APPROACH NEVER MISSES A BEAT
The Warren Greatrex-trained Missed Approach denied the Irish a record breaking clean-sweep of all seven races on St Patrick's Thursday, day three of the 2018 Festival, with a magnificent front-running performance under Noel McParlan to land the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase over three miles and two furlongs.
The 8/1 shot produced a fine leap at the final fence and kept on tenaciously up the hill to score by half-a-length from the well-supported Mall Dini (4/1 favourite) in second.
Warren Greatrex, registering his second success at The Festival overall, following Cole Harden's 2015 victory in the G1 Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle, said: "Noel rode Missed Approach in the four-miler last year and they were second and he was very good. We were always going to go for this race and he's given him a peach.
"This horse has annoyed me this year because he's a good horse and he just hasn't got it together for whatever reason. We did a wind operation after Musselburgh and it's done the job.
"He stays, he jumps and he's brave - it was great. Noel knew what he had and he was very brave - it was amazing.
"When you win one race at the Cheltenham Festival, you want to win more and more, it's like a drug. It's been three years - I should only have runners on the Thursday here.
"We have a brilliant team and the horses have been running well all year. Phil Smith [Senior BHA Handicapper] kept dropping him in the weights so the horse couldn't get into the Grand National, but he did say that he had a big one in him.
"The owner wanted to go for the Midlands National at Uttoxeter on Saturday but I persuaded him to come here. Missed Approach might go for the Scottish National now - he's a nice horse.
"It's nice to get one back for Britain, but the Irish guys are brilliant trainers and it's nice to be able to come here and compete."
McPARLAN STARS IN FINALE
Top amateur rider Noel McParlan was delighted to break his Cheltenham Festival duck when winning the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase aboard Missed Approach (8/1).
McParlan put in a bold front-running performance aboard the Warren Greatrex-trained winner, to hold off 4/1 favourite Mall Dini by half a length.
"It was brilliant, I thought I was never going to get a winner here," said McParlan. "Warren said to jump him off and to enjoy it. He was half swinging along with me and it was all very simple.
"I had a glance behind after the second last and Patrick (Mullins on Mall Dini) looked to be cantering but mine just stays and stays. I could hear them but mine just keeps galloping.
"My lad wasn't doing too much in front but he went on again when they came to him."
5.30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase
1 MISSED APPROACH (Alan & Andrew Turner) Warren Greatrex 8-11-05 Mr Noel McParlan 8/1
2 MALL DINI (Philip Reynolds) Patrick Kelly IRE 8-11-10 Mr Patrick Mullins 4/1 fav
3 SQUOUATEUR (J P McManus) Gordon Elliott IRE 7-11-02 Mr Jamie Codd 5/1
4 DOUBLE ROSS (Options O Syndicate) Nigel Twiston-Davies 12-11-10 Mr Zac Baker 40/1
Distances: ½, 5, 9
Tote Win: £10.90 Places: £2.60, £1.70, £2.20, £10.70 Exacta: £53.30
Warren Greatrex - 2nd winner at The Festival
Mr Noel McParlan - 1st winner at The Festival
BetBright Cup - standings after 21 races
Great Britain 6
DINI DIDN'T LIKE THE GROUND
Pat Kelly, trainer of 4/1 favourite Mall Dini in the last race on the card, on St Patricks's Thursday, was thrilled with his charge's second.
Coming upsides the winner over the last, the eight-year old Milan gelding went down a half-length in the end to 8/1 chance Missed Approach.
Kelly said: "He ran his race and was very good. I thought coming to the last we had a chance if he got upsides the winner.
"The winner deserved the victory.
"The ground might just have done him, we have waited all year for better ground to come up.
"You have to be delighted with a second at Cheltenham."
Mr Patrick Mullins, Mall Dini's amateur rider, added: "Yes I think the ground was a little on the slow side for him.
"From the second last, I was holding on to him, I was hoping to get him over the last with a good jump.
"I could have one crack at the winner then, but the winner just kept pulling out. I think on good ground it might have been different.
"He is as good a jumper as I have ever ridden. Pat Kelly (trainer) has done a fabulous job with him.
"There is a good race in him somewhere."
J P McManus, owner of the third home, Squouateur, said: "We just came up against two better horses."