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Press Release 14th March 2024 Cheltenham



Thursday 14th March

Sir Alex Ferguson roared home his first ever winner at The Festival when Monmiral, whom he owns with Ged Mason and John and Lisa Hales, took the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle.

Monmiral, who beat Kyntara by a length and a quarter, got his trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden off the mark for The Festival 2024. It was Nicholls’ 49th Festival success in total and his first in this highly competitive race.

Ferguson said: “I’ve waited a long time for this, but it is fantastic. The jockey was absolutely brilliant on him. What I was thinking at the tapes was, ‘What the hell is he doing at the back’, but he crept forward and judged it perfectly. I couldn’t understand why before he came to the last why John [Hales] was saying he had won, but that is experience for you. I was just saying, ‘Just jump the bloody last!’

“It has been probably 20 years that I’ve wanted to have a winner here as when I first started [in racing] I just had Flat horses and no National Hunt ones. I got interested in the jumps with Ged [Mason] and John [Hales]. It 100 per cent makes it more enjoyable having a winner with friends. Everyone looks forward to Cheltenham, while on the Flat you have the Derby. These two events are unsurpassed.”

Paul Nicholls said: “This horse has loads of ability. We have been trying to make a chaser out of a hurdler, but he didn’t like it. I thought I would qualify him at Chepstow two weeks ago, and he actually needed the run that day as he hadn’t really finished a race for a long time. Freddie [Gingell] rode him the other day and said that he thought he might have won at two [hurdles] out but he blew up. He said to try him in blinkers and I listened to what he said. Whether they have made a difference I don’t know, but he has obviously come back to himself a little bit.

“I said to Harry, ‘Give him plenty of daylight as he doesn’t need to be boxed in’, and he gave him a beautiful ride.

“The horse has always wanted a trip, but he has always wanted a trip since he was a youngster. He has had small problems which hasn’t helped us, but he has been a real head-scratcher. It is great for his owners and the whole of my team to get a winner here.”

The Mel Rowley-trained Kyntara was a length and a quarter back in second under Charlie Deutsch.

Shropshire-based Rowley said: “You’ve got to be disappointed as he so deserved to win, but we’re on the biggest stage and the Brits are a bit behind, so just to be in here is wonderful.

“All credit to the horse; he just doesn’t know how to run a bad race. He’s just been a revelation. He came to us under a cloud, and he’s just been fantastic. 

“We had Hazel Hill, who won the Foxhunters’ here, but as a trainer this is our first runner. It's been a big team effort and I’m almost speechless.

Charlie Deutsch said: “I’m gutted to finish second but I had a brilliant spin. We winged the last and he didn’t stop galloping, but we were just aimed at by the winner, and he got us. The race went just as I imagined until then. He’s a strong stayer and I was happy to let him roll. They had him in great form!."


2.10pm Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle 3m

  1. Monmiral 25/1
  2. Kyntara 16/1
  3. Cuthbert Dibble 11/2F
  4. Bold Endeavour 50/1


22 ran

Distances: 11/4l, 21/4l, nk

Time: 6m 1.93s

5th winner at The Festival for jockey Harry Cobden

49th winner at The Festival for trainer Paul Nicholls


Ireland 10

Great Britain 5


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