Sizing John lights up Cheltenham

The Jessica Harrington-trained seven-year-old ran on strongly up the hill to land this year's renewal of the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup

Jessica Harrington etched her name onto the most prestigious prize of them all the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with Sizing John, her first ever runner in the race.

Sizing John was Jessica Harrington’s first runner in the race

A runner-up to Douvan on five occasions, the seven-year-old adopted a position in midfield under Robbie Power who was seeking a second win of the week.

The Hennessy winner Native River led on the downhill run to the fourth last pursued by favourite Djakadam and Ruby Walsh.

Cue Card took a crashing fall three out, almost a carbon copy of 12 months ago. Meanwhile, Sizing John made headway in behind the front two.

He was angled out by Power coming to the second last and a fluent leap saw him go on. After winging the last Sizing John kept up the gallop holding runner-up Minella Rocco at bay by just under three lengths.

“Unbelievable. I’ve had a lot of confidence in this horse since the first day I rode him behind Douvan I thought all he does is stay,” reflected Power.

“Every Gold Cup winner has Grade 1 form over two miles and he had it. I ended up jumping my way to the front at the second last and I did want to jump to the front until the last but when I was there I had to keep going.”

For Power, a Grand National winner in his own right, he takes the first Cheltenham Gold Cup of his career on what turned out to be a red letter week.

He ended his six year Cheltenham Festival hiatus on Wednesday when Supasundae won the Coral Cup for the same owners Ann and Alan Potts.

Harrington said: “Beginners luck! He was the first runner I had in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown and he won that.

“He looks like a three mile chaser he doesn’t look like a two miler. It is the jewel in the crown. It has not really sunk in yet, I can’t believe it is true. I am sitting here, I am about to wake up and it hasn’t happened.”

Earlier in the afternoon, the Philip Hobbs-trained Defi De Seuil ran out an impressive winner of the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

I’ve had a lot of confidence in this horse

In the hands of the champion jockey, the four-year-old travelled well to lead on the run to the last and kept on nicely to beat the Gordon Elliott-trained Mega Fortune by five lengths.

Willie Mullins notched his sixth victory of the Festival courtesy of Penhill who ran out a convincing winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

The son of Mount Nelson was ridden with restraint by Paul Townend but came through with a strong challenge in the closing stages and went clear to win by three and a half lengths.

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