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Edwardstone collects Arkle Trophy in style

Edwardstone completed a five-timer in running out an emphatic winner of the Sporting Life Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.

The eight-year-old, ridden by Tom Cannon, powered away from the opposition on the run to the line to give trainer Alan King a third success in the two-mile novice championship after Voy Por Ustedes in 2006 and My Way De Solzen in 2007.

However, it was not straightforward for the 5-2 favourite, as he was almost brought down at the fourth fence when Brave Seasca fell, taking out Saint Sam.

Then at the second-last Edwardstone collided with the leader Riviere D’etel, but was soon on an even keel. He showed his superiority from there by pulling clear to score by four and a quarter lengths from Gabynako. Blue Lord was three and a half lengths away in third place.

Cannon said: “I had a couple of hairy moments, but other than that I had a dream run round, jumping fence to fence. I’m just delighted, I’ve got a better relationship with him than I have with any human being, put it that way!

“He wears his heart on his sleeve, he jumps well, goes out and does his thing.”

King – who enjoyed great success on the Flat last year with Trueshan – said: “I was only half-watching when we could easily have been brought down and I wasn’t sure if we had at one stage, but the gods were shining on us.

“Thereafter he looked to travel really well and never missed a beat. Full marks to Tom as well – that’s his first Cheltenham winner and he’s given him a cracking ride.

“Tom is riding out of his skin at the moment. I’ve been training 22 years and he’s only my third stable jockey. He reminds me of Choc (Robert Thornton) as he has the most laid-back attitude. If he’s nervous, he doesn’t show it.

“We’ve always trained the good horses this way. I don’t think Voy Por Ustedes or My Way De Solzen came here under-raced and his races have been reasonably spaced out.

“As I said the other week, he’s just been two or three years in the making. He used to over-race a little bit, but running him in those big handicap hurdles last year was the making of him.

“People have doubted his jumping, but I’ve never had any worries about it.

“He’s always had the potential, but these good horses don’t happen overnight.

“It’s a relief more than anything. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. Thank God it was the second race on the first day!”

On what might be next, he added: “I’ve not even thought about it. We’ll enjoy today.”

Gavin Cromwell, who along with the owners made the decision to supplement Gabynako, despite him initially being entered in the two other novice chases, said: “I suppose it has paid off (supplementing) as that was a fantastic run.

“He travelled well through the race and coming down the hill he was still on the bridle.

A jubilant Tom Cannon
A jubilant Tom Cannon (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Look, the winner was very good but he’s the best of the Irish which is great.

“A fast-run two miles, certainly here with the hill, is fine but he’s fine over two and a half as well.

“I suppose we have to think of Punchestown for him now.”

Paul Townend, who rode Blue Lord into third position said succinctly: “He just wasn’t good enough on the day.”

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