Cheltenham Festival: Balthazar’s king of the cross-country circuit

He had done it before and now he has done it again. Balthazar King won the idiosyncratic cross-country chase in 2012 and, at 4-1, repeated the feat in a titanic finish when hard pressed all the way by Any Currency.

Prominently ridden by Richard Johnson for the bulk of the marathon trip over a variety of hedges, banks, rails and fences, Balthazar King took it up with five to jump at which point Any Currency, the long-time leader, looked spent.

As the principals turned back onto the racecourse for the final time another danger loomed in the form of Big Shu, the 2013 winner who had been quietly cajoled further back in the field by Paul Carberry to that point.

Johnson held the lead at the last as Carberry’s mount – the 3-1 favourite – found little more but Ian Popham’s energetic urgings from five out on Any Currency were bearing fruit and somehow keeping the 10-1 shot in with a chance of a very hard-earned victory.

The harder Popham drove the more Any Currency seemed to find, leaving Johnson to get deadly serious on a topweight giving 16lb to his rival as the pair made headlong progress to the winning line.

Only in the final stride of the 31 furlongs raced did Popham and his Martin Keighley-trained mount concede, failing by an agonising short head.

“He’s just amazing,” said Johnson of the winner, who is trained by Philip Hobbs for The Brushmakers.

“I thought today it would be very difficult for him with top weight. He never stops trying. He just wants to win. He’s a real frontrunner so I tried to save a little bit but he just wants to win.”

Source: Racing Post, 12 March 2014

Other News

Philip Hobbs, the MS Amlin-sponsored trainer, reveals the secret of producing winners year in, year out

September 2017
Philip Hobbs is one of the most successful national hunt trainers in the United Kingdom. ... Read more

“We want to train for good people for a long time” – Beckett reveals the simple secret of his success

September 2017
Ralph Beckett is one of the country’s top flat trainers and has been associated with ... Read more

Stockdale proud to be an ambassador for MS Amlin

August 2017
Tim Stockdale is one of the country’s best-known showjumpers and is sponsored by MS Amlin. ... Read more

Gulliksen rides into London with his Mexican Amigos

August 2017
[caption id="attachment_2504" align="alignleft" width="180"] Geir Gulliksen and Christian Ahlmann[/caption] World-class show jumping arrives in London ... Read more