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It Came To Pass - 29 years after Lovely Citizen in St James's Place Foxhunter Chase

Press Release 13th March 2020 Cheltenham

By Racenews

It may have been another shock result at The Festival presented by Magners, but It Came To Pass's 66/1 victory in the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase was no surprise to County Cork trainer Eugene O'Sullivan.
He knew what it takes to win the 'hunters' Gold Cup' because 29 years ago he prepared his family's home-bred Lovely Citizen to score under his brother William. Maintaining that family theme, O'Sullivan today legged his daughter, Maxine, into the saddle, and she pressed all the right buttons as the ten-year-old gelding scooted to an easy success.
The withdrawal earlier this afternoon of last year's winner Hazel Hill following an assessment by BHA veterinary officers removed one obstacle, but It Came To Pass won by ten lengths from Billaway (11/4f), with last year's runner-up, Shantou Flyer (3/1), another five lengths back in third. Staker Wallace finished fourth.
The only downside for the winning father and daughter was created by the Coronavirus outbreak, which meant other members of their family were unable to travel from Ireland for the occasion.
Eugene O'Sullivan said: "We bought this horse last year with a view to running him in this race, but we only picked him up after Christmas and couldn't get him fit in time. Maxine has done an awful lot of work on him at home, and she gave him a savage ride today. All the big guns were queuing up behind but Maxine knew what she had, she rode him accordingly and I'm very proud of her.
"I've been trying to win this race for 29 years - I won it when I was very young and I'm a lot older now. I just hope I don't have to wait another 29 years to win it again. I was like a Jack-in-the-Box the whole way, feeling nervous for Maxine and nervous for the horse. I expected a big run from the horse, but I've been disappointed here in the past.
"I knew if he came around the final bend anywhere near the front he would stay and quicken up. Jim Culloty trained the horse three years ago when he ran in the race and fell at the third-last when going very well. So I had a horse with course experience and just had to get him here in good order.
"No, I didn't back him!
"He pulled up last time out in a point at Kilfeacle, but the ground was very heavy and two shoes of his shoes were pulled off. We were just praying for good dry weather all week and we more or less got it.
"His owners, Gerald and Alary O'Sullivan are from Manchester. They are not related to us, but they are lovely people who have supported us with horses for the past 25 years. We met at a sale one day and it went from there."
4.10pm St James's Place Foxhunter Chase (Amateur riders')
1 It Came To Pass (Alurie O'Sullivan) Eugene O'Sullivan IRE 10-12-00 Miss Maxine O'Sullivan 66/1
2 Billaway (J Turner) Willie Mullins IRE 8-12-00 Mr Patrick Mullins 11/4f
3 Shantou Flyer (David Maxwell Racing Limited) Rose Loxton 10-12-00 Mr David Maxwell 3/1
21 ran
Distances: 10, 5
Tote Win: £162.60 Places: £25.30, £1.50, £1.50 Exacta: £872.00
Eugene O'Sullivan - 2nd winner at The Festival
Miss Maxine O'Sullivan - 1st winner at The Festival
It Came To Pass was a surprise 66/1 winner of the £45,000 St James's Place Foxhunter Chase for father and daughter Eugene and Maxine O'Sullivan.
The 10-year-old always travelled strongly and produced a fine leap at the final fence before careering away up the Cheltenham hill to record a facile 10-length success over 11/4 favourite Billaway.
The winner trainer Eugene O'Sullivan also saddled Lovely Citizen to success in the Foxhunter back in 1991 which was ridden by his brother Willie O'Sullivan.
Maxine O'Sullivan has been crowned the leading female point-to-point rider on four occasions in her native Ireland and was delighted to record a first success at The Festival™ presented by Magners.
She said: "This doesn't happen to us. This is our Gold Cup and it just means so much. For my family and the lovely owners of It Came To Pass, it's just such a big family thing. A lot of effort went into getting here and it is just so good. I will remember this day forever.
"My uncle won the race on Lovely Citizen in 1991 which dad trained and my grandad [Owen O'Sullivan] owned and bred it. Unfortunately, he died in the last couple of years, but he would be so proud.
"It's a really special race for us and it's just brilliant. I'm really happy and it's just such a family business. Even the community and all the lads at home, it will mean a lot for us.
"This is off the scale. I have only ridden in this race once and I dreamt of winning of this, but I didn't think it would - this is really good. This is just amazing. Everything went our way today.
"It Came To Pass does not particularly like being crowded and he didn't particularly like the track, but we were able to keep wide and get our bearings. He just loved it the whole way and everything went right. I couldn't have asked for a better run around.
"His last two runs were poor, but we were confident we had an excuse for that. He was a bit unwell and we got him right - he had been in great form all week.
"We knew if It Came To Pass returned to his old form, which was at the start of the season, then he had a serious chance and today he was better than he had ever been.
"He usually doesn't travel very well, but he travelled super the whole way. He stays very well. I just wanted to hold onto him for as long as possible. I knew he would come up the hill and it was great that it worked out for me. He jumped brilliantly at the last two fences and I had a small look at the screen so I knew he was OK."
Mullins eyes up trophy for next year with runner-up Billaway
Team Mullins, jockey Patrick and trainer Wilie, were sanguine of their second place from 11/4 favourite Billaway, who came home 10 lengths adrift of the winner, 66/1 chance It Came To Pass, in the St James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Hunters' Chase for amateur riders.
Wilie Mullins, commented: "We came here hoping he could do this, but we have a bit more work do.
"My owner [Mr J Turner] has just seen the trophy for the St James's Place Foxhunter Hunters Chase, which is the most magnificent trophy of all week. He has gone up to measure it so he can order his new sideboard for the trophy next year.
"We will bring this horse back. Hopefully he might have a little more experience next year. We will hope to go one better next year.
"I think he could improve with experience and improve with his jumping."
Jockey, Patrick Mullins, added: "It went very well. Everything went to plan. He settled well and jumped fine on the whole. We just ran into one on the day. He [It Came To Pass] beat us last year at Cork in April. I really looking forward to coming back next year with him."
Loxton happy with third-placed Shantou Flyer
After Shantou Flyer finished third under owner/rider David Maxwell, trainer Rose Loxton to her previous runners in the race when saying: "We're getting closer. We've been fifth and fourth and now third. He ran a blinder and David said he was amazing and galloped all the way to the line, but was beaten by two better horses on the day.
"He would have preferred it if it had rained all week - he probably found that ground a bit holding - but he jumped amazingly and tried his heart out."
Loxton said Shantou Flyer could run at Cheltenham's evening hunters' chase meeting in May, while her other runner in today's race, Caid Du Berlais, did not enjoy the experience. He is set to return to Punchestown where he has won the Champion Hunters' Chase for the past two years.


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