By Simon Jackson.
Caid Du Berlais capped a great day for Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies when he snatched a narrow victory in the £160,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
The five-year-old was held up in the early stages. He improved to jump the last fence in fourth place before finishing fast to reel in last year’s winner John’s Spirit in the dying strides to prevail by a head.
The victory completed a double at Cheltenham on Saturday for trainer and jockey who had earlier scored with Sam Winner in the Grade 3 Murphy Group Handicap Chase.
“We were in two minds whether to run [Caid Du Berlais] given his performance on soft ground last season,” Nicholls revealed.
“I’m obviously glad we did now and I said to Sam before the race not to forget that he’d won on soft at Auteuil earlier on in his career.
“Sam’s given him a lovely ride. The plan was always to follow Johns Spirit, come wide and pounce late and it’s come off perfectly.
“He’s run well here before as well so we know he likes the track. I’m delighted for Sam and delighted for the team at home as well. Megan (Nicholls’ daughter) leads him round and Harry (Nicholls’ nephew) looks after him at home so it’s a real team effort.
“Sam is improving all the time. He doesn’t panic and has done exactly what we asked him to.
“The plan was very much about today – this was his Gold Cup. We’ll see where we go from here but I’m just happy it all came together today.
Twiston-Davies was quick to pay tribute to Nicholls and his team and believes that there is still more improvement to come from the winner.
“It’s a great team at Paul’s and I’m happy to be riding big winners for him,” the jockey said.
“The plan was to follow Johns Spirit and pounce late and although we were a bit further back at the last than I’d hoped, he’s picked up well and flown up the hill.
“He’s still only young and maybe there’s a bit more to come from him.”
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