JOCKEY Ruby Walsh treated the Wednesday Festival crowd at Cheltenham with a masterful ride on Yorkhill to win the Gr1 JLT Novices’ Chase over 4100m for trainer Willie Mullins, their first success at the 2017 meet.
Walsh positioned the 6-4 favourite on the inside and behind the field from the off, and purposefully kept Yorkhill covered at the back without making his move.
Yorkhill was always going to be in danger of fallers and Walsh deftly avoided two as the race progressed and a tightly-bunched eight of 10 runners started to maneuvre on their way to the last fence.
At the second-last, Walsh made a quick move into a gap on the inside, Yorkhill jumped beautifully and headed to the last fence travelling hard on the bit.
Yorkhill’s last jump wasn’t as good, but he landed clear and skipped ahead by a couple of lengths, but Top Notch and Disko also had something in reserve and Walsh had to call for his stick to keep them at bay over the last 75m.
Walsh said: “There’s been a lot of toing and froing about whether to go chasing or stay hurdling, but he’s got Gold Cup horse written all over him and always had.
“People crab him because of his jumping, but he has a huge kink in him – people never realised the job Paul Nicholls did with Denman, because he was the same.
“Both are chestnuts by Presenting, the best ones all have a kink, he has a massive engine. He’s brilliant.”