CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL NEWS: THE FESTIVAL 2023 ENDS WITH VICTORY FOR IROKO
Friday 17th March
The final race of The Festival 2023, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, saw victory for Iroko.
Oliver Greenall, who trains the winner alongside Josh Guerriero, said: “I can’t describe the feeling, really - amazing. We always knew the horse was nice, but we just felt maybe he’d be tapped for toe a little here. But he managed to hold his position - he came off the bridle early enough and jumped so well, even when off the bridle. He’s such an easy horse, so straightforward, just tough, honest. He shows nothing at home, he’s not a good work horse, but he’s so straightforward, doesn’t take much work - he’s a dream. He toughed it out and winged the last, and it’s just great.
“I rode the winner of the Foxhunters here in 2008 [on Amicelli], so to train one here is amazing. Josh mainly works on the horse side and is there every day, and I do more with the owners. We’ve got 70 in training, with 50 running at any one time, mainly over jumps but some on the Flat too.”
Aidan Kelly, the winning jockey of Iroko, said: “We went a good gallop throughout and my main instructions were to get a good break. We got a lovely breakaway and we were going a good gallop. Going down the back we were struggling a touch and I just had to nudge him along but he’s an out and out stayer. Thank god he handled that hill well. As soon as the gap came he quickened up well and just after jumping the last I thought maybe I will or maybe I won’t but when I got after him he put his head down and galloped really well to the line.
“This is my first time here and I was kind of taking it all in yesterday. To finish second (in yesterday’s Pertemps Final on Salvador Ziggy) was great and having a winner just tops it off. To ride a winner here is amazing and I still can’t believe it. The walk back was amazing, I saw so many people I knew and lots I didn’t and I appreciated them all as they were all cheering for me. It’s every jockey’s dream to ride a winner here. Even to ride a winner is great as it’s very hard to get going in Ireland, that was my 18th winner today and this is one I won’t forget.
“It’s just tough to get on horses who can actually win. This is my fifth or sixth season now and things have seemed to start going well from the start of the season. Hopefully I can top this next year!”
5.30pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle 2m4½f
- Iroko 6/1
- No Ordinary Joe 14/1
- Buddy One 28/1
- Might I 6/1
Distances: 1½, nse, 3¼
Time: 5m 2.50s
1st winner at The Festival for jockey Aidan Kelly
1st winner at The Festival for trainer Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero
73rd winner at The Festival for owner JP McManus