WINNING IS NIETZSCHE'S PHILOSOPHY
Trainer Brian Ellison scored a first victory in the feature £100,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle with Nietzsche, ridden by 7lb claimer Danny McMenamin.
Nietzsche, a Poet's Voice five-year-old carrying 9st 7lb, was third in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at The Festival presented by Magners in 2017. Today he beat Silver Streak by a neck at odds of 20/1.
Only five hurdles were jumped as the final two flights were removed because of concerns about low sun.
Yorkshire-based Ellison said: "It's fantastic having a winner here. This horse has proved he likes the track. He just lost his way last year, like a lot of juveniles do in their second season. We couldn't understand why, because he used to work well at home.
"We scoped him and couldn't find anything wrong with him, so we decided to try a tongue-tie to see if it would help. We ran him at Newmarket and he went well [second in a one-mile, four-furlong handicap on November 2], so he came here in good form. We were very optimistic today because he's run some good races here. I was just worried he'd hit the front too soon, but he held on.
"I thought he was over-priced today. This was the plan - the owner lives down here and I think it is his first winner here at Cheltenham. We'll talk about what to do next.
"Danny [McMenamin] works for Nicky Richards and I don't think he'll let him to go me! He's a very good rider and will get well used. He's a good lad."
NIETZSCHE SHOWS STRONG PHILOSOPHY TO WIN GREATWOOD
7lb claimer Danny McMenamin steered 20/1 shot Nietzsche to a surprise victory in the feature £100,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.
Trained by Brian Ellison in Yorkshire, the five-year-old son of Poet's Voice showed smart speed to fend off the gallant Silver Streak (12/1), trained by Evan Williams, to score by a neck in the 18-runner field.
Only five hurdles were jumped in the two-mile contest with the rest of the hurdles omitted due to concerns surrounding low sun.
18-year-old McMenamin, who is based with Cumbrian trainer Nicky Richards, paid tribute to Nietzsche's battling qualities.
McMenamin said: "It was a great run from Nietzsche.
"The omission of some of the hurdles made it more of a sprint for home. I was travelling really well throughout.
"I had to kick on after the final hurdle and he kept on strongly throughout the home straight.
"Turning in, Nietzsche was full of running. Up the home straight he was idling in front and then when the other lad came to him he picked up again. He is a game little horse and gives you everything he has.
"He travelled a bit too well early on and I thought he might pull himself into a hole. Luckily, he got a nice breather in coming down the hill.
"Brian said to go out and give him the best chance he has. Nietzsche had a low weight and did it well.
"Back home my local track was Downpatrick and I used to go there as a kid. I just fell in love with the sport
"I've been attached to Nicky Richards for over a year. He has been good to me and hopefully the success will continue for me."
TRAINER EVAN WILLIAMS EYING THE INTERNATIONAL HURDLE IN DECEMBER
There was just a neck in it on the line in the £100,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, with 20/1 chance Nietzsche (9st 7lb) holding on from the fast-finishing Silver Streak (11st 5lb - 12/1). Five hurdles were jumped in the two-mile race due to the low sun, with the final two omitted.
Silver Streak's jockey Adam Wedge said: "He's run a blinder, he's run his heart out. We were galloping down the winner all the way to the line, we just didn't quite get there."
Trainer Evan Williams added of the five-year-old grey: "I thought we had it. The horse has run a great race, he's run well, but to be fair to the winner he has a bit of form from the Fred Winter Hurdle, and is from a great trainer in Brian Ellison.
"The handicapper will put us up and that stop us winning handicaps - even though it was essentially a Flat race, the handicapper will say it's a hurdle race!
"I imagine we'll have to dip our toe into a conditions race somewhere - we might keep coming back here. The G2 International Hurdle at the December meeting here, we could look at a race like that.
"As regards the hurdles coming out - I don't agree with it, but it's the same for them all. The winner won on merit; there's no excuses for us but mine is a good horse."
5lb-claimer Lorcan Williams, rider of Old Guard (11st 7lb - 16/1), the Paul Nicholls-trained runner who won the race in 2015 and finished third last year and filled the same position today, said: "He is brilliant, just a bit older and a bit slower now, he needs a bit further.
"He has run an absolutely phenomenal race - we are giving the winner two stone. It was a brilliant.
"He is a brilliant jumper, so I don't know if more hurdles would have helped him, but I would definitely say two mile and four furlongs as he has absolutely fired up the hill."
3.00pm £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 87y - Result
1 Nietzsche (Tongue Strap) Brian Ellison 9st 7lb Danny McMenamin (7) 20/1
2 Silver Streak (IRE) Evan Williams 11st 5lb Adam Wedge 12/1
3 Old Guard (Sheepskin C/P) Paul Nicholls 11st 07lb Lorcan Williams (5) 16/1
4 Verdana Blue (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 11lb (5lb ex) Jeremiah McGrath 9/2 Fav
5 Western Ryder (IRE) Warren Greatrex 11st 5lb Richard Johnson 6/1
6 Not That Fuisse (FR) Dan Skelton 9st 4lb William Marshall (10) 25/1
7 Mohaayed (Tongue Strap) Dan Skelton 11st 6lb Bridget Andrews 25/1
8 Nube Negra (SPA) Dan Skelton 10st 9lb Harry Skelton 8/1
9 Storm Rising (IRE) (Blinkers) Dr Richard Newland 10st 6lb Charlie Hammond (5) 12/1
10 Man of Plenty (Tongue Strap, Sheepskin C/P) Sophie Leech 9st 9lb Sean Houlihan (5) 33/1
11 Charli Parcs (FR) Nicky Henderson 11st 5lb Barry Geraghty 11/1
12 Mad Jack Mytton (IRE) Jonjo O'Neill 10st 4lb Aidan Coleman 33/1
13 Equus Amadeus (IRE) Tom Lacey 10st 0lb Stan Sheppard (3) 25/1
14 Midnight Shadow Sue Smith 11st 1lb Danny Cook 10/1
15 Vado Forte (FR) Tom Lacey 10st 3lb Robert Dunne 16/1
16 Caius Marcius (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Nicky Richards 11st 2lb Brian Hughes 33/1
FELL Irish Roe (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Peter Atkinson 10st 13lb Henry Brooke 25/1
FELL Deyrann de Carjac (FR) Alan King 10st 2lb Wayne Hutchinson 9/1
Non-Runners: Le Patriote (Self Certificate, Lame), Brianstorm (Going)
Distances: nk, 2¾, ½, ½, 6, 2¼, ¾, ½, hd, 1¼, 1¾, ½, 3¼, ½, 12
Tote Win: £23.10 Places: £4.50 £2.80 £3.70 Exacta: £334.40
Breeder: West Stow Stud Ltd
Breeding: 5 ch g Poet's Voice - Ganga (IRE) (Generous (IRE))
Winner owned by D Gilbert, M Lawrance, A Bruce, G Wills