Weapons Amnesty Storms to RSA Chase Victory
1 Weapon's Amnesty 10/1
Weapons Amnesty trounced a high-class field to win the RSA Chase for owner Michael O’Leary, trainer Charles Byrnes and jockey Davy Russell.
O’Leary’s horse won last year’s Albert Bartlett Hurdle to complement victory in the 2006 totesport Gold Cup by War Of Attrition, who is also owned by the head of Ryanair.
O’Leary said: “Weapons Amnesty won the Albert Bartlett last year, but they don’t always come back the following year. This is compensation for Charles Byrnes after Solwhit’s disappointing run yesterday [in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle] and I’m looking forward to War Of Attrition in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle tomorrow. I never thought I’d have two Cheltenham Festival winners, let alone three. Well done Charles, well done Davy.”
Byrnes said: “It was an unbelievable round of jumping, but we had by far the most experienced horse coming here. He has already contested two competitive Grade Ones so you could almost call him a handicapper against novices.
“Davy was brilliant and switched him off completely and it’s a great team to have a winner for. I believe in horses for courses and this horse likes Cheltenham. I’m shocked by the ease of his win, but I knew he’d put in an improved performance compared to his last two runs at Leopardstown, simply because he’s a course winner and also the better ground. He would have won his previous race over another half mile.
“Nicky Henderson said Long Run and Punchestowns may be the best two chasers he’s trained, so I had to respect that, but I was sure my horse would run well. He has to go left-handed so I doubt you will see him again this season - I don’t think the owner will want him to go to Aintree.”
Next year’s totesport Gold Cup is now on Weapons Amnesty’s agenda, and he was quoted at 8-1 by Ladbrokes and 10-1 by William Hill for the 2011 running.
Davy Russell said: “It’s fantastic and very, very important for his owners, who put so much into the National Hunt game. I’m not surprised because I have huge respect for this horse - he keeps his best for this course on a big day and on nice ground.”
HENDERSON PHILOSOPHICAL AFTER RSA
It was 9/1 chance Burton Port, the outsider of trainer Nicky Henderson’s three RSA Chase runners, who finished best in the contest when coming second to Weapon’s Amnesty.
Burton Port just pipped stablemate Long Run (11/4), who finished third, while the 2/1 favourite Punchestowns could finish only fifth.
“They’ve all run good races but we got beat and they’ll be back next year, a year stronger,” said Henderson.
“We didn’t expect Burton Port to finish first of the three but he ran and a storming race and if we hadn’t had the other two we’d have fancied our chances,” said Henderson.
“It almost looked with Long Run that he didn’t stay. He jumped OK but just nudged a couple and we’ll have to iron those kinks out. He’s only five so we’re in no rush with him now.
“Punchestowns cannot have been quite right. He lost a shoe from the foot that was giving him a problem at some point in the race and Barry (Geraghty) wasn’t sure when.
“One horse lost a show on the first bend and he said that he was praying it was not us.”
Knockara Beau was narrowly pipped for third place by Long Run but his trainer George Charlton was delighted by the performance of the fourth.
“It was a fantastic run, he was unlucky when he made a mistake at the third last and he went from third position to last but was running on at the finish. He didn’t half quicken,” said Charlton.
“He just needs to get his jumping together and when he does that he’s going to be top-class.
“There had been a lot of talk about Long Run but we’re just a bunch of farmers from Northumberland and we almost beat him.
“We’ll let the horse tell us if he wants to run again this year, he’s had a few runs to get him here and we’ll also see what the weather does, he wouldn’t want the ground too fast.”
ROBERT WALEY-COHEN QUESTIONS LONG RUN’S STAMINA
Robert Waley-Cohen, owner of third-placed Long Run, felt that the five-year-old may have struggled to last out the three miles and half a furlong of the RSA Chase.
“I thought he didn’t quite stay the trip, he just didn’t really come up the hill very well. He didn’t come up the hill like he stayed. Working out his trip is quite tricky; two and a half at Cheltenham would be ideal, but there isn’t one. I think Kempton over three miles would be perfect, roll on December 26th,” he said.
The owner also used the occasion to highlight the discrepancy between allowances in Britain and Ireland.
“Because the weights’ allowance for five-year-olds has been cut and it’s now only one pound - as a matter of interest, if he was running in the Grade One in Ireland, at Punchestown, he would be receiving nine pounds. I don’t know which is the right one, but they can’t both be right,” he said.
His son, Sam Waley-Cohen, who rode the French-bred said: “I just felt that to get him jumping I was just going to have to ask him into one. Just to give him the confidence to keep going. And that’s the trouble with this course, you have to have the versatility to settle or ask.
“Ultimately, he’s a five-year-old and he’s got to grow up a bit, but he’s got one hell of an engine and I think he’ll come on enormously for that. Obviously, we’re disappointed.”
Diamond Harry, the 5/1 third favourite, disappointed trainer Nick Williams when pulled up in the Grade One RSA Chase.
