Horse racing: Tidal Bay waves goodbye to field for confident win

TIDAL Bay put up a mighty weight-carrying performance to win the bet365 Gold Cup Chase on the last day of the jumps season at Sandown.

It was yet another big-race success for Paul Nicholls, who retained his trainers’ title, and for jockey Daryl Jacob, after the two teamed up to win the John Smith’s Grand National with Neptune Collonges.

It also provided more vindication for owner Graham Wylie, who shared his string between Nicholls and top Irish trainer Willie Mullins when Howard Johnson was warned off.

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Although Tidal Bay (9-1) won the Arkle Trophy in 2008, he has never lived up to those expectations, but his class shone through in the difficult ground conditions despite being saddled with top weight.

The talented but quirky 11-year-old was on a going day right from the start as he settled beautifully towards the rear of the pack in the early stages.

He made stealthy progress on the final circuit to join the leaders at the third-last fence.

He jumped ahead of Roalco de Farges at the final fence and amazingly pulled away up the hill to win by 15 lengths.

Roalco de Farges (7-1) was seven lengths ahead of the third, Any Currency (16-1) with Vic Venturi a gallant fourth (25-1).

Nicholls said: “I knew he ran really well over hurdles at Aintree the other day, but he nearly got brought down on the far side.

“He flew up the straight and finished fourth. He might have finished second but for that and that race was a prep for this.

“When it kept on raining to slow the ground down, it was always going to suit him. We knew they would go that bit slower and it would give him time to get his confidence.

“If it had been quick ground, it might have rushed him and he would not have jumped well enough.

“Everything was right for him today for the first time for a long time.

“He obviously has had class over the years but it has never fitted in right.”

• China Rock made a swift reappearance pay as he triumphed in the tote.com Punchestown Gold Cup. Mouse Morris’s nine-year-old was making his second appearance at the Festival meeting after finishing fourth in the two-mile Champion Chase at the track on Tuesday.