Timmy Murphy’s meteoric rise from the ashes continued with another four-timer at Newbury last Saturday. The former A. P. McCoy understudy, who has taken over the champion’s job as retained jockey to the Pipe yard’s top owner, reached an alcohol-fuelled personal low-point when spending three months in prison. Now reformed, Murphy rode a beautiful race on Celestial Gold to take the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup ahead of Ollie Magern. Celestial Gold is only the third horse ever to win the race after having taken Cheltenham’s Paddy Power Gold Cup, or its equivalent, two weeks earlier. As low as 16-1 now for next March’s Cheltenham pinnacle, the Bonusprint.com Gold Cup, caution should still be the order of the day until the comparative novice comes up against top order chasing stars.
Harchibald became a leading Champion Hurdle contender after an effortless success in Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth. Always cruising, Paul Carberry only had to let out an inch of rein at the last to win readily. Now 6-1 for the big one, the Noel Meade-trained star cannot be backed with confidence despite the impressive display – the field was small and lacking in class.