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Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race) - all the news & quotes

Press Release 16th March 2017 Cheltenham

Presenting Percy came with a perfectly-timed run under Davy Russell to lead over the final flight in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle and win by three and three-quarter lengths at odds of 11/1.
Presenting Percy represents the same combination of owner (Philip Reynolds), trainer (Patrick Kelly) and jockey that won the 2016 race with Mall Dini.
Reynolds said: "It's an absolute dream. It's the same trainer, we bought the horse from the same people, the Costellos, and it's the same unbelievable jockey, Davy Russell. It's just mind-blowing. It's crazy stuff. It just shouldn't happen.
"I lived off last year - after last year's race I said I could give up racing now, I'd achieved what I wanted to achieve and, my God, the thought that we are about to walk through those gates [into the winner's enclosure] again...
"I bought this horse for my wife Anne. We've had very good luck buying from the Costollos - I bought Mall Dini from Tom Costello, and I went back after about a year and bought this horse from him, and after last year I said to Pat [Kelly, the trainer] I'd like to give my wife a present of this horse, and if you can have as much fun for her as you've had for me, it will be fantastic.
"He jumped fantastic, he travels unbelievably well, and we always thought with a bit of better ground he would be a better horse as he's always run on soft or even heavy ground and we were hoping we would pick up a few of those pounds [16lb] that [handicapper] Phil Smith gave us a few weeks back! There's no better jockey around for this track than Davy Russell.
"I was a bit fed up a couple of weeks back when the weights came out for this. People will be saying now that Phil Smith was right; I still don't believe that to be the case, but today is not the day for arguing.
"Pat Kelly is unbelievable, isn't he? He has a 100 per cent strike rate at Cheltenham, and he has one more to come in the Kim Muir [Mall Dini]."
It is difficult enough to train one winner of the super-competitive Pertemps Network Final, but to do it in consecutive years with different horses is fantasy.
Galway trainer Pat Kelly, owner Philip Reynolds and jockey Davy Russell made that reality when Presenting Percy (11/1) followed up last year's success by Mall Dini. Today's winner scored by three and three-quarters of a length and two lengths from Barney Dwan (16/1) and Jury Duty (9/1) - The Tourard Man (66/1) was fourth.
Russell apologised to British handicapper Phil Smith and his team after the race, following debate over the marks they allot to Irish horses in British handicaps.
The jockey said: "I have only limited opportunities to ride a winner here, and this horse was one. We felt Phil Smith was hard on him, and he wasn't. From my point of view I felt he needed to find an awful lot of improvement [off a mark of 146] and I didn't know where he would get it from.
"He jumped and travelled and really loved the ground and everything fell into place. I took a couple of chances, but he needed to settle with that weight, and so I tucked him in. If he hadn't jumped so well my plan would have come unstuck.
"He's never raced on this ground and he found improvement on ideal racing ground. The public don't know who Pat Kelly is, but he really knows his horses and does the right thing by them."
Kelly trains just five horses, and said: "I feel very lucky. I've got a lovely horse, a great owner and a free hand. I give all my horses time to improve and I don't kill them to win. If I get a clear round I'm happy, because they'll keep improving.
"I won a Galway Hurdle in 1992 when Albert Reynolds was Taoiseach and made the presentation - that's how I got to meet his son. He's a great owner from a lovely family.
"I have five horses, but you cannot get horses off Galway people. None of my owners are from Galway, but I don't want more horses, I like to work with what I've got."
2.10pm Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Listed)
1 PRESENTING PERCY (Philip Reynolds) Pat Kelly IRE 6-11-11 Davy Russell 11/1
2 Barney Dwan (Paul & Clare Rooney) Fergal O'Brien 7-11-08 Paddy Brennan 16/1
3 Jury Duty (Sideways Syndicate) Gordon Elliott IRE 6-11-10 Jack Kennedy 9/1
4 The Tourard Man (Mr & Mrs F Bell, N Farrell, A Marsh) Alan King 11-10-09 Kevin Dowling (10) 66/1
Distances: 3¾, 2, 4½  
Tote Win:£12.00 Places:£3.20, £4.40, £2.90, £17.80 Exacta:£271.70
8/1 Fav Impulsive Star (21st)
Pat Kelly - 2nd winner at The Festival
Davy Russell - 18th winner at The Festival
BetBright Cup - standings after 16 races
Great Britain 6
Ireland 10

Fergal O'Brien was delighted with the performance of 16/1 chance Barney Dwan who finished an excellent three and three quarter-length second to decisive 11/1 winner Presenting Percy in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, the second race on day three, St Patrick's Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
Always prominent under Paddy Brennan, the seven-year-old son of Vinnie Roe led into the home straight, but was unable to match the potent turn of foot displayed by the winner under Davy Russell.
Gordon Elliott's Jury Duty (9/1), who travelled supremely well into the race, was two lengths back in third, with a further four and a half-lengths back to 66/1 shot The Tourard Man, trained by Alan King, in fourth.
A delighted O'Brien said: "He's been unlucky and today we thought our luck might change. Paddy has given him a fantastic ride, he had him in the right place everywhere, he jumped superb today and we were just beaten by the better horse on the day.
"Fair play to the winner, he was one of the favourites but I'm absolutely delighted with our horse and the ride by Paddy, we've got no complaints."
O'Brien's charge originally started the season over fences but after being brought down in a contest at Wincanton in December, the gelding reverted back to hurdling.
However, the trainer is keen to switch back to chasing in the near future, commenting: "I can't wait to go back over fences with him. After he got brought down, I decided to go back over hurdles with him and qualify for this race. We've given it our best shot and we have no regrets."
As for future plans, O'Brien said: "We might go to Aintree or maybe Punchestown. I'm not sure whether Aintree will suit him, he may be better going left handed even though he has won at Sandown right-handed so I'll don't know where we'll go.
"We will get him home from today first and I'll speak to Paddy about it. He's a wonderful horse to have and I'm very lucky to have him to train."
Paddy Brennan, rider of Barney Dwan, said: "What a race. He ran well. A gap opened two out and I set him to it, but the winner came by us well. I am really looking forward to him over fences next season, he is a good horse."
Jack Kennedy, jockey of the third Jury Duty, said: "He ran a blinder. Maybe the ground was a small bit too good for him but no excuses. He probably finished where he should have with his handicap mark. I am delighted with the run."
Kevin Dowling, rider of the fourth home The Tourard Man, said: "He's given me a great spin round. He jumped for fun and travelled really well the whole way round.
"He's ran a blinder and was third in this race three years ago, so he is holding his form still which is a good sign for an older horse."


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