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Press Release 15th March 2023 Cheltenham


Wednesday 15th March

Trainer Paddy Neville, who was based in Ireland up until 2021 but is now based in North Yorkshire, celebrated a first Festival winner when The Real Whacker made all to land the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Partnered by Sam Twiston-Davies, riding his first Festival winner in seven years, the seven year old made all and held on by short-head from the fast-finishing Gerriv Colombe.

Patrick Neville said: “He toughed it out, in fairness. He’s a lovely horse and got in a lovely rhythm. The ground was a little bit soft for him - we were dreading that - but it worked out. Brilliant. I was happy all the way round with his rhythm and the way he was jumping, and Sam [Twiston-Davies] kept him out of it a little bit for the better ground; we made that plan earlier in the day, and it worked.

“He’s won three times here now. I don’t think I’ll run him anywhere else!

“This is my first season with a licence in Britain; I was assistant to Ann Duffield [from whom Neville now rents a barn] while my licence was coming through, in charge of her jumpers, and we had a few nice winners. It’s working out great. I trained in Ireland for 15 years, and had good winners there as well, but the last couple of years were getting tough. I made the move because I couldn’t get any owners in Ireland, just couldn’t get them. Hopefully it will work away here.

“We’ll mind him for next year and come back for the Gold Cup, hopefully. We were thinking about it this year, but we’ve probably made the right decision for the horse - he’d only run six times before today, so we’ve given him that bit of experience and we’ll come back next year. We’ll give him a good summer - he’d have done enough now for this year, maybe; he might go to Punchestown but we’ll see how he comes out of this. He’ll probably go to Listowel in the autumn because it’s one of my favourite tracks.

“We’ve got great support from everyone and it’s been brilliant.”

David Mann, joint owner, said: “I’m totally stuck for words. My heart is pounding and my stomach is all over the place. I can’t believe we have had this winner. It is the best day of my life. I’m so happy for myself and Paddy Neville and Alan Duffus and Bex (Dennis, other owner). I’m so excited. This is unreal.

“I said to Alan a while back can you come in doing a bit of chatting but he said no I will leave that all to you Davey! It is a dream come true. To come here in November and have a winner was so unreal, to come here New Year’s Day and do it was great. Everybody knows I suppose the king of the crop is the big festival meeting which is today. Sam Twiston-Davies gave him such a great ride. We are so proud of the team especially Paddy Neville who came over from Ireland two years ago. He is one of my best friends that I grew up with in the same village in Ireland. Paddy has done so much and brought this horse on.

“I’ve been coming over here for 20 years and I never thought we were going to have a day like this. It is unreal. He jumped from fence to fence. Even though everyone says he is a brilliant jumper my heart was in my mouth at every fence. I’ve made it at last as my dream has come true.

“I thought he was beaten until Matt Chapman came up and said you have got it. I saw Bex running and she said I know we have won it. I thought we were caught on the line generally. He was there he came up the hill and done everything right and I just thought we were caught on the line but my God Sam stuck his head out there and we just got there.

“We had him in the Gold Cup but the decision was Paddy’s not mine, but I think Paddy kept it open for a while. We always thought it would be the Brown Advisory but Paddy kept it open but he made the decision and I think it showed it was the right one. Who can say in the last five months they have had three winners at Cheltenham.

“This (suit) hasn’t been worn since New Year’s Day. In case you think I wear this every day I don’t. I got this in Chicago for a wedding a year ago and I kept it for the first time we were here at Cheltenham. Paddy said after we were here on New Year’s Day keep that suit for March. I went home and said to one of my girls take it to the cleaners with the plastic on it and leave it for March.”

Sam Twiston-Davies said: “It was unreal. I just got in a really nice rhythm as he did here on New Year’s Day. I got breathers in everywhere but he is very honest and it was a great training performance. He is just a pleasure to ride. He was waiting for something and he was wandering on his way up to the line but then he is obviously very tough with it all as well but he was in front where it mattered. I kind of hoped he had won but until they actually say it you never want to believe it as I’ve been chinned here plenty as well.

“My last win here was years ago aboard Solar Impulse in the Grand Annual for Paul (Nicholls) in 2016 when it was the last race on the card. It is crazy. I ride with fantastic jockeys in England but there are so many good lads who haven’t got rides here this week so just getting rides is hard so when you have one with a winning chance you have to be incredibly grateful and appreciate the moments.

“Gavin (Sheehan) went elsewhere when he won the Dipper and I thought it was a one off but they said in the week I was going to ride him and I hadn’t sat on him since. Paddy said he was on great form and that was all I needed to know. It is only the second time I’ve sat on him in my life so we have great chemistry. It is a great training performance and they are a lovely group of owners. I’ll be totally honest I went into the first race with a nice English horse yesterday, Rare Edition, and he was quite disappointing and then we ran I Like To Move It and he was pushed aside quite easily so you start to think we have strong quality of horse over here but when we run against Irish horses it becomes harder. Everyone always believed in this fella so it worked out well.”

Trainer Gordon Elliott said of runner-up Gerri Colombe: "He has been beaten a short head in a Grade 1 and a stride over the line he is a neck in front, so of course I retain faith in him - he's top class.

"However, whether he has another run this season is something that will have to be discussed with the owners as he has definitely had a race there."

Daryl Jacob, rider of the third-placed Bronn, said: “I’m delighted with him. He’s jumped and travelled great. The ground seemed to suit, the slower the ground the better for him.”

2.10pm Brown Advisory Novices' Chase (Grade 1)  3m½f

  1. The Real Whacker 8-1
  2. Gerri Colombe 5/4F
  3. Bronn 50-1


10 ran

Distances: shd, 4¼

Time: 6m 18.47s

8th winner at The Festival for jockey Sam Twiston-Davies

1st winner at The Festival for trainer Paddy Neville


Ireland 6 - Great Britain 3


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