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Cheltenham

  • 14:05 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle 2m 5f

  • (Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle) (Grade 1) £100,000 added 4yo+ 12 ran
  • Winner £57,010 2nd £21,390 3rd £10,710 4th £5,340
  • Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 5m 10.50s
  • Off time: 14:05:45

Lieutenant earns his stripes

Morris' charge gets up late on

Last Updated: 16/03/11 5:30pm

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First Lieutenant (right): Neptune winner

First Lieutenant (right): Neptune winner

First Lieutenant (7-1) got up in the final strides to win the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

A bad mistake from Oscars Well at the last looked to have handed the spoils to Paul Nicholls' Rock On Ruby (13-2), but Davy Russell got a fine tune out of First Lieutenant up the hill and the pair got their noses in front right on the line.

The well-backed 2-1 favourite So Young finished third under Ruby Walsh.

Russell said: "He's a horse that's matured an awful lot through the year and he has again.

"I knew with a quarter of the straight to go I was getting there, but it was the last stride.

"My horse was a fraction slow at the last, but he's a very good horse."

Winning owner Michael O'Leary, boss of Ryanair, said: "Mouse has done a wonderful job with the horse and Davy gave him a fantastic ride.

"Oscars Well was probably a bit unlucky, but it's a great day for us.

"It's a great joy when the Irish horses come over here and this is another one on the board.

"Mouse always thought this horse was the next War Of Attrition. I don't think he's that good but he's going the right way anyway."

Morris said: "They didn't seem to go a great gallop and speed wouldn't totally be his forte, but he stayed up there.

"He does have a lot of toe, but it's more a high cruising speed he has than just producing it.

"It was a perfect ride from Davy.

"This was plan A, B, C and D, so regarding the future, we'll see what happens. Chasing is going to be his game.

"I don't know if he'll run again this season. I was afraid it was going to turn into a sprint, because this horse does have a really high cruising speed.

"From day one I always thought he was a Cheltenham horse. He has a presence about him."

"It gets harder (to have a winner here) as you get older, and you can't do it without the horse, or the owner, who pays the bills."

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