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Press Release 17th March 2023 Cheltenham


Friday 17th March

Premier Magic caused the biggest upset of the week so far when taking the St James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase at 66-1.

Bradley Gibbs, 28, the successful trainer-jockey, said:  “This just doesn’t happen to people like me, you know? I’m from a small village in Wales [Ynysybwl] and probably used to train just four, five horses, and built it up and built it up, and thank God we landed on one like this. A good friend of mine from Ireland, Jimmy Kelly, buys all my horses for me and he bought this one four or five years ago and paid £5,000 for him. ‘This is a right one’,  he said, and thank God he was right. He’s a very good judge and I’ve had plenty of nice horses off him.

“I brought him here last year off the back of two wins, and I couldn’t see him being out of the first four. I tried riding him down the inside and it just got tight and he got stagefright, really, and just backed out of it. He only did a circuit and I pulled him up. I was going to run another mare here - she didn’t make it, and entries were shutting, so I said to my fiancée Claire Sherriff - her and her father own him - that we were going to come once more, give it one more try, and if it didn’t work, we wouldn’t come back. We put the cheekpieces on today for the first time - Jimmy and I spoke a few days ago and he said to try them.

“He jumped and travelled everywhere today, and coming down the hill I was hoping to God I wouldn’t get caught, but I knew he would keep galloping to the line.

“I was having a good run on the first circuit round the outside, and the loose horses just came in and across me and it was just starting to get a bit messy. Down the back to four out one came across me again, and even halfway up the run-in my horse got to it and then stopped, and I thought, oh no, please don’t stop halfway up the run-in, but he got going again and thank God, he stayed there to the line. The run-in felt like about five miles long today!

“This is huge for British point-to-pointing. You’ve got all the top boys here, like Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins, running today, and for a Welshman to win it - that doesn’t happen very often. The bigger trainers normally rule races like these, and we are genuine point-to-point people. It’s good for us to come and be able to win one of these races.

“I’m in Hertfordshire now, training out of my fiancée’s father’s farm. We’ve got an eight-month old son [Hadley Oliver Gibbs] and we didn’t have anyone to babysit him today so she had to stay at home with him. My dad normally comes everywhere with me but he’s in hospital today having a heart operation. Dad asked if they could move it to next week or do it a week before but they said no, today is the day we’ve got to do it. I haven’t spoken to him yet, but fingers crossed everything will be fine.

“I’ve ridden 230-odd point-to-point winners. I had a big start off Dad - he just bought me what he could, went through the pony racing and showjumping, then Dad started buying a few pointers for me; we weren’t spending much money, but it got me going, thank God, and we had a good step up when we moved to Claire’s father’s farm in Hertfordshire near Lemsford. It’s our third season training out of there - we had 15 winners the first season and 21 the second season, and now we’ve had a Cheltenham Foxhunters winner!”

Julian Sherriff, the winning owner, told ITV Racing: “I’m lost for words. They used to train down in Wales with David Brace and always said they wanted to come up and live with me in the end. I said, ‘well I’ll build the stables, you get up here’ and that’s what happened. They have done it today. You can say it’s point-to-pointing, but in this place, it’s a little bit more!”

Olive Nicholls, daughter of 13-times champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls, was over the moon when finishing third aboard Shantou Flyer. She said with a big smile: "That was absolutely brilliant as it was my first time around Cheltenham and the horse has done me proud. He jumped from fence to fence and we were always more or less where I needed to be and then we have stayed on really well.

"It will be brilliant to come back here next year in the hope of going two better as the way I feel is hard to beat. It's a day I will always remember."

4.10pm St. James's Place Festival Hunters' Chase 3m2½f

  1. Premier Magic 66-1
  2. Its On The Line 28-1
  3. Shantou Flyer 50-1

23 ran

Distances: 1¾, 1¼

Time: 7m 0.24s

1st winner at The Festival for jockey & trainer Bradley Gibbs


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