Fingal holds rivals at bay

Fingal Bay (right) survives a mistake at the last to win the Pertemps final
Fingal Bay (right) survives a mistake at the last to win the Pertemps final
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Fingal Bay defied top weight to win the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham in a thrilling finish from Southfield Theatre with Pineau De Re just behind in third.

The Philip Hobbs-trained Fingal Bay was a Grade One winner as a novice and returned from injury to win a qualifier for this race at Exeter from his stablemate If In Doubt.

Those two headed the betting but Tony McCoy was pushing before the home turn on If In Doubt and faded out of contention, while Richard Johnson sat motionless on Fingal Bay (9-2 favourite).

However, Daryl Jacob also came smoothly on the scene on Paul Nicholls’ Southfield Theatre and the pair had a battle royal after the last, with just a nose between them.

Pineau De Re came from way back and weaved through to try and get in on the act just a neck back, with Trustan Times beaten less than a length in fourth.

Johnson said: “He’s an amazing horse. We have always thought the world of him. He’s come back from an injury last year, Philip gave him every chance and he’s been well rewarded today.

“I didn’t want to be in front too long and when I popped him - he’s such a trier.

“I have good luck on my side at the moment. It’s amazing for me, but Daryl is devastated.”

Hobbs said: “But for (missing the last), he’d have won easily you would have thought.

“He was very good right from the word go. He won his first ever bumper, he’s one of the very few horses to have beaten Simonsig and had a long time off before coming back to win this.

“He’s a very tough horse. When he won at Exeter this was the obvious race for him.

“We said at the start of the week we’d settle for one winner but that’s two and we’ll settle for that.

“Richard rode a brilliant race. He’s a very, very good jockey and a very good bloke.”

He added of his other runners: “I’ve a good idea of where they all finished but there was nothing else in the first four unfortunately. It was great to have the winner.”