Irish trainer, Noel Chance celebrated his first Cheltenham Gold Cup success since 1997 on March 16th, when Looks Like Trouble, with englishman Richard Johnson in the saddle, romped home 6 lengths clear of the field to take the prize for 2000. This, the 73rd running of this great race lived up to its reputation for the dramatic, as the winner came from behind in sensational fashion.
The 9/2 joint 2nd favourite, Looks like trouble was looking laboured at the turn with 4 fences to jump, but found a second wind to charge through the field, taking the lead at the last to then sprint strongly to victory. He did so in a new record time of 6 mins 30.3 seconds, narrowly beating the previous record set some 10 years earlier by Graham McCourt on 100-1 shot Norton’s Coin.
Chance had always rated Looks Like Trouble as an exceptional talent, a glimpse of which the gelding showed by winning a novice chase at Doncaster, 14 months previous to this momentous triumph. Steadily climbing to the highest chase levels since that point, he reached his pinnacle on Thursday to prove his trainer’s rating to be right on the money.
Only half of the 12 strong field finished this arduous Good to Firm Cheltenham circuit, as most notably Ruby Walsh was unseated by Rince Ri and Tony McCoy fell at the 2nd last, whilst looking promising, if a little pressured, on Gloria Victis.
In behind Looks Like Trouble came Florida Pearl, the 8 year old ridden by Paul Carberry and trained by Willie Mullins, in 2nd, Strong Promise, the 8 year old partnered by Robert Thornton in 3rd and 9/4 favourite and the 1999 winner of this race, See More Business ridden to 4th by Paul Nicholls.
Winner Almost Didn’t Finish
A great day for Richard Johnson, Noel Chance and owners Michael and Gerry Worcester then, but it nearly didn’t turn out this way. Despite looking confident and well-placed throughout this race, a blunder at the 10th by the gelding left nerves jangling as he almost lost his rider.
Johnson remained seated however, and went on to claim the prestigious prize of Cheltenham Gold Cup Winning jockey for 2000.