GBI RACING

Noel Chance salutes Gold Cup hero Richard Johnson

Noel Chance

Dual Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Noel Chance was thrilled to see son-in-law Richard Johnson claim his second victory in the blue riband aboard Native River.

It is five years since Chance called time on a fine training career which included two Gold Cup triumphs with Mr Mulligan in 1997 and Looks Like Trouble in 2000.

Champion jockey Johnson was on board Looks Like Trouble and ended his 18-year wait for another Gold Cup success when steering the Colin Tizzard-trained Native River to a tremendous all-the-way victory on Friday.

Chance told Press Association Sport: "I was at Cheltenham for the week - I never miss it - and obviously I was delighted for Richard. Eighteen years is a long time between drinks.

"What I felt watching the race was that after two miles it was a two-horse race between him and Might Bite. You could see at that stage the rest of the jockeys were holding onto nothing.

"It was going to be between the two of them, unless one of them fell, and it was marvellous performance from the horse (Native River), the trainer and it goes without saying, the jockey.

"They are two very good horses, Native River and Might Bite, and it was a great race between the two of them."

Native River is as short as 5-1 to become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the Gold Cup since the legendary Best Mate landed three consecutive runnings between 2002 and 2005.

However, none of the previous three winners - Coneygree, Don Cossack and Sizing John - even turned up the following year due to injury.

Mr Mulligan and Looks Like Trouble also failed to defend the crown.

" That stats aren't good, you have to say that, and I'm speaking from experience as both of my winners didn't make it back the following year," Chance added.

"Having said that, Coneygree was the first novice to win it Captain Christy (1974), so stats are there to be broken.

"I hope Native River does make it back next year, obviously. He's a proper Gold Cup horse."

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