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Press Release 17th March 2023 Cheltenham


Friday 17th March

Jockey Bridget Andrews teamed up with her trainer brother-in-law Dan Skelton to land the McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle on Faivoir (33-1). It was a second success for the jockey-trainer combination in this race following Mohaayed in 2018.

Bridget Andrews said: “Dan’s horses generally go for a bit of room and try to get a clear run round, but I actually had a really rough run round. But every time I thought I could switch out, I kind of felt like he was enjoying it - he’s that kind of character; stay in, stay brave, although I wasn’t feeling that brave at the time. He jumped great, and downhill I could just sit for a minute. Turning in it all opened up and I knew he would see it out well, although he can be a bit of a character. Dan would say don’t get there too soon, and I probably did get there too soon, but I was getting plenty of weight, so he could see it through.

“I know the horse is a monkey but I always felt like he was just keeping his nose in front and giving me everything. He’d never be a horse who would go on and go clear, but I always felt like I was just holding. He’s probably not the most natural jumper, but he keeps his head up and is very, very good with his feet. Even when he doesn’t see a lot he can kind of get his way out of trouble. He gave me his all today.

“Dan seems to be mastering them [big handicaps at Cheltenham]. I always felt so lucky that I had one winner here; there are far, far superior jockeys who have had no winners here, so to get a second one is pretty special.”

Dan Skelton said: “I was watching Pembroke the whole way around and for a novice in a field like that when he made the mistake two out that was it. He will have his day as he is a very good horse. Trusting a novice in a big field like this is hard but all power to Bridget.

“Once he went down to the last like that I just felt it was possible. It is pretty good. That was absolutely brilliant Bridget. I was watching Pembroke the whole way round and old Favoir nips in up the straight and pulls out one of them.

“It was a great bit of riding from Bridget. She doesn’t get many dances on the big stage because obviously Harry takes precedence but as you can see she is more than capable and I’m very proud of her. I said on television before he went out there we thought he would win one of those big handicaps this season and he went to Newbury the other day and he said no way not on that ground. She has won a Grade Two on him and she has done plenty on him. He is just a good horse on his day and understands the big fields and that is the one thing I had in the back of my mind about Pembroke, but he is a very good horse and I’ve not lost faith in him.”

Ian Lawrence, husband of owner Suzanne Lawrence, told ITV Racing: “My stomach is killing me from the shouting! She is a brilliant rider, absolutely brilliant. We knew he was well, you can see he is well. He was in the Betfair, jarred up, didn’t run, so we aimed him for this one – or rather Dan did. Brilliant job.

“My wife is at home with the painter, we are having the kitchen painted! She should have been here really, it’s been great, it’s been lovely.”

Gordon Elliott, trainer of the runner-up Pied Piper (12-1), said: “He ran well and I’d say a nod at the last cost him but he ran his heart out and we’ve no excuses – just a little nod at the last. We can mix him between jumping and the flat so he’s plenty of options moving forward and we’re very happy with him.”

Frank Berry, racing manager to J P McManus, owner of third placed Filey Bay, said: "We are pleased with the performance as he jumped well. If he remains in good form there is no reason why he will not go to Punchestown next month"

Willie Mullins, trainer of fourth placed Sharjah, said: "He ran a cracker with his big weight and ground that may have been a bit to tacky for him. If he comes out of this race in good form I think he will have a crack at the Aintree Hurdle which will be his first attempt at two-and-a-half miles and that step up in distance for the first time might well suit him these days."

2.10pm McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) 2m 1f

  1. Faivoir 33-1
  2. Pied Piper 12-1
  3. Filey Bay 6-1
  4. Sharjah 10-1

24 ran

Distances: hd, 2½

Time: 4m 6.12s

2nd winner at The Festival for jockey Bridget Andrews

6th winner at The Festival for trainer Dan Skelton


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