to ride so it is brilliant to win on him.

“They always say horses for courses and he loves it here and it is great to get a big one on him today. I’m delighted he was able to be here and take part in this and win it. It is great to get another big one at the Festival.”

McManus said: “I thought he ran well in Navan the last day as he was giving a lot of weight away and was running on well at the end. I thought he deserved to take his chance.

“I’ve not had too many 33-1 winners here. Creon won at a big price, as did Kadoun (both 50-1 in the Pertemps Final). This fellow I’m afraid went unbacked! We’ll enjoy it just the same.

“Gordon has done some job on the horse. We were kind of training him for the Pertemps, but he didn’t get qualified and as a result he was in the Stayers’.

“I must say I thought he had a little chance and after the last I felt he would run up the hill well and give it his lot.”

Scott, speaking before Dashel Drasher was placed third, said: “We came here but we weren’t necessarily thinking we belonged here as we hadn’t had the easiest lead into the race, but he just started bouncing again so we came.

“I’m delighted. Obviously I would have loved to have finished in the other spot, but I’m very proud of him.

“It’s the first time my wife has come to watch him and she bred him and quite frankly does most of the training so it was lovely to have her here.”

"Gordon's not overly upset but I am" - Davy Russell on finishing a promoted second aboard Teahupoo

Russell said of Teahupoo: “He jumped great, he missed the second-last but I didn’t need it as I wasn’t under pressure.

“I just couldn’t get upsides Dashel Drasher in the straight, he kept going left then right and if I’d got upsides him I might have been all right.

“Off the back of the last he just kept going the same pace but he’s run a lovely race, he’s only six. I’d say Gordon’s a lot happier with this result than I am!”

Gavin Cromwell was pleased with his defending champion Flooring Porter

Gavin Cromwell said of the defending champion Flooring Porter: “He looked his old self, he went a right good gallop, Danny (Mullins) just felt he couldn’t get a breather into him but he ran a good, solid race.

“He ran a gallant race, five or six weeks ago it wasn’t looking like we’d be here but the last three weeks I was confident he’d run a solid race.”

Emma Lavelle's husband and assistant trainer, Barry Fenton, said of 2019 winner and seventh-placed finisher Paisley Park: "He has run a bit below par but two runs back he won a Grade One at Kempton so he will be going back on the lorry tonight as usual.

"A few years ago he was beaten a long way in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival but then came back and won his next six races so any talk of retirement is a bit premature to say the least."

Scott left deflated

Jeremy Scott felt the decision of the Cheltenham stewards to demote Dashel Drasher to third from second in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle had “pricked his bubble a bit”.

Sent off at 40-1, only the French challenger Henri Le Farceur went off a bigger price but Dashel Drasher massively outran market expectations and looked to have everything beaten when jumping the last flight in front.

He drifted slightly to his left on jumping it, and also caused marginal interference after the hurdle to Gordon Elliott’s Teahupoo, the 9-4 favourite.

Only a nose separated them at the line, with Sire Du Berlais a three-quarters of a length winner, but the stewards felt there was enough interference to reverse the order of the second and third.

“To me it’s very harsh. I’ve just spoken to the stewards and I’ve watched it through,” said Scott.

“The trouble is they set the precedent in the four-year-old hurdle at Aintree last year when (Knight Salute and Pied Piper dead-heated but Pied Piper was demoted). To me I felt if it had happened at any meeting midweek it wouldn’t have been picked up on.

“We drifted left going into the hurdle and that is what they are concerned about and they felt the momentum he lost made the difference between the nose he missed out on second.

“For me the eventual second wasn’t quick enough to go for the gap he wanted, then he was pulled out to go around and have another go. I think we’ve been harshly done to, but rules are rules.

“I’ll speak to the owners about an appeal, but it’s a long process and I don’t think we’ll derive any pleasure about doing it – it did prick our bubble a bit and the £30,000 would have been nice.”

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