The big-race outsiders fought out a thrilling finish to the Cheltenham Festival’s day three feature.
At one stage it looked as if Flooring Porter was about to join the Festival immortals and secure his third straight victory in the race, but his tank emptied quicker than in the previous two years and he was passed heading to the last by Dashel Drasher who set sail for home in the hands of Rex Dingle.
A length to the good jumping the final flight, Jeremy Scott’s admirable 10-year-old stuck his head down as the Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Sire Du Berlais and Teahupoo were breathing down his neck.
But while the 5-2 favourite could not get by in the hands of Davy Russell, Dashel Drasher had no answer to the late thrust of the JP McManus-owned 33-1 shot who edged his way to a three-quarters of a length verdict. Dashel Drasher was a brave second at 40-1 and Teahupoo a further neck back in third.
A runner-up behind Flooring Porter in this in 2021 and also a dual winner the winner of the Pertemps in both 2019 and 2020, the 11-year-old Sire Du Berlais was somewhat the forgotten horse of the race and handed Cullentra House handler Elliott his first victory in this premier staying hurdling contest.
Winning trainer Gordon Elliott said: “After a hurdle or two I knew we were in a good rhythm. Of course it is a surprise, but Sire Du Berlais can do that; he’s either first or last, but he’s well able, anyway. In fairness to him, he’s very tough. Mark [Walsh] gave him a brilliant ride. It’s great to win the race - obviously we were short-headed in a Grade One yesterday, so it’s great to win. It’s a great game here.
“We love training horses and we love coming here. It’s brilliant.
“We couldn’t get him qualified for the Pertemps Final, but anyway, it worked out well. It didn’t work out for us, with ground one day, and his handicap, he got a good mark off the handicapper, so we said we’d come here. To be honest, he doesn’t do anything too exciting - he minds himself, which is why he is still going at his age . I didn’t even think about winning this with him - I thought I was going to win it with the other horse!”
Successful owner JP McManus said: “I thought he ran well at Navan the last day as he was giving a lot of weight away and I thought he was running on well at the end and I thought he deserved to take his chance.
“I’ve not had too many 33-1 winners old but old Creon (2004 Pertemps Final 50-1) won at a big price and Kadoun (2006 Pertemps Final 50-1) but this one I’m afraid went unbacked but still we will just enjoy it just the same. You better ask somebody else why he is so good around Cheltenham. Gordon has done some job on him.
“We were kind of training him for the Pertemps but he came over here to qualify and for some reason he didn’t run. I don’t think he travelled over well or something so Gordon didn’t run him and as a result he has ended up in the Stayers’ Hurdle. I thought he had a little chance. I thought after the last he would run up the hill well but I didn’t know how the others would. I knew he would give it his lot.”
Mark Walsh, the winning jockey, said: “He is brilliant and he loves this place. He never knows when he is beaten. A good gallop suited and he travelled great for him as he usually he can be on and off the bridle but he travelled great and jumped great. He was the same when ran at Aintree last season as he didn’t have a great run here before winning the Grade One but Gordon had him spot on today so all credit to him.
“He loves it around here and he is a joy to ride so it is brilliant to win on him. It wasn’t until I went by the horse in front of me up the hill that I thought I had it won but he has really stuck his head down up the hill and galloped all the way to the line. He is a hardy little horse. I don’t know what it is about here but he always seems to run a good race around here.
“They always say horses for courses and he loves it here and it is great to get a big one on him today. I’m delighted he was able to be here and take part in this and win it. It is great to get another big one at the Festival.”