The seven-year-old was never travelling with any fluency and could not get into the race.
Williams said: “He was just very disappointing today. I don’t know why, but we haven’t seen the real Diamond Harry today.
“We will take him home and see how he is, but he won’t run again this season. He has a good season overall and we will wait and bring him back next year.”
Williams fared better in the previous race, the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, in which his Reve De Sivola finished the length and a half runner-up behind Peddlers Cross.
Williams continued: “I was very happy with Reve De Sivola’s performance although I am obviously also disappointed as I deeply wanted to win.
Citizen Vic unfortunately was fatally injured when he fell at the second last in the RSA Chase.
RSA CHASE FACTS AND FIGURES
1. The RSA Chase is run with its current title for the second time this year although is backed by one of Cheltenham’s longest-running sponsors. It was run as the Royal & SunAlliance Chase up to 2008 and as the Royal SunAlliance Chase in 1997. Sun Alliance, which merged with Royal Insurance in 1996, previously backed the Sun Alliance Chase for 23 years and sponsored at Cheltenham for 26 years altogether. From 1971-73, the Foxhunter Chase was titled the Sun Alliance & London Foxhunters.
2. Sun Alliance & London was the first sponsor outside racing to embrace commercial sponsorship at The Festival. Only the tote precedes the insurance company. Before 1974 the race was titled the Broadway Novices’ Chase and the Totalisator Champion Novices’ Chase.
3. Since 1959, seven horses have won both the RSA Chase and totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. They are:
To this list might be added the name of Tied Cottage, winner of the RSA Chase in 1976 and the Gold Cup in 1980, before subsequent disqualification.
4. The biggest field for the race has been 30, in 1986, and the smallest eight, in 1993. The current safety limit is 20.
5. Willie Mullins has the best record among current trainers in the contest, having landed three victories with Rule Supreme (2004), Florida Pearl (1998) and Cooldine (2009). Legendary handler Fred Winter also saddled three winners of the RSA Chase - Killiney (1973), Pengrail (1975) and Brown Chamberlin (1982).
6. Irish-trained winners number 14 in total, the latest being Cooldine in 2009.
7. The most successful jockey in the RSA Chase has been Peter Scudamore, who notched up a hat-trick from 1991 to 1993 with Rolling Ball, Miinnehoma and Young Hustler. Ruby Walsh is the only current jockey to have landed the race twice, having won on Denman (2007) and Cooldine (2009).
8. The longest-priced winners since 1964 are Hussard Collonges in 2002 and Canny Danny in 1983, both at 33/1, with Arkle the shortest-priced at 4/9 in 1963.
9. The fastest running of the race was won by Lord Noelie in 2000 at 6 mins 5.3s, beating the previous best of 6 mins 6.6s set by Miinnehoma in 1992.
10. The West Awake is the only horse to have won both what is now the Neptune Investment Managment Novices’ Hurdle (previously sponsored by RSA) and the RSA Chase. He won the Hurdle in 1987 and the Chase in 1988.
2009-WINNER-COOLDINE 7-11-04 Owner-Violet O’Leary; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-9/4 Fav
2008-WINNER-ALBERTAS RUN 7-11-04 Owner-Trevor Hemmings; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-4/1 Fav
2007-WINNER-DENMAN 7-11-04 Owner-Maggie Findlay & Paul
Barber; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-6/5 Fav
DE MOHAISON 5-10-08 Owner-Sir Robert Ogden; Trainer-Paul
Nicholls; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-14/1
2005-WINNER-TRABOLGAN 7-11-04 Owner-Trevor Hemmings; Trainer-Nicky Henderson;
Jockey-Mick FitzGerald;SP- 5/1
2004-WINNER-RULE SUPREME 8-11-04 Owner-John Lynch; Trainer-Willie Mullins
IRE; Jockey-David Casey; SP-25/1
2003-WINNER-ONE KNIGHT 7-11-04 Owner-Robert Gibbs; Trainer-Philips Hobbs;
Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-15/2
2002-WINNER-HUSSARD COLLONGES 7-11-04 Owner-Nick Bannister; Trainer-Peter
Beaumont; Jockey-Russ Garritty; SP-33/1
2000-WINNER-LORD NOELIE 7-11-04 Owner-Executive Racing; Trainer-Henrietta
Knight; Jockey-Jim Culloty; SP-9/2
1999-WINNER-LOOKS LIKE TROUBLE 7-11-04 Owner-Universal
Conference & Incentive
Trv Ltd; Trainer-Noel Chance; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-16/1
1998-WINNER-FLORIDA PEARL 6-11-04 Owner-Violet
Mullins IRE; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-11/8 Fav
1997-WINNER-HANAKHAM 8-11-04 Owner-Malcolm Brereton; Trainer-Ron Hodges;
Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-13/2
RSA CHASE ROLL OF HONOUR
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