Saturday 9 February 2019

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2006

The 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup, sponsored by Totesport, was run on St. Patrick’s Day and featured 22 runners, including four trained in Ireland and one trained in France. In fact, Beef Or Salmon, trained in Co. Limerick by Michael Hourigan and ridden by Paul Carberry, started a well-backed 4/1 favourite, despite having been beaten in the three previous renewals. However, having been held up early on, Beef Or Salmon made progress into midfield after halfway, but couldn’t make any further impression from the fifth last fence and eventually finished eleventh, beaten 19 lengths.

Meanwhile, War Of Attrition, trained in Co. Tipperary by Mouse Morris and ridden by Conor O’Dwyer, raced prominently on the outside of the field and took the lead from compatriot Forget The Past, trained by Michael O’Brien and ridden by Barry Geraghty, at the bypassed third last. Although pursued all the way to the line by 2005 Grand National winner Hedgehunter, War Of Attrition stayed on strongly up the hill to win by 2½ lengths. Forget The Past faded to finish third, a further 7 lengths away.

Hedgehunter had been well beaten by Beef Or Salmon, in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown on his previous start in February. Indeed, War Of Attrition, Forget The Past and Hedgehunter had all finished 4 lengths, and further, behind Michael Hourigan’s 7-year-old in the Lexus Chase at the Co. Dublin course the previous December, so there is every reason to believe that the favourite ran well below par. In fact, trainer Michael Hourigan said afterwards, “I have to believe people now when they say that he just doesn’t like it here. I've just spoken to his owners and said maybe we shouldn't bring him back here any more.”

In any event, War Of Attrition was a second Cheltenham Gold Cup winner for Conor O’Dwyer after Imperial Call a decade earlier. Furthermore, the 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup was the first in which Irish-trained horses filled the first three places.

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