Summerville Boy wins Sky Bet Supreme
Last Updated: 13/03/18 2:51pm
Summerville Boy lunged late to claim a thrilling renewal of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the first race of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
The Willie Mullins-trained 7-4 favourite Getabird set out to make all the running under Ruby Walsh, but he was a spent force before the home turn and Amy Murphy's Betfair Hurdle hero Kalashnikov straightened up in front.
Tom George's Summerville Boy, a 9-1 shot in the hands of Noel Fehily, was untidy at the second flight from the finish and also the last, but he devoured the hill to get up and beat Kalashnikov in the dying strides.
Mengli Khan was best of the rest in third.
Fehily told ITV Racing: "He's a wonderful horse and what a training performance by Tom George. This horse was absolutely cherry ripe today.
"I thought I was gone at the second-last, I must have lost five, six lengths, but he was brave and fought back well.
"He was my best chance of the day, but you need a lot of luck. I thought if he didn't fire today I might be struggling, but what a horse.
"I'm delighted, it's a great start to the week."
George said: "He got into the race and made his mistakes all at the wrong time. It shows you what he might have done had he not made those mistakes.
"He's a brave, tough horse and it's a privilege to have him.
"He beat Kalashnikov fair and square in the Tolworth, four lengths going away. Today, we made some mistakes which made it a bit closer, but he's done it and that's the most important thing.
"I've been lucky. We've had plenty of Grade Ones over the years, but to win a Supreme for the first time is great."
Murphy said of the gallant runner-up: "He's really done us proud and has run an absolute blinder. When he winged the last I thought he has just got to gallop up the hill. When Summerville Boy missed the second-last I thought we'd probably got it. It's just that hill gets plenty of them.
"We had to make use of him today and whether that told, I don't know." She added: "It is great he's silenced a few doubters who said he would get lost in the middle of the race. He has always had that turn of foot. He is a big baby and is learning all the way.
"The Betfair really made a man of him. He proved today that he was much more streetwise. It is onwards and upwards. He is still a big, raw horse. I always said whatever he did this year is a bonus and the fact he is here in a Grade One and winning a Betfair is exciting. He will school over fences at home next week before going out on his summer holiday."
Gordon Elliott said of Mengli Khan: "I am very happy with him and I thought he ran a very good race. Jack (Kennedy) said he didn't pick up as well on soft ground as he would have liked. He is a good horse. He will definitely go to Punchestown."