GBI RACING

Harriet Tucker 'in shock' after defying dislocated shoulder to win at Cheltenham

Harriet Tucker celebrates her victory on Pacha Du Polder

Harriet Tucker was in dreamland after overcoming a dislocated shoulder to guide Pacha Du Polder to victory in the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham.

The 25-1 winner jumped into the lead at the final fence, but 22-year-old Tucker - who was having just her second ride under Rules - appeared in some trouble up the run-in.

She revealed on dismounting she had been trying to pop her shoulder back into place at the same time as striving for victory on the Paul Nicholls-trained 11-year-old, who was winning the race for the second year in succession.

Long-time leader Top Wood rallied close home, but Pacha Du Polder would not be denied as he stuck on stoutly to score by a neck.

Tucker, who is from Frome in Somerset, said: "My shoulder half-dislocates sometimes when I reach it too high and coming up to the second-last, it half-dislocated and I couldn't push it back in, so I couldn't slap him down the shoulder to get him to go forward.

"I was pushing and praying that no one was going to beat me because I couldn't hit him any more with my right hand, so I just had to keep pushing and screaming at him and he just got there.

"I have wanted an operation on the shoulder, and now they might give me one."

She added: "It's like a dream - I cannot believe it. It really is a shock.

"Coming here I thought it would be amazing to come in the first 10. I just won the Foxhunter! Walking out the weighing room I thought, 'I'm riding in the Foxhunter, this is mad'. To win it is amazing.

"I tried to get on the inner and keep a straight line - five out I thought 'gee, I'm still going OK', but a loose horse was bothering me and I tried going wide of it and then ducking back in.

"Going to the bottom of the hill I thought, 'no way, there's more to come', and at the second-last there was even more! He just kept going and finding more.

"I started riding in points when I was 18, trained my own pointer last year while working at Paul's, and this year I've been riding for Rose (Loxton, who works for Nicholls). I've had five rides pointing this year and they've all won, so I'm having an amazing season."

Nicholls said: "I'm really proud. Harriet was only having her second start under Rules.

"He's had a lot of problems this year, but this is just a fantastic moment.

"Andy (Stewart, owner) just leaves it to me (to pick a jockey). I said to Harriet at the start of the season, 'we will get you on Pacha and you will have a day you will never forget'.

"I get a lot of stick for running horses in hunter chases, but it's brilliant for people like Harriet, Bryony (Frost) last year, Victoria Pendleton (who was fifth on Pacha Du Polder in this race in 2016) and Rilly Goschen (who won on the Nicholls-trained Earthmover in 2004).

"It's a life-changing experience for them, and I cannot tell you how proud I am of Harriet and the horse.

"She's worked for us for two years, always wanted to ride in races, so we brought her along quietly and she's done really well. We gave her a winner in a point-to-point on Sunday to give her a bit of confidence and we talked her through the race and just said 'take your time'.

"He's been hard to get right this year, but he had come back to himself of late, and at the top of the hill I knew he had a chance because he does stay.

"We've struggled to find a winner all week with the ground and horses who just weren't good enough, but it's great to have a winner here in any race.

"He's an amazing horse and so good for the team."

Headlines