‘A dream come true’ for Snowden as Datsalrightgino wins Coral Gold Cup

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Lambourn has triumphed in the last two King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but any thoughts the village was tilting full-time to the Flat disappeared in a swashbuckling Coral Gold Cup that was won by Datsalrightgino and had hallmarks of glorious Hennessys from the past.

Those vintage editions are what Jamie Snowden, who has been training since 2008 and moved to Lambourn three years later, feasted on when he grew up.

Since then he has developed into an accomplished and respected trainer and that point was underlined last season when he saddled Ga Law to win the Paddy Power Gold Cup and You Wear It Well, who struck in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Hopes were high this campaign would be even more fruitful and Snowden’s Folly House yard is blessed with more quality than it has ever housed.

Datsalrightgino, who runs in the colours of Hew and Jane Glyn-Davies and their family, is among its most talented animals and improved as a novice chaser last term, although his return run in the Old Roan at Aintree in October was unsatisfactory with six fences omitted due to low sun.

Sent off in the Coral Gold Cup at 16-1, he was “flat out” early on according to Snowden’s wife Lucy – an integral part of the operation – but was soon spotted back on the bridle in the hands of Gavin Sheehan, who has seen his profile rise once more since linking up with the trainer.

Towards the rear initially, the seven-year-old improved and looked a player four out before keeping on in commanding fashion to dismiss strong-travelling Irish raider Mahler Mission, who was ahead of fancied 13-2 shot Monbeg Genius on a baltic Berkshire afternoon, although the temperatures were the last thing on former amateur rider Snowden’s mind.

“These big handicaps are very hard to win, but fair play to my team,” he said. “This horse isn’t short of speed and we campaigned him last season over mainly two miles as a novice chaser and he improved 20lb, but Gavin still said he couldn’t wait to go up to three miles and he was right. That was brilliant and it’s weird because if Newcastle had been on today, Gavin would have been there.

“Of course today was competitive. It’s the Coral Gold Cup and a wonderful race, one of the biggest chases of the season. You can’t have high expectations coming into it, but we knew he was in good order and there might be a bit of wiggle room in his mark over that trip if it worked, and, thankfully, it did.

“Gav gave him a lovely, cool ride and he was on a horse going forwards. He was conscious not to get to the front too soon, but he went away at the end.”

Snowden, chuffed with Ga Law’s seventh, has no firm plans for his winner, who was bought as a three-year-old in partnership with chief talent scout Tom Malone.

He suggested the Randox Grand National could be an option and, elaborating on what it meant to win his county’s most historic chase, added: “This race is a real home fixture for us in Lambourn, so to win it is a dream come true. As a boy growing up, you’d come here, think about it and here we are now.

“Things are going well and 11 winners in November made it our best ever month, but we all need these big races. To win the Paddy Power last year was great and this is wonderful – it’s what we do it for.”

Lambourn is dominated by the towering presence of Nicky Henderson, but this was a first victory in Britain’s second most valuable handicap chase for the village since Many Clouds struck for the now-retired Oliver Sherwood.

His decision to quit along with Charlie Mann pulling the plug on his business means Lambourn has a bigger Flat outlook than ever but Snowden said: “It’s still the jumping centre of Britain in my mind. Nicky Henderson trains from there and we’ve still got Warren Greatrex and Oliver Signy, and it’s a great place to train.”

Snowden, accompanied by his children Lettie, Harry and Arthur in the winner’s enclosure, was, metaphorically, jumping for joy and Datsalrightgino’s performance proved you still can in Lambourn.

Courtesy of Racing Post