|Wednesday 20th November 2019|
Redemption for Happy Diva in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham
What a difference 12 months makes. At last year’s BetVictor Gold Cup, it all ended in agony for Happy Diva and jockey Richard Patrick as they were brought down by a faller just four jumps from home. Fast forward a year, and the same horse and jockey enjoyed the sweet taste.
It was a moment of delicious redemption for all concerned, as the 14/1 shot held off stiff competition from bookies’ favourite Warthog to win a neck-and-neck finish against Brelan D’As. In a sport that can deal such cruel, unlucky blows, this was a win to be savoured for trainer Kerry Lee.
Making new memories
The manner of last year’s fall would have left a bitter taste for jockey, trainer and owner alike. Happy Diva was running well in the 2018 Gold Cup before being brought down at the fourth-last by another faller despite executing a clean jump herself.
Before that, it had been a tight race and Happy Diva was in with a chance, jumping well and competing before the collapse. The mare was not the only horse to be felled in an action-packed race. As Baron Alco streaked clear in the end to win, he left challengers pondering what might have been.
But this year’s race will have exorcised the gloomy recollections of 12 months ago, and a race that once brought pain will now be tinged with fond memories evermore.
Patrick’s stellar showing
Richard Patrick gave a fine performance throughout the race, showing the kind of winning qualities needed to succeed in such a high-profile event. He maintained a strong position from the early stages, but Patrick showed his true grace and composure to get the job done despite Brelan D’As closing in.
Such a display from horse and jockey alike will make Happy Diva an even stronger contender in horse racing betting. Patrick has been a loyal rider for trainer Lee over the last couple of years, and this is the kind of win and performance that can give a jockey the confidence to reach new heights.
“He’s a very good, balanced rider and he’s excellent on the big stage,” Lee said of Patrick after the race. “Nerves don’t matter to him, unlike me!”
A special moment for Lee
For Lee, the win represents a personal landmark. Happy Diva is only her sixth winner in seven seasons as a trainer. She runs a smaller operation to many of racing’s top trainers, with two dozen horses under her watch. That fact makes the Gold Cup win all the sweeter – to get one over on many of her better-resourced peers.
Lee became the third female trainer to achieve victory in the race, and she too can take a lot of pride from what has been a collective effort to get Happy Diva to this level along with Patrick and owner Will Roseff. The daughter of famous trainer Richard Lee will be hoping that this can be the first of many major wins in the years to come.
“It's a tough job,” she said, “and you do sometimes wonder why you do it, but days like this are what it's all about."