Cheltenham Festival: Native River ready to challenge Might Bite's date with history

Ruby Walsh surged to victory on Footpad in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase

To win the Cheltenham Gold Cup means everything to everyone's life.

"I'm speechless. He's been a fantastic horse for me and I was lucky to pick up the ride on him", said Johnson.

For Johnson, it was a significant triumph 18 years after he won the race for the first time aboard Looks Like Trouble.

Johnson, the leading steeplechase jockey in England for the last three seasons, said Native River gave him a confident feel throughout the race and particularly in the final mile.

But the softer turf will be a concern, especially in the company of Colin Tizzard's Native River, who finished third by little more than two lengths in last year's instalment. At the last two, he was very courageous.

Native River produced a stunning front-running performance to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and deny trainer Nicky Henderson a historic treble on Friday.

The horse had been prepared specially for the Gold Cup, run only once previously this term, winning the Denman Chase. Might Bite won the Grade 1 RSA Novices' Chase here in 2017 despite almost veering off the track after the last fence.

Henderson had trained the winners of the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase earlier in the week.

Our Duke 5-2 (11-10) Led and disputed, bad mistake in lead 4 out, pressed 3 out and soon ridden, jumped slightly left 2 out and joined, kept on best from last and edged ahead run-in, won at Gowran Park 2m 4f chs Grd 2 (1) hvy in Feb beating Presenting Percy (11-3) by 1l, 5 ran.

Henderson feared the turf course had taken its toll after he watched Might Bite jump the final fence. But in that ground you have to work so much harder.

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