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Last Updated: 12/03/14 5:14pm
Whisper gets the better of Get Me Out Of Here
Whisper, trained by Nicky Henderson, defied a big weight to claim the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Ridden by 5lb claiming rider Nico de Boinville, the six-year-old was backed at big prices before the off and returned a 14/1 chance to narrowly beat Get Me Out Of Here in a thrilling finish to the valuable handicap.
Bayan justified strong each-way support to finish third, while Smashing took fourth.
Whisper was never too far off the pace set by Son Of Flicka and was in a perfect position when the tempo increased markedly on the run to the third-last flight.
Tony McCoy gave Festival regular Get Me Out Of Here a very confident ride and scythed through the pack to close up on Whisper coming to the last.
But the winner dug deep for De Boinville on the steep run to the line and held a short-head advantage as they flashed past the post together.
De Boinville, who was riding his first Festival winner, said: "You can never be too sure (in photo-finishes) but I'm over the moon. I got a lovely position and he kept going all the way."
Henderson felt De Boinville's 5lb claim proved crucial, saying: "When you've got a very good claimer, then it's obvious to try and use him.
"We stopped him (De Boinville) riding for a week because I needed his 5lb claim this week.
"It looked like Whisper had too much weight. I didn't think he could win off top weight, but he has.
"He deserves it, because he was beaten a nose in the Welsh Champion Hurdle. That was really annoying as he also went up 6lb for finishing second. If he'd been beaten a nose here then I would have really cried."
Winning owner Dai Walters said: "That's my first Festival winner and I'm lost for
words - I'm over the moon."
Jonjo O'Neill was again left to reflect on what could have been after Get Me Out Of Here just failed under McCoy.
He said: "That's the fourth time he's been second here, he's a smashing horse.
"We thought everything was right for him - the ground, the trip and the sun had come out.
"I don't think he ever really got there."
At The Races presenter Gary O'Brien, part-owner of the third-placed Bayan, said: "We're absolutely over the moon.
"Just for a few strides running to the last I thought he might get there but no complaints, he got a beautiful run through.
"He's been an unbelievable little horse."
De Boinville was asked about Sprinter Sacre, who is out for the rest of the season having suffered from an irregular heartbeat when pulled up at Kempton over Christmas.
The rider said: "He's up in Newmarket with (equine specialist) Celia Marr at the moment. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery."