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2017 Festival Plate Result
Sat, Dec 31st, 2016

O'LEARY ON GOLDEN HIGHWAY WITH ROAD TO RESPECT

Michael O'Leary, owner of Gigginstown House Stud, was delighted with the performance of Noel Meade's Road To Respect (14/1), who was an impressive winner of the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, the fifth race, on day three, St Patrick's Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

Ridden by Bryan Cooper, the six-year-old son of Gamut jumped the last superbly before staying on stoutly up the hill to beat Gary Moore's Baron Alco (10/1) by six lengths.

Paul Nicholls' Bouvreuil ((10/1) was a length and three-quarters back in third, with a further two and three-quarter lengths to Thomas Crapper (7/1) in fourth.

The victory was O'Leary's third of the week and the Ryanair supremo was pleased to get another winner on the board. He said: "It's great and I'm delighted. He wants good ground and is one of the better novices in Ireland.

"I didn't think he had a chance today, but Bryan gave him a peach of a ride. He had him in the right place the whole time as there was a lot of traffic problems in behind.

"It was wonderful. Someone said it was Noel Meade's first chase winner so it just goes to show if you keep banging your head against a brick wall, eventually you will get one!"

Cooper added: "Road To Respect travelled real well. He was running in good novice races all winter long and that has probably stood to him.

"I was a bit worried about experience and he kind of over jumped the first. After that, he was very good. I gave him a bit of room to give him confidence and he bolted up.

"It is pleasure to be able to ride for Noel. I had a lot of luck for him in the first part of the job, but I have struggled to ride a winner for him the last couple of years. Thankfully, I have paid him back now."

MEADE HITS THE HIGH ROAD

Road To Respect gave trainer Noel Meade a first victory over fences at The Festival to add to his four over hurdles.

Owned by Gigginstown House Stud and ridden by Bryan Cooper, 14/1 shot Road To Respect - a three-parts brother to dual Grade One winner Road To Riches - came home a comfortable six lengths clear of second-placed Baron Alco.

Meade said: "I thought we had three good chances to be in the money today. I was a bit disappointed with Snow Falcon, but I thought Road To Respect had a great chance. I actually wanted to run him in the RSA Novices' Chase, but Gigginstown had something else for that and this race made sense, given the way the handicapper assessed him.

"The ground was a big help to me. We've always thought of him as a very nice horse. On his second chase run, in the Grade One Drinmore Novices' Chase at Fairyhouse, he was very disappointing - he was only third or fourth, and I thought he might win. He came here and was clearly well-handicapped!

"I thought early on maybe he didn't get the [two and a half mile] trip and I dropped him back to two miles, which was probably a mistake. We went for three miles last time at Navan when the ground was very bad, and Sandra Hughes' horse [Acapella Bourgeois] got away. We beat the rest of them a long way that day and he stayed galloping to the line, so we were happy with that.

"I didn't realise that was our first chase winner at The Festival. I've always thought maybe I would have won more here if I'd run more in handicaps rather than the good races, but I always think this is the championships and we try to come and win a championship. Maybe Harbour Pilot would have won a handicap chase here the first year he ran in the Gold Cup [2003, when he was third to Best Mate], but he was placed in two Gold Cups and that's the way I've always approached it."

Road To Respect on his way to victory in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

Mike Egerton/PA Wire/PA Images

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BARON GOES DOWN FIGHTING

Trainer Gary Moore was proud of 10/1 shot Baron Alco, who finished the six-length second to Noel Meade's 14/1 winner Road To Respect, in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, the fifth race on day three, St Patrick's Thursday, of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

Always at the front of the field, the six-year-old son of Dom Alco kept on gamely in the closing stages but was no match for the winner, who quickened up smartly in the closing stages under Bryan Cooper.

Paul Nicholls' Bouvreuil (10/1) was a length and three-quarters back in third, with a further two and three-quarter lengths to Thomas Crapper (7/1) in fourth.

Horsham handler Moore said: "That was a very good run - it's just a shame he got beat. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is a really genuine horse.

"Just watching him there, I do think he would stay three miles, but I just hope he's ok as he was a little bit sore afterwards."

As for future plans, Moore commented: "We would have to see how he comes out of the race before we make a decision on where we go with him.

"I would say Aintree would come quick enough with him but a novice race if we could find one, we may do that as he has only won two novice events so I would like to win another one.

"I would say he would hopefully be handicapped to win a decent race in the future."

Rider Jamie Moore said: "He wears his heart on his sleeve, it's great for the owners, he jumped really well but it's just annoying to finish second, it does my head in but there you go."

4.10pm Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Grade 3)
1 ROAD TO RESPECT (Gigginstown House Stud) Noel Meade IRE 6-10-13 Bryan Cooper 14/1
2 Baron Alco (John Stone) Gary Moore 6-11-00 Jamie Moore 10/1
3 Bouveril (J P McManus) Paul Nicholls 6-10-13 Sam Twiston-Davies 10/1
4 Thomas Crapper (Apis.uk.com) Robin Dickin 10-10-01 Charlie Poste 7/1

Distances: 6, 1¾, 2¾

5/1 Fav Diamond King (PU)
Tote Win: £12.00 Places: £3.20, £4.40, £2.90, £17.80 Exacta: £271.70

Noel Meade - 5th winner at The Festival
Bryan Cooper - 8th winner at The Festival

BetBright Cup - standings after 19 races
Great Britain 6
Ireland 13

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