Cheltenham: Taquin Du Seuil strikes late in BetVictor
Aidan Coleman savours winning the BetVictor Gold Cup
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos) Taquin Du Seuil wins BetVictor Gold Cup By Jon Lees 2:37PM 12 NOV 2016
Report: Cheltenham, Saturday
BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m4½f, 4yo+
JONJO O'NEILL claimed his third BetVictor Gold Cup, but not with the horse most expected as Taquin Du Seuil ran down Village Vic to snatch victory in this £160,000 contest.
Village Vic's game effort to make all the running under Richard Johnson looked set to pay off jumping the last but they were reeled in by Taquin Du Seuil, under Aidan Coleman, on the run-in.
More Of That, O'Neill's first string and 7-2 favourite, was already labouring from five fences out and was pulled up by Barry Geraghty.
Earlier in the week O'Neill had described former World Hurdle winner More Of That, who burst a blood vessel in the RSA Chase last season, as the best horse he had trained.
At the same time he warned against writing off Taquin Du Seuil, the 2014 JLT Novices' Chase winner who had missed much of last season.
Coleman and O'Neill back on track
With 11st 11lb he carried 2lb more weight than More Of That but made light of the burden as he caught Village Vic at the end of a frantic finish to prevail by a neck with last year's runner-up Buywise third and Aso fourth. Taquin Du Seuil became the first horse since Bradbury Star in 1994 to carry more than 11st 9lb to victory.
O'Neill said: "The rain last night suited him, he stays and loves this place. I was delighted with his run at Chepstow, he's not had a hiccup at home since and it's nice to win a nice race like this." He added that More Of That was "disappointing."
The triumph ended a frustrating spell for the usually prolific Coleman who since returning from injury at the start of the month had failed to register a win.
"I've had a nightmare few weeks," he said. "I broke my cheekbone and haven't had a winner since Third Intention in the Old Roan. This is just great and I could not be happier for Jonjo and the team at Jackdaws.
"They're a hardworking team and it just hasn't been coming together for whatever reason but we're here now. It's my first year there and they've been so good to me and welcoming so have to a winner like this is special.
"Taquin Du Seuil had to battle there, it wasn't easy for him. I had a fantastic partner and I'm delighted."
Johnson pleased but frustrated
Richard Johnson was unable to fault the runner-up who gave everything without getting the ultimate reward.
"He's run the race of his life off that weight," said the champion jockey. "I don't think I've ever had a better ride round here in a big handicap, he was brilliant. I've just been mugged."