Power-packed Presenting Percy routs RSA field to hand Davy Russell emotional victory

Wed 14 Mar 2018

Watch a full replay of the RSA Novics'Chase won by Presenting Percy at Cheltenham on Wednesday and video reaction from winning connections.

By Geoffrey Riddle at Cheltenham

Presenting Percy turned the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase into a procession to provide and emotional victory for jockey Davy Russell.

It was Presenting Percy's second Festival success after his Pertemps Network Final triumph 12 months ago and a third win here for trainer Patrick Kelly in two seasons.

Russell's mother died recently and, having posted his 19th Festival victory, he paid tribute to here in the winner's enclosure.

"Mum was the most outstanding mum," he said. "She reared six kids and a business along with my dad. They will be in floods of tears at home. She was a great woman."

Russell, who could have also ridden runner-up Monalee, switched his mount off at the rear of the field and when he decided to join in towards the end of the back straight he was absolutely cruising.

Monalee had taken up the running going well, but had no answer as Presenting Percy (5-2 favourite) scooted clear to beat Monalee by seven lengths. Al Boum Photo was booked for third when falling at the second-last, allowing Elegant Escape to snatch a place.

Ruby Walsh, who has only recently returned from a broken leg, was helped into the ambulance following the fall from Al Boum Photo and was stood down for the rest of the day.

Russell added: "I have underestimated this horse all along. I felt he had to prove it. He has now and he's the Grade One winner we hoped he would be.

"People have really latched on to him. He was unimpressive to me, but by God he is some horse. All credit goes to [owner] Philip Reynolds and Pat Kelly - what a master. The man is training in Co Galway and nobody recognises the small man, yet he has gone and broke through. He is a brilliant trainer.

"Pat does everything - I've never schooled the horse. I've never sat on him apart from on the racecourse. I've nothing to do with it - it's all him. What a route to take to the RSA - one graded race over fences."

Similar thoughts were echoed by emotional owner Philip Reynolds, who said: "The man (Kelly) is an absolute genius the way he trains horses.

"I can't believe it myself. It was so stressful watching it. It's more relief than anything else.

"I love this horse."

Reynolds went on: "I'm speechless. I'm just delighted he's shown what he can do - I knew he was a graded horse.

"It was the hardest four or five minutes I've ever put in. It's been incredible.

"I think Pat deserves all the credit for the route he has taken with the horse. He got a bit of a slagging about the route he had taken, but he's taken him out of novice company twice and I think it's toughened him up.

"The man is an absolute genius. How he hasn't got a yard full of horses is beyond me.

"To have a horse good enough to come to Cheltenham is incredible, but to have a horse to run the way he's done is unbelievable."

Asked whether he felt Presenting Percy could develop into a Gold Cup contender, he said: "I'm just delighted to win the RSA. Today is just amazing."

Henry de Bromhead said of Monalee: "He ran a blinder and I'm delighted with the run, I am disappointed not to win but such is life. He is galloping all the way to the line he is definitely a three-mile horse.

"They are two very good novices and he was just beaten by a better one on the day.

"I hope in time that he could be a Gold Cup horse, that is a long way away but it is the kind of direction we would be hoping to go. He handles most ground, but possibly better ground might suit. Hopefully we will see him at Punchestown."

Colin Tizzard said of Elegant Escape: "He is a good, strong stayer. Just when they crowded round him a bit they had a bit too much pace for him. He was staying on strongly from the last and he will make a lovely Ladbrokes Trophy and Welsh National horse."

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