Special Tiara pounces as Douvan disappoints
Special Tiara: won the Champion Chase at 11-1
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Special Tiara pounces
as Douvan disappoints By David Carr 3:38PM 15 MAR 2017
Report: Cheltenham, Wednesday
Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 2m, 5yo+
DOUVAN'S shock defeat will grab the headlines in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase but Noel Fehily was the one who grabbed the race on Special Tiara to cap a memorable 48 hours.
The 2-9 favourite had appeared to have the two-mile chase championship at his mercy on all known form, unbeaten in nine previous fences.
Yet he was never jumping with the brilliance he has become renowned for, nor was he ever travelling like a long odds-on favourite.
He was pushed along by Ruby Walsh fully three fences from home and crossed the line a one-paced seventh. Walsh said: "He didn't jump well did he. He was never going."
Douvan was 11 and a half lengths adrift of the 11-1 shot Special Tiara, trained by Henry de Bromhead, who allowed Fehily to show off another of his many talents.
On Tuesday he had come from behind to land the Champion Hurdle on Buveur d'Air but this time he did it from the front, judging things perfectly on his willing partner and having just enough in reserve to hold off Fox Norton on a gelding who had finished third in the previous two runnings.
"This lad is everything a two-miler should be, he's a great ride," said Fehily. "I've been there jumping the last in Champion Chases before and something's always come to collar me, but when I got to the last today nothing had got to me and I knew he wouldn't stop.
"I didn't think we would beat Douvan today, but I thought we had a great chance of second. This fella only has one way of racing, that's flat to the mat all the way. It's a great thrill, and it's great to win this race. I love riding these two-mile chasers."
Mullins said: "To me he was clearly not going well at the top of the hill. I am assuming something happened to him when he put in those huge jumps. I don't think he has ever done that before. Why he did that I don't know. I would imagine we will find a physical problem rather than anything else.
"Ruby was just a bit gobsmacked. He didn't jump with his usual fluency. Usually we find something wrong when something like that happens. I think he probably pulled something, maybe a muscle or a ligament and hopefully it is something that will come right straightaway."
Sir Valentino was another six lengths away in third, just ahead of Top Gamble.