Summerville Boy guns down Kalashnikov to land Supreme thriller

Tue 13 Mar 2018

Watch a full replay of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle won by Summerville Boy at Cheltenham on Tuesday and intrviews with winning jockey Noel Fehily and owner Roger Brookhouse and Amy Murphy, trainer of runner-up Kalashnikov..

Summerville Boy recovered from at least one shuddering error to claim a last-gasp victory in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the opening race of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.

Tom George's charge was beaten on his first three starts over jumps, but was a 9-1 shot for the traditional curtain-raiser at the shopwiece meeting following an impressive win in the Tolworth Hurdle back in January.

Noel Fehily cut a confident figure in the saddle throughout, but his mount looked to have lost all chance when ploughing through the second flight from the finish and almost coming to grief.

However, he was soon back on an even keel and given he was untidy again at the last, it is testament to his considerable talent that he managed to power up the hill and beat old foe Kalashnikov by a neck.

George, who was saddling just his second Festival winner following the success of Galileo in the 2002 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, said: "He must have a huge engine. He definitely made two serious mistakes, if not three, and I thought he'd do well to finish in the first four, but he just kept picking up.

"I try not to shout my mouth off, but I couldn't understand why we were such a bigger price than Kalashnikov having beaten him comfortably (in the Tolworth).

"To give Noel Fehily his due he got beaten early on this season on him and he said then those that beat him never would again. All he needed was a strong pace to run at.

"He was taken a lot of switching off at home, his lad said he'd win a Grade One but he didn't tell me he'd win two!"

Asked about future targets, the trainer added: "I don't know if he'll run again this season. I'll sit down with Roger Brookhouse (owner) and come up with a plan after we've enjoyed today.

"He was very ready for today so whether that might have emptied him I don't know ,but we've done the job when we needed to."

The Amy Murphy-trained Kalashnikov had proved no match for Summerville Boy in the Tolworth, but having subsequently landed the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, he was more fancied in the market at 5-1.

Jack Quinlan's mount rounded the home turn in front, but while he stuck to his guns admirably, he ultimately came up just short.

Murphy said: "He's really done us proud and has run an absolute blinder. When he winged the last I thought he has just got to gallop up the hill. When Summerville Boy missed the second-last I thought we'd probably got it. It's just that hill gets plenty of them.

"It is great he's silenced a few doubters who said he would get lost in the middle of the race. He has always had that turn of foot. He is a big baby and is learning all the way.

"He will school over fences at home next week before going out on his summer holiday."

Quinlan added: "He has run a blinder. It's another superb ffort and he has travelled so well throughout.

"He will be even better on decent ground and we're looking forward to fences next season."

Mengli Khan fared best of the Irish contingent in third.

Trainer Gordon Elliott said: "I am very happy with him and I thought he ran a very good race. Jack (Kennedy) said he didn't pick up as well on soft ground as he would have liked.

"He is a good horse. He will definitely go to Punchestown."

Getabird was the 7-4 favourite for the dream team of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, but after making much of the running, he was a spent force rounding the home turn and passed the post in 11th place.

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