‘Mum was definitely up there looking down on me today’ - Elixir De Nutz downs Jonbon to give Freddie Gingell an emotional first Grade 1 success

Joe Tizzard’s Elixir De Nutz proved as tough as nails when battling on grimly to deny Jonbon and give young conditional Freddie Gingell a first Grade 1 prize in the Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham.

ELIXIR DE NUTZ (yellow/black cap) winning the Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham in England.
ELIXIR DE NUTZ (yellow/black cap) winning the Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham in England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The race had been scheduled to take place at Ascot last weekend but was moved to Cheltenham for the second year running after the Berkshire venue was unraceable due to frozen ground. The rearrangement of the Grade 1 prize meant that Jonbon would no longer have to face his Arkle Chase conqueror El Fabiolo, with the latter being rerouted to the Dublin Racing Festival by trainer Willie Mullins.

With El Fabiolo out of the equation, it looked for all the world that Jonbon would waltz his way to a sixth Grade 1 success and Nicky Henderson's chaser was sent off a 1/4 chance to provide JP McManus with yet another high-profile winner this afternoon.

However, Elixir De Nutz had failed to read the script and would ensure his young rider Freddie Gingell would enjoy his finest day in the sun at the home of jumps racing.

Everything looked to be going to plan for Jonbon's supporters, but the race would take a dramatic change in shape when the 1/4 favourite made a shuddering mistake down the back straight. James Bowen, who was stepping in for the ride on Jonbon for the first time with Nico De Boinville currently on the sidelines, performed miracles to keep the partnership intact but it was a mistake that would prove costly to the final result.

Despite that midrace blunder, Jonbon still looked to have matters under control turning for home and Henderson's charge held a near-length advantage heading into the final fence. However, a far-from-fluent leap at the final flight would give Elixir De Nutz a chance. One he'd take with grit and determination under young Freddie Gingell to deny Jonbon by a neck crossing the line.

December Gold Cup hero Fugitif finished six and a half lengths away back in third.

An understandably emotional Gingell, who paid tribute to his mother Kim, said: "It is an amazing day. We came here thinking we might run a big race finishing second or third. I got a lovely start and he travelled and jumped. Editeur Du Gite hit either the third or the fourth, and that really boosted us up there.

"From there he was travelling away lovely. Coming to the top of the hill I was going quite well there, and we know he gets two and a half miles, so I wanted to make it a real staying test where they had to come and catch me.

"We got headed coming to the last, and he then winged the last, but he was amazing after that.

"I'm three from three on him this season and he has been an amazing horse, but he has been an amazing horse in general. Thanks go to Terry Warner (owner) as he has been amazing to me.

"They had the choice of either me or Brendan (Powell) and Terry was very good to let me ride him, and I have now won two nice races on him.

"That was definitely the most emotional success I've had today. Mum was definitely up there looking down on me today. She has been a massive part of me in helping me to become a jockey.

Crossing the line today I looked up to her and she looked back, and I could tell she was up there doing something."

A delighted Joe Tizzard said of his first Grade 1 winner as a trainer: "It is a special day. I didn't come here thinking we were going to win a Grade 1, but we were happy to take our chance with a horse that has been brilliant all season. He bounces off this better ground so the drying ground all week has helped.

"Jonbon, what a mistake he made at the top of the hill, but he came back there and looked like he had us beaten then we probably out-jumped him at the last. It was our day today and it is special. We've been on the opposite end of it but that is horse racing, and we will take this today.

"At the start of the season, I didn't think I had a genuine Grade 1 horse, but I've bagged one. Haldon Gold Cup day in a handicap was supposed to be a big one, then Newbury was even better again and then we have today.

"He (Freddie Gingell) could have panicked and gone for his stick and sent him on, but he just saved a little bit. I wouldn't mind being in his position. He is 18 years old, and he has got it all in front of him. He is the right size, and he is very good over a fence. Days like this don't phase him and he can take it. I'm biased, but he has done me proud.

"The big days don't phase him, but I need to wake him up for a Monday or Tuesday at Plumpton and places, but on the big day he doesn't panic, and he proved that today. I'm chuffed to bits for Fred as he gets a really good tune out of that horse.

"She (Kim Gingell) would be so proud and that is what she put into Freddie to make him the man that he is.

"I had an emotional day back at Exeter with Fred, but it always just does stir the emotions a bit. Terry (Warner) has been a big supporter of the yard as well."

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